“What will the weather be like? What should I pack?” The questions flood in from excited guests inquiring about all the things they will encounter on their first trip to Alaska. Packing for a trip to Alaska can be one of the greatest challenges facing tourists new to Alaska. I want to help you out and give you a local’s perspective on the perfect strategy for packing for Alaska.
Layering is Key to Dressing and Packing for Alaska
“Layer, and then layer again for your daily clothing choice when traveling to Alaska, ” I advise folks that are planning their wardrobe for the trip. The weather that greets you in the morning probably won’t be what you see at two in the afternoon, and the northern sun seems to make 65 degrees feel much warmer. If you start your day early it could easily be in the 40 degree range, and in a couple of hours be 60+ degrees, which can make those layers that you can peel off as the weather warms such a relief.
Pack for Your Alaskan Activities
Much of what you pack for your trip to Alaska will be determined by the activities you will be doing. For instance, many people that travel to Hatcher Pass will hike. This activity requires layering. Even if you start out your hike in 65-degree weather and clear blue skies, it can easily turn cloudy with rain pelting down and a 20-degree drop in temperatures. Hypothermia is a real threat in these conditions, so always put a raincoat, or other rainproof jacket and a warm liner in your backpack to keep your core warm for protection in the event of rain.
Fishing is another favorite Alaskan activity and typically requires the same type of clothing with the addition of a raincoat and perhaps different shoes – waterproof shoes are good, but don’t pack a special pair of shoes for fishing since tennis shoes or hiking shoes will often be fine for a fishing trip.
Another item to include in your bag is sunscreen. When travelling north it may seem one wouldn’t need sunscreen. The opposite is true as it sometimes seems like we are closer to the sun or the atmosphere is thinner and sunburn is a real possibility if you don’t protect your skin.
Insider’s Hint: Don’t Overpack for Your Trip to Alaska
Take this advice from someone who loves clothes and the opportunity to wear them with all the right accessories – wear those items at home when you have a nice closet to store these things in. Travel and pack light – pack your favorites and then wash them when you need to. Really, this is the best way to allow room to buy some new clothes and not have to buy a new suitcase to take them home in. You will be surprised and amazed at the cute Alaskana clothing you can buy when you are here.
Casual is the Word
Jeans and t-shirts are appropriate attire almost anywhere you may travel in Alaska. This really is a casual and sometimes dirty environment, which is best seen in comfortable clothing and footwear.
Top Items to Pack for Summer
- Layers of short sleeved t-shirts (avoid cotton for hiking)
- Hoody or other zip up light jacket
- Waterproof and preferably windproof shell
- Swimming suit
- Hot weather shirts or tops
- Good walking shoes and flip-flops for those hot days
- Backpack to carry extras in when hiking or other outdoor activity that allows your arms to be free
- Personal items
For a good itemized list of packing items visit alaska.org where you will find a more comprehensive list of packing suggestions.
Remember Alaska is not a foreign country and anything that you forgot can be purchased when you arrive! Bon Voyage!