EP31 | Traveling and Camping in Iceland with Tanner Johnson
Having recently returned from Iceland where he spent three weeks serving as photographer with the XO team while filming the Nordic Series, Tanner Johnson is eager to share his experiences and teach listeners all he can about overlanding and photography in Iceland.
Jimmy and Tanner discuss the legal difference between “Off-Roading” and “Off-Pavement,” what it’s like to drive on Iceland’s “F-Roads,” and the experience of touring the backcountry of this remote island country.
As a professional photographer, Tanner shares his experience in Iceland and helps listeners by providing essential information about what photography equipment to pack along, what subject matter you’re likely see there, and how to photograph it.
Tanner and Jimmy also take a look at how our newest XO truck builds performed in Iceland, the famous “Arctic Trucks” of Iceland, and what vehicle modifications make for the best overland touring there.
Additionally in this episode, learn all about what it’s like to camp in Iceland: legalities, types of campgrounds, and the overall quality of the camping experience in Iceland are explored.
It’s an information-packed episode and it’s all about overlanding in Iceland. We’d love for you to join us for the conversation!
Detailed Episode Summary
Part 1 (1:30-4:30) Intro and Tanner’s Reaction to Experiencing Iceland: It’s important to remember that Iceland is an island, and it’s geographic location and structure is a key element of what makes Iceland “remote.” Just getting there is a part of the adventure.
Part 2 (4:30-7:10) What is the difference between driving “Off-Pavement” and driving “Off-Road”? Tanner explains what the legal difference is between “Off-Pavement” and “Off-Road” in Iceland and Tanner and Jimmy discuss how this designation affects 4×4 touring/overlanding within Iceland. Tanner also explains how these parameters change in winter due to the heavy snow pack and why “Arctic Trucks” are so popular.
Part 3 (7:10-11:50) How accessible is Iceland to an American traveler and why? Tanner shares his experience of being an American traveling in Iceland and why Iceland is so easily accessible to an American traveling. Things like language, air travel, the safety of Icelandic culture, customs, and means of traveling in Iceland are explored.
Part 4 (11:50-16:48) 4×4 Touring and Overlanding in Iceland: Tanner explains the team’s experience exploring the interior of Iceland on Iceland’s “F-Roads.” Basically, this is a discussing about what it’s like to go “off-roading” in Iceland; even though, technically, in Iceland this is strictly “off-pavement” travel along clearly defined/designated and established dirt/gravel roads.
Part 5 (16:50-20:31) How did our XO trucks do on the F-Roads of Iceland? Tanner reflects upon how the XO trucks did touring the F-Roads of Iceland. Tanner does the lion’s share of the build work on these vehicles, and he shares his insight into his own build work here. (The trucks we took to Iceland are our Gen 3 2022 Tundra “Orion,” our 2022 Tacoma “Atigun,” and our 2015 4Runner “Clone” which towed our Patriot X3 Trailer).
Part 6 (20:32-22:10) What is the scenery like in Iceland? Tanner share’s his experience touring iceland, describing the scenery and the noteworthy geologic elements of the island.
Part 7 (22:10-26:53) What’s it like to do Photography in Iceland? Being our lead photographer on expeditions, Tanner shares his experience as a photographer touring iceland with the team. Along with describing his experiences shooting still photography for XO, Tanner provides an overview of what it’s like to be a photographer in Iceland. To help a photographer who aspires to travel to Iceland, Tanner covering the classic subjects typically shot there and what equipment to bring: cameras, lenses, tripods, etc.
Part 8 (26:53-28:55) Experiencing the Northern Lights in Iceland: Epic views of the Northern Lights are an iconic Icelandic traveling experience. Tanner shares what it was like to be there and how he was able to effectively photograph images of the Northern Lights.
Part 9 (28:55-31:02) Overlanding Iceland in September: The XO team toured Iceland for three weeks in September. Tanner explains the environment in Iceland at this time of year: weather, temperatures, and what gear you need to be prepared to go overlanding in Iceland at this time. From a photographer’s perspective, Tanner also explains what the light is like in Iceland at this time of year and how that affects taking pictures.
Part 10 (31:05-34:24) The Experience of Producing the Nordic Series in Iceland: Tanner and Jimmy discuss what the production process was like for the XO team in Iceland, sharing team member roles and describing various production tasks. Jimmy and Tanner also discuss the joy of creating a body of work (photography and/or film) while overlanding and how to tell a story through your work. (Overlander Film Festival, anyone?)
Part 11 (34:25-42:07) What is it like to Go Camping in Iceland? Tanner shares his experiences camping with the XO team in Iceland and describes what opportunities are available for camping in Iceland. Jimmy and Tanner discuss the rules and regulations for camping in Iceland, how surprisingly remote Iceland’s established campgrounds are, and what we can learn from Iceland in the way of respecting and managing our pub
Part 12 (42:08-49:09) What other forms of Recreation are there in Iceland? Iceland is a haven for all kinds of recreational activities. Tanner share’s the team’s experience encountering people biking, hiking, and riding motorcycles on the roads and trails of Iceland–even helping a tour van full of Europeans get unstuck!
Part 13 (49:10-52:33) What is the Wildlife like in Iceland? What is the wildlife like in Iceland? When your touring Iceland, what can you expect to see? Tanner explains the wildlife found in Iceland and what the team experience while overlanding there.
Part 14 (52:35-54:32) Alubox Supported Scientific Research Project in Iceland: While overlanding in Iceland, the XO team came across an active scientific research project supported by Alubox. Tanner explains what this project is and how it will be featured in the Nordic Series.
Part 15 (54:33-57:52) What is the best Overland Vehicle Heating System for Iceland? Nowadays, we’re running a variety of different kinds of heating systems in our overland vehicles. As XO’s Shop Manager and leading mechanic for our XO builds, Tanner explains what kinds of heating systems we had on board our vehicles in Iceland and they performed, with special attention given to the Webasto heater used in our 2022 Tundra, Orion.
Part 16 (57:52-59:58) What XO Vehicles did we Bring to Iceland and What was our Camping Setup? Tanner and Jimmy discuss the sleeping arrangements of the team and overall camping setup of the XO team in Iceland, including the new Alu-Cab clamshell-style RTT (Rooftop Tents), the Alu-Cabin, and the Patriot X3 Overland Trailer. Tanner explains the benefits of these systems to the team while overlanding.
Part 17 (59:58-End) What kind of Maintenance was Necessary for our XO Vehicles after Overlanding in Iceland? As XO Shop Manager and lead build technician, Tanner explains the maintenance performed on the XO fleet upon returning from Iceland. Of note is what he learned about effectively mounting RTTs (Rooftop Tents) on our various overlanding vehicles.
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