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Thread: Gear for Alaska - Good to Go?

  1. #1

    Default Gear for Alaska - Good to Go?

    I've been buying up clothes & gear for my move to Alaska, and I wanted to see if I'm good to go.

    Some background; I'm going to be in Gustavus Alaska until early September, where I hope to (eventually) relocate to Fairbanks, AK.

    So here's what I have so far:

    2 pairs 80% wool 20% nylon Army surplus pants
    GORE-TEX® PacLite® Rainy River™ Parka and Pants
    12 Pairs of Smartwool Socks (okay so maybe 12 pairs is overkill...)
    Woolrich Flatrock Cardigan Sweater
    Woolrich Half Zip Wool Sweater
    Woolrich Hinton Wool Coat

    Some things I need to buy:

    Cannery boots (considering http://nomaralaska.com/boots.htm)
    Wool gloves
    Wool hat
    Long johns
    Some kind of base shirt (what do you wear? Can't be cotton t-shirts, can it?)

    Is there anything else I should be thinking about getting before I leave? My flight's on the 23rd so I have 9 days to get any last minute gear.

    I plan to fish, camp, and hike on my off days. What type of equipment should I be bringing for that? Around here I fish for farmed trout with a 4' pole and Panther Martin spinners (or power bait if I'm shore fishing at a reservoir). Seems like fly-fishing is typically the norm. Am I SOL?

    Hiking is pretty basic, good pair of boots and socks, right? Maybe some bear repellent?

    Camping... I'll be able to check out the basic gear (tent, stoves, small pot). Anything else I ought to bring?

    Thanks!

    Jason

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason762 View Post
    ..Some kind of base shirt (what do you wear? Can't be cotton t-shirts, can it?..
    I get the tan army polypro t-shirts at a local thrift store.
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and don’t have one, you’ll probably never need one again

  3. #3
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Gear for Alaska--

    Jason,

    Layering: 1) base layer, 2) insulating layer, 3) outer layer - is the best strategy here, but any local info you can get from Gustavius is probably ideal.

    I tried some of the tan polyester (Skilcraft?) base layer t-shirts Perry mentioned after reading about them in this forum and found they work very well too. I have not tried Cabelas or UnderArmour, but they are also base layers favored by others.

    A search of these forums for "clothing" turned up this discussion:
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...light=clothing

    Readers reviews BackpackingLight can be helpful:
    http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-...ce+-+SYNTHETIC

    Best of luck.

  4. #4
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    What are you going to be doing in Gustavus? You mentioned a cannery.

    Gustavus and Fairbanks are going to be very different climates - GST is in a rain forest, and FBKS is "subarctic". So, rainfall is your major concern in Southeast - I'd get some kind of actual raingear that doesn't involve the word "goretex". HH Impertech is nice if you'll be walking, but the commercial stuff will be more durable.

    Definately get the Xtra-Tuff's. Good boots, and you will notice that 90% of folks are wearing them. Other than the rain, SE doesn't see really extreme weather, so I wouldn't be overly concerned about the extreme cold gear. When you get ready to move to FBKS, you will have a much bigger transition. But most likely the best place to buy gear for Fairbanks is Fairbanks.

    Lots of good fishing, but you could most likely borrow rods and buy lures. If you'll be in Gustavus, there is a store there that sells lures at least.

    If you aren't bringing a gun, I'd look for bear spray once you arrive - check with the local Air Taxi's - they may have some that others have left, and may just give it to you.

  5. #5
    Member oakman's Avatar
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    Default

    You may have better luck getting things up here. Other than items like smart wool socks, etc you will want to get what people use here.

  6. #6

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    I'll be working at a tourist lodge 9 miles north from the town of Gustavus; http://www.visitglacierbaylodge.com/

    Bummer to hear about the gortex raingear; I just got it Thursday Ah well, I'll give it a go. My dad's an avid backpacker so I might pass it onto him. California is more of a desert than a rain forest.

    I'd like top bring a gun; I have a 8mm Mauser (rearseneled K98k) that I just bought a crap load of rounds for. Seeing that I'll be in a national park, I thought it'd be best I left my rifle at home.

    On a similar note, I'm planning on flipping California my middle finger and "dis-owning" it. Is there a way to become an Alaskan resident, and be able to legally buy firearms? I'm thinking I want a Ruger 5 1/2 Redhawk - .44 magnum of course.

    How does the price of goods in Alaska compare to the price of San Francisco bay area? I've heard Alaska was expensive (due to shipping and all that).

    That's one reason I've been trying to buy up equipment before I go, (hopefully) lower cost of goods.

  7. #7
    Member BucknRut's Avatar
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    Default 10 cents worth

    Jason, Congratulations on your upcoming trip.
    I recently moved to Alaska so I will give you my ten cents worth.

    -Boots: Xtra Tuffs no question for spring, summer, fall. I like Schnee Pac boots for winter, but also use Bunny Boots if extreme cold.
    -Socks: You’ll be good with smartwool, but get some Cabela’s cooldri liner socks to wear on the outside of your smartwool when hiking.
    -Base Layer: If you can afford it, get Patagonia Capilene base layer.
    -Insulating Layer: Fleece, this layer need not be windproof…Old Navy cheap stuff is good
    -Outer Layer: I like a good windproof layer…I use Helly Hansen fleece or Cabela’s Berber fleece for everyday wear. Use my ski pants for most winter outdoor backcountry stuff. Carhartt the rest of the time
    -Rain Gear: Return the Gore Tex!! Give it away!! Whatever, just don’t bother bringing it if you want to stay dry (my opinion). By the looks of your job, you will want Helly Hansen Impertech, good stuff…pants and jacket will be good. Bibs tend to get quite warm.
    Gloves/Hat/etc.: I’m a big fan of fleece and for these items, windproof fleece or a poly/nylon outer is the way I would go.

    I would suggest getting everything before you come, except for the XtraTuffs and the Bunny Boots, you will get a better deal on those here. Most everything can be found online.

    I notice you have a lot of wool. You might want to do a search on here concerning that. I am not saying it is a bad insulator, but I like to go with something I can dry out very quickly, hence all of the synthetic on my list. I do own wool, but will only wear it in the extreme cold when there is no chance of it getting wet. The other downside is the weight, it is sooooo heavy, especially when wet…got to be careful of that.

    And a law of the land, do away with the cotton. I don’t think there is a single stitch of cotton in my gear closet, I’m not saying I have it all figured out, I just know well enough that is it is bad news when wet!

    Shoot me a PM with the other items, I will share what I know.

    Joshua

  8. #8

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    It's a bummer to hear so many negative remarks about GoreTex. I wonder, does this apply to boots as well?

    I asked this "Alaska gear" question on other boards too, and almost all of them recommended goretex rain gear and boots. Goes to show how much different Alaska's weather is.

    Should I bother to bring it and see how it does? Or should I send it back and come up with my vinyl rain suit? Last time I went backpacking, it rained so hard the water just went right through and soaked me anyway.

    Or should I come up with no rain gear and buy it at a shop in Gustavus? Is there an online phone book for Gustavus? I'm curious to see what shops (if any) are in town. I hear it's a small bush community, and it seems like it has a grocery store at most.

    BuckNRut, thanks for the advice. It was very informative, and should prove helpful. Surprised to hear your opinion on wool. Most everyone I know touts wool as the best for cold weather outdoor clothing.

    Jason

  9. #9

    Default gore tex

    Bring the gore tex gear, they work fine if it`s not pouring rain hole day just pack all so regular rain jacket in back pack. Plastic does not breath like gore tex does. Even in south AK it rains a lot more than here in tundra. It`s been raining hole week now :>. Just my opinion.

  10. #10

    Default Impertech

    Helly Hansen Impertech lives in my pack. I have never had any rain gear that kept me totally dry. It either leaks or wiks in when I am moving and condenses inside. Gortex is neat stuff. I do not rely on it for my rain gear though. It eventually leaks.

  11. #11

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    Alright I'll bring it up, see how it works. I won't be outdoors all the time, so that'll help. Eventually, I'll trade in my GoreTex for Imperialtech.

    One thing that has me stumped... is "causal wear". What do you wear between work and play? Here in California, I just wear a t-shirt and jeans. Maybe a cotton hoodie when it's cold out.

    While I'm okay with wearing my olive drab surplus wool pants while I'm hiking and camping, I'd be embarrassed to wear them while I'm out at the local bar. Smoke, sweat, and dirt stains on my wool pants won't get me get any girls.

  12. #12
    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason762 View Post
    Alright I'll bring it up, see how it works. I won't be outdoors all the time, so that'll help. Eventually, I'll trade in my GoreTex for Imperialtech.

    One thing that has me stumped... is "causal wear". What do you wear between work and play? Here in California, I just wear a t-shirt and jeans. Maybe a cotton hoodie when it's cold out.

    While I'm okay with wearing my olive drab surplus wool pants while I'm hiking and camping, I'd be embarrassed to wear them while I'm out at the local bar. Smoke, sweat, and dirt stains on my wool pants won't get me get any girls.
    LOL you should probably check the Gustavus Demographics before you sign up if it is girls you are lookin for If Gustavus AK was a bar my buds in the service would refer to it as a "sausage party" 241 Males to 188 Females of those 188 only 26 are between 18 and 35!! To make it even worse you and all the other guys there for the season will be competing with the 36 local dudes (19-35) for those 26 chica's...Good luck... at least the fishin should be good oh and T-shirt and jeans will be fine for kickin back near home. This state has kept Carhart in buisness and it is exceptable bar wear at any bar worth goin to.

  13. #13

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    LuJon I didn't sign up for girls, but they're always a plus... when they're present that is.

    Ah well I'm not too concerned, I can hold out for 2 months before I move into a more diverse town. I bet though, by that time, all the girls will be looking good. *laughing*

    Good to know I can kick back in jeans and t-shirt. When talking about Alaska everyone always says "It's COLD out there!" so I have this image of my nuts falling off and clinking on the ground if I wear anything less than 2 layers of wool.

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    I'd still bring the goretex, just add some impertech. Like someone said, GT is fine for some stuff, but it's suicidal for some stuff too.

    Buy the Impertech (or whatever real raingear) before you get to GST. You can probably find it in Juneau for not too crazy prices if you can get to a store that isn't a tourist trap. I haven't been there in a while, and couldn't direct you to a good spot.

    For casual wear - jeans and t-shirt are fine. Chicks dig Carhartts though. Glacier Bay Lodge ain't the worst place in the world to meet women.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason762 View Post
    When talking about Alaska everyone always says "It's COLD out there!" so I have this image of my nuts falling off and clinking on the ground if I wear anything less than 2 layers of wool.
    If you've been through a west coast (Ok, Western OR or WA) winter, you'll be fine in a Southeast AK summer.

    Once you get to FBKS in the winter, I'd keep my nuts covered with several insulating layers...

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    Thumbs up agree

    [quote=6XLeech;303191]Jason,

    Layering: 1) base layer, 2) insulating layer, 3) outer layer - is the best strategy here, but any local info you can get from Gustavius is probably ideal.

    Layering synthetics like this is the only way to go.

    Why is every one down on Gore-Tex? Don’t know what kind of Gore-Tex gear you have. It’s not good raingear, but as an outside shell when it is cold out and you are active, i.e. skiing, snowshoeing, biking, backcountry skiing, ice climbing etc. tell me what is better? It breaths, blocks wind, is light... down is too warm when you are really active, but you will need to bring with for poking around camp/down time/snow machine etc...

    Two layers of wool would have me scratching my nuts off!

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    [quote=Kris N;307895]
    Quote Originally Posted by 6XLeech View Post
    Why is every one down on Gore-Tex? Don’t know what kind of Gore-Tex gear you have. It’s not good raingear...
    Answered your own question. Nothing wrong with the fabric itsself, and it's fine as a shell, but I wouldn't rely on it if going somewhere that rains a lot.

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    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Buck Nelson Gear Reviews

    A amazing guy in Fairbanks, Buck Nelson, has put gear through its paces up here. You might find some of his comments useful. I thought his endorsement of Red Ledge rain gear was interesting.

    http://www.bucktrack.com/Alaska_Back...st_Review.html

  19. #19

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    Gortex has been working fairly well for me lately.

    Though I was hiking through some brush and some rainwater from the trees ended up falling into an open pocket.

    Lesson learned, zip your pockets.

    Thanks for all the help! Came in a bit over prepared though, warmer than I thought.

    Jason

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    Member COtoAK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason762 View Post

    Thanks for all the help! Came in a bit over prepared though, warmer than I thought.

    Jason
    Warmer?
    It's cold here lately.
    Serious.
    Lurker.

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