Posted in Traveling to the Yukon, Westmark Blog

Wondering what to wear in Alaska or the Yukon? The classic clothing advice to “layer, layer, layer” remains true when curating your packing list for the Alaska and Yukon winter. Although you may have ignored your mom’s advice to carry an extra sweater and hat, you’ll find that such clothing is very necessary here. It is crucial to have the right base layers and outerwear for a successful trip. In addition to clothes and accessories, there are a few other essentials for your next winter journey in Alaska or the Yukon, keep reading for packing ideas and tips!

Winter weather in Alaska and the Yukon

If you’re about to make the trip of a lifetime, you might be wondering what the weather in Alaska and the Yukon in winter is really like. To summarize, winter in the region means shorter days, colder temperatures and a snowy winter wonderland! The winter months are a great time to enjoy outdoor activities and explore frozen landscapes.

What to pack: clothing

It’s important to bring the right clothing to stay warm and comfortable. Layering is key, so you should plan to bring a variety of items that can be layered together.

Down vest

A versatile top layer

This counts for any time of year, but especially for the Yukon and Alaska winters. A journey up here requires that you bring a warm top later that can be easily packed up into a day pack if you get warm. After a full day of winter activities, you may want to change into a fleece jacket or vest since they are not only lightweight and easy to pack but because they look good enough to wear out on the town.

Long underwear

A good base layer may be the deciding factor in determining whether you are enjoying being outside or not. Consider a pair of long underwear made of silk which will not just keep you warm but can also be washed and dried quickly when you are back at your home base Plus, silk is a very lightweight fabric, so it won’t take up much room.

Socks

You need some socks that can keep your feet warm and toasty while also wicking away any perspiration. Keep in mind the age-old mantra of outdoor lovers and hikers: “Cotton is rotten!” Cotton socks will absorb perspiration and moisture and chill you out — not in a good way. The wet feet will make you feel colder than you actually are. We recommend trying wool, synthetic fibers or a mix of both!

What to pack: gear

Beyond clothing, the Yukon and Alaska in the winter warrants bundling up in snow gear! Your body needs a good insulation layer to make sure no cold comes creeping in. By packing or renting the right snow gear, you can ensure your time spent up north is safe and enjoyable and you’re making memories that last.

A parka

The kind of weather you should anticipate in the winter varies from region to region and year to year. Temperatures in Interior Alaska will be lower than those in the coastal regions. It’s best to prepare the coldest temperatures and have what you need. We recommend looking into lightweight, packable parkas that are designed for arctic adventures.

Snow pants

No, we don’t mean the bulky, unflattering pair your mom dressed you in when you were a child on your walk to school. Choose insulated trousers made from water-resistant fabric, which are ideal for skiing, snowshoeing or day walks out to a glacier. If you’re embarking on even more adventurous activities like snowmachining, a coverall style will offer even more protection. Your best option is to try a sporting goods store or a local ski shop.

Hiking boots

Pack a multipurpose hiking boot to avoid needing to fill your suitcase with multiple footwear options. With hiking boots, you can go from a winter trek out in the wilderness to a meal by the fireplace. We recommend a boot with some water resistance to avoid wet socks.

What to pack: accessories

These packing essentials may help you look good but they also play an important role and they are not to be skipped. The items in this section can be just as important as your clothing and gear.

Mittens and Boots

Sunglasses

If you plan on spending a lot of time outdoors, keep in mind that snow blindness is real! In the winter, the sun in northern regions is at a low inclination, and it reflects off the snow-covered ground. Be sure to pack a nice pair of shades to protect your eyes and look good doing it!

Gloves and mittens

Keep those fingers warm! When picking gloves and mittens you must consider function in addition to style. If you’re going to spend a lot of time outdoors in cold temperatures, be sure to pick a heavy-duty pair that can stand up to the cold. Bonus points for a matching scarf!

What to pack: toiletries

Everything in Alaska is go big or go home, including this packing list. Trust us when we say, you won’t want to leave your toiletry bag behind!  

Sunscreen

Even when it’s cold, you need to protect your skin. If you plan to be spending a lot of time outside, you’ll be receiving sun exposure and you can easily burn where your skin is exposed.

Lotion and moisturizer

Cold weather can dry you out! Hands can get dry very quickly and crack if you don’t have a good lotion to rehydrate your skin. This can be helped by drinking a fair amount of water and of course packing your favorite lotions and moisturizer.

What to pack: miscellaneous

As with packing for any trip, you can’t forget the essentials that can take even the most prepared traveler’s trip to the next level.

Camera

Alaska and the Yukon have unmatched natural beauty, and the scenes of winter are on a whole other level. When you return home from your vacation, you’ll be dying to show your friends the sights you saw while away.

Travel guidebook

Nothing beats the feeling of holding a physical book. The writers are credible and informed with local tips to help you get the most out of your vacation. It’s also a fun coffee table book and conversation piece about your trip when you get home.

You won’t need to worry now that you know what to pack for your trip to Alaska and the Yukon. Be sure to take advantage of the exceptional winter prices offered by Westmark Hotels and make us your base of operations for your winter exploration of Alaska and the Yukon Territory! If you need more tips on how to plan your winter trip to Alaska, check out our blog how to pack light for a long vacation.