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Freak snow hampers Iceland trek but students and Adventure Air mats hold up

27th August 2015 by Multimat

Eleven students trekking across Iceland with Multimat Adventure Air mats in July had to plan alternative routes as snow and strong winds closed the Central Highlands to them.

The group, from the Oxford University Officer Training Corps, were planning a 450km trek in 23 days from the northern-most to the southern-most points carrying all their food and equipment on their backs.

But after seven days of rain, sleet and strong winds, they reached the mountainous interior of the island only to be turned away by local rangers who warned them conditions were too treacherous to continue.

It looked tough from the start for the students, from Oxford University, Oxford Brookes University, University of Buckingham, University of Reading and the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester, who set off from Rifstangi, close to the Arctic Circle.

Company Underofficer Alastair Graves, an Engineering Masters student from Oxford University, said: “The weather was unseasonable and unexpected in July. It was very wet with occasional snow, even at low altitudes, and very windy. But we managed 150km in the first week.

“Then, on reaching the Central Highlands a local ranger told us conditions were too difficult for us to continue. It was very cold - it should have been 10-15oC but we got 4oC. And, there was more snow forecast and stronger winds in those higher altitudes of 7-800m. We weren’t equipped for that, so we had to do the sensible thing and find somewhere else to trek on the island.”

The team travelled to Akureyri, the second largest town in Iceland, and trekked around Lake Myrata before travelling Reykjaceyur in the south of the island and trekking for eight days through the volcanic landscapes of the peninsula.
The good news was that they all came home in one piece and singing the praises of their Multimat Adventure Air mats.

“Altogether, we managed 400km in about 18 days and the mats performed really well,” said Alastair.
“They provided the warmth and comfort we needed at night and were also really light and compact when we packed them which was important to us - we were carrying all our food and equipment with us and set off with heavy kit on our backs.

“I’ve used lots of mats in the past and it is a great idea to have the repair kit included with them. When you’re in the middle of nowhere, as we were, you depend on your kit and have to make repairs wherever you are.

“So many thanks to Multimat for their help and advice and for the great mats. They were ideal for us.”

The Adventure Air weighs just 430g and rolls up to 240mm x 80mm so it can easily be stashed in a backpack. And it is also made from tough 75 denier rip-stop polyester which gives it a carefully considered balance of weight and compactness with durability. And the 70mm air cushion provides welcome comfort after a hard day’s trekking.

Multimat MD Adrian Stammers, said: “I’m glad the team did the right thing and changed their plans and also that they then made the most of the time they had in that remarkable country.

“They’ve sung the praises of the Adventure Air mats, which is always welcome, but Alastair’s also given us more detailed and useful feedback on how they performed and this is what we learn from. It’s how we came to develop each our mats in the first place and his feedback, along with that from other expeditions and individual users, will help us fine-tune the products we offer in future.”

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