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The Ultimate Packing List for Traveling to Alaska in the Fall

Contact solution? Check. Wallet? Check. Sure, those things are important, but the ultimate Alaskan packing list goes way beyond your carry-on — we’re talking about the real essentials; the items you can’t live without while whale watching in the heavy mist or hiking among moose and caribou. To make it easy for you, we’ve compiled the ultimate list for every rocky scramble, serene boat ride, and more. Better get packing!

1. Lots of layers.

Whether you’ll be sightseeing from the prow of the boat or around the next bend of a rain-slicked trail, layers are the name of the game for any adventure in Alaska.  As summer crisps into fall, you’ll be experiencing cool-to-warm days with colder evenings, as well as an increase in precipitation. Think a range from around 30 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Though temperatures and weather conditions vary between the different Alaskan regions, be prepared by loading up on base layers in synthetic materials such as Polypro and capilene. Synthetics wick moisture away from your skin, so they’re perfect for both rain and sweat. If you tend to chill easily, long underwear helps form a warmth barrier between you and the elements.

2. Warm jacket

Make sure your top layer jacket is warm and roomy enough for the base layers we just mentioned. For a truly warm and cozy jacket, fleece or down fill are the gold standards. Fleece is a bit more compact than down, but down is a breathable material, which works best when the temperature fluctuates.

3. Rubber boots

If you need some traction on the deck of your glacier tour or you simply love to splash through the puddles of Anchorage, rubber boots are a great solution to keep your feet warm and dry on a rainy day. Gators are also helpful if you’re planning on tromping along a bunch of trails come mud or brush.

4. Waterproof shell

Nothing takes an outdoor excursion from amazing to miserable more quickly than being wet and cold. Enjoy your dewy sea kayak paddle to the fullest with a waterproof layer and hood. Waterproof pants and a hat are must, too, if you think you’ll be spending most of this vacation outside.

5. Warm hat & gloves

If you decide to try for a sighting of the Aurora borealis (a possibility north and inland), you’ll be happy you brought these. Heck, even taking in a magnificent Denali sunset is a great time to stay toasty, glass of wine in hand.

6. An awesome camera

You simply can’t afford to forget this one! With the magnificence of fall colors changing on locales like Polychrome Pass, wildlife on the move to winter feeding grounds, and icebergs floating pristinely in Glacier Bay, a trip to Alaska in the fall is one giant photo op. Ideally, your camera should have a telephoto or zoom lens for capturing wildlife and lots of memory.

7. Binoculars

Along the same lines, a pair of binoculars really helps take that distant view of a Dall sheep from “Huh?” to “Wow!” Observe Alaska’s rich biodiversity at close range, all while remaining at a safe distance.

8. Polarized lenses

Whether you’ll be scanning Prince William Sound for whale flukes or catching the late silver salmon run on the Kenai river, polarized lenses help to reduce glare on the water so you can see more deeply and accurately. Feel free to pack your lucky fly rod, too, although you’ll be able to rent one easily from a guiding service.

9. Collapsible walking stick

If yellow and orange aspen trees or a red-carpeted tundra make you want to leap from your vehicle and set off into the woods, don’t forget to grab your stick! There might be uneven terrain, downed trees, or boulders ahead.

10. The small stuff

Other items worth sliding into a side pocket or purchasing on arrival include:

  • A good broad-spectrum sunscreen.
  • Moisturizers for sensitive faces, hands, and lips.
  • Bug repellent.
  • Headlamp/flashlight.
  • Water bottle.

Autumn in Alaska means a memorable time of less crowds and unbeatable sightseeing opportunities, not to mention mild enough weather to get out there and get active. With these essentials stowed in your roller bag, you’ll be set for anything our great state can throw your way! When you’re all packed, check out our multi-day Alaska tours, then put those layers to good use!

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