The Fool Proof Packing Guide For Adventures in Alaska

Will you be visiting Alaska in 2023 either on a cruise or a self-guided adventure?  I recently took an Alaskan cruise (solo, I might add) and I found it very difficult to know what to pack.

I had no idea what the Alaskan meaning of “cold” was, which left me in a dilemma as to what to pack.   I googled and googled and googled and all I could find was “layers”.   The definition of “layers” wasn’t exactly clear, so I brought a lot of everything with me.  Half of which I never wore.  It was at that time that I  decided to put together a fool-proof packing guide for adventures in Alaska, detailing what the adventurous person should be packing so that she would have everything that she needed. I hope this post provides some insight as to what exactly should be packed when visiting Alaska.

Weather in Alaska

The weather in Alaska can be very unpredictable.  The best time to visit Alaska is in the summer, during the months of June, July and August.  These months are also the most expensive months to travel, however, if you want to increase the chance of warmer weather, these are the months to go.

Just One Tip: Shop for your base layers during the winter months before your cruise in order to get the best deals on the “winter” items that you will need for your Alaskan cruise.

Best Time to Visit Alaska

I recommend going to Alaska during the fringe months of May and September, as this is the non-touristy season and rates will be more reasonable.  Be warned though, these months are considered to be the rainy season in Alaska.

What to Pack For Alaska

When thinking of Alaska, we tend to think of snow and frigid temperatures.  This is not typically the case during the Summer months.  Having said that, it is still best that you dress in “layers”.  Meaning a base layer, sweater or sweatshirt, jacket, and pants.  Luckily when I was in Alaska in May, the temperatures were high 70’s, which is extremely rare.  The temperature in Alaska during the month of May is on average 65 degrees.

Yes! It is possible to cruise and stay healthy, even during these difficult times. Visit here for tips on how to keep yourself healthy while onboard the ship.

What Clothing to Bring to Alaska?

I have already mentioned that dressing in “layers” is highly recommended.  What exactly is meant by layers? 

  • base layer, which would consist of an undershirt made with breathable fabric which will soak up any sweat, or a t-shirt
  • mid, which would consist of a sweatshirt or a zippered jacket as shown in the picture below
  • long johns
  • hiking pants, waterproof pants
  • outer layer, which would consist of either a waterproof jacket or winter jacket if you are travelling during the winter months
  • waterproof, cushioned socks if you plan on hiking
  • waterproof hiking boots for hiking or comfortable walking shoes if you are just sight-seeing
  • Either a winter hat or a baseball hat, depending on the time of year you are visiting.  During the summer months, the sun does get hot so don’t forget a hat
  • Waterproof gloves.  These will be needed to keep your hands warm or protect your hands if hiking (there may be a bit of climbing on some trails

Just One Tip: Avoid wearing jeans when outdoors, as jeans retain the moisture and will freeze

Make sure you add wool sweaters to your packing list for Alaska
Dress in layers when visiting Alaska

Alaska Must Have’s For Adventure Seekers

During my visit in May, I took a waterproof windbreaker. I was plenty warm enough both while hiking and sitting on the balcony of the ship.

The most valuable article of clothing that I can recommend is a pair of gore tex gloves.  I brought them everywhere with me.  They kept my hands warm while sitting on the balcony of the ship and they were invaluable when hiking one of the many trails.

The trails can be slippery, steep and not to mention cold as you rise in elevation.  I’m sure that regular gloves would have also done the trick, but I found that the gore tex helped immensely with protecting may hands from the moisture and mud when climbing the trails.

Read Next: Cruising Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska’s Inside Passage

If you are an outdoor person and plan on taking part in any adventurous actively, I strongly recommend that you invest in a good pair of hiking boots, if you haven’t already.  I suggest that they are water proof/resistant, as the trails are wet, muddy and very slippery.  They will also keep your feet warmer when doing any type of sightseeing on the glaciers or out on the water.

Add the proper out-wear to your fool-proof packing list for Alaska
Add winter coat, hat, scarf and mitts to your fool-proof packing list for Alaska

What Not to Pack For Alaska

Many articles that I read on what to pack for Alaska advised to bring rain boots.  As usual, I didn’t listen and I am so glad that I didn’t. You will need a good pair of hiking boots, with a good grip for the trails.  Rain boots would have been a complete waste of space in my suitcase.

When packing for your adventures in Alaska the important thing to keep in mind is that layers are a necessity.  Base, middle and outer….I can’t stress this enough.

Miscellaneous Items to Pack for Alaska

In addition to your clothing (including the usual clothing not mentioned above), a few of the other items I recommend and that I and found useful are:

  • sunglasses
  • bug spray
  • suntan lotion
  • bear spray
  • backpack
  • baggie or waterproof case for phone, money, ID, etc.
  • phone charger and phone
  • camera and camera accessories
  • binoculars
  • umbrella
A fool proof packing list for all of your adventures in Alaska
What to pack to take to Alaska

Packed and Ready to Go

So there you have it!  A complete fool-proof- packing list of everything that you will for all of your adventures in Alaska.  I hope you have a fantastic trip.  It really is a once in a lifetime experience and I’m sure glad that I got to cross this awesome experience off of my bucketlist!

Just One Tip: If you are a newbie to cruising, make to pack everything you need in your carry-on so that you don’t waste any time your first day onboard.


Kelly xoxo


20 thoughts on “The Fool Proof Packing Guide For Adventures in Alaska

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  4. Lasma

    Definitely is good to be ready before getting adventurous, this seems like a very nice guide with tips everyone should follow! well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Brittany

    What a great post! Alaska is such a beautiful place and really does require a unique packing list. My friend is from Alaska so I went one year to visit her family, and I totally didn’t pack the right shoes. Fortunately, she had some waterproof boots I could borrow, but otherwise, I would have been soaked the whole time, haha. This guide will hopefully prevent people from making the same mistakes I did! 🙂 Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person


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