PACKING LIST: What do you wish you'd brought with you to Alaska?
May 14, 2021 7:33 AM   Subscribe

So I'm doing a train, flying, hiking, boating trip in Alaska on May 28th. 12 days. I think I'm packing everything I need - base layers, new hiking boots, a patagonia rain jacket, merino wool socks, a solar power pack - and a lot more. I've probably dropped 900 bucks. I think I'm good but also...I don't know what I don't know. What do you wish you'd brought with you on a trip like this?
posted by rileyray3000 to Travel & Transportation around Alaska (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
More liner socks. Also, those new hiking have been breaking them in, right?
posted by rockindata at 7:36 AM on May 14, 2021 [13 favorites]

A rain jacket will keep you dry from the waist up. What will keep you dry from the waist down?

Good camera equipment is essential because you will be able to get once-in-a-lifetime shots and you'll want them to be good. Also, if you have any poetry in your soul at all, take a notebook along to capture your thoughts, impressions, observations, etc.

Have a wonderful trip!
posted by DrGail at 7:52 AM on May 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

And also carry everything you plan to carry on the trip, for as long as you will need to carry it on the trip - that is, it's OK to have a huge bag that you can only drag a block if that's the furthest you'll be dragging it on the trip, but if you'll have to be carrying it all on a long hike, then try that in advance and pare down as necessary.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:04 AM on May 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

I had to buy more base layers at a Fred Meyer in Alaska because mine were not warm enough. Make sure you have a winter hat and gloves.
posted by mcgsa at 8:14 AM on May 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

Binoculars- wildlife may be right in front of you but then again it may not

Hand sanitizer - this may be redundant post pandemic but beware that a lot of toilet facilities will not have running water and plan accordingly

Insect repellent

Good moisturiser and lip care - you’ll be outside a lot in varying weather and your skin will thank you
posted by koahiatamadl at 8:17 AM on May 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Multi-tool if you already own one
posted by carmicha at 8:27 AM on May 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

Some years are worse than others, but please bring serious mosquito repellent.
posted by mochapickle at 8:36 AM on May 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

A blindfold for sleeping.

You will be there when there will be little to no darkness overnight. If you are at all sensitive to light while sleeping, bring a blindfold so you don't have to rely on the blinds/curtains/whatever of your room to be dark enough so you can sleep at night. No point going to Alaska and being horrendously sleep deprived.
posted by foodmapper at 8:37 AM on May 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

You might want a head net and bug pants if you want to wear shorts. People who've been here longer than me are saying it's going to be a bad mosquito year.
posted by blnkfrnk at 8:47 AM on May 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Heavy duty ziploc bags. Spare no expense and get the highest quality ones you can find. Buy a whole box of them and bring them all. Better yet, buy two boxes, small and large. You will be Shocked and Amazed how handy these are on a trip like this. Need to keep electronics dry? Ziploc bag! An article of clothing got super soaked and you need to sequester it from all your dry stuff? Ziploc bag! Have a bunch of fussy little knick-knacks that you've accumulated that keep falling to the bottom of your backpack? Ziploc bag! Couldn't finish that peanut butter & jelly sandwich but want to save it for later? Ziploc bag! One of your pairs (you are bringing lots of pairs, yes?) of wool socks has gotten stomach-churningly smelly and you don't want to throw them away? Ziploc bag! Got some trash to pack out? Ziploc bag!

Ziploc bags. Don't leave home without 'em.
posted by googly at 8:48 AM on May 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

A first aid kit. Bear spray, but get that when you arrive. At least 100 feet of cord.
posted by kerf at 8:54 AM on May 14, 2021

Oh! My friend who grew up in Healy and worked with me in Denali often wore these pile-lined slipper type shoes everywhere, and I picked up the habit as well and still wear them here in the lower 48. They were lovely and cozy for shuffling around camp at night.
posted by mochapickle at 8:55 AM on May 14, 2021

Bring moleskin and small scissors to cut the moleskin and and blister cover/bandaid things, and some sort of friction cream, for your feet and for everywhere. I'd bring lots of moleskin, really.

I'd say the best prep you can do is make sure you are wearing those hiking boots for a few hours at a time several times a week, even if it's just around the neighborhood. Preferably you'll do one walk with some weight on your back and at least some hills.

(A few weeks ago I went on a tough dayhike in my hiking boots I've had for years; I've walked and hiked many miles in these boots, which fit me well. But I've hardly been wearing them lately. My feet would be a total disaster if I didn't have moleskin. You'll develop hot spots pretty quickly, so I'd say to take a walk for a few miles, including up and down a few hills, pretty soon, so you'll know where the hotspots are. And bring moleskin and little scissors on that walk too!)
posted by bluedaisy at 9:04 AM on May 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Definitely bring a bug net for your head. As soon as you stop moving you'll be swarmed by mosquitoes, so the net is essential when eating outdoors at your campsite.
posted by monotreme at 9:28 AM on May 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Someone said bear spray, but also get a bell, or prepare yourself to sing the whole time you're hiking.
posted by blnkfrnk at 9:29 AM on May 14, 2021

A diy sewing kit? Just a sturdy needle, a bobbin of black or white thread and a couple safety pins. You don’t need to be matchy with colors.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 9:55 AM on May 14, 2021

Water purification tablets, I spent 3 months travelling AK and often had to drink rather indifferent water. Beaver fever / giardiasis (beavers are not the only vector). A head bug net is a good idea too at times.

I carried bear spray (Counter Assault is a sensible one) and it proved essential a couple of times for dogs, works amazingly well.

I was cycling and often the interior is quite warm and still - and buggy. I found a thin Gore-Tex layer and just shorts and singlet under helped me stay cool as the bugs were, well, very buggy..

Again, good rainpants, bib-front is good (with a pocket), helps keep your middle warm.

Thin polypro gloves with a long cuff, enables you to avoid a gap between sleeve and glove (again bugs).

If you don't walk a lot I find a thin pair of socks beneath thicker ones works well to avoid blisters. It also saves carrying too many thick socks.

A map sleeve (larger ZipLoc) if you're carrying paper maps.

A wide-brim hat is good as a hood blocks too much sound, you want to hear the bush when you're walking in it.

Multitools are heavy, a small Swiss-Army knife with scissors, tweezers, a tiny screwdriver for my glasses, etc. served me well.
posted by unearthed at 12:31 PM on May 14, 2021

+1 rain *pants.*

+1 something to cover your eyes when sleeping if light bothers you. Unlikely you will need a headlamp unless you are somewhere south of Anchorage and gallivanting around at 1-4 AM, specifically.

+1 bear spray (but you have to get it after your flight, also the trail culture here is pretty strongly (almost exclusively) dog off-leash and I do. not. recommend. bear spraying anyone’s dog unless it is being actively aggressive).

Adding: warm hat and gloves; I know it is summer, but it’s *cold* on the water and on the top of peaks, and weather changes quickly- I often find myself using mine if it’s not sunny.

Adding: do you have seasonal tree allergies? Even a little? Fairbanks and Anchorage have the highest levels of birch pollen in the world and greenup is very late this year so counts could be over a thousand still in a week or two. We just started seeing tiny leaves in Anchorage yesterday and today so it’s just beginning to ramp up. Bring your meds if you need them, stuff is expensive here.

Make sure you check current conditions before you go anywhere with big plans; be flexible. The snowpack stayed high throughout the winter in Southcentral and is not going to be fast to melt out. If Hatcher Pass hikes or Lost Lake out of Seward, for example, were on your itinerary those will probably not happen until late June at the earliest this year.

Message if you want local advice on anything specific.
posted by charmedimsure at 10:56 PM on May 14, 2021

I spent 10 days near Petersburg in the panhandle, 10 years ago on a trip where we spent much time on the water in Wrangell channel and environs. I brought all my fleece, goretex, long sleeve gear, gloves, a hat, the sleeping mask etc

It was warm that week, and I’m glad that I was able to nip in to the general store to get some shorts and tshirts. I ended up wearing them a lot in daytime, while resorting to the fleece gear in the evenings.

Throw that light pair of shorts and tee and tank into your pack. They take so little room, yet might be essential.
posted by seawallrunner at 1:02 AM on May 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

« Older What should not be missed in or around Dayton...   |   Deciding what to fix when selling house Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.