Post Summary: Alaska Packing List Essentials and What To Pack For A Trip To Alaska
So you’ve decided to take an Alaska road trip. Lucky you!
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 have visited Alaska a couple times, and we’ve seen it all.
No matter what time of year, you can encounter rain, snow, wind, and blinding sunshine all in the same week. With so much diversity in climate and weather, it can be difficult to figure out what to wear in Alaska.
Keep scrolling for our summer Alaska packing list essentials, and scroll down even further for seasonal additions along the way.
The Complete Alaska Packing List For Summer
Let’s start with an Alaska packing list for summer. This is by far the best time of year to visit Alaska. We’ll dive into specifics below, but later sections are dedicated to suggestions you’ll need during other times of the year.
Alaska Packing List: Clothing
1. Lots of Layers
Alaska can be calm and sunny one moment, and the next will bring high winds and rain! It’s essential to be prepared for any type of weather during your trip in Alaska.
Here are the layers you should be packing:
- Base Layer: Merino wool or quick-dry synthetic fabric. NO cotton. (Cotton can hold on to water and make you feel colder.)
- Fleece Jacket: This layer retains heat and keeps you warmer.
- Rain shell or wind breaker. Depending on the weather, the outer layer should keep you away from the elements.
2. Long Pants
No matter what time of year you visit, long pants are an essential element to your Alaska packing list.
Not only do they keep you warmer, but they can also protect your legs from the weather and mosquitos! They can prevent you from getting scratched by underbrush on overgrown hiking trails and keep mud off your body!
3. Wool Socks
Why wool socks specifically? Generally, wool can still keep you warm even if the material gets wet.
This is especially important to consider when planning for a trip to Alaska during summer. Rain is imminent and there are lakes, rivers, and streams abound, meaning there’s always a chance \you’ll get wet!
4. Waterproof Boots
To keep your feet dry on the trails, add a pair of waterproof boots or sturdy shoes to your Alaska packing list.
During your trip, you may find yourself crossing streams, hopping tide pools, or getting in and out of boats (especially if your plans take you down to the Kenai Peninsula!)
5. Rubber Boots
Looking to get up close to the waves or hunt for seafood along the shore? Consider packing a pair of rubber rain boots too!
This will give you a little more freedom to wander the shores, streams, and tide pools with a little more protection.
6. Fleece Jacket
A fleece jacket is an excellent layer to add to your Alaska packing list.
Fleece is lightweight and paired with other layers, it keeps you warm on those cold evenings.
7. Rain Jacket
No matter what time of year you visit Alaska, you should be packing a rain jacket! It is the Pacific Northwest after all.
Choose one that is lightweight, and can be stuffed into a day pack or small backpack.
8. Windbreaker Jacket
If you plan to be hanging out on the beach or hiking to the top of a peak, you need to add a windbreaker to your Alaska packing list. Windbreakers will keep you warm even when the wind is whipping, which is more often than you would expect!
You can double up on a windbreaker/rain jacket combo too, so you don’t have to pack two separate coats.
For casual evenings around the bonfire, a casual hoodie will do just fine! It’s important to have plenty of layers, even in the summertime in Alaska
Alaska Packing List: Accessories
10. Sun Hat
While you may opt for a beanie in the rainier months, summer Alaska days are very long and it’s still wise to bring sun protection!
Along with a hat, sunglasses will protect your eyes from the harsh rays. Depending on the time of year you plan your trip to Alaska, there night be a chance that you never even see the night sky at all!
These glasses from Knockaraound comes in tons of colors and are inexpensive too. This way, you don’t have to worry too much if you end up losing them.
12. Warm Hat
Coming to Alaska in the should seasons of summer (spring or fall)? Chances are that the sun won’t be much of an issue, but the wind surely will!
We like to pack at least one or two beanies with us on our trips. They will keep you warm as you walk along the beach, on a trail, or if you’re sitting outside around a bonfire.
13. Packing Cubes
If you like to stay organized on trips (like me!), we highly recommend using packing cubes!
Using them, you can sort out your clothes by type (shirts, pants, underwear, etc) or by outfit.
We also pack an empty packing cube on purpose, to use for dirty laundry. This way, they stay separate in your bag!
14. Hair Ties
Alaska can get windy, especially on open field hiking trails or hikes by the water.
Pack a few extra hair ties in your bag to tame those flyaways. We always pack more than we need, because I always end up losing them.
15. Small Wallet / Waist Pack
Alaska is remote, yes. But sometimes, the cities get a bad rap for being targets of car prowlers. We don’t recommend leaving valuables in your car anywhere you park.
For comfort, pack a small waist pack to keep cash, cards, and keys on hand.
If you don’t want your items visible, you can also opt to get a small neck wallet, and tuck it away under your jacket or in your shirt, but this is a little unecessary for Alaska, because almost everyone we meet here is friendly and welcoming.
16. Cash & Debit/Credit Card
Depending on where you visit in Alaska, it can be a gamble whether they take credit or debit cards. (Some places only take cash, or even farther out, barther for items and services too!) However, in popular tourism towns, it’s common for places to take cards.
To be safe, pack BOTH cash and cards in your wallet to prepare for any situation. ATMs are common in bigger Alaska towns like Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Seward.
If you take day trips from Anchorage to smaller towns, you’ll want to have both forms on payment just in case.
17. Travel Insurance (Optional)
Because Alaska is well, Alaska, there’s always an inherent risk of danger involved here. It’s always a good idea to have travel insurance to protect your items, yourself, and your trip.
If you are concerned about your trip being interrupted, it’s a safe bet to purchase travel insurance.
Travel insurance can cover things like a health emergency, travel changes, and even more specifics if you want. This one is up to you and your comfort level.
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 – especially gloves.
Hats and gloves are also essential if you’re going to be on a boat. The weather feels 10 degrees cooler out at sea.
It’s no secret that Alaska is STUNNING. Don’t forget to capture those moments and bring a camera! It doesn’t have to be a fancy one either – smartphones now take just as high-quality images. Read our top tips on capturing brilliant smartphone landscape photography!
Want To See Our Setup? Read Our Complete Travel Photography Gear List
Bird watching? Whale watching? If scoping out wildlife is your jam, consider bringing a pair of travel binoculars.
This way, you can hang them around your neck on the trail and be ready for a surprising sighting!
21. Waterproof Phone Case
If you are planning to spend an extended amount of time in or around the water, pack a waterproof phone case.
We can’t even count how many times our phone has dropped out of our pocket on the sand or a tide pool. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
22. Power Bank
Have you ever been stuck in an unfamiliar place with a dead phone? Trust us, it’s not fun!
Pack a pocket-sized power bank and an extra phone charging cable. This way, you have power on hand when you need it.
23. Extra Cords or Chargers
Because Berty and I travel a lot, we’ve learned that outlets in hotels or Airbnbs aren’t always in the most convenient places!
This is why we bought 6ft phone charging cords on Amazon. When the only outlet is clear across the room, it’s a lifesaver!
Alaska Packing List: Hygiene + Outdoor Gear
You’ll need your basic toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant…all those essentials.
Reusable Water Bottle
There were plenty of times we needed water, whether it be for cooking backpacking meals, cleaning, or just drinking. Pack a large reusable water bottle like ones from Nalgene or Hydroflask to keep you hydrated and healthy!
Waterproof 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.
Bonus it it includes a separate external pocket to store your muddy boots and outdoor gear from your clean items!
So, you can’t fly with Bear Spray, but we DO recommend buying it once you land at your destination. This is especially true if you are planning to venture out on hiking trails in Alaska.
Bears, moose, and other big animals are hunting and fishing during the summer months!
Bug Spray and Sunscreen
A bad sunburn or itchy bug bites can really put a damper on your adventure! We don’t mess around when it comes to bug spray and suncreen.
Packable Down Blanket
In our VW Westfalia adventure around Alaska, the van rental company provided two down-filled blankets for us to use, and immediately bought our own set after our trip.
These blankets are ultra-light but ultra-warm, making it the perfect camping or adventure accessory. Some favorites are made by Rumpl.
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 Last Frontier Westys. 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 PACKING LISTS
Looking for more ideas about what to add to your Alaska packing list? Follow our Alaska Inspiration Board on Pinterest for more!