Alaska is a haven for outdoor adventurers and nature enthusiasts, and experience of hiking in Alaska is like no other. With vast, rugged terrain that is filled with an abundance of the ecological community, Alaska is home to some of the largest salmons and strongest bears in the world. This place serves a million square miles of a vivid landscape that has mountains, glaciers, seashore lines, lakes, river systems, and volcanoes.
Alaska has the lowest population density in the united states, and most of the geography of the region is almost untouched. Alaska also lacks a proper road system, thus, making air support and water routes the only means of connectivity within.
This downside of the state also serves as a great opportunity as hiking is one of the best things to do in Alaska when it comes to exploring the rich ecology and natural system that this part of the country has to offer.
But hiking in such a remote and challenging region can be daunting if you lack hiking and backcountry experience. The place is no stranger to its difficult and ever-changing climate system and requires a great deal of preparation with a proper set of gears and equipment to keep you safe and comfortable during the whole trip. To top that, the existing typical weather conditions make it more challenging for campers and hikers and can be life-threatening if done unprepared. Snowfall, thunderstorms, rainfall is common within the area and happens frequently around the year.
So here are a few essential backpacking tips to help you boost your hiking experience in Alaska.
Carry Food Guide & Ample Food Ration for the Trip
Whether hiking for a day or planning a week-long trip, hiking in Alaska requires you to carry a sufficient amount of food resources. The availability of such can be scarce in this part of the country. Even if you are a seasoned hunter and have plenty of fishing and hunting experience, it is least suggested to proceed without proper food ration in your backpack.
While Alaska has a healthy variation landscape, and variety of fruits and vegetables grow here, proper knowledge is needed before you plan to eat anything, as there are many species of fruits that are well known for its toxic influence on humans, It is not suggested to try any such thing without prior knowledge and consent.
With a lack of readily available groceries, the only thing that is going to come in handy is the food ration that you are carrying. Make sure you have sufficient fuel with you to back up your food resources if planning for a long trip. Best would be to carry a 2-day extra meal as the conditions in your hiking may not be as welcoming as you would have expected.
Proper Boots, Proper Gloves, And Proper Clothing!
Appropriate gears such as gloves and boots, along with proper dress with a thermal insulation layer for protection from cold is a must while on your trip to Alaska.
Alaskan terrain is well known for offering varying, often trailless landscapes filled with creek slopes, muddy bogs, bushy lumpy areas, and even icy-glacial regions. Normal shoes don’t bode well for such instances. Adventuring along such a typical terrain requires tough, waterproof boots that are lasting for such rugged conditions, and come with strong and lasting rubber to support your feet and balance at every step.
The air in the surrounding can be freezing so a good pair of hiking gloves will help you keep your hands warm. To add more to that, the area is prone to frequent showers and snowfalls as already mentioned, so remember to carry a waterproof outfit with thermal layering to protect you from cold, and a nice set of rain gears to resist the rain impact.
Animal Protection and Prevention Gears
Alaska is home to some of the largest and strongest species of bears. A visit from bears once or twice a week is no big deal for the natives but can be troublesome if being encountered in the wild. Besides, issues of mosquitoes due to the existence of millions of stocked lakes and ponds in the area need to be taken care of when adventuring outdoors in Alaska.
Add gears such as bear spray, bear repellents, Bear Resistant Containers ( to store food safely and away from bears), and proper mosquito net and repellents to stay safe against such encounters when hiking in the wild.
Thermal Sleep Bags with Pads for Warm and Comfort Sleep
Alaska does not bode well with just any kind of sleeping bag. A thermal sleeping bag, of appropriate size and length, is a must to keep you warm and give best-in-class comfort after long hiking trips when resting in the shelter. It is not a good choice to compromise with price and quality, and its best to go for better grade products to ensure a comfortable experience. A sleeping pad is another essential element to support comfort factor and keep you away from the sturdy, uneven, and rough surface.
Less Bulky, Lightweight, and Durable Tent that Serve Best for Hiking
Hiking is a demanding activity and demands self-preparation while carrying the right set of gears and equipment where arranging a good shelter is a must to traverse along a terrain as typical as Alaska. There are three main things to consider while choosing a good backpacking tent for your hiking trip.
- the tent should be less bulky to be spatially compatible with the backpack.
- The tent should be lightweight to make it easy to carry during long trail walks.
- Make sure the tent is 4-season or durable enough to stand out against the difficult weather conditions.
Apart from that, carry a proper mosquito net, rain tarp, and such similar accessories, and necessary add-ons to make your shelter as tough, and comforting as possible. When out in the wilderness, preparing a good shelter is one essential thing to do in Alaska, especially when indulged in outdoor and recreational activities.
Ice Gears – Crampons and Ice Axes
Alaska has plenty of glacial and snow-covered land, so encountering a vast glacier is no big deal in Alaska, and one needs to prepare if any such thing happens. Traversing through such areas requires the use of gears such as crampons, ice axes, helmets, and ropes. Ice often hides plenty of surprises underneath, so it is suggested to stay extra cautious and careful while going through such fields to avoid any mishaps.
Electronics – Tech Gears and Navigation Equipment
The timid and cold weather of Alaska can be terrifying for the battery equipped electronic devices and gadgets. Battery due to extreme cold conditions gets unavailable for use, thus forcing to carry an additional pair of batteries for convenience and ensure warm storage for use.
Above that, relying on electronic navigation such as GPS and smartphones is not considered assuring in terms of proper navigations, so it is best suggested to go old school and carry a simple extensive map with compass.
Since most of the land is trailless, it is often recommended to carry proper navigation equipment, with knowledge of utility to support your boost your hiking experience in Alaska.
Ask A Friend To Accompany You
While it gives a great way of strengthening your bond and relationship with family and friends, having a companion during hike trips adds convenience, and is less bothering in terms of issues, and unavoidable surprises. It reduces the chances of wild encounters. Since you will not be alone, basic camping tasks and other activities would be more fun, adding even more to your comfort. Alaska is already a remote area, so companionship for hiking trips can help you pretty much in boosting the overall experience.
A Backpack that’s Spacious, Lightweight and Sturdy To Support All Necessary Gear
Size of the backpack and its weight becomes a primary concern when selecting one for your hike trip. Since the area in itself is quite demanding, so it should be spacious enough to accommodate extra pieces of equipment and gears for your special Alaskan hike needs. Also, it should be lightweight and durable enough to outlast the trip and come in handy for more.
If going to Alaska, do not go without proper planning. out of all the things to do in Alaska, hiking is quite typical, difficult, challenging and requires serious backcountry skills. Alaska is isolated and has some of the most breathtaking nature scenics that are going to awestruck you, and be an adventure trip of a lifetime. But, it requires proper planning before you hit the trail. Get proper knowledge and information regarding the region where you plan to hike, its surrounding ecosystem, and existing and upcoming climate forecasts for a better scenario understanding to support yourself in choosing the right set of equipment for the backpack, and boost up your overall hiking experience.
Contributed by: Tom Nolan