Base Camp Equipment List – Arctic Alaska

Please follow this equipment list and do not bring extra gear.

Space is limited in the airplanes we use. Having lots of unnecessary items only makes packing and unpacking cumbersome. By carefully following this list you can keep your personal gear under 50 pounds.

This checklist has been developed from decades of experience. These are proven items. That said, personal clothing is indeed personal. Bring what you know to be comfortable and practical. If you have questions please ask us.

All garments should be synthetic or wool because they are light, fast drying, and warmer when wet. Please leave your cotton clothes at home.

This is the Arctic, and it snows every month of the year! You should have 5 layers for your top and 4 for the bottom. For example, on top: a short sleeve thermal shirt, one heavier long sleeve thermal shirt, one fleece jacket, one down vest or parka and a Goretex shell over everything. If you have a really nice big ski jacket (and you should if you are headed to the arctic coast), your rain shell need not fit over it. On the bottom: two pairs long johns, one pair hiking pants and Goretex rain pants on top. With a warm hat and a neck gaiter you’re cozy even when the north wind howls.

It can also be really hot, especially in late June or early July. Adequate protection from intense sun, heat and bugs is also important. The weather is extremely variable daily and yearly.

We have a selection of camping equipment that we can lend you during your trip. If you have your own equipment you may prefer to bring it. If you do want to borrow ours please fill out our Equipment Request Form at least 60 days prior to your trip. Items which we can provide for you are denoted with “AW” below.

Please use this as a literal checklist. When all the boxes are checked, ✓ you are done. Anything not on the list doesn’t belong.

Having trouble keeping your personal gear within the 50-pound limit? Please contact us.


Backpack, Dry bag, or Duffle: This is the bag that will hold the bulk of your gear. A good water-resistant bag is the 100 liter Black Hole duffel. Suppliers like REI, NRS, LL Bean, and others carry these and similar bags. Sometimes we have to carry our gear up to a 1⁄2 mile from the airstrip to campsite. It is OK to have a couple smaller bags if that makes carrying things easier for you.


Tent: A 3- or 4-season tent able to withstand strong winds and moderate snow load. Ensure that it is seam sealed and has a footprint. Line the stuff sack with a compactor bag. We highly recommend yellow plastic 9” “Power Pegs” tent stakes. They are great in gravel. There are lots of great tents on the market. There are lots of great tents on the market including Hilleberg and North Face. We offer Alps Outfitter Extreme Tents for your trip.


Sleeping bag with stuff sack: Your sleeping bag should keep you comfortable to 15 to 20F. The stuff sack should be lined with a plastic bag. Women often sleep colder than men, and an additional sleeping bag liner is a good way to add warmth and versatility.


Sleeping pad: Thermarests are the warmest.


Rubber Boots: There are no constructed trails. We hike cross-country, often on soft, wet tundra. We often ford small rivers and streams. Your feet may be wet much of the time. We can provide Xtratuf boots. A brand called Muck Boots are also popular.

Hiking boots:  Goretex boots are ideal as the tundra is often damp. For hikes where it is going to be very wet you will use your rubber boots.

Boot insoles or footbeds: Even if (especially if) you are using our rubber boots, bring your own. Quick drying is important. Superfeet is a good brand.

Rain Jacket: We recommend 3 layer Goretex or similar. Good quality rain gear is absolutely essential. Patagonia makes a nice coat.

Rain Pants: We recommend 3 layer Goretex or similar. Good quality raingear is a must. Leg zips are a nice feature but not essential.

Day pack: Big enough for raingear, water bottle, camera and an extra layer.

Camp shoes: Lightweight hiking boots can fill this need if you are also bringing rubber boots. If not, bring a pair of lightweight shoes like Crocs, sneakers, or sport sandals.

Stuff sacks: For packing gear and clothes. Line them with a plastic bag as an extra precaution or purchase waterproof stuff sacks from Sea to Summit or similar.

Trash compactor bags: For lining stuff sacks. This ensures that your clothes and sleeping bag will be dry. Try and find unscented ones. These are not necessary if you have waterproof stuff sacks.

Socks: 3-4 pair heavy synthetic or wool.

Light weight long johns: 2 pairs of synthetic or wool tops and bottoms.

Hiking/ camp pants: Synthetic, fast drying.

Heavy pants: Wool or fleece for the cold.

Big puffy parka/ ski jacket: This is for the really cold, bitter days. Down and synthetic are both fine. Hooded is best. Patagonia and Marmot both make good parkas. Go BIG.

Warm layers: Fleece jacket, wool shirt, or down hoody. You need a total of 5 layers on your torso including long-johns but not including your big parka. They should be sized so they can be worn together.  A cozy configuration could be 2 long-john shirts, one down sweater, one fleece jacket, and a down vest. If in doubt, bring all your choices to the pre-trip meeting and we will help you choose.

Shorts and T-shirt: Sometimes it is really hot, even in the Arctic.

Sun Shirt: Tightly woven, lightweight shirt to protect arms from sun and bugs.

Warm hat: A nice warm comfortable winter hat. Do not skimp here. Many guides prefer 2 hats. One thick one for the day and a thinner one for sleeping.

Neck gaiter: a.k.a. dickie, cowl, or neck warmer. A fleece or wool tube to wear around your neck or to augment your hat. A scarf works too. Buff makes some stylish ones.

Brimmed hat: Whether a ball cap or a wrap-around brim, you’ll need something for the intense, ‘round the clock arctic sunlight.

Gloves: 1 – 2 pairs of wind-stopper fleece or wool gloves.

Quart water bottle: or two.

Personal toiletries: Scale down. For instance, you will not need a 6-oz. tube of toothpaste.

Toilet paper: Place your roll in a quart-size ziploc bag with a lighter. We find people prefer to have their own stash.

Flashlight/headlamp: After August 1st only. Really. You won’t need it.

Mosquito head net: Hopefully you won’t need it but you will be really glad you have it if you do.

Mosquito repellent: Keep in plastic bags. 35% DEET is adequate.

Emergency kit: Band-Aids, aspirin, Moleskin, sewing kit. We carry a full medical kit, but having a few common items of your own is convenient.

Special medications: Inform the guide of your special medications and consider bringing a backup supply for the guide to carry.

Glasses or contacts: Bring an extra pair.


Sunscreen, lip balm, and hand cream: Cracked hands and sunburn can be a real problem for some people. Bring good quality hand salve like bag balm if you are prone. The air in the Arctic is very dry.


“Bug shirt”: A very good idea during late June and July. Original Bug Shirt Company is a good brand.


Pocket knife


Goretex socks: Use these over heavy socks for day hiking to keep your feet as dry as possible.


Cell Phone: It won’t work.


Lighter: For burning toilet paper. We have some, but you might want your own.


Watch: Best to leave it behind with the cell phone and your other worries.

Not recommended

Satellite Phone, InReach, Spot Tracker or other satellite communication device: We carry a satellite phone for emergencies. Unplugging from communications is a valuable part of our trips. Please don’t bring one of these. Call us if you want to discuss.


Trekking poles: While theoretically optional, they can be essential on stream crossings and on tussocks (rough ground).


Camera: Bring lots of spare batteries and memory cards. A long lens and tripod are nice in our wide open landscapes. Pack in a waterproof, durable case.


Binoculars: Though these are technically optional, we strongly recommend that you bring binoculars. You miss a lot without quality binoculars.


Bird book/nature guide: We carry a small library of natural history titles and field guides. Ask your guide at the pre-trip meeting about the contents so we don’t duplicate.


Reading material, journal, and pen.


Chair: We usually pack three-legged stools for your use. If you prefer a Crazy Creek chair or have another chair of your own, let your guide know and we won’t lug the extra stools.


Small towel/wash cloth


Lighter: For burning toilet paper. We have some but you might want your own.


Fishing pole: A small, folding backpack rod is sufficient. Pack in rigid container.


Fishing reel: Doesn’t have to be fancy. 6-12# test line is sufficient for most trips. Fly fishers will, of course, want to bring a fly reel.


Fishing lures: The fish aren’t really picky. Spinners with orange dots like Mepps work fine. Bright colors are good when the water is murky. Grayling like flies. Char seem to like pink pixies.

Required if fishing

Fishing license: Fishing licenses can be obtained at many stores in Fairbanks or online. You may not fish anywhere in Alaska without a valid Alaska fishing license.