Tips on Packing for Alaska

Is the vast wilderness and rugged mountains of Alaska calling your name? Alaska, the land of the midnight sun, is a popular summer destination (June-August) for adventurous thrill seekers, tourists, and cruisers. However, with cold and unpredictable weather, packing can be challenging. Here are my top tips for packing for a trip to Alaska.

  • Layers and Rain Gear: Bring plenty of layers! The weather can change quickly depending on elevation and summers in Alaska can be cool, overcast, and rainy. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst! Make sure to bring a base layer (such as merino wool) that can be worn multiple times, a rain coat that is waterproof and wind resistant, and a fleece layer (also wind resistant). It is also worth bringing waterproof pants or a rain pant you can wear over traditional pants. It is very windy up in the mountains! If you tend to get cold easily, plan to bring a lightweight winter coat. There are many pack-able options that can easily fit in a suitcase or day pack.
  • Scarf and Hat or Snood: As previously mentioned, Alaska is cold and windy even in summer! Bring something to keep your head warm. Either a hat and scarf combo, or a snood or scarf that can multitask as a hat. I also recommend taking a pair of gloves with you.
  • Comfortable Clothing and Shoes: Pack comfortable clothing and shoes. Alaska isn’t a place you need to worry about being super fashion conscious and most Alaskans dress informally or sportsman type gear. Pack outdoor clothing that is comfortable and weather resistant. Pack light and plan to re-wear articles especially layering pieces. A good pair of broken in hiking boots (preferably waterproof) and a lighter pair of slip on walking shoes makes the perfect combination.
  • Formal Clothing: If you’re on a cruise, they may require a certain dress code for dinners. Make sure to check this before you depart and plan to bring two or three outfits that meet the requirements. If you are not adherent to any dress code, stick with casual and comfortable.
  • Camera: Scenery is Alaska is breathtaking and aweinspiring. Prepare to be taking photographs at every turn. Be sure to pack extra memory cards, lenses, and the best camera you can get your hands on.
  • Day Pack: A day pack, or lightweight backpack, is handy on any trip. It is especially handy in Alaska as you can easily take additional layers, camera, water, and snacks with you throughout your Alaska journey.
  • Bug Repellent: Depending on where you are in Alaska, the mosquitoes can be really annoying. They are probably the largest you will ever see and come in swarms. Take a natural bug repellent with you. Lemon eucalyptus oil works very well. You can purchase this as an essential oil and make your own bug spray, or purchase all natural bug sprays with this essential oil. Consider bringing a bug net for your face and neck.
  • Sun Protection: The Alaskan sun can be pretty intense. Don’t forget sunglasses, a brimmed hat, and sun screen. I always stick with a natural mineral based sunscreen with zinc oxide. My particular favorite is Badger’s lavender sun screen.

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