“You can’t be cold – you’re from Alaska!”
Whenever the weather gets cold, no matter where in the world I’m living, someone feels the need to point out that I can’t feel cold because I grew up in Alaska. Untrue, my friends. I do feel cold… I just also know how to dress for the cold.
Whether you’re visiting Alaska for a cruise or planning to spend a few days exploring Alaska, here’s what years of living in and traveling to Alaska have taught me about how to pack for travel in Alaska.
This post was originally published August 2014, and updated July 2017.
What to Pack for Travel in Alaska
If you can’t tell, your Alaska packing list should focus primarily on outer layers – keyword layers.
- Base Layer Tanks. As usual, my packing list starts with base layer tanks. These pack small and mix-and-match to help you get more outfits out the least amount of packed items. ($14.50 on Amazon)
- Knit Sweaters. Stay warm by wearing a nice knit sweater each day; you’ll be comfortable enough inside and under a few jacket layers. ($18.99 on Amazon)
- Legging Pants. Another classic on my packing lists, legging pants are perfect for Alaska. They’re comfortable for long car, train, and boat rides, but also fit well enough that you can go for a short hike or walk in the woods wearing them. (From $19.99 on Amazon)
- Jackets. Here’s where the layers really come in. I am always ‘over’-pack jackets because it’s great to put them on in different combinations depending on Alaska’s ever-changing weather. There are three types of jackets I recommend to cover all Alaska weather:
- A rain trench coat, like the ExOfficio Emei Trench, that’s extra-long to keep you extra dry. (from $199 on Amazon)
- A packable down jacket, like the Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Jacket, with its own stuff sack. ($69.90 on Uniqlo)
- A wind-resistant shell, like the North Face Apex Bionic Jacket. (From $115 on Amazon)
- Flats. A nice pair of flats that pack down small is good for Alaska, where a few nice restaurants and breweries justify getting a bit dressed up. As usual, I love and recommend Toms Jutti flats. ($69.95 on Amazon)
- Boots. I can’t rave enough about the Teva Delavina ankle boots; anytime I’m headed outside, these soft leather boots are my go-to, especially as they’re water resistant. ($119.95 on Amazon)
- Hat. Even if you visit in the summer, it’s worth throwing a hat in your bag. Mornings and evenings can still be chilly, and you won’t regret being able to put it on. ($14.99 on Amazon)
- Scarf. As you know, I never travel without a scarf, and Alaska is a perfect destination for a blanket scarf you can wrap your whole upper body in. ($13 on Amazon)
- Over-Shoulder Camera Bag. My last trip to Alaska was my first trip with a new camera. I made sure to bring my favorite camera bag: the Bowery bag by ONA Bags. It’s small but still fits all my gear, phone, and wallet. (From $145 on Amazon)
If you don’t pack according to my packing list, you may end up wearing a poncho, like I did at Exit Glacier!
[success]If you enjoyed this story, check out other helpful posts about Alaska:
- UnCruise Adventures – The Best Alaska Cruise
- How to Pick Alaska Cruise Excursions
- Three Hikes in Alaska Anyone Can Do – Even a Cheechako!
- Should You Visit Alaska in Spring? Five Great Reasons Why
- 10 Days in Alaska: An Itinerary & Guide
- A Local Guide to the Anchorage Market & Festival
- Best Places in Alaska to See Denali (Mt. McKinley)
- Major Marine Tours – A Perfect Day Cruise from Seward, Alaska
- My Favorite Small Alaskan Town: A Guide to Hope[/success]