Whether you are planning to go to Alaska during summer or winter, to explore or relax, there are some essential items that must end up in your bag and on your Alaska packing list!
And while some of the items listed here may seem pretty obvious when deciding what to wear in Alaska, others, not so much,
So, if you are a bit confused about what to pack for Alaska and what items to add to your Alaska cruise packing list then this is the post for you.
Because this Alaska packing list is brimming over with expert tips and secret advice on how to pack for a trip to Alaska.
However, on the whole, travelers find it useful to pack many layers of clothing when creating their very own Alaska packing list.
This way, they can be prepared for any and every type of weather when traveling to this amazing state.
But, to fully prepare for your trip, be sure to read this comprehensive packing list – complete with a wealth of insider tips and expert advice on how to properly pack for Alaska.
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After all, this past year has been a wild ride and I don’t want you to lose money because government regulations have changed.
Truth be told though, I’ve never traveled without travel insurance and don’t think you should either – especialy since I think we’ve all had plans drastically change because of the pandemic.
Therefore, find an insurance agency that covers travel changes related to COVID-19, like my two all-time faves World Nomads and Safety Wing. You can also read more about which policy is right for you in my full review here.
Alaska Packing List: Summer
Let’s start with the most popular holiday season in which to visit Alaska – summer! And that’s mostly because the days are longer and temperatures are much warmer at this time of year.
And although local weather does vary greatly based on what latitude you are at, daytime highs tend to range between 60°F – 80°F. In the evening though, daily lows hover between 40 and 50(F).
Pro Tip: If you visit during the shoulder season (aka May and September) expect temperatures to be 5°- 10° cooler and prices to be a lot cheaper than peak season.
Waterproof Hiking Shoes
Naturally, many top Alaska tours feature hiking as a number one activity, especially hiking in the mountains and through glaciers.
Therefore, your feet can get exceptionally wet and cold if you don’t add the proper waterproof biking boots to your Alaska picking list.
Trust me, these types of boots are designed specifically to protect your feet by keeping them both warm and dry.
And while you could definitely try wearing a good pair of rain boots, they potentially might not be as comfortable (and breathable) during long walks.
Also, don’t forget to wear a pair of thick, warm socks when rocking your favorite pair of hiking boots.
Pro Tip: Not sure what type of hiking boots to buy? Try these amazing Columbia brand women’s hiking boots.
Not only are they incredibly comfortable and durable, but they feature innovative technology to make them lightweight and provide you with better traction. Plus, they are less than $100 a pair, making them a total steal.
Although at least an inch of snow is always covering most parts of the ground in Alaska, in the summertime, the temperature can get as high as 71°F, which is still quite warm!
While it is not scorching hot, travelers often see these numbers, think of summer, and quickly throw a few pairs of shorts into their bag.
Yeah, don’t do that. Because with higher temperatures come insane masses of mosquitos that will basically suck you dry while making you itchy and miserable.
Trust me, they can get super annoying throughout the summer, which is why you should add a pair of light, thin pants to your Alaska packing list.
This way, your skin will still be able to breathe while remaining protected from the insects of doom that regularly inundate the state throughout the summer.
Pro Tip: Not sure what light pants to pack? Try these lightweight, quick-dry, cargo/hiking pants from Libin. After all, they are super comfortable, feature tons of pockets, well-priced, and last forever. Yeah, they’re basically the only pair of hiking pants you’ll ever need.
While packing shirts for your trip to Alaska, you should consider the same things that did you did when packing pants.
Only, you might want to throw in some short-sleeved t-shirts too since it’s easy to get overheated at high elevations if you’re already wearing long pants.
So, purchase some athletic shirts that are designed to help your skin breathe and to help cool you off while you’re getting active in the wilds of Alaska.
Once again, do not be lulled into a false sense of security and into thinking that you do not need a jacket when traveling to Alaska in the summer.
Because although higher temperatures may appear in your daily weather forecast, it can still get quite chilly, particularly in the evenings and at higher altitudes.
Therefore, you’ll probably need to add at least two jackets to your Alaska packing list – a raincoat and a heavier, coat.
Yeah, it’s humid and rains quite a bit in Alaska. So, a durable raincoat will come in super handy.
And then the heavier coat will be useful when it gets cold in the evenings/early mornings or when the wind picks up and whips through the coast.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for a quality winter jacket then try this one from Columbia. it’s really well-made, will keep you nice and warm, and won’t fall apart on you. Plus, it’s available in a variety of colors that are sure to match your style.
Alaska Packing List: Winter
If you choose to visit Alaska in winter, your Alaska packing list will differ greatly from the one outlined above.
After all, winter weather – between November and March – can mean tons of snow and daily temperatures between 0°F and -30°F.
So, keeping that fact in mind, here are some essential items to keep you as comfortable as possible in the arctic tundra as you marvel at the northern lights dancing through the sky.
As weird and as uncomfortable as it sounds, long underwear is a life-saver during the chilly winter months in Alaska!
In fact, an additional layer of protection from the elements might just be the thing that saves you from freezing.
Also, consider getting a silk pair of long underwear, if at all possible. Not only are they super comfortable, but they are incredibly thin and won’t take up any additional room beneath your clothing.
While we’ve already mentioned adding thick socks to our summer Alaska packing list, you should definitely add some even thicker ones to your suitcase for winter!
Also, remember that you will probably spend most of your time with your feet trudging through the snow.
Therefore, you want an additional layer of material on your feet, and legs, since these parts of your body tend to get cold the fastest.
Pro Tip: Honestly, there is nothing worse than having perpetually cold feet throughout your entire trip to Alaska. Yeah, it’s basically miserable with a capital “M”.
So, if you’re not sure what type of socks to pack, try these. They’re well-priced, thermal-insulated, heat-trapping socks that will help keep your feet warm and toasty all winter long.
Naturally, you will need a warm winter jacket to get you through any winter trip to Alaska.
Because as was already mentioned, the temperature in Alaska can get extremely low. So, be sure to pack a warm, winter jacket that is proven to keep you warm in temperatures of up to -50 F.
And if you’re not sure where to get such a jacket, try LL Bean. They carry a wide array of high-quality winter coats that are guaranteed to keep you warm in the coldest temperatures.
So much so that the jacket will actually specifically say what temperatures it can withstand. Plus, many of these jackets are now made with super light, uber-modern materials that are easy to pack.
Pro Tip: This may feel like common sense but in addition to your jacket, don’t forget your hat, gloves, and a thick scarf too.
This term probably reminds you of childhood snow days where you spent hours frolicking through the snow in vibrant, super puffy snow gear.
You know, the type of stuff that is so thick that you basically can’t move your arms and legs.
Thankfully though, snow pants have changed a lot since the good old days. As a result, snow pants are a lot lighter but remain well insulated.
Any pair you purchase should also be fairly sturdy and specifically designed for hiking, skiing, or any other type of winter activity.
And if you’re not concerned about limited mobility, you could also shop for a pair of coveralls to guarantee you maximum warmth and protection.
Pro Tip: Try these Postropaky Women’s Outdoor Snow Pants. They’re incredibly light, come with a TON of pockets, are well-insulated, and are super affordable too.
Plus, they have an awesome zipper at the bottom so you can fit them over your boots if you decide to go skiing or snowboarding.
Other General Items for Your Packing List
While you have separate lists for summer and winter, there is a lot of stuff that you should bring with you regardless of the season.
And several items that you should always have on your Alaska cruise packing list include:
- Sunscreen – Yes, as silly as it sounds, sunscreen is not only for holidays at the beach. In fact, sun exposure in Alaska can be next-level brutal if you spend a lot of time outside. Especially with intense rays bouncing off the white snow. Trust me, it’s easy to burn quickly so be prepared with some high SPF sunscreen!
- Sunglasses – On that same note, sunglasses are essential and not just for comfort. Because as previously mentioned, snow in Alaska can be extremely dangerous.
Therefore, if you don’t wear sunglasses and spend too much time outside, you can contract snow blindness. Particularly in the wintertime, when the sun is at a low angle, intensifying the effect of UV rays, which can burn your corneas.
Trust me, this is an actual condition that affects a lot of high altitude climbers and that requires treatment. So beware, and always carry sunglasses!
- Sleep Mask – Although this item on your Alaska packing list is not absolutely necessary, most people have trouble sleeping with the lights or when Alaska experiences Midnight Sun throughout the summer.
Basically, this is the time of year when the sun never set and when you might have serious trouble sleeping. So, keep your eyes covered and enjoy some well-earned rest!
- Day Pack – This might be obvious, but most activities in Alaska take a lot of time – whether it is hiking, climbing, skiing, cruising, etc. So never leave your hotel without a daypack. Also be sure to fill it with all of your necessary, daily essentials like sunscreen, a bottle of water, and, of course, snacks!