This guest post is brought to you by Susan of Travel Junkette.
Southeast Alaska is one of the rainiest places on earth. But don’t let that deter you; it is also one of the most beautiful.
Of course, there are stretches of the summer that you could visit during that you wouldn’t experience a drop of rain. But unlikely. And even if it is clear, the weather will still be cool. So to enjoy a trip to Southeast Alaska, it is essential that you pack correctly.
Having worked there for one summer, about to start my second, I’ve learned a few rules: wear fleece, wool, and quick-dry synthetics – not cotton, layers are your friend, and always pack a rain jacket. Always.
A popular phrase among Alaskans is that, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad equipment.” With that in mind, here’s your ultimate packing list!
Wool tops (2) – Warm, quick-drying, and odor-resistant, these should be in everybody’s wardrobe, and especially those who are traveling to a rainy climate. Try anything by Icebreaker.
Waterproof rain jacket – Note that I said waterproof and not water-resistant. Be sure to check the label – they aren’t the same thing! My favorite is the Precip Jacket by Marmot.
Synthetic down or fleece jacket – It can get pretty cold at night, even in the height of summer. Synthetic down doesn’t get wet and gross. I love my Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket.
Quick dry trekking pants – For playing outside, you’re going to want pants that will dry quickly while you’re on the go.
Breatheable, quick-dry tees (2) – Noticing a trend here? These quick-dry shirts work perfectly for layering.
Sweater/hoody – For the nights that aren’t quite cold enough to warrant a jacket.
Jeans – You’re not planning on wearing your quick-dry pants to the bar, are you?
Flannel shirt – For going out, this is what I usually wear (with jeans) to “dress up.”
Baseball cap – Not only does it mean you won’t have to brush your hair, but, more importantly, it will keep the rain off of your face.
Warm hat & gloves – During chilly nights near the water, you are going to be glad you brought these!
Sweatpants/yoga pants – Preferably not made of cotton, but you’ll mostly be wearing these in your sleeping bag, so it’s not a big deal either way.
Panties (5) & sports bras (2)
Wool socks (5) – SmartWool socks rule.
Xtra Tuff rain boots – Also known as the Alaskan sneaker, these are essential if you want to really fit in. They are made of neoprene and are flexible, warm, and waterproof. Perfect for kayaking and other water sports.
Waterproof hiking boots/sneakers – Merrell makes some great ones for women.
I wouldn’t worry about this one too much. Make-up and hair are, um, not too big of a concern while traveling in Southeast Alaska. Maybe all that’s needed is waterproof mascara, a quick-dry towel, and some good chapstick.
Tent – Hopefully, you’ll be doing a lot of camping on your trip. In my opinion, it’s the best way to make the most of your Southeast Alaska experience. Make sure your tent isn’t “summer-only.”
Synthetic-fill sleeping bag – Once again, down isn’t great, because after it gets damp… it stays damp.
Camping stove/cooking supplies – To cook that fresh fish you just caught!
Headlamp – Screw the flashlight, a headlamp is what you need.
Binoculars – Southeast Alaska is bursting with wildlife. Binoculars are essential for long-distance viewing.
Pocketknife – Sooo many uses.
Insect repellent – Mosquitoes can get nasty in the summertime.
Sunscreen/sunglasses – A girl can hope, can’t she?!
Day pack – You’ll need this for hiking (so you can carry those extra layers!)
Camera – Southeast Alaska is insanely photogenic. Waterproof cameras (with floating keychains) are ideal, and the Olympus Tough is an affordable option.
Sea sickness meds/bands – The best way to see the Inside Passage is by boat, so if you are prone to sea sickness (or even if you think you’re not), these are a good idea.
Eye shade – In the summertime, it is sometimes only dark from 10 pm to 5 am. If you want to sleep in at all, be sure to bring this along.
Watch – The time can get confusing with all those hours of daylight!
Plastic bags – So you don’t have to pack wet clothes alongside all your dry ones.
Swimsuit – Just in case you want to create your very own polar bear challenge!
Final Note: Alaska is like the rest of the United States in that credit cards are widely accepted, and ATMs are plentiful. And yes, they do take American dollars (it’s shocking how many people ask that)!
Have fun, and say hi to the bears for me!
Susan Shain has been working ungrownup seasonal jobs and traveling the world for the past four years. Follow her Alaskan adventures on her blog, Travel Junkette. You can also catch her on Facebook and Twitter.