How to Pack for Alaska

How to Pack for Alaska

Cruise season and summer vacation is fast approaching, and one destination on the list is Alaska

The weather in AK is hard to predict. One second it could be sunny and 65, and then you blink and it's raining. Living in AK for three years, I wouldn't say we became experts, but we definitely learned a thing or two about how to dress for the seasons...

How NOT to Pack for Alaska

This was my parents' living room when we found out we had 5 days to get our shit together and move to AK. Please note the excessive number of bags and the fact that we only thought we'd be there for one hockey season (7ish months), definitely not the 3 years we ended up staying. Overpack much?! My first trip home, after only 3 months of living there, I ended up bringing over half of this stuff back.

How to Pack for Alaska


How TO Pack to Alaska

The key to packing for the land of the midnight sun is function

One way to be prepared is to do your research ahead of time, and to bring layers. It's easier to take off a layer if you're too warm, then to put on a layer you don't have if you're too cold.

If you're visiting the South Central (Anchorage-area), here's what to expect:

How to Pack for Alaska
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If you're visiting the South East (Inside Passage - Juneau, Haines, etc.), here's what to expect:

How to Pack for Alaska
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Unless you plan on attending a formal event, leave the formal clothes at home. Alaska is very casual and you will feel comfortable anywhere you go in casual clothes. (Also a reason why Anchorage was voted the worst dressed city in America.)


Clothing recommendations, by season:

Winter: long sleeved shirt, pants, warm hat and gloves, insulated boots, long underwear/leggings, wool socks, warm sweater or vest, snow pants, winter coat.

Note about winter jackets: I brought a North Face parka with me and wore it only a handful of times. Again, layers are key. If you're doing any type of outdoor activity (skiing, hiking, etc.), you'll be way too hot in a parka. But, they do come in handy when you're outside at 2am viewing the aurora boreal is. 

Spring: long sleeved shirt, pants, walking shoes, waterproof boots, wind breaker or jacket, hat, thin gloves and hat

Summer: short sleeved shirt, shorts, pants, long sleeved shirt, walking shoes, wind breaker or jacket, hat

Fall: long sleeved shirt, pants, warm hart and gloves, insulated boots, waterproof boots, windbreaker or jacket, sweater or vest

Other must-have items: 

hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, bug spray, backpack, binoculars, camera, sleeping mask (for the midnight sun)

How to Pack for Alaska


If you're headed to Alaska this summer, or in the near future, and have questions about what to expect or what to pack, feel free to contact me. Seeing as I'm a total Alaska-pusher, I'd be more than happy to help!

Have you visited Alaska? What would you recommend packing?




25 comments :

  1. I would love to visit Alaska! How funny that is was voted the worst dressed state. I think I would fit in there, I love casual clothes!

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    1. You must go! It is amazing! Moving back to Toronto, it was hard to adjust to the clothing change. Casual clothes are not so acceptable here lol

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  2. What a great idea for a post! I'll move to the Arctic of Norway soon and I'll absolutely need the clothes you mentioned. I would love to visit Alaska though and a cruise there would be so wonderful!

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    1. Thanks! You must go!
      I am extremely jealous. The Northern Norway? What a fantastic adventure!

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  3. Alaska weather sounds just like Iceland! Always have to be prepared for all weathers but the midnight sun is so wonderful!

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  4. Great post! I would love to see the midnight sun but I'm not sure if it is something I would adjust to well :)

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    1. Thanks! Oh you get used to it - sleeping masks and black out blinds are a must. Being able to sit around a bonfire at 2am and see the people sitting across from you is an amazing thing.

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  5. thanks for sharing! one day, I want to go to Alaska, and now I know how to pack ;)

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  6. I love this. My first far-away-move looked very similar to yours... I packed three HUGE bags for what turned out to be a four month trip. WHOOPS! I'm about to move abroad again in two weeks and it's much more organized this time :)

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    1. Thank you :) I'm such a overpacked, but this move definitely taught me how to pack.

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  7. Bug spray!!!! Such a must! And layers, just always in layers. Great tips!!

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    1. Yes it is! What's the prediction for this summer? Hoping they're not around for our visit in June!

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  8. Haha! This is dead on! It's been super nice here lately (40-50s) and then today it snows. Crazy, Alaskan weather!

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    1. Snow? Nooooooo!!! I expect 65 and sunny when I'm there next month.

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  9. that is so interesting! I have a good friend in Sitka and I definitively want to go visit and this is a great guide! (especially if I don't want to bug her with those questions!) :)

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    1. Thanks! I highly recommend going if you get a chance, especially if you have a place to stay!

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  10. This is awesome. I want to visit Alaska so bad. Our cruise to Alaska this year got cancelled.

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    1. What! Cancelled?! That makes me so sad to hear :(

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  11. I lived in Alaska when I was 6 months old to 3 years old. I don't really remember anything except the baby gym my mom used to take us to. But I have lots of photos and all their stories of when we were little and all the snow everywhere. We lived in the Fairbanks area since my dad was in the Army so we were right near base

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    1. I never made it up to Fairbanks, but I heard the summers are AMAZING! Have you been back since?

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  12. Found your blog through Nicole's "Treat Yo Self" link up! I've never been to Alaska, and to be honest I'm terrified of the extreme winters you have, but I have heard it's beautiful in the spring and summer months. Looks like you're enjoying life there!

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    1. We're actually back in Toronto now, but missing the Alaskan life like crazy! You must go if you get the chance, but in the summer of course :)

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