With a nickname like “The Last Frontier”, you know you’re in for an epic adventure when going to Alaska. Did you know that Alaska has the most coastline of any state, the highest mountain in North America, AND over half of the glaciers in the world are here!? Berty and I came in one the most unpredictable months here…April. This is the season where you can meet rain, snow, wind and blinding sunshine all in the same week. With so much diversity of climate and weather, it can be difficult to figure out what to wear in Alaska. Thankfully, we packed for all occasions and we want to share with you our Alaska road trip adventure essentials!
The Complete Alaska Road Trip Packing List
- Wool Socks – Keep your feet dry during those long hikes and wet days! Whether you’ll be keeping warm around a campfire or trudging across a creek during a hike, you’ll want socks that are warm, but breathable.
- Hats and gloves – Yes, spring and summer may mean warmer weather everywhere else in the US, but Alaska doesn’t follow the rules. Know that it may be colder here and pack accordingly. Hats and gloves are also essential if you’re going to be on a boat. The weather feels 10 degrees cooler out at sea.
- Rain Gear – If you are visiting Alaska in the spring, or even early summer, a rain jacket is a MUST. Denali is so vast and high that it can create its own weather system, and down south in the Kenai coastal areas or Kodiak Islands, the ocean can bring all sorts of unpredictable weather. Our current go-to brands for rain gear are Stutterheim and Columbia. Stutterheim makes impenetrable classic rubber shields that keep you dry no matter the circumstances. Case in point: Berty stood under Sahalie Falls in Oregon on a hike wearing his jacket. His legs and shoes were completely drenched, but he was bone dry under anything that was covered by his Stutterheim jacket.
- Layers – These pieces include sweat-wicking long sleeves, camping flannels, quarter-zip pullovers and tie around the waist type clothing. Layers are important, especially for hiking. Activity and elevation can affect your body temp, so it can be easily regulated with your clothes!
- Compression Leggings – Leggings are important because they’re lightweight and comfortable. Our favorite athletic brand is Outdoor Voices because they are stylish, yet extremely breathable and function for everything from sitting around a campfire to sweating up a mountain.
- Hiking boots – There are so many amazing places to hike in Alaska that you will practically be living in these shoes. Make sure you have a pair that is broken in very well. Our favorite shoes for hiking are made by Red Wing, which are waterproof and molds to your feet the longer you wear them!
- Rain boots – Spring in Alaska is often referred to as “breakup” season because of the melting snow and ice. In between locations, we would need an easy shoe to slip on and off, and rain boots were the perfect combo of ease of use and protection against the soggy elements outside. Stutterheim also makes great rain boots, and we packed them for Alaska because they are durable and lightweight for packing in a suitcase.
- Toiletries – You’ll need your basic toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, all those essentials. But more importantly is what you pack it in. Will Leather Goods makes travel kits out of black canvas with stylish leather handles. It also includes zippers to separate and keeps items organized.
- Duffel Bags – Will Leather Goods also creates carry-on sized leather duffels. Our favorite feature of this bag is the separate shoe storage under the main pocket. Finally, a bag that keeps muddy hiking boots off your clothes!
- Packing Cubes – Berty and I were traveling across Alaska in a vintage VW Westfalia van, which meant that gear organization was essential in the small van. We use the Eagle Creek multi-size pouches, as well as the REI packing cubes in large.
- Large Duffel Bag – Berty and I packed in our backpacking backpacks, but if we had a do-over, we’d leave those bags at home. We suggest bringing something like a Patagonia Black Hole duffel instead. Something with a soft, squishable shell but a wide opening will help you see everything without having to pull all your items out.
- Sleeping bags – During our trip, we slept most of our night in the car so sleeping bags were essential. These could also be helpful if you plan to camp, take a backpacking trip, or rent a dry cabin. Make sure to pack one that can handle cold weather, like this down-filled one from Marmot or this ultra-light one from Klymit.
- Packable Down Blanket – In our VW Westfalia adventure with Trickster Trips, the owner provided two down-filled blankets for us to use, and we’re buying a set of our own ASAP. These blankets are ultra-light but ultra-warm, making it the perfect camping or adventure accessory. Some favorites are made by Rumpl and Brooks-Range.
- Large Water Bottle – There were plenty of times we needed water, whether it be for cooking, cleaning, or just drinking. Pack a large water bottle like ones from Nalgene or Hydroflask to keep you hydrated and healthy!
- Portable Battery Pack – Service can be really spotty and these VW vans don’t have external batteries. Don’t kill your car!
- Canon G7X – This camera is perfect for both video and photo, in a small, packable size!
- Good music, great audiobooks – These will keep you occupied on the long Alaskan roads – you can try a free 30-day trial for Amazon music here and audiobooks here!
- Cameras – Berty and I use our Canon 5D Markiii and Markiv, but any camera will work for your trip! We also packed our big 100-400 lens so we could capture wildlife shots on our tour with Major Marine in Ressurection Bay!
- Hard drives, batteries, SD/CF cards – We use the Sandisk 64GB cards, and this hard-case memory card holder to store all of them while we travel.
Read More: Our Complete Travel Photography Gear List
What would you pack for an Alaska road trip? Do you have your own Alaska packing list essentials to share? Tell us in the comment below!
Note: We came to Alaska and collaborated with a vintage camper van company called Trickster Trips. They equipped the van with cookware, sleeping gear, and all the comforts we could need. We got to use the van with a beefy heater (that uses propane so it doesn’t drain the battery) which means it’s one of the vans that can be rented earlier and later in the summer season! If you are planning to camp, you’ll need to bring camping gear!
Read More: What It’s Like To Road Trip In A Vintage VW Westfalia in Alaska
READ MORE PACKING LISTS
Want more inspiration for your Alaskan Road Trip? More ideas about what to wear in Alaska? Follow our Alaska Inspiration Board on Pinterest for more!
Want to find the best places in the PNW?
Stop searching through internet noise and download our curated list just for you.
Enter your email below and we'll send you your PNW Bucket List!