*If you have any questions that aren't answered in this post, please leave them in the comments section where I do my best to answer all Alaska related questions directly!
Alaska Packing Tips
Tip 1 : It might be hard, but try to pack what you need in a carry on. This is always our go to tip, especially with all the lost bags and delayed flights we've been hearing about lately. If you do end up needing to check in a bag - make sure to throw in an air tag so you know exactly where your bag is! My husband Tyler and I lost a bag once and turned out that it was sitting at the Anchorage airport for 3 weeks - so I really recommend packing light unless you're visiting on an all inclusive luxury tour. This also makes it easier to carry your bags around on your adventures!
Tip 2 : Bring LAYERS. I can't stress this enough. Weather in Alaska changes so quickly and rapidly that you might be comfortable in a t-shirt and shorts for one minute and then need a jacket and wool socks the next. Certain activities, like if you're planning a glacier experience or a wildlife cruise can get especially chilly.
Tip 3 : Think casual. Unless you have a formal night planned on a cruise or other adventure, most people in Alaska don't "dress up." Try to focus on packing outdoor activewear - clothes that are comfortable and you won't mind getting dirty. These will help keep you mobile, comfortable, and help you enjoy all the epic experiences you're planning!
21 Items You Need in Alaska
1. Base Layers / Waterproof Layers
Even in the summer, I use my Eddie Bauer thermal ALL THE TIME, especially if it's cloudy out. I highly recommend bringing thermal base layers to wear underneath your clothes for chillier weather and waterproof shells like a raincoat or durable poncho - especially if you're planning to head out on a wildlife or glacier cruise.
2. Fleece Jacket
A nice warm fleece coat will help keep you warm on outdoor activities, especially if you're planning to do some hikes or visit some glaciers! Even if you're visiting in the Summer, it's not unheard of that places like Denali can get snow in July! Make sure to pack in other tops, pants, socks and underwear too.
3. Outdoors Shoes
The only 3 shoes my husband and I ever use in the summer in Alaska are our Tevas, Hiking Boots, and Adidas Terrex - all linked in my shopping list!
4. Sun Protection
You probably wouldn't guess it but the sun in Alaska sits really low on the horizon, and it's scientifically proven that when you're out and about when it's sunny that the rays hit a larger percentage of your body directly! This is why it is so important to bring sunscreen - you'll get way more burnt than you think!
5. Light Winter Hat, Scarf, and Gloves
It's my assumption that while you're visiting Alaska this summer you're also planning to visit some glaciers and joining in on some wildlife boat tours. If that's the case then I highly recommend bringing a light set of winter hats, scarves, and gloves - the wind coming off the glacier will be pretty chilly once you get close!
6. Eye Mask
During the summer months Alaska becomes the land of the midnight sun, which means depending where you're staying the sun will most likely never set - which is why we would recommend bringing an eye mask. Many hotels, Airbnbs specifically, tend to forget the blackout shades and this way you'll still be able to catch up on some sleep. Don't forget sunglasses for during the day!
7. Mosquito Repellant
During the summer mosquitos are EVERYWHERE in Alaska. The further north you go the worse they'll get, and if you don't use mosquito repellant or bug spray then this is a great time to start. You can always purchase this once you make it here, but we've seen a few instances where stores have been completely sold out, so we recommend bringing some options with you just in case.
8. Fishing License
If you're looking to do some fishing while you're in Alaska, then you'll need a fishing license. If you purchase this ahead of time then make sure to print out a copy and bring it with you - it's state law that your fishing license needs to be on your person anytime you're fishing. My husband and I keep ours in a ziplock baggie so it doesn't get wet. If you didn't purchase one beforehand you can still get one once you get here - either online at this link or in person at most outdoors stores like Cabela's.
9. Small First Aid Kit
This is probably the least "necessary" item on our list. Chances are you won't get hurt or you'll be able to find what you need at Walmart, but it never hurts to be a little prepared for the "just in case," especially since so many activities in Alaska might be a bit more adventurous than you're used to at home.
10. Binoculars / Scope
If you're hoping to see any wildlife while you're here then we highly recommend bringing binoculars or a scope, especially if you're headed to Denali or any of the other National Parks. Chances are the wildlife will be close enough to see with your naked eyes, but you don't want to miss out on something if it's too far away.
If there's one thing you're going to want to have with you in Alaska, it's your camera. The views and wildlife you see in Alaska will truly be unlike anything else - and you'll want to document it. Which is why a good camera (and good gear) takes up spots 11, 12, and 13 on our list. If you're looking to get some new gear before your trip, you can check out all my recommended camera gear here.
12. Camera Batteries & Charger
You've got the camera, don't forget the charger! This might also be a great opportunity to invest in an extra battery pack!
13. Extra SD Cards / Memory
In addition to an extra battery pack, if you end up seeing a lot of wildlife during your trip then chances are your SD card might run out of space. I would recommend having at least 2 cards with you!
14. Backpack / DryBag
The one thing I use more than our outdoor shoes is our outdoor/hiking backpack. Any bag will work as long as it's comfortable and you're ok carrying it on hikes and other adventures. Something big enough to fit snacks, water, your camera, bug spray, sunscreen, extra layers like a raincoat, and your bear deterrent. I also recommend putting a small waterproof dry bag inside for valuables in case you get caught in a down pour, visiting a waterfall, or going rafting!
15. Reusable Water Bottle
Tap water in Alaska is safe to drink! This will help cut down on your plastic use and stay hydrated on all your adventures. If you're planning to hike on or land on a glacier, make sure to bring your water bottle with you - you might get the special chance to fill it up with fresh glacier water!
16. Personal ID / Passport
Whatever you used to get here you'll need on your way out too. Make sure to keep these in a safe place - and a reminder, even if you're coming from somewhere else in the US, you might need your passport depending on where your layover is!
Some hotels will have a hot tub or pool! Make sure to throw in a swimsuit - even if it's just to do a "polar plunge" in one of the lakes or go swimming in a waterfall! If you plan on visiting Fairbanks, make sure to stop at Chena Hot Springs - or Alyeska Nordic Spa in Girdwood for some relaxing hot springs!
18. Bear Deterrent
If you're planning to do some hikes then we 100% recommend getting some kind of bear deterrent. You WILL NOT be able to fly with bear spray (which is our top recommendation) but you can bring some noise makers like bells that you can attach to your backpack. Once you get to town you'll also be able to find some places that rent out bear spray!
19. Toiletries / Medicine
Always a good idea. If you forget, there's plenty of stores in Anchorage where you'll be able to find what you need, but just in case your plane back gets delayed or an adventure in Alaska gets extended, I recommend bringing at least a one week extra supply of any medicine you need.
20. Phone / Charger
I'll be honest I'm not sure if I needed to add this one to my list but just in case, these are two things you'll want with you. Before you come to Alaska, make sure to have all the information, phone numbers, and addresses you need for your tours and excursions.
21. Wallet / Keys
Again, something most people probably won't forget. But an item I wanted to add nonetheless. ;) With these 21 items, you should be all set for an epic summer adventure in Alaska!
Other Alaska blog posts you might be interested in :
-> 15 Easiest Alaska Glaciers to Visit
-> How to see the Northern Lights in Alaska
-> 7 Best Tours in Alaska
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In 2021 my husband Tyler convinced me to move to Alaska. After living there for a year (then leaving to take a year long world trip) we realized there was no place we loved more. So now we're back - and I'm here to share all my best tips and hidden gems to make
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