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What to wear in Alaska in Summer (May-September)

What to wear in Alaska in Summer (May-September)

Want to know what to wear in Alaska in Summer? Our Alaska Packing List for summer tells you what to wear and what to pack for visitors to Alaska through the months of May to September.

Summers is the most popular time to visit Alaska and the peak summer season in Alaska is classified as May, June, July, August and September. However, Alaska is renowned for having changeable weather even in Summer which can make it a challenge to pack for. In this guide you will find out:

  • What the weather is like in Alaska in Summer
  • What to wear in Alaska in summer for hiking, driving and more and
  • other travel essentials to pack for Alaska in the summer

Note: this packing list is not intended as an Alaska camping packing list. If you want a summer camping packing list be sure to check out this post. And if you are visiting Alaska on a cruise ship then you will definitely want to see Alaska cruise packing list.

Summer Weather in Alaska

Woman in hoodie and beanie looking at glacier from cruise ship in Alaska
What to wear in Alaska in summer packing list

But before we get into what to wear and travel essentials for Alaska in summer, it is important to know what the weather is going to be like.

Now the weather will depend on the month and region of Alaska you are traveling to. Surprisingly May is actually the driest of the summer months in Alaska with July and August being wetter with around 15 days of rainfall in each month.

And inland Alaska tends to be warmer than the coastal regions with the interior usually having average temperatures of 70° F though it can get into the 90s while on the coast it doesn’t usually get warmer than 65° F. And if you head into Denali and head to higher elevations you will find it cooler still.

Therefore the key to packing for Alaska for Summer is packing lots of layer and having some waterproof wear with you.

What to wear in Alaska in Summer (May – September)

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Best Shoes to wear to Alaska in Summer

Having the right shoes can definitely make or break a trip which is especially true for Alaska where you will be doing lots of outdoor and water activities. Whenever I am packing a travel capsule wardrobe I try to pack lightly and one way I do is by reducing the shoes I pack.

Normally, I try and pack only two pairs of shoes however you may want some additional for Alaska. Our Alaska packing list for summer normally has the following shoes:

Hiking Boots

The number one shoe for Alaska has to hiking boots. Alaska is a place that is best explored outside from glacier hiking, hiking in the Tongass Rainforest and whale watching. And the best shoes for these activities has to be lightweight hiking boots.


Sneakers are the best comfortable walking shoes for any vacation. Sneakers are great for boardwalk trails, the lodges and in towns in Alaska such as Anchorage, Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway to name a few.

Hiking Sandals

In hotter weather hiking sandals are a good pick especially on beaches. Our favorite brand of hiking sandals are Tevas.

What to wear in Alaska in Summer

Woman in red jacket taking selfie in front of glacier in alaska in summer
What to wear in Alaska in summer packing list

So now you know about the weather, we will tell you what to wear in Alaska in Summer. Normally when we put together our packing list guides we split them into men, women and children. However for Alaska we recommend a very practical packing list as you will be doing lots of hiking and outdoor activities. For this reason the packing list is universal.


Layers are the most important thing to add to your Alaska packing list. Everyone knows how changeable the weather in Alaska can be and for this reason, we recommend always having top layers with you even on a sunny day.

My favorite top layer is a lightweight fleece. They are very warm but pack away neatly into your day pack when you aren’t wearing them. They also dry quicker than hoodies for instance if you happen to caught in one of the infamous Alaska rainfalls.


Rain is always a risk in Alaska so we always add a lightweight rain jacket to all our Alaska packing lists. We recommend having a pack-away rain jacket that you can easily store in your day pack for when its not raining.


On top of a pack away rain jacket we also recommend having a warmer jacket like a puffer jacket with you.

T Shirts

T shirts are my favorite base layer for Alaska. As the weather can be changeable it is a good idea to have a mix of short sleeve, long sleeve and tank tops with you.

For areas where there are likely to be ticks you may want to stick to long sleeve tees and full length trousers as added protection.

Convertible Walking Trousers

Again, any trip to Alaska involves walking, hiking and outdoor time. And as you will be in the park early to late you need to be prepared for a range of weather conditions. For this reason, we recommend wearing convertible walking trousers.

This way you can wear them as trousers in the mornings and change them into shorts for later in the day when it gets warmer.

Note: you can bring shorts with you to Alaska however with the insects and the temperatures I didn’t find shorts all that useful. These convertibale hiking boots are the best compromise in my opinion.


I don’t recommend wearing jeans for hiking in Alaska however I found them useful for towns and restaurants.


Alaska may not be the first place you think of when you want to swim however there are some popular swimming spots in such as on the Horseshoe Lake Trail in Denali and Chena Hot Springs near Fairbanks.


The sun can be strong in Alaska so we recommend having a hat with a wide brim or a baseball cap to protect your eyes.

As there are a lot of mosquitos and midgies in summer you may want to pick a hat with a mosquito net.

If you plan on spending time on any glaciers such as the Mendenhall Glacier then you may also want to pack a beanie style hat and some gloves. Our preferred gloves are those that are touch screen compatible.



Hiking Socks

If you plan on wearing hiking boots then you will also need hiking socks.

Other Essentials for your Alaska Packing List for Summer

Woman in front of the yukon sign
what to pack for Alaska in summer

So now you know what to wear in Alaska and the best Alaska outfits we will turn our attention to other essentials to add to your Alaska Packing List for Summer.

Day pack with rain cover

Days in Alaska are long, and I don’t just mean the sunlight hours, so you will want a day pack with you. We like Columbia backpacks but this is a personal choice. However it is worth packing a rain cover for your day pack too in case you get caught in a rain storm.

Power Bank

Alaska is infamous for bad signal in its more remote places so you will want to carry have a charged power bank with you to recharge your phone during the day as you will find your battery drains quickly.

Sun protection

The sun is strong in Alaska so be sure to have lots of sun protection with a high SPF with you.

Bug Spray / Insect Repellant

The mosquitos are pretty fierce in throughout Alaska in summer, but especially so near standing water, so be sure to pack plenty of bug spray and insect repellant. My favorite brand is DEET.

You may also want to consider packing a tick removal kit just in case as there are known to be ticks in the area.

Bear Bells / Bear Spray

You probably wont need this but it is better safe than sorry. This can easily be picked up in an outdoor store in Alaska on arrival though.


Again the sun is strong so sunglasses are an essential.

Sleep Mask

If you struggle to sleep when there is light you may want to add a sleeping mask ot a black out blind to your packing list given the amount of daylight hours you get in summer.


The birdwatching in Denali National park is amazing and there are plenty of other wildlife spotting opportunities from whales to moose. If you want to spot wildlife during your trip we recommend packing a good pair of travel binoculars like the ones above.

Reusable Water Bottle and Extra Water

We recommend always having a reuable water bottle and extra water with you/

Coffee Thermos and Mug

Your days start early in Alaska and for me therefore a coffee thermos and mug is absolutely a must pack especially if you plan on heading into the national parks or rainforest.


Although there are stops in Alaska where you can grab snacks they are few and far between once you are out of the cities so we recommend packing ample snacks, food and drinks in any day pacl.

First Aid Kit

Although no one wants to use a first aid kit on vacation, it is a good idea to pack a first aid kit with you.

Quick Dry Towel

If you plan on doing any water based activities or swimming in Alaska we recommend packing a quick dry towel.


A camera is a necessity for any visitor to Alaska.

Complete Alaska Packing Checklist

  • Layers
  • T Shirts
  • Walking Trousers
  • Rain Jacket
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Swimwear
  • Hiking Boots
  • Shoes – either sneakers or hiking sandals
  • Backpack and rain cover
  • camera
  • binoculars
  • sun protection
  • insect repellant
  • quick dry towel
  • coffee thermos and mug
  • resuable water bottle
  • food
  • first aid kit