Summer temperatures in Southeast Alaska range in the 50s to 70s, with some nights reaching down into the 40s! Though we do have sunshine, you must be prepared for rain. To be prepared for both, we stress utilizing the layering principle of dressing, where you add or subtract synthetic or wool layers as the weather changes. Synthetic (fleece, pile, nylon, and polypropylene fabric materials) or wool clothing keeps you warm even when wet. Cotton is not sufficient. For additional information and help on how to pack all your gear into our kayaks, check out our packing videos on our Packing Tips page.
Raingear & Rubber Boots
Rain Coat/Pants/Hat or attached hood: sturdy, TOTALLY WATERPROOF (not just water resistant). We cannot stress enough the IMPORTANCE of GOOD RAINGEAR. These should be among the highest priority items when planning for any outdoor trip in Alaska. We do not recommend Gore-Tex, but rather a RUBBERIZED, waterproof fabric. If you cannot find these, or do not wish to purchase them, we do have raingear for rent. Our raingear is a mid-weight rubberized Grunden’s style with bib overall pants and a hooded jacket. To assure proper fit, please include your sizes on your reservation form. Rubber boots are men’s size 3-14 and raingear is men’s size XS – XL. If renting rubber boots from us, we recommend bringing a pair of wool or other type of cushioned insert to make them more comfortable. Often you can simply use the inserts that come with your lightweight hiking shoes. For the length of your trip regardless of the number of days, boots are $10/person and rain suits are $40/person.
- Rubber Boots (not booties): sturdy, calf length are best. Sorrels or similar boots with laces/zippers are NOT adequate. Wool or other padded insoles for comfort.
- Sturdy sneakers OR lightweight hiking shoes.
- 3 or 4 pairs Smartwool socks: depending on how often you like to change
- 1 Sweater: light or medium weight fleece pile or wool
- 1 Fleece/Pile Coat: synthetic pile or fleece (zip or pullover)
- 2 Hats:
- 1 wool or synthetic fleece hat that covers your ears
- 1 baseball cap with visor
- 2 Shirts:
- 1 long-sleeved medium weight synthetic shirt
- 1 short-sleeved synthetic t-shirt or polo shirt (nylon or quick dry fabric is best).
- 1 pair of Shorts: nylon is best, with pockets
- 2 pair of Pants:
- 1 wool or synthetic pile or fleece
- 1 pair of nylon medium weight (not tropic weight) pants (that can fit over your long underwear).
- 1 set Long Underwear: (top & bottom) of light or medium weight polypropylene or capilene. NO COTTON! If it’s medium weight, it may substitute for a long sleeve synthetic shirt.
- 2 pair Gloves:
- 1 pair wool or synthetic fleece/pile
- 1 pair of Neoprene gloves OR
- 1 pair Atlas brand rubber gloves. Atlas rubber gloves have a comfortable cloth lining and can generally be purchased at hardware stores. Fishermen in Alaska use them all the time. A pair of polypropolene lightweight glove liners may be worn inside the rubber gloves for an added layer. This option is cheaper than purchasing Neoprene gloves and you can use the rubber gloves for chores when you return home!
Toiletries (eliminate sweet smelling lotion, sprays, deodorant), sunscreen, suntan lotion, lip protection, mosquito repellent — we recommend a repellent with a high content of the chemical DEET, mosquito head net, flashlight, sunglasses, Swiss Army or Leatherman pocket knife, pocket books–on wildlife, plant and bird identification, something to read on a rainy day, camera in dry bag, binoculars, fishing gear for the Bartlett River area. Fishing licenses are available online through the State of Alaska website.
Sleeping Bags & Duffels
- Sleeping Bag: we recommend Polarguard, Hollofill or other synthetic fiber with a minimum temperature of 20 degrees F. In a rainy climate, goose down loses its loft and effectiveness when it gets wet. FAIR WARNING: no Goose Down!
- Sleeping Pad: closed cell foam or Thermarest w/ stuff sack.
- Day Pack or Dry Bag w/ backpack straps: for daily necessities (binoculars, hat, gloves, sweater, etc.) located for easy access.
- Duffels (smaller team bag size), Stuff Sacks or Dry Bags: several about 12 x 20, one each for personal gear, cook gear, camp gear. Plus 1 or 2 larger duffels to carry all the smaller bags in when traveling.
- Bear/Food Canisters: mandatory and available from NPS at your kayak orientation. Both sizes (8×12 & 8×18) fit anywhere.
ALL of your gear bags (even dry bags!) and bear canisters should be lined on the INSIDE ONLY with an appropriate sized HEAVY – DUTY GARBAGE BAG. This is the key to keeping gear dry in this climate. Plastic ZIP LOCK BAGS are useful for organizing and protecting small items and packing individual food items. If you don’t want to invest in dry bags and already own a buch of smaller duffel, we often use light weight duffels and stuff sacks over dry bags for general packing because they are more pliable, easier to pack, and make more efficient use of space. A couple larger duffel bags are handy for containing all of the smaller bags when checking airline baggage, getting onto and off the tourboat at the drop off sites, and for carrying gear from the water line to above high tide when making camp (which can be a long walk at low tide!).
When packing your kayak, gear will fit best into the nooks and crannies of the kayak if packed SEPARATELY rather than having everything in one large pack. This is why each gear bag, sleeping bag, etc. must be individually water-proofed with plastic bags. Our Easy Rider “Expedition Belugas” are 18 foot long doubles with bulkheads both bow and stern, and easily pack gear and food for up to a 2 week trip. Our single kayaks are 17 foot “Eskimos” by Easy Rider and with bulkheads both bow and stern. Limited unsecured storage space for your baggage and excess gear is available for free at the NPS Visitor Information Station storage shed, or secured storage is available through Glacier Bay Lodge for a fee of approximately $5/bag/day. Storage is free at the lodge if you are staying there before or after your kayak trip.
Nesting cook set w/ plates and cups, spatula, silverware, large knife (for cutting bread, veggies, etc.), measuring cup, stove with repair kit, stove fuel, collapsible water containers, water bottles, scrub pads and soap for dishes.
A sturdy TENT with rain fly. Please be sure the rain fly and tent seams are seam sealed — know that it WON’T LEAK before you leave home. Additional items include: two tarps (one large enough for your group to cook under and a smaller one to cover your gear pile if raining), toilet paper and matches, extra line for hanging food (in forested areas) and stringing tarps, extra zip locks and plastic garbage bags, and iodine tablets/water filter for treating water. Note: heavy glacial silt can clog filters so if you use these you will need to let the water settle for an hour in a pan before filtering. We recommend that you purchase a Trails Illustrated Glacier Bay combination nautical chart/topo map, which is the most current and complete map available, either in advance from Alaska Geographic or from the NPS upon arrival in Bartlett Cove. A tide table is available from the NPS and you’ll receive one with your backcountry camping permit. You may also print one off in advance. See our Tides page for more information.
Fully equipped First Aid kit, compass, matches in waterproof container, garbage bags and zip lock bags, space blanket, fire starter, flares, duct tape, gear repair items, and any other emergency items you deem necessary. We don’t provide a kayak repair kit. Generally, a high quality duct tape will suffice for field repair of any cracks in the fiberglass. Other helpful kayak and gear repair items to bring along include a few feet of nylon parachute cord, a large safety pin and thin wire for field repairs of tents or rudders. Paddle floats are included with each kayak and each group will be issued a spare paddle for their trip.