Clothing for Alaska!
June 12, 2017 11:57 AM   Subscribe

I would like specific outerwear clothing suggestions for our upcoming trip to Fairbanks. Coat, boots, gloves, etc...

We've done it - we scheduled our trip to Fairbanks for late October. Now, to outfit a plus size Georgia girl with Alaska cold weather gear! (last question about this)

I know, from the last question, and looking around, that I need long underwear (I already have a set of silk long underwear, but I imagine I will need more than one, possibly?), gloves, mittens, headwear / balaclava, boots, coat.

I also tend to avoid pants when I can (but I don't *have* to, I just don't own any that fit, and don't typically buy them), so I'd love suggestions of clothing that involve skirts (or, if that's crazy, just tell me).

I saw this skirt and I think I love it. It's pricy, but if I could pull it on over other things(like leggings!) all week, it would potentially be worthwhile.

I would love if some of the things I buy for the trip can be re-worn later - we're thinking of moving farther north at some point, so that is a possibility, but I also get cold easily. I am not allergic to wool, and I already have a fleece shirt, fleece leggings and a pair of knee wool socks.

Are there key words I should be looking for? Is a down coat the way to go?

We want to go on the arctic circle tour, plus spend a couple of nights at Chena Hot Springs and do a northern lights expedition on at least one of them. Other activities include riding the train from Anchorage to Fairbanks and possibly going on a couple of several hour excursions from Fairbanks.
posted by needlegrrl to Travel & Transportation around Fairbanks, AK (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
An extremely brief Google tells me that late October weather in Fairbanks is 22 to 46 above zero. Unless you're going to spend hours outdoors (presumably not, if you're wearing skirts and dresses), you won't need long underwear. But then I'm a Minnesotan, so my idea of cold is more like Alaska than Georgia...bring the pair you have. If you need more, you'll have much better luck buying it in Alaska than in Georgia.

Honestly, whatever you normally wear in January, plus a couple pairs of fleece-lined leggings and a normal weight winter coat, hat, gloves and scarf, will be just fine for just walking around and going from cars to buildings and vice versa. Layer your outfits (e.g. T-shirt, then long sleeve shirt, then sweater, then coat, and leggings under your skirt) and you'll be plenty toasty. 22 degrees isn't outrageously cold, and there's no point in investing in expensive quilted-down stuff that you're never going to wear again. That's what you would wear if it were 0 outside.
posted by Autumnheart at 1:25 PM on June 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Heh. I found this Expedia page for arctic circle tours, with photos of tour groups. Wear what they're wearing. (Jeans, stocking cap, North Face type jacket, hiking boots/winter boots. Someone has nylon warm-up pants on).
posted by Autumnheart at 1:29 PM on June 12, 2017

Response by poster: Looking at accuweather, it says that the temperature could be a low of 1 degree and a high of 22. We may be outside for several hours at a time.
posted by needlegrrl at 1:59 PM on June 12, 2017

Best answer: Heck yes, buy that skirt and pair it with warm leggings and warm, comfy boots. Bring a very warm down/puffy jacket or parka. Bring long underwear to layer under your normal tops, plus gloves (or mittens, which are warmer), a plush scarf, and a cold-weather hat that can cover your ears. Giant puffy clothing is totally normal in Alaska. Better to have the layers on hand than to be cold.

You're going to have a wonderful time!
posted by scrubjay at 6:35 PM on June 12, 2017

Best answer: A down coat plus layers will serve you well. I lived in Fairbanks for many years, and I can attest that they can sometimes have VERY cold weather in October. If that should occur during your visit, you can buy some hand warmers and toe warmers which pop into your shoes and gloves and last about 8 hours. Together with your coat and layers, you'll be good. The thing about Fairbanks is that it's like the heat in Phoenix - it's dry, not damp, so the cold is easier to take. It's easier to get overheated in the Fairbanks cold than where I now live in the "banana belt" of Alaska, especially if you're physically active. Enjoy Fairbanks and the aurora!
posted by summerstorm at 8:07 PM on June 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I wouldn't buy the Skhoop, they're crazy expensive and run very small. I'm an 8 and I wear a large and it's not roomy on me. They are very slim cut in the hips. Also the long down one is insanely hot- like too hot above -20. Just buy a knee length of longer puffy coat from Lands End or LLBean or Eddie Bauer and get boots that are mid calf. Then bring your fleece leggings and some pants and long underwear and you should be good for all occasions. Or buy a shorter coat and go to Costco in FBanks and get a snow skirt for $20, they are pretty warm and cut much more generously than the Skhoops. You should be fine in either one of those set ups, if you get there and it's a million below you can pick up cheap insulated pants at a local store easily.

Hat wise, get one that covers your ears and is windproof. Wool or fleece hats need a lining! Ear flaps are not cool looking but they're good. Get a gaiter for your neck, you shouldn't need a balaclava and scarves are a pita. Get mittens AND thinner gloves (like fleece with touch screen finger tips) so that you can wear the gloves inside the mittens. This is the best set up for photography, making calls etc.
posted by fshgrl at 9:20 PM on June 12, 2017

Best answer: Hey, I live in Fairbanks!

By late October, there's likely to be snow on the ground, and it's likely to be cold, but not crazy-cold. 22 seems a little warm for late October, actually. One year it was -20 at Halloween. Recently it's been warmer than that, but 0 and 10 are not unlikely.

You need:
--A warm coat. One that goes past your butt is nicer. A long one would be great. But those get spendy. Doesn't have to be down.
--A fleece or wool jacket or something to layer under your coat
--Mittens (not gloves!).
--Wool socks
--Decent snow boots (I bought some columbias with Omni-heat and they're pretty nice, they keep my feet warm at reasonably cold temps and they're not as bulky as normal snow boots. They ran small. )
--A winter hat that covers your ears (fleece is fine)
--A neck gaiter!

There is no Costco in Fairbanks. Cheap snow skirts run $25 (on 50% sale at Freddy's) to $50, I don't know if they'll have them for sale when you're here. If you have a long coat then you won't need one. I don't wear long underwear, but I do wear flannel lined jeans.

I can link to examples if it would be helpful when I'm not on my phone. Or send MeMail if I can answer any questions!
posted by leahwrenn at 9:48 PM on June 12, 2017

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