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  • How to dress for Alaska in Winter

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When we told people from back home (good ol’ warm Los Angeles) we were going to Alaska in winter, every person said the same thing. “YOU ARE GOING TO FREEZE, IT’S SO COLD.”

We kinda just pushed this back and thought to our selves, they are just LA wimps used to the 52 F winters and anything colder is like the apocalypse. Especially because no one from LA goes to Alaska (or anyone one we know). Well, every person who said it is cold was right. It was f*$king cold. Like the coldest we both have ever been.

Let’s dress ya from head to toe!

Your Head

Let’s get one thing straight, since your face and head are the most exposed, they will get very cold. So protect your head, protect your ears, protect your neck, protect your lips. I think that is probably the most valuable advice you will get from this post.

Jack got a nice wool beanie that went over his ears and I got a winter cap that had ear flaps so it covered my ears and had a detachable windproof thing for my face (I also got a few beanies with pom poms because they looked damn cute in the snow).

If you don’t like hats, you can get a fleece headband that covered your forehead and ears and you can wear it with your hair up. If you have great hair and want to show it off, this is a great piece of warm fashion. If you don’t mind hat hair, you can wear it under your beanie for extra warmth. It surprisingly worked wonders!

how to dress in alaska in winter beanie

Get yourself an infinity scarf or a thick scarf you can stuff into your jacket. I used my scarf to pretty much cover my neck and my nose if it freezes!

dress for alaska in winter

We also bought a pair of balaclavas (those ski masks robbers usually wear that only show your eyes) that jack usually wore. This was actually a saving grace against the windchill keeping our noses and necks very warm and protected, especially when skiing at Alyseka. Woof-it gets pretty chilly coming down those slopes!

how to dress in alaska in winter balaclava

Torso

Your torso will need a lot of layers to keep warm. There are lots of lighter layers like a t-shirt, a thermal, a fleece sweater, and a wind breaker/waterproof snow jacket. Avoid all cotton, it retains the moisture and it will make you cold (and ultimately, sick).

The Base Layer

how to dress in alaska in winter jack cold

The first layer is the most important – get something breathable and soft so your body can breathe and not sweat. We wore polypro underlayers, some type of long johns, and/or fleece lined clothing. This layer should fit you a bit tight and snugly, so the less baggy, the more clothing you can put over.

The Middle Layer

The middle layer is to keep you warm, especially if you are planning on doing a lot of activities.  Add on another long-sleeved, non-cotton shirt layer on top of your base layer.  Get one that is is slightly heavier than your first underlayer.

Jack brought a few wool sweaters to swap around and I had a nice North Face Fleece jacket that kept me very warm (on top of an insulated tank and a sweater).

Outer Layer

Ok, this is where we are most thankful we spent a little money. Get a heavy-duty outer jacket; one that is windproof and waterproof. Get a jacket with a hood as well – it provides added protection for your neck and ears even though you will have your hat on.

Jack bought a down jacket from UNIQLO and I bought a snow jacket with synthetic down insulation from Columbia. This was our best purchases and it kept our entire torso’s warm.

how to dress in alaska in winter jacket

how to dress in alaska in winter jack jacket

**Also, get a bright color snow jacket so you can stand out in all the pics (unlike Jack… grr).

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Your Hands

Because I am a self-absorbed princess and love to show off my adventures on instagram and snapchat, I got myself some touchscreen gloves and mittens. You are going to want an underlayer for your hands too, but bundle them up in mittens (when your hands are all together, they are warmer than all being separated.

Jack got thermal fingerless mittens with the cover so he can whip out his fingers to take fabulous pictures of me!

how to dress in alaska in winter mittens

Your Legs

We layered our pants with long johns, another pair of wool leggings, and jeans. Yes, we stupidly wore non-waterproof jeans in the freezing cold snow. It kept us warm enough to be outside for a little, but if we stepped into deep snow (which happened way more often than we liked), we would soak our pants and socks.

I actually had fuzzy thermal lined leggings and they were heaven on earth.

So here are our recommendations. Don’t wear jeans. Layer lots. And get a pair of waterproof pants. Anything that has a band to put around your boots to keep the snow out is also wonderful. Whoever created that, is a genius.

how to dress in alaska in winter pants

Your Feet

You can always pack on more layers, but if you don’t wear proper footwear, your feet will not survive. First, your socks, get a pair of good wool socks that go up to your ankles for extra warmth. Second, get a pair of shoes with a good grip, that are waterproof, and are high so no snow comes in. Jack keeps saying the best investment we made was buying good snow shoes. We would have been miserable without them.

Jack got an awesome pair of North Face boots and I got a sturdy pair of Sorel’s. My feet were always cold, but to be honest, I think it is because of bad circulation in my feet, so we packed on the foot warmers.

how to dress in alaska in winter shoes

Other Items to Keep you Warm

Hand Warmers – oh my god, hand warmers are the best creations in the world to thaw out and frozen feelings. It’s easiest to use them with Mittens so you can put the heat back while all your fingers are together. And if you don’t do well with cold, these will help you cope so you can forget the cold and enjoy yourself (temporarily).

Feet warmers – as mentioned above, our feet still got (miserably) cold even with good snow shoes and thick wool socks, so we used these foot warmer insoles and they were heaven. If it gets beyond the negatives, put a pack on top and on the bottom of your toes. Otherwise, one pack per shoe will do just fine!

Snow goggles or sunglasses – This is more for skiing or extreme wind. When it’s windy, it will make your eyes tear so protect them with a pair of sunnies or goggles. Jack used his goggles when dog mushing and snowboarding!

Waterproof snow gators and grampons – These aren’t really for warmth, but they will help you from slipping in the snow and getting wet! Grampons are great for hiking and icy terrains. Waterproof snow gators are wrapped around your shoes and ankles to keep any snow out!

What are your must brings on a cold trip?

One thought on “How to dress for Alaska in Winter

  1. Nana

    My husband has this crazy dream of going to Alaska (he loves cold countries) and the other day he was talking about Siberia! I really dont like cold places because I am always freezing! I was dying when I first arrived to Patagonia in spring(!) and it was like -8 in the morning (celsius) and the house is not isolated at all! I wanna go to Alaska as well because of the nature – but I really need to cover myself up like a michelin man! Thanks for advices :) Hugs, Nana

    Reply

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