Those who go willingly into nature in search of adventure are often reminded just how small and powerless we are. Few places on earth have the power to demonstrate this more clearly than Alaska. Awareness and preparation are the keys to staying safe and getting the most enjoyment out of our time in the Alaskan wilderness. To that end, here are some guidelines to help you prepare for your time in our great state.
Weather dictates the majority of our preparations, and can change with little notice. A ten mile per hour wind or a little cloud cover moving in can make an otherwise comfortable air temperature feel miserably cold.
- Check the weather forecast as close as possible to where you’ll be recreating. The weather report for Anchorage will be of limited use a half-hour away on Bird Ridge.
- Dress in layers and have a method, such as a small lightweight backpack, of keeping extra layers accessible.
- As the saying goes – cotton kills. Avoid cotton materials such as denim and sweatshirts. A pair of nylon pants and a synthetic or wool blend moisture wicking shirt are a better choice.
- Add a wicking performance base layer in colder temperatures.
- Waterproof breathable jackets or shells are great when rain or snow is a possibility (always) and can help minimize the effects of the wind when it picks up.
- Many of our tours involve some wet terrain. Waterproof shoes are advised. Generally a lightweight hiking boot or trail-style running shoe is best. For our shorter, less arduous hikes, a rubber boot like Xtratuf, also known as “southeast sneakers” are acceptable; comfort is the priority.
- During summer months, the sun can be intense. A hat and lightweight long sleeve shirt that offers some sun protection can be helpful.
- As you might expect, wintertime temperatures often dip below zero. Again, layers work best. With a quality moisture wicking base layer, merino wool or fleece mid layer and a breathable waterproof shell, you should be ready for all but the most extreme adventures.
For some, simply being here, seeing and experiencing the wonder of Alaska for themselves is the goal. For others, photography and videography are the focus (pardon the pun) of their trip to Alaska. The majority of people fall somewhere between these extremes. Of course, the better quality photography gear you bring, the better you can expect your photos and videos to turn out. Your smartphone will take fine photos, many of our guests use them with great results. A step up would be a point and shoot camera with a good optical zoom. The higher the zoom, the closer you appear to have been to your subject. This is a good thing in wildlife photography, particularly when photographing bears, moose and other big game. The next level in photography gear can be considerably more expensive and complicated. This could be a DSLR camera body with interchangeable lenses that can offer superior zoom and photo quality. Whatever photo gear you bring, make sure you put in some time in advance to learn its functions and features. You don’t want to be digging through the menus on your camera when a huge bull moose steps out of the alders a hundred yards away. For those interested, the majority of photos and videos Alaska Wildlife Adventures uses on this site are taken using a Canon 70D and 100-400mm f 4.5-5.6 L series lens.
For northern lights photography, it is still possible to use the camera on your smartphone, using the pro or manual modes. Shutter speeds of 10 to 30 seconds or more are necessary, so a tripod or other method of keeping your camera motionless is a must. A remote shutter release can also be useful. Look for a Bluetooth model compatible with your phone. AWA has several tripods available for guests to use on our northern lights tours.
Other gear for a specific trip or conditions, such as ice cleats or trekking poles may be provided by AWA as needed. Any necessary safety gear and first aid items will be handled by your guide.
As always, please feel free to contact us with any specific gear related questions prior to your trip.