What to Wear when Traveling to Southeast Alaska


Every year thousands of people travel to Southeast Alaska to enjoy the pristine wilderness and coastlines teeming with wild life. Most of Southeast Alaska is Tongass National Forest, a rain forest which, you guessed it, receives huge amounts of rain all year round. It’s not all forest though. Sprinkled throughout Southeast Alaska are small quaint towns offering a variety of activities, shops, and restaurants for tourists. With so much to do in Southeast Alaska, sometimes it can be a bit daunting trying to figure out what to wear.

When deciding what to wear in Southeast Alaska, it is important to think about the elements. Most people travel to Southeast Alaska in the early spring to late summer. I will assume this is the time we will be discussing when deciding what to wear. An important thing to remember about Southeast Alaska and what to wear is the fact that it rains a lot. Most usually, the rains are not heavy, but expect a shower everyday. The temperatures will be fairly moderate. They normally range between 50 to 70 degrees F. If you you will be nearby the water, expect it to feel a few degrees colder than the actual temperature.

With this in mind, follow the layering technique when you are deciding what to wear during your travel to Southeast Alaska. What exactly is the layering technique? Basically, you will have three layers of clothing–inner, middle, and outer. The idea behind the layering technique is that you put them all on at the beginning of the day and take layers off as you no longer need them.

The inner layer will be the first thing you put on. Many times this is referred to as long underwear. You will want this to be made from a thin material that will absorb moisture from your skin. Cotton is not a good inner layer since it absorbs moisture. Depending on the temperature outside, I don’t always wear this on the bottom part of my body, but the upper body makes a big difference. There are many stylish inner layers that are available which is especially useful on those hot days in Southeast Alaska when you find yourself only needing the inner layer, or if you plan to be inside a lot.

The middle layer should be something that provides insulation, but it should be thin. You don’t want it to be too thick because you want to be able to comfortably wear an outer layer. Fleece jackets, sweaters, and sweatshirts all make great middle layers.

The outer layer is a crucial choice when it comes to deciding what to wear when in Southeast Alaska. Because of the frequent rain and occasional wind, you want a jacket that is waterproof and warm. Remember a heavier jacket doesn’t always equal a warmer jacket. Look for a jacket with Gore-tex which will provide wind-proof and waterproof material. Also, a jacket with a hood will provide a means to keep your head dry and warm.

Depending on the activities you have scheduled for your travel to Southeast Alaska, deciding what to wear on your feet will ensure you have a comfortable and enjoyable visit. It is a good idea to look for tennis shoes or boots that are lightweight and waterproof. Again, Gore-tex is a good choice. If this isn’t an option, try to bring two pairs of shoes so you will have a backup in case one pair gets soaked.

A few more tips about what to wear when traveling to Southeast Alaska. People don’t wear fur. There are fur shops available, but it is too warm for fur in the spring, summer, or fall. Bring some sunscreen. When the sun is out, it can be quite warm and cause a significant amount of sun exposure. If you have activities scheduled such as fishing or scuba diving, don’t worry about bringing specialized clothing or items. Most places outfit you with what you need as part of their service.

If you find yourself in Southeast Alaska and you realize that you have not brought the right clothing, don’t fret. There are shops available that offer just what you will need to make your visit more comfortable in Southeast Alaska.

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