Sure thing, Dan!
Originally Posted by danattherock
At the risk of sounding like a shameless self-promoter (which I am not) I wrote eight pages on this topic in my book "Float Hunting Alaska's Wild Rivers" (pages 56-64). If you have that book, it provides much more background on this subject that I will provide here. That said, essentially you have three options when it comes to getting your stuff to, from and within Alaska:
1. U.S. Mail
The post office is very restrictive in terms of what you can ship, weight and dimensional parameters, hours of operation, and packaging requirements. You cannot ship hazardous materials such as raft glue (there goes your repair kit), stove fuel, etc. Because of the weight / dimensional issues, you cannot ship some raft frames, rafts, intact antlers (there goes the Boone and Crockett moose rack), and other larger items. Also the post office may not be open in the village you're flying out of when you return from the field, so you have to make alternative arrangements to get it dropped off. In short, the post office is cheap, but it's not a very user-friendly method, in my opinion.
2. Checked Luggage
Taking your stuff as checked luggage sounds like a great idea until you consider the shrinking free luggage allowance (some carriers are now even charging for the first bag too), the risks of standby baggage being bumped, and the likelihood of having to wait several days for your stuff to show up if you're flying intra-Alaska on a smaller commuter carrier such as Grant Aviation, Peninsula Airways (PenAir), ERA Aviation, Frontier, etc. Plus you cannot ship hazardous materials in your baggage, so forget your stove fuel, raft glue, pepper spray, and the like. I have waited many days in places like McGrath for my client's duffel bag to show up, because the planes were full and his excess baggage went standby. In one case we lost three days of a ten-day hunt because of that.
Cargo is, for most folks, the best option. It allows you to consolidate and shrink-wrap your stuff onto a pallet, all but eliminating the chances of loose parts and small containers getting lost in transit, while at the same time allowing you to protect fragile items like lantern globes in the middle of your pallet. Note, though, that in some cases your cargo may be broken down as needed to get it into a smaller aircraft in Alaska. In such cases, pack your stuff in suitable containers. Cargo also gives you the option of shipping all of your hazardous materials. Finally, when you return from the field and everything is wet and dirty, it's much easier to just toss it on a pallet, tarp it, and shrink-wrap it into one package and deal with it at home. Oh, and your meat and trophies? If you're shipping to processors in Anchorage or Fairbanks there are usually no special packaging requirements. In other words, you can load all those game bags on a plastic tarp, tie the top of the tarp around it all, and let it go like that. In some cases you may want to box it in waxed "fish boxes", which are locally available.Especially in your case, you will be hard pressed to find a boat that will accomplish what you want to do for under 100 pounds, plain and simple.
Unless your load is extremely light, and truly able to travel as baggage, cargo is your best option.
Lots more to say on this, but I hope this helps.