Packing List Of Essential Gear For Alaska Expeditions

Clothing and accessories for travelers participating in Windstar Signature Expeditions experiences.


When the weather is unpredictable–whether you are on the deck of the ship, traveling on a zodiac or exploring ports–packing for sun, rain and cold is crucial. Selecting appropriate gear can feel daunting. Thankfully, we have over 30 years of experience in providing quality expedition clothing and equipment for professional and amateur travelers. We’ve put together a curated packing list: to eliminate the guesswork, and to set you up to have the best and most comfortable experience on your upcoming expedition. Use this packing list as a guide and be sure to check the weather conditions before your departure.


Tips: What to Wear in Alaska



Packs & Travel Bags

Travel Luggage: The first step in preparing for your cruise is selecting the right travel luggage. Choose a travel bag appropriate in size to the amount you’re planning to pack to ensure your luggage doesn’t become bulky and difficult to board.

Expert Tip A soft-top bag is easily compacted and stored during your stay on board.


Backpack: A lightweight backpack can help carry your essentials while keeping your arms free for safe disembarking off the vessel getting in and out of the zodiacs. Choose a backpack that is waterproof to protect your technology – from camera gear to your phone – and keep your layers dry while you have them stored in your backpack.

Expert Tip Choose a backpack with a waist-strap–the extra strap helps distribute the pack’s weight, alleviating pressure off the shoulders, making for a more comfortable experience on a longer adventure.


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Base Layer


Long Underwear: Wear a moisture-wicking, insulating, soft base layer in the early mornings or on a chilly day to insulate your body while remaining breathable. The light- or medium-weight long underwear we recommend is made from Capilene, a high-tech fabric designed to retain warmth and dry quickly.

Expert Tip The quick-drying fabric is easily washed in between wears. It is compact which means you have the added assurance of warmth when you need it without adding bulk to your luggage.


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Insulation Layer


Light-Weight Loft Jackets and Vests: This layer is at the center of your adventuring gear, consisting of elements that can be worn together or alone. Wear the vest on board the ship so you will be prepared to head out to the deck to get a closer view of passing vistas. On cold days when you don’t need a waterproof layer, wear the jacket on its own or over a vest.

Expert Tip Loft vests and jackets trap heat with remarkable efficiency even when they are wet. They are also water-repellent and windproof and double as outerwear in mild weather. Consider also adding fleece as a layering option.


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Tops

Long-Sleeved Shirts/Blouses: When the sun comes out, ensure that you are dressed for long days in the heat. Choose long sleeve shirts with built-in Omni-Shade UPF 40 for extra sun protection and ultra-light wicking fabric, which draws moisture away from the body.

Expert Tip Fabric that wicks moisture from the skin to the surface of the fabric dries fast leaving you more comfortable because your body can regulate its temperature efficiently. Consider a shirt with built-in insect repellent if there are mosquitoes in the destinations that you will be visiting.


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Bottoms

Pants: When you are not sure whether it will be hot, cold or raining, pack lightweight and fast-drying convertible pants with built-in UPF sun protection. When the weather changes from cool to hot, simply zip off the legs to convert your pants to comfortable shorts.

Expert Tip It may be tempting to bring your favorite jeans. Unfortunately, they are not a good fit for adventuring because they are slow drying and restrictive.


Browse Our Top Picks for Bottoms

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Outer Layer

Windstar Inaugural Jacket: Designed for the Alaska traveler in mind. A unisex-sized waterproof rain jacket with hood that is large enough to fit over layers and will serve as a keepsake from your voyage. Or select from our packable, lightweight, waterproof rain jackets. The fabric should be breathable so that moisture from your body can escape. Pack this piece in your hand luggage so that you have a windbreaker ready when you deplane.


Waterproof Pants: Waterproof pants are crucial when navigating almost every single landing, as well as protecting you from spray during zodiac rides. They will also be a welcome addition during rainy days on shore. Ideal pants are lightweight, breathable, and feature a comfortable waistband. Crucially, they should be wide enough to fit over your boots. It’s important to note that the ideal waterproof pant is not a ski pant. Ski pants are usually too hot in temperate climates, often create too much bulk for adventurers, and rarely fit comfortably over boots.

Expert Tip Choose a pair of waterproof pants with a zipper at the bottom, making sure you’re able to comfortably take off and put on your boots.


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Hats, Gloves & Socks

Hat: Keep your head and face protected when the weather forecast calls for rain. Choose a waterproof hat with a shaped brim to direct water away from your face and neck during showers. The same hat will provide valuable sun protection on a hot day.

Expert Tip Keep your hat secure in windy conditions with a chin cord.


Neck Gaiter: Neck gaiters are the smart improvement on a traditional scarf: Warm, compact, and secure, a gaiter can be worn as an insulating layer around the neck, pulled up over the mouth and nose for wind chills, or worn over your head to add warmth to your head gear. A quick-drying gaiter is easy to wash, versatile, and much easier to pack than a bulky scarf, while providing just as much warmth and insulation.

Expert Tip As with your base layers, we recommend you bring two gaiters to be able to wash them between each wear.


Quick-Drying Wind or Waterproof Gloves: When your day calls for kayaking or traveling by Zodiac, keep your hands warm and dry with lightweight, waterproof gloves. On a cooler day on shore or on deck, glove liners on their own are a great option for keeping your hands warm without adding bulk.

Expert Tip For kayaking, choose gloves with a grippy dot design on the palm for durability and superior grip.


Socks: Prepare for the adventure of the day by packing socks that wick moisture, are made from wool or a wool blend and that cushion the heel well.

Expert Tip The thickness of the sock is important for more than just warmth: It also makes a significant difference for comfort. A robust, cushioning sock can help your feet not only stay warm, but blister-free.


Browse Our Top Picks for Hats, Gloves and Socks

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Footwear

Boots: A good-fitting pair of waterproof hiking boots with a strong, non-skid sole so you will have great traction navigating rough terrain.

Expert Tip It’s essential that your boots are 100% waterproof. Getting your feet even a little wet can make a big, uncomfortable difference. Be sure to pick boots that aren’t too bulky or inflexible, so you’re able to move around easily and comfortably.


Browse Our Top Picks for Footwear

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Accessories

Trekking Poles: Trekking Poles provide crucial stability while navigating uneven or slippery terrain. A helpful tool both when ascending and descending, trekking poles help ensure safety, stability, and ease along any expedition.

Expert Tip Collapsible trekking poles are a practical choice. Collapse the poles, pack them into your backpack so your hands are free when you are getting in and out of zodiacs.


Binoculars: Your expedition will undoubtedly offer stunning views and rare peeks at wild aquatic life–moments you won’t want to miss! Compact, high-performance binoculars help ensure you experience every single unique vista along your cruising journey.

Expert Tip When choosing binoculars, be sure to select a pair with at least 10X power and 25mm objective diameter–this is considered ideal for scenic and wildlife watching.


Sun & Wind Protection: The sun will play a significant role in the everyday considerations of your expedition cruise, especially on overcast days. Stay protected by bringing sunglasses with UV protection, and a sun lotion suitable for use on your face. Sun lotion also helps to protect your face in windy conditions.

Expert Tip Often forgotten, but no less important: Be sure to bring an SPF-charged lip balm along on your trip.


Insect repellent: Alaska has 35 species of mosquitoes but mosquitoes are only really an issue for Alaska visitors from the second week of June to the last week in July and even then they’re not really as bad as myth would have it. Mosquitoes seem to be the most active at dawn and twilight. Recommended insect repellent are DEET or using permethrin-treated clothes. Never use 95% or more DEET on small children. Remember: Non-aerosol repellent is recommended if you are flying.

Expert Tip A tightly woven head net ensures protection and keeps the bugs at bay and is wide enough to wear over a hat. Fabric treated with insect shield is recommended for extra protection.


Protecting Your Valuables: Your phone or tablet are important tools for capturing your experience. Ensure they stay dry and safe throughout your journey. Slide your cellphone or tablet into a waterproof floating case for maximum protection on land and sea. You will have full use of your device when it is in the case.

Expert Tip Use sturdy, leak-proof bags to keep other valuables dry in even the most challenging conditions.


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A FEW FINAL, HELPFUL TIPS
  • Consider compression socks. In addition to helping to reduce foot swelling during your flight, they help prevent sprains and offer additional stability over rough terrain.

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  • Reduce microfiber plastic entering the oceans by washing garments in the GUPPYFRIEND washing bag.