I’ve produced this piece from our recent trips in Alaska to help you limit down your summer packing list to just contain the essentials. As I packed our suitcases, I jotted down everything in a spreadsheet and then marked out the stuff we didn’t use, so you’re getting the most condensed version of our Alaska must-haves. I’ll also show you instances of how we utilized certain clothes and gear in our Alaska summer packing list to help you plan out your own requirements. This is an Alaska family packing list, so it includes everything you’ll need! It may be used as an Alaska packing list for adults as well as for children.
Packing advice for Alaska
Bring clothes that you are willing to get soiled. The last thing you want to worry about is keeping clean when hiking, dog sledding, fishing, kayaking, and all of your other Alaska outdoor pleasures. It’s just not going to happen, and if you don’t have to worry about it, you’ll have a better time.
Similarly, carry clothing that is simple to wash and dry. Ideally, you’ll stay in at least one location with laundry facilities or schedule a trip to the laundromat in the midst of your journey. Pack easy-care clothes for Alaska unless you like spending a lot of time standing over a sink and will be staying in one spot long enough for your clothes to dry. When planning your Alaska lodgings, think about your laundry issue.
Consider layers. Because Alaska’s weather is unpredictable and ever-changing, you can find yourself wearing anything from shorts to a puffer and rain gear on the same day.
Unless you’re traveling for business, you won’t need anything formal or extravagant. Even the nicer restaurants we went to were packed with people wearing jeans and fleeces. Choose solutions that will not obstruct your activities from sunrise to nightfall.
Summer clothing for Alaska
You’ll need some form of comfortable, walking waterproof shoes no matter what time of year you come. Which ones you choose will be determined by your objectives.
Low-top waterproof hiking shoes were our choice, with Super feet insoles tossed in for more support. They were enough for about 10 miles of trekking every day on easy to moderate terrain. You may choose more typical waterproof hiking boots if you’re going on longer or more challenging treks. Whatever you choose, be sure you break them in before your vacation! Pro tip: The majority of the dust in Alaska is a dark gray color. Prepare for it!
We purchased higher waterproof hiking boots for our kids since they aren’t always adept at avoiding puddles. One youngster got a pair with toggle laces, while the other had a pair with Velcro, and they both liked them! They’re excellent waterproof hiking boots for kids, and the pricing is ideal for a family that may not need such severe equipment on a regular basis. However, since my kids evaluated them as quite comfortable, I’m convinced they’ll wear them again for local autumn and winter hiking.
Check for Xtratuf boots if you don’t intend on going on lengthy walks but will be doing a lot of fishing or other water sports. They’re Alaska’s official footwear, and you’ll see them everywhere. Many Alaskans think they’re the greatest shoes to wear there! BOGS insulated rain boots are another popular choice, particularly among children. These keep youngsters’ feet warm and dry, reducing complaints. These could be one of your greatest alternatives if you’re trying to figure out what to wear in Alaska in September, when the weather is colder and rainier.
In the evenings, you may wish to carry a pair of casual shoes. We didn’t use them too much, but they provided some variation for our feet at the conclusion of long hiking days. For aesthetics and waterproofing, we sprayed them (along with our hiking boots) ahead of time. Our children almost ever wore their sneakers, and we might have saved some room by leaving them at home.
I won’t warn you not to pack shorts to Alaska, but I will explain why we opted for trousers. If you’re planning a trip to Alaska in June or July, keep in mind that temperatures may reach the 80s during the hottest portion of the day, yet mosquitos may feast on your exposed skin. The mosquitos had almost gone by the time we were preparing for Alaska in August, but the temps were chilly enough that we could wear lightweight trousers without overheating.
What kind of pants should you pack for Alaska? I took a couple different types with me for the sake of science. I was really pleased with my Prana Halle hiking trousers, as expected (also available here). I’m on my second pair since they’re so good. Prana Zion hiking trousers are their interpretation of the greatest hiking pants for guys.
Jeans are too heavy for me on the path, but if you have place for a pair to go out to dinner a few times, they’re a wonderful change of pace. I was delighted to see them on a few of occasions in Alaska! I also took some leggings with me, which I wore a couple times. When out on a buggy hiking route, I don’t advocate wearing black leggings since mosquitos favor dark colors and may easily bite through leggings (as I learned in Port Douglas). They were great to wear beneath my rain pants (more on them below) on our Kenai Fjords cruise and wherever else I wasn’t worried about mosquitos.
For your summer vacation to Alaska, you’ll want to pack a mix of short and long sleeve clothing. You should have a few that you can layer together to accommodate changes in temperature during the day.
On hot days, we found athletic wicking shirts to be the most comfortable choice. They also travel well, are simple to clean, and are not prohibitively costly. These are my favorites since they’re inexpensive and available in a range of colors. Pro tip: A plain white sports shirt like this one (no logo, not glossy) travels and washes nicely and is a flexible addition to your travel capsule wardrobe. I also slipped on one of my favorite sweaters. I could have done without it and just wore my fleece more, but it was great to have something different.
When you’re touring Alaska for many hours at a time, you’ll need to protect your feet. What’s the best approach to go about it? Wool socks, please! Wool socks will keep your feet fresh and odor-free, and they may normally be worn many times before being washed. For hiking, I choose medium-thick crew height wool socks, and for casual footwear, I prefer thin no-show wool socks.
We also took waterproof socks, based on a few tips we read. Because they’re neoprene on the inside, they are designed to be worn over conventional socks. They have an odd sensation to them, like extremely tight snorkel booties! If you’ll be fishing in standard rain boots (which your fishing guide should offer) rather than hip boots or waders, these could be useful. They were helpful for our family members who have trouble judging water depth and offered additional warmth for everyone, but I’m not sure they were really essential. Rain boots are generally worth taking if you intend on doing a lot of fishing.
I suggest packing two coats to Alaska, but I won’t hold it against you if you bring a third. The idea is to choose choices that you can stack for different situations. I carried three coats with me to Alaska, and they all saw action. You’ll almost certainly be wearing a jacket for at least part of every day of your Alaska vacation, so make sure you have some that are both comfortable and appealing.
A breathable rain jacket should be at the top of your Alaska summer packing list. It’ll keep you dry during sports like fishing and kayaking since you never know when a shower may start. It’ll keep you warm on the coldest Alaska summer days when layered with one or both of the coats below. If you’re purchasing a new one, go up a size to accommodate a warmer jacket or sweater beneath.
The standard jacket for an Alaska excursion is fleece. It’s water-resistant, so even if it gets wet, it’ll keep you toasty. If you face terrible weather, your fleece should layer effectively beneath your rain jacket and over a long-sleeve shirt to keep you warm and dry. A thicker, higher-quality fleece is preferable than a thin one from a large box retailer. On the trek and out to dinner, several nicer-looking fleeces will suffice (at least in Alaska, where everything is extremely casual). Washing and drying fleece is also a breeze. It’s a success!
Puffer jacket with pockets
I was hesitant to bring my packable puffer jacket to Alaska, but it proved to be really useful! The rest of the family didn’t bring them, and they made it through just fine, but I like wearing mine, particularly on twilight walks and on colder days. I wore a hip-length jacket to keep my legs toasty as well!
Pants for rain
As I said before, our whole family packed rain pants for our trip to Alaska. Even though we never used them in the rain, they were still quite useful. They were ideal for our bear-watching, fishing, and kayaking excursions. We would have utilized them at the Kenai Fjords if the weather had been worse — we had them onboard just in case.
Why wear rain pants if there wasn’t much rain? For starters, they’re a terrific windproof layer, which we required on occasion. They’ll also keep your legs dry while you’re out on the water.
Finally, they’ll protect your ordinary pants from becoming filthy, allowing you to reuse them throughout your journey without having to wash them. Because good clothing kept everything below clean, we only did laundry once during our ten days in Alaska. If your rain pants become dirty, all you have to do is wipe them off with a moist towel.
Now you know what to pack for Alaska in the summer. Make sure that you create a packing checklist and follow this guide, so that you will not end up with any disappointment.