What to Pack for Alaska
After spending a total of 21 days in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, there were some definite all stars in the gear we brought. These picks are based on input from both males and females, ages 20-60.
The Engineer loved his new hiking boots, the Vasque Breeze, and appreciated them on the glacier trek as well as the day hikes.
For every day walking, short hikes, comfy car rides, and glacier walks these North Face Janey boots in brown were the MVP of the trip. They have grips on the bottom, are super comfy and stylish, and totally waterproof with a little spray. Unfortunately, they are no longer made but you can find them on Ebay.
I didn't do any hiking over 3 hours, so I didn't need boots with lots of support, but if you are going to be more active or do technical hiking, I would recommend these Vasque Breeze boots which I purchased later in 2015.
These Chaco Z/2 Yampa sandals were another MVP of the trip. I wore them anytime we did water activities, whenever I needed to let my feet breathe, and even for light hiking. You could get away with only 3 pairs of shoes for the entire trip if you did the Chacos, the North Face boots, and a pair of nice flats for anything dressy.
Best Rain Gear
I loved my REI Rainwall jacket (no longer made in this model but newer version here) and my Marmot rain pants. They kept me warm and dry. On the coldest days (glacier cruising) I layered a North Face fleece under the rain jacket and topped with a scarf, hat, and gloves.
The Engineer preferred this all-in-one from North Face that has a wind/water resistant outer layer and a fleecy interior. He has had the jacket for nearly 2 years and it is his absolute favorite down to about 45 degrees F.
Best Daytime Look
Note that everything in Alaska is casual. You wear the same activities for daytime and evening. Dressing for dinner just entails putting on something not wet or muddy.
For Him: The guys of all ages preferred jeans (casual), or shorts/zip off pants (for hiking) and a moisture wicking shirt. They mostly wore boat shoes or light sneakers.
For Her: I most comfortable in stretchy workout capris, a t-shirt, my sandals, and my rain jacket. As you can see from the photos, I wore some combination of this almost every day. My mother in law wore mostly jeans or sweatpants with tshirts, sweaters, and fleeces.
I loved this Osprey 22 pack that I used for my carry-on and my daybag. It was recommended by The College Prepster after her own Alaska trip and it lived up. It has a waterproof top compartment, lots of pockets and expandable storage, and compartment to hold a 3L water bag with a sip line holder on the shoulder straps. Comes in male and female versions with slight sizing differences and different color choices, but I liked the basic black/gray best.
Best Water Bottle
Water bottles are a source of great debate within our household. There are strong opinions on straw versus not, and one handed opening versus twist. My all time favorite is this Contigo version that has a one handed opening, and a caribiner clip built into the handle so you can attach it to your pack, pocket, or the seat in front of you on the airplane. The Engineer prefers this similar version made by Nalgene which has a flip top covering on the mouthpiece to keep it clean.
To prepare for the trip, I took advantage of my Kindle Unlimited membership which gave me access to Lonely Planet Alaska, Seattle, and Vancouver guidebooks for free. They had good general overviews but I then went to blogs and trip reports online to fill in the logistical details - one of the reasons I established 72 Hours To Go was so that readers don't have to jump all over to find this information anymore!
Before any trip, and especially road trips, we like to download an audio book. We use Audible which has a free trial, and 2 book downloads for free! Lately we have enjoyed the Fargo Adventures by Clive Cussler. They are exciting and engaging, yet predictable enough that if you fall asleep for a bit you won't miss too much of the plot. I recommend them in chronological order, starting with Spartan Gold, but you could pick them up anywhere in the series.
You should always bring a good pair of basic in-ear headphones on any trip. They are so useful for music, a movie, a podcast, etc. Bonus points if you bring a splitter so you can listen to something with a travel buddy. Keep both in your daybag since you might need them at museums for audio tours.
If you want to splurge, the Engineer loves his Bose around-ear wireless headphones. They block out the engine noise from the airplane so you can really enjoy whatever you are listening to. They do take up space, and require charging, so not good for every day, out and about, use.
Overall consensus from our group was that for amateur photography the cell phones worked perfectly, even when compared to some of the nicer cameras we brought. I used the Google Photos app to edit and curate my album
Tip: You can edit and save photos while in airplane mode so I used downtime on long bus rides to curate as I went making it quick and easy to organize and share after the trip
Most Useful Thing To Pack
Plastic baggies! We used sandwich and gallon sized bags to hold electronics, snacks, maps and contain muddy/wet clothes and shoes as we had to move hotels every couple of days on the land portion of the trip. A close second would be the aforementioned rain jacket since it was the perfect windbreaker/dry layer.
For those that have been to Alaska or the Pacific Northwest, what else would you recommend?