Alaska Travel Blog
Rafters with McCarthy River Tours - Explore McCarthy

Five Essential Items to Pack for your Alaska Adventure Trip

Packing for an Alaska Adventure can be overwhelming, remember these 5 essentials for maximum comfort!

A remote Alaska Rafting Trip is an experience of a lifetime.

Traveling river corridors that trappers and prospectors once traversed, where Alaska Natives established fish camps, nowadays, we are generally the only ones on the river.  While we cover the group gear, cooking supplies & food, camp chairs and a riverside fire, there are some essentials you will want to not overlook while you are packing for your Alaska adventure.  Below, we touch on a few essential items that are often overlooked while packing.  If you add these five extra items to your pack, you are one step closer (or would it be 5 steps?) to an unbeatable Alaska rafting experience!

1 Layers, especially a good base layer!

Instead of bringing one big heavy coat, consider bringing 3-5 good layers to apply through the trip.  This gives you extra options for clothing under your drysuit on the river, on a hike at camp or while getting cozy in your sleeping bag.  We recommend you bring a nice mid weight poly pro or wool base layer (“long underwear”) that sets the tone for the layers you will wear over it.  A good mid weight fleece is also an essential, bulky items can be a little uncomfortable under  a drysuit, by bringing numerous mid weight items you can insure your comfort all trip long.

2 Baby Wipes

Didn’t even think of these, did ya?  Through all our years of rafting, we have found that a small pack of baby wipes affords an amount of comfort that not much else supplies.  Great for a morning freshen up, baby wipes are also essential for removing any DEET, dirt and sun-lotion from your wrists and neck to keep your drysuit gaskets in good shape.  The oils and chemicals in these products can degrade your gaskets.  If you are interested, ask us and we’ll show you an example gasket that was exposed to DEET.

3 Water Proof Case for Your Camera

A Camera is something most folks do not forget on their Alaska adventure vacation, but what about the case to keep it safe and handy while on the boat?  We highly recommend investing in something like a Pelican Case to keep your camera within easy reach.  They make cases in various sizes that can fit your phone, your handheld or your DSLR with mega zoom lens.

4 Water Bottle

This one is important!  Hydration is extremely important on an Alaska back-country expedition! You’ll want a good, sturdy bottle to keep you hydrated.  Our guides like to use the 48oz Nalgene or a quality metal bottle of the same size.  The benefit of an insulated metal bottle is that it will keep your water warmer on a cold day and colder on a hot day.  Believe it or not, on a hot day in Alaska, your non-insulated water bottle can taste like an unflavored cup of coffee.

5   Quality Binoculars

One of the best items you can bring on any Alaska wilderness trip.  Some of the coolest animals we will see will be at a bit of a distance.  Being able to “glass” a bald eagle perched in a tree or spot some Dall Sheep that are far up a mountain ridge is priceless.  Zoom in on a far off waterfall or check out some bears from a safe distance as they forage, a good pair of binoculars will add to your adventure.  For a buyers guide, we recommend checking out the Audubon Society, you can’t go wrong with the knowledge of a birding organization!


While all these can add to your comfort and enjoyment, you also want to remember the essentials!  Everyone’s internal furnace varies, the most important thing to remember is to pack to suit yours.  Temperatures on any Alaskan summer day can range from 40 to 90 degrees. Do you tend to have a colder furnace.  Make sure to pack extra layers, consider expedition weight base layers and do not forget your warm hat and fleece gloves!  Do you have a warmer internal furnace?  You are still going to want to make sure you have your essential gear, but also remember that you will need to drink a lot more water to stay cool on a hot day. Keeping hydrated is the #1 way you can keep yourself from getting overheated!

Happy Packing!

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