Updated on November 25, 2020
What to Pack for Alaska? If you are here, you will probably plan a trip to Alaska and need a Comprehensive Alaska Packing List. It is one of our favorite states in the U.S. because Alaska is a paradise for photographers and adventure lovers. If you love landscapes, mountains, hiking, and wildlife, this is one of the most beautiful places to visit, take amazing photos, and have unforgettable memories. But also due to the huge wild spaces, wild animals, sudden weather changes, diversity, you need to prepare very carefully for travel to Alaska. You need to assess risks, pack appropriate equipment, and proper clothes for Alaska. We have been to Alaska several times and therefore share our experience on this Packing List for Alaska. This list will help you prepare for an amazing but also safe trip through Alaska. Our Alaska Packing List will be suitable for travels from June to the end of September.
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How to use this Packing List for Alaska?
Alaska Packing List – Season
The most important thing is to pack appropriately for a trip to Alaska. It might be challenging. The weather in Alaska changes very often. We experienced sunny days, rainy days, windy days, and cold days (freezing). And believe us, all of this you can feel in one day! So, the weather is unpredictable even in Summer, which is the best time to visit Alaska. From June through August are the months with the best weather, most sun and least rain, and warmest temperatures. From September winter season starts, is a little colder, and snow sometimes, especially in the mountains, but it’s still an amazing time for a visit. We were in Denali NP in September and the weather was perfect. That’s why when going on vacation to Alaska, you have to get ready for four seasons. This list will be especially useful if you plan a trip to Alaska from June to the end of September.
Alaska Packing List – Activities
In this article, we consider a Packing List for Alaska for various activities on Alaska we personally experienced to share our tips with you. So, if you plan bear watching, camping, and hiking in Denali, wildlife watching, kayaking, flightseeing with landing on glaciers, cruises in Alaska, this Alaska Packing List is for you.
Furthermore, we give you many recommendations on what to do in Alaska in our ready to go 10 Days Alaska Itinerary for 2021.
If you are looking for more inspiration, because you have more time for your travel, check our 10 best places to visit on your trip to Alaska.
What you find in our Alaska Packing List?
We share with you many practical tips based on our Alaska travel experience. Whether you plan to stay overnight in hotels, Airbnb, camping in a tent, or an RV, this list is for you. We share only essentials, must-haves for Alaska travel.
We divided it into several parts:
- Safety Devices where is a list of must-have items in case of emergency. Alaska is a huge wilderness, and services are limited and hundreds of miles away, so your safety is a key for your travel.
- Bear Protection – where we share our tips on what to pack for a trip in case encounter a bear, which is highly possible when you travel through Alaska.
- Clothes for Alaska – all you should know about what to wear in Alaska from June to September.
- Backpacking Gear List – if you are plan camping in a tent we share our tips, what gear to pack for your adventure. This part is also useful if you plan only one-day hiking.
- You will also find what to wear on an Alaskan cruise in the part Alaska Cruise Packing List.
- The last chapter is for wildlife & landscape photography enthusiasts: Alaska Photography Gear Packing List.
Packing List for Alaska – Your Safety
Alaska is the largest U.S. state by area. Comprising a total area than the next three largest states Texas, California, and Montana combined. Furthermore is the most sparsely populated state. Due to its diverse landscape, wilderness, wild animals, the most important before you go is your safety. Services are limited, the centers and towns where you can find medical help are often hundreds of miles away. Below is our must-have for Alaska in terms of safety.
- ID & Emergency Contact Number with Itinerary is a must. Don’t forget it. Furthermore, for your safety, you should have a note with the person’s emergency contact number to be notified of an accident that happened to you. You should also, especially if you are hiking alone, inform someone what your hiking plans are. So, give someone your itinerary. Leaving your itinerary in the car (under the seat) with your contact number and your emergency contact number is also a great solution.
- Cash & Credit Cards.
- If you are going to the national park, don’t forget your Annual Pass.
- Permits. If your trip requires additional permits – don’t forget to take/print your permission. If you want backpacking in Denali, a permit is obligatory.
- Don’t forget your smartphone and power bank. Yes, you need it. Very often, there is no coverage. The phone trying to find a connection will discharge faster. So, the power bank is always on our packing list.
- Travel Insurance is the basis of the journey. We always use World Nomads. You can buy and claim online, even after you’ve left home. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
- First Aid Kit is a must for your Alaska travel. We like this set because it is compact, light, waterproof, and contains everything necessary. What’s inside the kit? This set includes shears, polyester bag, adhesive bandages with different shapes, cotton gauze swabs, cotton swabs, CPR Pouch with instructions, Crepe Bandage, emergency blanket, hypoallergenic tape, nitrile gloves, safety pins, splinter probes, strip wound closures, First Aid Guide, tweezer, whistle, and more. So, it is perfect for an Alaska adventure. First Aid Kit is a must-have even for a short & easy hike, for each kind of trip.
- Medical Splint. Check if your first aid kit is equipped with First Aid Medical Splint. It is very important that have one. It protects and stabilizes injured arms and legs. It’s lightweight, compact, easy to pack, perfect for hiking and camping.
- Don’t forget your Medications and Painkillers that work for you.
- Pocket Multi-Tool. Necessary to cut the bandage or to repair equipment if something breaks.
- Headlamp. The flashlight is not only good for camping. It’s a must-have also for safety. It is always useful. Darkness may meet you on the trail. It may be needed to call for help. It may be needed when the car breaks down and you need to lie down under it to check it.
- Safety Whistle is also essential if you plan an Alaska trip. Our First Aid Kit set has it. If your set doesn’t include a whistle, you should buy it. It is small and light. You can attach it to a backpack, and it will not take up space. Sometimes, there is no coverage. So, the only way to be found is to be heard. The loud, crisp sound of the safety whistle help find your location in case of an accident. What’s more, it might help scare away wild animals if you encounter them on your trail.
- Emergency Shelter. A sudden weather breaking may prevent your hiking. It may also happen that the temperature drops a dozen degrees even during summer. Or darkness surprises you on the trail. That’s why you should have just in case an emergency shelter and emergency blanket. We also have these Life Tent Emergency Survival Shelter.
- Fire Starter & Lighter. A waterproof fire starter & waterproof lighter is also essential just in case of emergencies. If you lost your trail and have to spend the night in the middle of the wilderness, this small, lightweight item might save you. We can recommend this fire starter because it also has an emergency whistle.
- Paper Maps. We always take paper maps for Alaska Travel. Of course, we use phone applications as well. But electronics, even the best and most modern can fail at the least appropriate moment. Especially in Alaska, where coverage is not very common, and services are limited. In Alaska’s wilderness, in national parks, you can’t count only on electronics. There is no coverage at all. When we travel, we use the detailed The MILEPOST Alaska Travel Planner one the most. But for each hike, we pack detailed maps for a given park, like Denali National Park & Preserve, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Kenai Fjords National Park, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.
- Compass. A small Basic Hiking Navigation Compass is a must just in case all devices fail. We use GPS devices, which have excellent quality, but the simple small compass is always in our backpack.
- Reliable GPS Watch. If you love hiking and the great outdoors adventures, you need a reliable GPS watch. Good GPS watch offers top navigation features and a long battery life set up for multi-day adventures. It helps you enjoy your adventures, but most of all, it is a great safety tool, which enables you to find the right way. Outdoor watches can measure your hike’s altitude and speed, offer GPS guidance on walks or runs, and track your trips with long battery life. We love and use Garmin & Suunto outdoor watches.
- Handheld GPS. GPS devices are beneficial for safety, and we like to use them. For us, it is an essential gear for Alaska. Several times it helped us a lot when we lost on the trail. When we were lost in the wilderness area without a marked trail, our Garmin GPSMAP navigated us and helped to find our way back. If you can afford it, please consider Garmin in Reach Explorer+ with Satellite Communicator. If you love challenging/strenuous trails, hiking in the wilderness area without marked trails, or being a solo hiker, it is a perfect solution to have an SOS satellite search and rescue communicator. So, it is a beneficial device that can save your life.
Packing List for Alaska – Bear Protection
Alaska contains about 98% of the U.S. brown bear population and 70% of the total North American population. An estimated 30,000 brown bears live in Alaska. Only in Katmai National Park live over 2200 bears.
Around 300 to 350 grizzly bears live in the Denali National Park on the Alaska Range’s north side.
So, the probability of encounter a bear is very high. Wild animals can behave unpredictably. And you are a guest, only a guest. Often an uninvited guest. Alaska is bear country. Bears are curious, intelligent and tend to avoid or ignore people, but they can be dangerous. Respecting bears and learning proper behavior can help you avoid conflict. How to behave when you encounter a bear you can read in our article.
So, what to pack, to feel safer during your Alaska activities, especially when hiking?
- Bear Bells. Bears use trails and roads, so during your trip, make noise, sing or talk loudly, clap your hands, especially if you are going through a brush. Always let bears know you are there. Buy some Bear Bells. A Bear Bell is a small 1.5-inch bell with either a thick velcro strap or a carabiner used for attachment. You can attach it to the outside of your backpack, waist belt, or any other external piece of gear. Bear bells are not meant to scare a bear. They are designed to warn a bear (and other animals – cougars, etc.) of your presence. Their sound helps you make some noise during your hike. So it’s worth it to have them.
- Bear Spray or Pepper Gun. Most people who hike in Alaska’s wilderness don’t carry a weapon. The best defense is common sense. If you feel the need for additional protection, consider carrying “pepper spray,” a bear deterrent made from red-hot peppers’ juice. This incapacitating spray teaches bears a lesson without permanently maiming them. You can take with you a bear spray or pepper gun in case of an attack. Be careful with using it. It’s dangerous. But, if you plan to visit Katmai National Park, you can’t pack bear spray or pepper gun. They are forbidden. You will not be allowed on the plane. You can take it to Denali NP, Wrangell-St. Elias NP, Kenai Fjords NP.
- Smell Proof Bags. Be sure to pack all your food and cosmetics carefully in Smell Proof Bags. It’s also a must on the Alaska Packing List. Bears, wolves, coyotes have an excellent scent. Every smell attracts wild animals. So, you must pack all your food and cosmetics carefully—even a piece of chocolate or a lipstick with a UV filter.
- Bear Resistant Food Sack. Furthermore, if you plan on camping in Alaska, you will need a Bear Resistant Food Sack, which protects all your food and cosmetics. Don’t leave your lunch or any food out where a bear can smell it. Keep your food away from your tent. Keep it 100 yards away if you can.
- Pack all your rubbish in smell proof bags. Don’t even leave a banana peel on the trail. No leave trace, only footprints.
Hiking Gear & Clothes for Alaska
What to wear in Alaska? Layers are key for your comfort during your Alaska trip. If you are planning activities such as glacier hiking, hiking, glacier landing, kayaking, or halibut /salmon expedition, and more, use our list. The weather changes frequently. You can start your trip in the sun and end up in a strong, freezing wind. Therefore, the layers are the most important. You can always put on the next layer. Below are our essentials clothes for Alaska, which we packed and used during our trips.
- Hiking boots. Waterproof outdoor boots are essential on every travel, especially if you are going for a hike in the mountains. Our choice is Mammut. We hiked in Mammut boots for many miles on challenging trails. These hiking boots are great for harsh weather conditions. They are reliable and comfortable. They have excellent traction so that you can hike even in mud or snow. Our second favorite brand is Salomon. We are delighted with them.
- Leg Gaiters. You need them because if you hiking, stream crossings are common. In Denali were very useful. So, the best is waterproof Leg Gaiters. Protect your feet with cold water, you don’t want to catch a cold in the Alaska wilderness.
- Walking boots. It’s good to have a pair of lighter mind hiking boots or trekking sandals. Agnes’ likes her closed-toed Kenn sandals. They are great when you have to cross a river. Chris’s choice is mind hiking waterproof boots.
- Socks. Good moisture-wicking socks are a must-have during your trip to Alaska. Our choice is Merino Wool Hiking Socks, which are incredibly soft and warm and have natural wicking and odor-resistant properties. As a result, it keeps you dry and comfortable while active in cold weather.
- Hiking underwear. First of all, you need high quality and quick dry underwear because it’s essential to feel comfortable during your hiking and camping. So choose well your travel underwear. For Agnes best-hiking, underwears are sports bra and quick dry women’s outdoor bikini. Chris’ choice is breathable travel boxers.
- Long sleeve thermal base layers. Layered clothing will help you get ready for any conditions. Right Thermal Underwear is essential during hiking or nights in a tent. For Alaska, we pack two sets, a thicker 250 and a thinner 150. Chris likes Merino Pants and Long Sleeve Merino Shirt, which keeps you dry and comfortable while active in cold weather, and it’s super soft. Agnes loves and uses Smartwool Merino 250 Base Layer and Smartwool Merino Bottoms.
- Flees jacket. Agnes loves her Kuhl jacket. It’s one of the best she ever had because it’s warm enough and comfortable. This jacket is excellent for everyday layering in chilly weather. It also has big pockets for necessary gear as a smartphone and headlamp. Chris’ choice is Mammut, which is warm and great as a layer as well.
- Windstopper jacket. A windproof and warm jacket in the mountains is a must-have. Windbreaker is ideal for backpacking and hiking. Chris’s choice is a softshell jacket, Agnes’s choice is a hooded softshell jacket.
- Waterproof rain jacket. This type of light coat is essential. We use & like gore-tex technology, for the reason that it is perfect for hiking and backpacking.
- Puffer jacket. It’s great to have ultra-light fill goose down jackets because they are so warm and easily packable that you can keep them in the pocket. We love this technology.
- Hiking pants. We prefer light waterproof outdoor pants which are also windproof. Therefore our choices Arc’teryx hiking pants.
- Trekking Poles. There are many advantages to using trekking poles. Above all, the poles used for hiking need to be smoothly regulated. Trekking poles relieve the joints and the spine. When walking, especially in the rough terrain or in the mountains, the body is exposed to heavy loads, the effects of which can be minimized by using poles. With trekking poles, you can gain more control when going down and soften the momentum of descent.
- Hiking shorts. For a hot day, it’s good to have one pair of hiking shorts.
- Short sleeve thermal t-shirt. It’s good to have a one or two short sleeve t-shirt. When it’s a hot day this t-shirt helps you to stay dry.
- Warm hat. When the weather is chilly, it’s good to have a warm Windstopper hat. Mornings and evenings in Alaska might be chilly, even in the middle of summer. And it can snow even in July or August.
- Gloves. We prefer windproof and warm Touchscreen Gloves because they are useful while taking photos.
- Windproof band. We like headbands. Agnes likes Buff headbands, Chris prefers a polar ear band.
- Hand and Foot Warmers. Consider packing Hand and Foot warmers. It can save your life if you are surprised by a frost. We have already used these heaters several times in winter and fall conditions. They turned out to be a great solution. So, pack a few pairs of Hand Warmers, and Foot Warmers or Toe Foot Warmers.
- Swimsuit. Are you surprised? On warm days you can bathe in the river. And if you read our text about 10 of our favorite places in Alaska, you will see that one of the best for us is Chena Hot Springs. After trekking or a few nights in a tent, it’s great to relax at natural hot springs in Alaska.
- Sunglasses. Yes, it’s essential. There is a lot of sunny days during Alaska summer. Certainly, it’s good to have sunglasses also if it snow.
- Hat or cap. Agnes loves classic wool hats that protect hair before the sun. Chris prefers caps.
Backpacking Gear List
Here is our essential Backpacking Gear List to Alaska. Whether you’re planning a road trip or heading deep into the backcountry on one night or a week, the right pack and adventure-ready apparel make all the difference. Camping in Alaska, especially in Denali National Park is a fantastic experience. That’s why we share our experience of what to pack for Alaska wilderness, including trekking gear. Even if you are going on a one-day hike and you do not intend to camp, this list will be helpful to prepare you to visit Alaska for any type of adventure. So, check our backpacking gear list for a trip to Alaska.
Permits are required for backpacking in most of Denali. Permits are free. Check how to get them.
But, If you plan to camp on one of six Denali campgrounds, you must reserve your campsite.
Remember our first part of the article, which lists the equipment in case of an emergency and encounter a bear. If you are planning a camping or a day hike, items from that list are must-haves to pack.
- Hiking backpack. It’s essential for your trekking clothes and camping gear. Most importantly is that the backpack has to be comfortable so that it doesn’t burden your spine. Our choice is Deuter. These backpacks are of excellent quality. They lie on your back very well. Trekking with them is a pleasure. Agnes’ choice is Deuter Aircontact Lite 60 for women. Chris has Deuter Aircontact Lite 65 for men. They are stable, solid, and have a lot of space for equipment. The necessary camping gear with a tent, as well as your clothes for Alaska.
- Lightweight tent. It’s important to have a solid backpacking tent. But should be light and easy to put up. We have 2 person tent, which offers a good amount of space and it’s warm inside.
- Lightweight & warm Sleeping Bag. A light or ultralight sleeping bag is must-have. But most of all it has to be warm. Above all, it keeps you healthy. A sleeping bag keeps you comfortable in super cold temperatures, especially in the morning. It’s essential to be warm enough for you otherwise, camping will stop being a pleasure. Our choice is Mummy Sleeping Bag. We slept in a tent in Denali NP and Katmai NP in September. At night and in the morning there were already the first frosts. These sleeping bags have worked great. Even in summer, you have to be prepared for cold nights, frosts, especially in the mountains. So to Alaska, it’s worth packing a winter sleeping bag.
- Light Thermarest Sleeping Pad. Insulation is important. So don’t forget a camping mattress with you for camping. Our choice is Thermarest Sleeping Pad, which is self-inflating, light, solid foam type, and we enjoy our nights in a tent with this staff.
Cooking & Eating
- Travel Stove. We use an ultralight backpacking travel stove to prepare our hot meals while camping. Agnes will not get up without a cup of hot coffee, so for us, it is a must-have. And don’t forget coffee, matches, camping plates, and camping pot.
- Headlamp. It’s a must-have on camping and also during only a one-day hike. Our choice is a waterproof headlamp.
- Camping knife. It should be of high quality, from carbon stainless steel. We use Benchmade.
- Water Reservoirs, so that you can reduce your plastic waste. Agnes uses these HydraPak Water Bladder (3 liters) and Chris has Camelbak Reservoirs. They are perfect for hiking and camping. Very high quality and well constructed. If our hike is longer, and especially in summer, we carry on also a durable water bottle.
- Emergency Water Filter. We take it for longer hikes, or when we hike and camping in the remote/wilderness areas. Potable aqua tablets are light and make questionable water bacteriologically suitable to drink within 35 minutes.
- Food. What and how much food you take depends on how long you are going to camp. But always pack more than you need, just in case. It’s often cold and rainy, so your body will need more calories than usual. In Denali, you will not buy any food inside the park. We always pack backpacking&camping food, energy bars, beef jerky, different nuts, energy gels, electrolytes.
Health & Hygiene
- Don’t forget the waste bags, and don’t leave any trace behind. Even a banana peel must be taken. Their scent can lure wild animals, so you must pack all your rubbish.
- Taking care of hygiene is also essential during hiking and camping, so a small hand sanitizer gel with alcohol must always be in our backpack.
- We also always pack moisturizing/wet wipes. Choose biodegradable ones. We use them to refresh the face, wiping hands, for intimate hygiene, or cleaning dirty surfaces (picnic tables). Small biodegradable toilet paper is the best.
- We always pack small and light trowel. It is essential not to leave your trace. It’s also for your safety because your smell can attract wild animals.
- Face Mask. The COVID-19 Pandemic has changed a lot in the world of travel. Covering your face is and will be a necessity for a while, sometimes also on a trail. Therefore, always take a supply of Face Masks with Filters with you. In some places, you may have problems buying them. Therefore, pack more than you need.
- Disposable Gloves. It also becomes an indispensable item of travel since the Pandemic of COVID-19. So, pack Disposable Gloves necessarily. It will be useful at a gas station or in a store.
- Bug Spray/Lotion or Bug Wipes we carry only if it’s needed. It depends on the area of our hike and the season. During summer months or rainy, it might be a massive problem with insects, especially mosquitos & flies. We prefer wipes because it’s easier to use them. Check if your insect repellant consists of a DEET substance, which makes it more effective.
- Remember to protect your skin. Take a small sunscreen with you to avoid getting burned.
- It is worth protecting your lips before the sun, but also before frost. During physical exertion, the lips crack faster, so we wear lip balm at any time of the year.
- Don’t forget menstrual products if you need them during a hike or camp.
Alaska Cruise Packing List
It’s a difference between packing for the sunny Hawaii cruise and what you’ll experience during a cruise in Alaska. Alaskan cruises are amazing. You can observe unique animals: orcs, whales, seals, or even polar bears. During the cruise, the weather can vary dramatically. What to wear on an Alaskan cruise? What gear should I take for the cruise? We share our opinions about cruise clothing and the best equipment for a cruise.
Packing List for Alaska – Cruise Gear
- Binoculars. It’s a great idea to take waterproof binoculars for the Alaska cruise, which helps you observing wildlife. It will be much easier to find whales and orcs in the water or seals on the rocks. It’s also a great item for birdwatching.
- Camera. Photographing Alaska from a cruise ship is an adventure. For sure, you want to take great photos during the cruise. It is a fantastic opportunity for wildlife photography. The best camera for the Alaska cruise is a camera with fast AF because it’s not easy to catch animals in the water. Our choices are Canon EOS R (Chris’ choice) and Nikon D750 (Agnes’ choice).
- Lens. The best lens for Alaska cruise is a lens with zoom. The best will be a lens in the range of 200-600. We use Canon EF 100-400mm and Nikkor 80-400mm. You can check out our wildlife photos taken with these gears, e.g., in the article about bear watching in Katmai National Park or our camping in Denali National Park.
- Rain gear for the camera. It’s good to take also a rain cover protector for your camera and lens. And it’s a great idea to pack your equipment in a waterproof floating backpack in case of a stormy or rainy day.
- Rain cover for a smartphone. If you like taking photos on your smartphone, you should use a dry bag for it.
What to wear on an Alaskan cruise?
Deciding what to wear on a cruise in Alaska depends on what type of cruise you choose, how long it’s going to be your journey, and when you are going. If you are going for a longer, you should take a mix of formal, casual, and sporty attire to cover all aspects of cruising in Alaska. But first of all, your comfort and warmth matter. The weather is unpredictable. So, pack layers. Evenings and mornings can be chilly. Essentials are:
- Shoes. Waterproof shoes with good traction are essential because the deck can be slippery. Agnes’ choice is closed-toed Keen sandals for sunny days and mid hiking boots for colder days. Chris prefers Salomon waterproof shoes.
- Rain gear. A good rain jacket (Agnes’ choice) helps you stay dry. Showers are quite often even during summer. Chris likes this gore-tex technology jacket.
- Flees. Agnes uses Kuhl jacket. It’s warm and comfortable. This jacket is great for everyday layering in chilly weather. Chris’ choise is Mammut which is warm and great as a layer as well.
- Thermal base layer. For us, is essential and must-have during our travels. Chris uses Merino Wool Thermal Pants which are breathable and keeping you cool in summer and warm in winter. His choice is also Long Sleeve Thermal Shirt which keep you dry and comfortable while active in cold weather and it’s super soft. Agnes’ option is set Midweight Stretch Long Sleeve Top and Womens Tight for it, which is soft and warm and helps stayed warm without overheating.
- Warm socks. Pack good socks which help you avoid moisture. Our choice is Merino Wool Hiking Socks.
- Warm hat. When the weather is chilly, it’s good to have a warm Windstopper hat or headband.
- Sunglasses. Yes, it’s essential. There is a lot of sunny days during Alaska summer so take sunglasses and enjoy your cruise!
Alaska Photography Gear Packing List
We love wildlife and landscape photography. And Alaska is, for us, one of the premier photo travel destinations in the US. So, here we share our experience with our camera gear packing list for Alaska’s journey. Chris uses a Canon, Agnes uses a Nikon.
Cameras and Lenses
For the trips to Alaska, we usually add one or two camera bodies and two or three lenses for each camera to the Alaska packing list. In the case of Canon, it’s Canon 1DX (best camera for nature and wildlife photography, but probably too heavy for you, so do not take it as a recommendation please) and Canon EOS R (very light and modern mirrorless camera). In the case of Nikon, it is D750 – an optimal choice for traveling photographers. Light camera with excellent quality sensor and very ergonomic.
Regarding the lenses, it’s good to have three of them:
- Ultra-wide Lens. In the case of Canon, we recommend EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM or EF 16-35mm f/2.8L or cheaper 17-40mm f/4L EF Ultra Wide Angle. In Nikon system, it’s good to have Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED or Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR.
- Standard zoom lens. In the case of Canon, we recommend EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM or EF24-105mm F4L IS II USM. In the Nikon system, it’s good to have Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR or Nikon 24-120mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S NIKKOR VR.
- Tele photo lens for wildlife and landscape you have choice between lighter EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS/Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR or EF 70-200mm f/4L is II USM/Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR and heavier but more flexible Canon wildlife lens like EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM or Nikon wildlife lens like AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR.
If you already have a camera and lens, you must pack it somehow. In most cases, the best option is to use a camera dedicated backpack. Still, sometimes, if you must take the camera for a multi-day hike. The only option is to pack your gear in a daypack or regular trekking backpack, because you must have it together with sleeping bag, tent, etc. But let’s consider the situation where you have the comfort to pack your gear to a dedicated camera backpack.
For many years Chris was a big fan of Lowepro products because they are excellent quality and designed smartly. But a couple of years ago, he discovered Think Tank and felt in love with those backpacks. Now the main backpack he uses is Think Tank Airport Commuter. It fits perfectly with airplane hand luggage size and is very comfortable to carry photo gear. Moreover, it has space to fit all equipment required for a trip to Alaska and other destinations.
Agnes is more focused on a universal backpack and uses Genesis Denali. It is light and does not protect your gear at the same level as Think Tank, but is still good enough and much cheaper. So we recommend considering this backpack if it meets your expectations.
Tripods and heads
It is not easy to decide on a good tripod. Does the question arise if, in the era of high ISO and image stabilization, we still need a tripod? The answer is easy – yes, if you want to create epic pictures, you must have a tripod and work with low ISO. Then another question arises – should it be light or heavy and steady? And here the answer is not easy. Very lightweight tripods are usually useless because they are not stable enough. Heavier tripods are better because they are very sturdy. But you must carry them, and weight matter is you go for trekking. It is the topic for a separate article.
Here we want to show you only our choices for Alaska trips. We got used to Sirui tripods for two reasons. First, they are built very well and reminds good Gitzo tripods for a quarter of the price. Second, they are cheap. We do not want to spend too much money for a tripod – isn’t it better to move this budget to lenses?
But tripods are not everything. To attach the camera to the tripod in a flexible way, you will need some head as well. After years of testing different solutions, we ended up with ball heads. And the best ball head we figured out on the market considering quality and price seems to be Kirk BH3. It uses arca swiss standard plates that are universal and standardized not only for cameras but for telephoto lenses as well.
One more thing worth considering is L-bracket. In the case of the ball head, it allows you to use your camera in a vertical or horizontal position and turned out to be a perfect solution for us. It gives you the full expected flexibility to set up your camera and take the dreamed picture. The only problem is that L-bracket must be dedicated precisely to your specific camera, so be careful about buying one and make sure it fits.
Every good photographer at some moment in time grows up to acquire some set of basic filters. Sometimes the collection is expanded over time, and sometimes you stay with your favorite set for years. So it’s the right approach to buy once and buy a good set. What we can do is to share our experience in this matter. Filters are useful mainly in landscape photography, and nowadays, with modern software is less and less critical. But still rule number one is to take the best possible photo on the spot and do not count too much on postproduction. It is why we still keep carrying our filter sets.
Again, the filter topic is so broad, we can dedicate a particular article to them, but here we would like to share only recommendations for the Alaska trip. And it is simple. You will need a minimum one, optimum three, and maximum several filters.
With memory cards, it is easy. You always should buy the fastest and most reliable ones. For years we were using SanDisk and Lexar CF and SD cards. We never had any issues with them, so that we can recommend them to you. Finally, it doesn’t make sense to save on cards because, for sure, you do not want to lose your pictures because of a card failure.
Beyond cameras and lenses
For our last trip to Alaska, we decided to take some more gear. And it was the right choice because we were delighted with the results. So, we have taken two things:
- DJI Osmo Pocket – a tiny and good quality camera that can produce 4K videos.
- DJI Mavic Air – a small foldable drone to get pictures and videos from a different perspective.
With the recent one, please remember that you need to register it with FAA to fly in the USA, and you are not allowed to operate in national parks.