Tech Tip – 10 Essentials for Alaska Backpacking

camping blackburn mountain alaska

Here in McCarthy, we’ve seen it all. You might be surprised what critical items you can forget to pack for your adventure vacation. We’ve had folks show up without a warm layer for cold nights, without a water bottle, and even without their hiking boots! And we get it. There’s a lot that goes into packing for a backpacking trip, let alone your first trip in the Alaskan Wilderness!

So, we decided to create a list of the top 10 essentials that our guides recommend:

  1. Waterproof Hiking Boots* – Whether you’re on the trail or in downtown Anchorage, Alaska’s rainy weather creates all sizes of puddles! Keep those tootsies dry with a good pair of waterproof boots. (For your comfort, be sure to break them in BEFORE your trip!)
    * Bonus Tip – Bring creek crossing shoes! Most backpacking routes in Alaska will require a creek crossing or two, and there won’t be any convenient bridges to get you to the other side…

  2. Rain Gear – Alaska’s weather is notoriously rainy and unpredictable, so don’t be caught unarmed! Come prepared with a rain jacket and rain pants. Trust us, a pair of rain pants can be well worth their cost, especially on a multi-day trip…

  3. Gloves – An often forgotten item, these are needed to add a layer of protection between you and the rough surface of the glacier. If your trip doesn’t include glacier travel, you’ll still want a pair of gloves for cold windy days, or to stay cozy around camp (even in July)!

  4. Sunglasses – Despite all the talk about rain, the skies do open up occasionally, and the views are spectacular! Enjoy the views and protect your eyes with some stylish sunnies! An absolute necessity if your trip includes glacier travel.

  5. Mosquito Headnet/Bug Repellent – The mosquito is Alaska’s unofficial state bird for a reason! Peaking in late June-early August, mosquitos can aggravate even the most experienced hiker. Be sure to come prepared to defend yourself!

  6. Blister Repair Kit – Most people have their own system for preventing and treating blisters and we encourage you to use it! Even if you normally go blister-free on a trek, there’s nothing like hiking over miles of glacier to find where those boots rub.

  7. Trekking Poles – While these may not be a part of your usual hiking trip, Alaska hiking is notorious for unstable terrain, long days, and heavy packs. Trust us, after backpacking in Alaska, you’ll see your poles in a whole new light!

  8. Durable Water Bottles – Collapsable style water bottles are incredibly susceptible to the rigors of backpacking in AK, and can easily get holes. We recommend using a more durable, wide-mouthed water bottle instead, like a Nalgene. Not only are these more durable, but the wide-mouth makes refills quick and effortless.

  9. Binoculars – If you have your sights set on wildlife viewing, don’t forget to pack binoculars! Wildlife viewing usually happens at great distances, so you’ll need those puppies for a close-up view.

  10. Tent* – But not just any tent! While you may be able to get away with an ultra-light option in the lower 48, you’re going to want a sturdier (think three-season) option for Alaska Backpacking. You never know what kind of weather or what terrain you’ll be pitching your tent in – katabatic winds, glacial moraine, a river bar, tundra – and a Bivy Sack or trekking pole supported tent might not cut it.
    *We supply tents for our Multi-Day Adventure guests!

Pack carefully and keep on adventuring!

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