Unsure what to pack for Alaska? We’re sharing the ultimate summer Alaska packing list, plus a printable version you can download!
Packing for a trip…you either love it or hate it (we personally love it)!
While some trips are straightforward to pack for, packing for a destination as epic as Alaska may seem a bit overwhelming. But we’re here to help! After spending 2.5 months in the state, we experienced many different activities and weather, giving us a good amount of experience of what to pack for a summer in Alaska.
In this Alaska packing list we’re sharing what we think you should (or could) bring for a summer trip to Alaska. It’s not an exhaustive list of every little thing to bring. We think you have your underwear and toiletries handled 😜 (we do have a full travel packing list here though). But it does include everything that we think you will need to actually enjoy and explore Alaska.
Depending on how you get to Alaska (car vs. plane) or what activities you plan to do, all of this may not be 100% applicable. But this Alaska packing list includes everything that we are glad we had with us or wish we had with us. Make sure to scroll to the end to get a copy of the list that you can print or save to your phone!
And don’t worry, if you forget something, Anchorage has all of the big chain stores, plus an REI!
Ready to explore Alaska?
- The ULTIMATE guide to driving the Alaska Highway
- RVing Alaska: Our top tips & things to know
- The 24 BEST hikes in Alaska
- Things to do in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park (The largest in the US!)
- 12+ FUN things to do in Valdez, Alaska
- 8+ EPIC things to do in Hatcher Pass in Alaska
- The ULTIMATE guide to visiting Denali National Park (Mile 0-43)
- 8 things to do in Kenai Fjords National Park
- Watch all of our Alaska vlogs
- Read all of our Alaska guides
Our biggest piece of clothing advice for Alaska, even in the summer, is to bring clothes for ALL seasons! Alaska summers are not quite like summers in the lower 48. During our visit in 2022, June was sunny and warmer. But then we had tons of rain and cooler temperatures (highs in the 50s-60s) for July and August.
So layers are KEY! Even on a nice, sunny day, the temperatures may be chillier in the morning. There were many days we started in a puffy jacket, got warm and had shirts and a tank top on, and then had to put our rain jackets on.
A few additional clothing tips:
- Avoid 100% cotton and bring clothing that will dry quickly
- If you plan to do a lot of hiking, darker colors will hide mud better
- Keep in mind how often you will be able to do laundry. We personally try to buy higher quality clothing items that don’t smell as quickly, so we can rewear them. This means we can spend less time doing laundry and more time exploring!
For shirts, casual is key in Alaska. We wore athleisure the entire summer and never felt underdressed. We brought a mix of tank tops (Kathryn) and shirts (Adam) to wear both in town, on hikes, and for other activities. Some of our favorite tops are:
A staple clothing item for us in Alaska were light pullovers. These are great for slightly chilly mornings, where a jacket is too much, or under a jacket if it’s really cold. I (Kathryn) love my REI Pullovers and Adam is a huge fan of the Vuori Ponto Crew Sweater (and wants one in EVERY color).
As for pants, you’ll want something you can be comfortable in when hiking or being active. I wear Nike leggings, which have held up well during many miles of hiking, dry fast, and are easy to clean. Adam wears either prAna Brion pants or Patagonia Terrebonne Joggers while hiking. If it’s too warm, he will also wear Lululemon T.H.E. Shorts.
One item we did not have, but will 100% pick up before our next Alaska trip are rain pants. Many trails in Alaska take you through some brush and if it has rained, the brush will be very wet. Our pants got soaked on some hikes solely from touching the brush.
You may not think of wearing a puffer jacket in the summer, but ours got a lot of use in Alaska! Adam wears a Columbia Voodoo Falls 590 and I wear a Patagonia Down Sweater. Both kept us warm on the cooler days!
As we mentioned, we experienced a lot of rain in Alaska. It was supposedly more than normal, but either way, there’s a good chance you’ll have some rain on your trip. I wear the Patagonia Torrentshell rain jacket and Adam wears a North Face Alta Vista rain jacket.
You’re probably extra confused now. A puffer jacket AND a swimsuit on the same trip? But if you plan to get out on the water by kayak or SUP while in Alaska, this will come in handy. We can’t promise you’ll get to lay out and get a tan in Alaska, but a swimsuit will be good to have on hand.
Our biggest advice for shoes in Alaska is to not bring white shoes or shoes that you care a lot about. Trails are often muddy and wet and your shoes will get dirty. Here are a handful of shoe options we suggest bringing on your trip!
If you can only bring one pair of shoes to Alaska, make sure they are hiking shoes. Trails can be slick, so having good traction is key.
I rock Lowa Women’s Renegade GTX on the trails and LOVE them! I am now on my third pair because they have been the best shoes over the years. Adam wears the ALTRA Lone Peak 6 Trail Running Shoe, which is a trail running shoe, so they are less bulky than boots, but still great for the trail.
Xtra Tuff Boots
Xtratuf boots are SUPER popular in Alaska and we can see why! These will keep your feet from getting wet and make hiking through mud a lot more pleasant. We didn’t have these, but were envious of people wearing them at times!
If you plan to kayak or spend time on the water, we recommend having some Chacos. We love these! They have great grip and do well in muddy or wet situations. We even wore them on the very muddy Emerald Cove Trail.
Since not every second of your Alaska adventure will be on the trail, it’s good to have some comfortable, casual shoes. These will come in handy when wandering around different towns. We love our Allbirds!
For socks, especially for hiking, we love wool socks. Specifically Smartwool socks! There are a variety of heights and types of socks you can get. This article by REI is a great resource. I personally like the crew height with some cushion for hiking.
Another item that we didn’t have, but hope to have in the future are gaiters. These help cover your lower legs and feet, protecting them from mud and water.
Outdoor and hiking gear
Since you’ll likely be spending a lot of time adventuring outdoors, a very important part of your Alaska packing list is hiking and outdoor gear! You can see all of our hiking and outdoor gear here, but below are items we especially recommend for Alaska!
You will want a good backpack for hiking or exploring around town. We both use the REI Co-op Trail 40 Pack for everyday activities, hiking, and even backpacking. For shorter adventures, we also have this foldable 20 liter daypack, which packs down small!
We always carry at least one CamelBak Crux 100 oz Hydration Pack Reservoir when hiking. It carries almost 3 liters of water and is super easy to drink from while on the move!
One nice thing about hiking in Alaska is that most trails have a water source. If you want to carry less water, bring a water filter to fill as you go! We have both a Sawyer water filtration kit and a Katadyn BeFree 1L water filter water bottle.
Trekking poles may be useful when hiking in Alaska, as trails can be steep and slick. We have the Black Diamond Equipment Distance Z poles and highly recommend them!
Trails in Alaska can still have snow on them into July, so we suggest bringing microspikes. Plus, if you visit Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, you’ll have a chance to walk ON the Root Glacier. And microspikes are a must to be able to safely do so!
Binoculars are a great addition to your Alaska packing list! You’ll be able to see even more epic views and more wildlife. We have the Bushnell H20 Roof Prism binoculars and we love them!
The summer days are very long in Alaska. We even went on a midnight hike once (and highly recommend doing so)! But even though there is a lot of daylight, it’s a good idea to have a headlamp on you. We’ve been using these headlamps for awhile now and they are bright, affordable, and comfortable.
One of our favorite things we did in Alaska was go backpacking! We backpacked to a glacial lake, to a red hut surrounded by EPIC peaks, and in Wrangell-St. Elias. We realize not everyone will backpack while in Alaska, but if you choose to do so, make sure you pack camping gear. You can see our full backpacking gear list here!
Inflatable kayak or SUP board
Another nice to have, but not required, item is a kayak or stand up paddle (SUP) board. There are tons of bodies of water to get out on in Alaska. And you’ll save lots of money on rentals if you bring your own watercraft!
We have an inflatable kayak and it has worked super well! Just don’t take it in super shallow water that has sharp objects. Don’t ask us how we know. 😉
If you’d rather have a SUP board, our friends have these boards and we have always loved using them!
If you plan to get out on the water, make sure to bring a dry bag! We use the Remote Designs 20L roll top bag for our dry bag and LOVE it. It is very high quality!
While we don’t own bikes, we love renting them to explore bikeable areas. And if you’re driving to Alaska and own a bike or e-bike, it would be good to bring!
Both Denali and Wrangell-St. Elias National Parks have areas you can bike, plus Anchorage has a great bike path.
Alaska has many rugged, wild, and remote areas to explore, plus lots of wildlife to be aware of. And it is important to have specific items with you to stay safe!
Alaska is home to a variety of wildlife, including both black bears and grizzly bears, with grizzlies being the more aggressive of the two.
Carrying bear spray is highly recommended. We encountered one grizzly in Alaska. Well, only Adam saw it, but it was enough to make us a bit nervous the rest of the trail. We always have our bear spray strapped to our hip or chest when hiking on trails, plus next to us in our tent at night.
Not only is it important to have bear spray on you, but you need to have it readily available and know how to use it. We’d recommend watching this video that explains how to use bear spray, if you aren’t familiar.
Note: If driving to Alaska, you CAN bring bear spray into Canada since it’s an animal deterrent. If flying to Alaska, we suggest buying this in Alaska.
We always make sure we have the 10 essentials when we hike, such as emergency shelter and a first aid kit. Check out our post about how to make your own 10 essentials kit to learn more about the 10 essentials.
Cell service can be sparse on the trails in Alaska. Some sort of satellite communication device, like a Garmin inReach Mini, will be extremely valuable in case you need help. We take this with us everywhere and it has come in handy several times on our adventures, mostly to text family (not for SOS reasons thankfully)!
If you haven’t heard, the common joke is that the state bird of Alaska is the mosquito. We personally didn’t find the mosquitoes to be bad in Southcentral Alaska. Although, we did hear they are more common in Fairbanks and more inland, which we can confirm from our time in Tok and Denali.
In order to not have a miserable time swatting mosquitoes all day make sure to bring bug spray with DEET! We also bought a Thermacell for when we sat outside and we think it helped!
One thing we LOVED about Alaska is that so many hikes are above the treeline. This means you will have sweeping views on many trails. However, it does mean you’ll have lots of sun exposure. Make sure to pack sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat!
Adam wears these cheap sunglasses and I have Oakley Forehand sunglasses that are 10+ years old. I also wear this lululemon hat!
Cold weather items
For the colder mornings and evenings, make sure to have a beanie, gloves, and hot hands on hand!
Road trip essentials
No matter how you get to Alaska, there is a good chance you’ll be road tripping once there. And there are a handful of road trip items we suggest bringing! Some of these are more focused on those RVing Alaska. But depending on where all you will be going in Alaska, some may apply to you as well!
Emergency roadside kit
It’s always a good idea to carry a roadside emergency kit. This is an item you hope to never have to use, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Besides a roadside kit, other items we suggest bringing are a fully inflated spare tire, spare parts, tools, and an adequate jack.
Before going to Alaska, we bought a Boulder Tools tire deflator so we could deflate our tires a bit before driving on bumpy, gravel roads. After a few minutes of getting the hang of how it works, Adam really liked how easy it was to use. It definitely helps make the ride smoother to take some air out!
Portable air compressor
We also bought the Viair 88P portable air compressor to be able to air up the tires after deflating. It takes less than 10 minutes to air up all four tires.
Tire patch kit
We planned to drive many gravel roads in and near Alaska, including the Denali Highway, Top of the World Highway, and Dempster Highway. So we bought a tire patch kit just in case the rough roads caused a tire issue. Thankfully we never had to use it!
Having a phone mount for the car is super handy to view Google Maps. We use this phone mount since we have popsockets on our phones. However, if you’re renting a car, this may not be a good option, as you have to stick it onto the dash. Something like this may work better!
One of our biggest pieces of life advice is to never let your partner get hangry (hungry + angry). And with some long drives in Alaska, many without food options, this is a real possibility! So we highly suggest bringing lots of snacks as you explore Alaska.
Our friend who visited Alaska before us suggested bringing snacks to Alaska, since they will likely be cheaper and you’ll have more options. We had a big box of snacks we got in WA before crossing into Canada and it came in handy! You can see what food items we like to bring here.
We use Google Maps to navigate. And we highly recommend downloading offline Google Maps for the different areas you plan to visit before you get to Alaska. This will enable you to use Google Maps even if you do not have cell phone service. You can see how to download Google Maps here!
It’s very common for hikes in Alaska to have zero cell phone service and sometimes the trails can be confusing. By having offline maps, you’ll be able to ensure you stay on trail throughout the entire hike. We use AllTrails+ for all of our hikes and it has helped us not get lost many times!
Want to get 30% off an AllTrails+ membership? Click this link or use our code aplusk30 (you must redeem this code on the website, not the app)!
We use AllTrails+ on every single hike and it is the most helpful hiking tool out there! Some of the features we love are offline maps (so we can navigate even without cell service), wrong-turn alerts, and its 3D maps feature, so we can get a feel for trails before we hike.
Whether you’re flying to Alaska or making the long drive like us, having some entertainment, like music and podcasts downloaded, plus a book, will come in handy!
Sitting by the water and reading a book, with epic mountains all around doesn’t sound too shabby!
Electronics & camera gear
Alaska is INSANELY photogenic! Everywhere you look there are glaciers, rivers, lakes, and if you’re lucky, wildlife. We realize not everyone is as interested in photography or capturing the moment as we are. But if you are, here’s what we suggest bringing!
Portable battery charger
Regardless if you plan to snap a lot of photos, it’s a good idea to bring an external battery charger. That way, you can keep your phone or any other electronic items charged. Don’t forget your charger cords too!
If you do have a DSLR or mirrorless camera, a zoom lens is a great investment for Alaska. We bought a Sony 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM lens before Alaska and it was AMAZING!
The other two lenses we use for photography and videography are a Sony 24-70mm f/4 lens and Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM lens.
Camera water protection
Since it may rain during your trip, we suggest bringing something to protect your camera from water. We use a very high tech shower cap! 😜 But if you want something nicer, Peak Design makes this cover.
We love having a tripod to get photos of us together, get timelapses, and more! We currently use the SIRUI AM-225 carbon fiber tripod and it’s great!
Some of our favorite shots we got in Alaska were from our drone. Minus the national parks and Chugach State Park, Alaska is pretty drone friendly. Always make sure to check the rules before you fly though!
We have a DJI Air 2S, which is our main drone, plus a DJI Mini 3 Pro, which is deemed our “international drone.” This drone is under the 250g weight requirement to register it, which allows us to fly it legally outside of the US.
We use the Peak Design capture camera clip to mount a camera to our backpack when we aren’t using it. It gives us easy access to the camera and keeps our hands free when we aren’t filming/taking photos!
If you’ll be driving to Alaska, don’t forget your passport! You will have to cross at least one international border, depending on where you start from.
Make sure to print or download any documentation you may need for your trip. This includes any lodging and tour confirmations!
If you plan to camp or will be in an RV or hotel without blackout curtains, an eye mask may be helpful for those bright summer nights!
Download our Alaska packing list
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Save this Alaska packing list for later
Not heading to Alaska quite yet? Pin this Alaska packing list so you can find it when it’s time to plan your trip!