Alaska: A packing list

See the thing is, weather here can change on a dime, and to extremes.  That’s why packing layers helps you in defending against these weather swings.  Remember, Alaska is a big place, and most visitors’ trips here take them through the many micro-climates and varying weather during the time they are here.

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For most people, visiting Alaska can be daunting when it comes to packing.  Should I bring my winter coat?  Will I need a ski mask, and winter boots just to walk around?  Should I bring my bikini with me?  In the guiding business, we know as well as anyone the value of bringing the right clothes with us to stay prepared in Denali.  That’s why we thought giving you a quick rundown on a packing list would pay dividends during your trip to the far North.  We decided to rank these items based on priority as well, at least from our perspective, which means that if you decide to only read halfway through the article, you’ll have gotten to look at the most important stuff.

1.       Waterproof, close-toed shoes:  This is in our opinion the most valuable item to have with you in Alaska.  You’ll often see locals wearing the knee high Xtratuf boot, lovingly referred to as the Alaskan sneaker, but you don’t have to go that far to keep yourself comfortable while you are here.  A solid hiking shoe, that is quick dry and waterproof will help set you on the right track.  Good for hiking, walking around the tourism shops, and just generally cozy to spend days at a time in, this shoe will not only have you prepared for any weather that comes your way, but also guarantee you limited hassle when departing on excursions.  Most guided tours, and outdoor excursions like ATVing, Ziplining, and Rafting all require close toed shoes to participate, and having a quality hiking shoe will be your ticket to having not to worry about that.

2.       A quality raincoat:  This goes along with your waterproof shoes.  Alaska is no stranger to rain, and most of the excursions that you have booked during your vacation are going to depart regardless of if it’s a cloudless day or monsooning.  That’s why being prepared for those kinds of days is so crucial to your comfort.  The worst thing would be for you to find your way this far, just to feel stuck inside on a rainy stretch of your trip.  Well don’t let that be the case – pack a quality rain jacket, and find yourself being unstoppable on your vacation!  (Bonus points to those that bring a pair of rain pants with them. This will make you even more cozy during those extended outdoor excursions in inclement weather.)

3.       Layers:  This is going to be an incredible ally for you during your time in Alaska.  See the thing is, weather here can change on a dime, and to extremes.  That’s why packing layers helps you in defending against these weather swings.  Remember, Alaska is a big place, and most visitors’ trips here take them through the many micro-climates and varying weather during the time they are here.  Just to put this in perspective, the distance from Homer to Fairbanks is about the distance between New York City, and Lexington Kentucky.  And as we all know, those climates are very different, and a lot changes in between.  Well the same is true here, so bring your t-shirts, long sleeves, pants, shorts, and hoodies, because at anytime you could want it all.

4.       Hat, Sunglasses, and Sunscreen:  People often don’t think of Alaska a hot place where these types of things would be important.  The reality is, that with the endless sunshine in the summer, and the stretches of heat that we get during June and July, these items will be invaluable to you during your time outside.  Sunburn still happens, even this far North, and the last thing you’d want is to be caught unprepared, and spending half of your vacation with sunburn.

5.       Bonus stuff:  Everything outside of this is going to be up to your discretion.  Things like binoculars, reusable water bottles, cameras, and bathing suits are all going to be dependent on your plans.  Remember what you are coming here to do.  Plan on spending a lot of time hiking?  Bring a day pack, a water bottle, and some hiking socks.  Want to hang out in the hotel spa the whole time or go to the hot springs?  Bring that bathing suit, and book to read while you’re hanging buy the hot tub.  Planning on wildlife viewing everyday you’re here?  Well than bring those binoculars and long lensed cameras.  So much of your trip, and the things that you bring will depend heavily on how you plan on using your time here.

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Evan Orfanidis
Denali Park Adventures is a local, family-owned adventure tour company located just outside the entrance to Denali National Park. Denali Park Adventures is the ultimate source of adventure for all ages and all skill levels, in single, family, or group travel.

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