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Survive and Thrive in the Alaskan Wilderness: Essential Gear Recommendations for 2023

Are you planning a trip to the Alaskan wilderness? It's important to be prepared for the challenges that await you. The Alaskan wilderness is a beautiful and rugged terrain that can be both awe-inspiring and dangerous. In order to survive and thrive in this environment, you need to be equipped with the right skills and gear. In this post, we'll discuss some essential skills and gear that you'll need for your trip.

Navigation

The Alaskan wilderness is vast and unforgiving, with few marked trails and lots of challenging terrain. That's why it's essential to have good navigational skills. You'll need to know how to read a map and use a compass, as well as how to use GPS and other electronic devices. If you're not confident in your navigational abilities, consider taking a course or hiring a guide.

Shelter

The weather in Alaska can be unpredictable, with sudden rainstorms, high winds, and even snow in the summer. You'll need to have a good shelter to protect yourself from the elements. A tent is the most common shelter for hikers, but you may also consider a bivy sack or tarp shelter. Make sure your shelter is waterproof, sturdy, and easy to set up.

Water

Water is essential for survival, but it can be difficult to find in the Alaskan wilderness. You'll need to know how to purify water to make it safe to drink. You can use a water filter, chemical tablets, or boiling to purify water. It's also a good idea to bring a water bottle or hydration system to carry water with you on your hikes.

Food

You'll need to bring enough food to sustain you on your trip, but you also need to be mindful of weight and space restrictions. High-calorie, non-perishable foods like nuts, trail mix, and energy bars are good options. You may also consider bringing a lightweight camping stove to cook meals.

First Aid

Accidents can happen, even to the most experienced hikers. That's why it's important to have a good first aid kit with you. Your kit should include items like bandages, gauze, antiseptic, and pain relievers. You should also know basic first aid skills like how to treat blisters, cuts, and sprains.

Bear Safety

The Alaskan wilderness is home to both black bears and grizzly bears. You need to know how to avoid encounters with bears and how to react if you do come face to face with one. Make sure to carry bear spray with you at all times and know how to use it. You should also make noise while hiking to alert bears to your presence and avoid hiking alone.

Gear List

Here's a list of essential gear to bring with you on your trip to the Alaskan wilderness:

  • Navigation tools (map, compass, GPS) While a map and compass are reliable here are some modern options:

  1. Garmin GPSMAP 66i: This is a handheld GPS device that offers both GPS and satellite communication capabilities. It has a 3-inch color display, preloaded maps, and can connect to GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellites for accurate location tracking. The device also has a two-way satellite messaging feature that allows you to send and receive messages, even in areas without cellular coverage.

  2. SPOT Gen4 Satellite GPS Messenger: This is a handheld GPS device that provides location tracking and messaging capabilities in areas without cellular coverage. It uses satellite communication to transmit your location to family and friends, and also includes an SOS button that can be used to alert emergency services in case of an emergency. The device is rugged and waterproof, making it suitable for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and backpacking.

  3. inReach Mini GPS: The inReach Mini GPS is a small and compact handheld device that provides GPS tracking and messaging capabilities using satellite communication. It has a two-way messaging feature that allows you to send and receive messages, and also includes an SOS button that can be used to trigger a rescue operation in case of an emergency. The device is lightweight and portable, making it ideal for backpacking, mountaineering, and other outdoor activities.

  4. Suunto Traverse Alpha GPS Watch: The Suunto Traverse Alpha GPS watch is a rugged and durable device that provides GPS tracking, route navigation, and fishing and hunting features. It has a built-in GPS/GLONASS receiver that provides accurate location tracking, and also includes features such as moon phase calendar, sunrise/sunset times, and weather trend indicator. The watch is water-resistant and can be used for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and fishing.


  • Shelter (tent, bivy sack, tarp shelter)

  1. Bivy Sack: A bivy sack is a lightweight and compact shelter that provides protection from the elements in case of an emergency. It is essentially a waterproof and breathable bag that you can crawl into to stay warm and dry. Bivy sacks are made from lightweight materials such as Gore-Tex or other waterproof-breathable fabrics, and can be packed down to a small size for easy transport.

  2. Space Blanket: A space blanket, also known as a thermal blanket or Mylar blanket, is a lightweight and compact shelter that reflects up to 90% of body heat back to the user. It is made from a thin layer of Mylar or other reflective material, and can be used as a shelter, ground cover, or blanket. Space blankets are inexpensive, lightweight, and can be packed down to a small size.

  3. Tarp Shelter: A tarp shelter is a versatile and lightweight shelter that can be used in a variety of situations. It is essentially a large piece of lightweight and waterproof fabric that can be configured in a variety of ways to provide protection from the elements. A tarp shelter can be set up as a lean-to, A-frame, or tent, and can be anchored using trees, rocks, or other natural features. Tarp shelters are lightweight and can be packed down to a small size, making them easy to carry in a backpack or emergency kit.

  • Sleeping bag and pad

  1. Mountain Hardwear Phantom Gore-Tex -40 Sleeping Bag: This sleeping bag is designed for extreme cold weather conditions, with a temperature rating of -40 degrees Fahrenheit. It features waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex fabric, and is insulated with high-quality down. The bag also has a number of features to maximize warmth, including a draft collar, draft tube, and hood.

  2. The North Face Inferno -40 Sleeping Bag: The Inferno -40 is a high-performance sleeping bag designed for extreme cold weather conditions. It features a temperature rating of -40 degrees Fahrenheit, and is insulated with high-quality down. The bag also has a waterproof and breathable shell, and a number of features to maximize warmth, including a draft collar and hood.

  3. Feathered Friends Snowy Owl -40 Sleeping Bag: The Snowy Owl -40 is a premium sleeping bag designed for the coldest weather conditions. It features a temperature rating of -40 degrees Fahrenheit, and is insulated with high-quality down. The bag also has a waterproof and breathable shell, and a number of features to maximize warmth, including a draft collar, draft tube, and hood.

  • Water purification system (filter, tablets, or boiling)

  1. Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System: The Sawyer Mini is a lightweight and compact water filtration system that can filter up to 100,000 gallons of water. It is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and weighs only 2 ounces, making it an ideal choice for backpackers and hikers. The Sawyer Mini uses a hollow fiber membrane to filter out bacteria, protozoa, and other contaminants, and can be used with a straw or attached to a water bottle or hydration bladder.

  2. LifeStraw Personal Water Filter: The LifeStraw is a popular and effective water filtration system that is small and lightweight enough to fit in a backpack. It weighs only 2 ounces and can filter up to 1,000 liters of water. The LifeStraw uses a hollow fiber membrane to filter out bacteria, protozoa, and other contaminants, and can be used as a standalone filter or attached to a water bottle or hydration bladder.

  3. Katadyn BeFree Water Filtration System: The Katadyn BeFree is a lightweight and compact water filtration system that can filter up to 1,000 liters of water. It is small enough to fit in a backpack and weighs only 2.3 ounces. The Katadyn BeFree uses a hollow fiber membrane to filter out bacteria, protozoa, and other contaminants, and features a wide mouth for easy filling and cleaning. It can be used as a standalone filter or attached to a water bottle or hydration bladder.

  • Water bottle or hydration system

  1. Hydro Flask Wide Mouth Water Bottle: This is a popular choice among hikers and campers due to its durable stainless steel construction and ability to keep drinks cold or hot for hours. It comes in a variety of sizes and colors, and the wide mouth design makes it easy to fill and clean.

  2. Nalgene Wide Mouth Water Bottle: Nalgene bottles have been a staple in the outdoor community for many years. They are made of a tough and durable plastic material and come in various sizes and colors. The wide mouth design makes it easy to add ice cubes or other ingredients to your drink.

  3. CamelBak Chute Mag Water Bottle: This is a versatile and durable water bottle with a magnetic cap that keeps the cap out of the way while you drink. The bottle is made of BPA-free plastic and comes in various sizes and colors. The wide mouth opening makes it easy to fill and clean, and the ergonomic handle makes it easy to carry.

  • Food (high-calorie, non-perishable)

  1. Mountain House Classic Bucket: This bucket includes a variety of high-calorie meals that are freeze-dried, easy to prepare, and have a long shelf life. Each meal provides around 500-800 calories and can be prepared by simply adding boiling water.

  2. Datrex Emergency Survival Food Bar: These bars are specifically designed to provide high energy and nutrition in emergency situations. They are compact, lightweight, and can withstand extreme temperatures. Each bar provides around 2,400 calories and can be easily broken into portions.

  3. MREs: Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) are complete meals that are designed to be eaten on the go. They come in a variety of flavors and provide around 1,200-1,500 calories per meal. MREs typically include a main dish, side dish, snack, dessert, and beverage, and they can be heated up using the included flameless ration heater.

  4. Backpacker's Pantry Pad Thai: This high-calorie, freeze-dried meal is a popular choice among hikers and campers. It provides around 800 calories per serving and can be prepared by simply adding boiling water. The meal includes rice noodles, vegetables, and a spicy peanut sauce.

  5. Omeals Self-Heating Homestyle Meals: These self-heating meals are convenient and easy to prepare. They come in a variety of flavors and provide around 500-700 calories per meal. To prepare, simply add water to the heating element and wait for the meal to heat up.

Remember to read the nutritional information and ingredient list carefully to make sure the meals meet your dietary needs and preferences. Additionally, it's always a good idea to check with your doctor or a licensed nutritionist before embarking on any new diet or exercise regimen.

  • Camping stove and fuel

  1. Etekcity Ultralight Portable Outdoor Backpacking Camping Stove: This stove is lightweight, compact, and easy to pack. It features a piezo ignition system and adjustable flame control. It uses isobutane-propane fuel canisters that are readily available at most camping supply stores.

  2. BRS Outdoor Camping Gas Stove: This stove is small, lightweight, and has a high heating efficiency. It features a foldable design for easy packing and uses isobutane-propane fuel canisters. It also has a piezo ignition system for easy lighting.

  3. Lixada Portable Folding Wood Stove: This stove is a great option for those who prefer to use natural fuel sources. It is made of stainless steel and features a compact, foldable design. It is also lightweight and easy to pack in a backpack.

  4. MSR PocketRocket 2: This stove is lightweight, compact, and easy to pack. It features a fast boil time and adjustable flame control. It uses isobutane-propane fuel canisters and also comes with a protective carrying case.

  5. Esbit Ultralight Folding Pocket Stove: This stove is small, lightweight, and easy to pack. It uses Esbit fuel tablets that are readily available at most camping supply stores. It is made of durable stainless steel and also features a foldable design for easy packing.

  • First aid kit

  1. Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series Guide Medical Kit: This kit is specifically designed for backcountry expeditions and includes a wide range of supplies for treating a variety of injuries and illnesses. It also includes a comprehensive first aid guide and a SAM splint for immobilizing fractures.

  2. Lifeline 4432 Ultralight Survival Kit: This kit is lightweight and compact, making it ideal for backpacking and other outdoor activities. It includes basic first aid supplies as well as survival items like a compass, emergency whistle, and fire starter.

  3. Coleman Expedition First Aid Kit: This kit is affordable and includes a range of basic first aid supplies for outdoor activities. It comes in a durable, waterproof case and also includes a first aid manual.

  4. Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight .7 Medical Kit: This kit is designed for water-based activities like kayaking and rafting, but it can also be used for other outdoor activities. It includes basic first aid supplies as well as waterproof bags for protecting the supplies.

  5. First Aid Only Outdoor First Aid Kit: This kit is designed specifically for outdoor activities and includes basic first aid supplies like bandages, antiseptic wipes, and a cold pack. It comes in a durable, compact case and also includes a first aid manual.

  • Bear spray (or bear gun depending on your experience level)

  1. Counter Assault Bear Deterrent Spray: This bear spray is specifically designed for use against grizzly bears and has a high concentration of capsaicin, the active ingredient that causes the burning sensation. It has a spray range of up to 40 feet and provides a cloud of spray that can deter a charging bear.

  2. UDAP Pepper Power Bear Deterrent Spray: This bear spray has a high concentration of capsaicin and also includes a UV dye that can help authorities identify the bear that was sprayed. It has a spray range of up to 30 feet and provides a dense fog of spray that can deter a charging bear.

  3. Sabre Frontiersman Bear Spray: This bear spray has a maximum range of up to 35 feet and provides a heavy fog of spray that can deter a charging bear. It also includes a glow-in-the-dark safety feature for nighttime use.

  4. Mace Brand Bear Spray: This bear spray has a spray range of up to 35 feet and provides a heavy fog of spray that can deter a charging bear. It also includes a belt holster for easy carrying and quick access.

  • Headlamp or flashlight

  1. Black Diamond Spot Headlamp: This headlamp features a bright LED light with a maximum output of 300 lumens, as well as a red light mode for preserving night vision. It's also waterproof and has a long battery life.

  2. Petzl Tactikka Headlamp: This headlamp has a maximum output of 350 lumens and includes multiple lighting modes, including a red light mode. It's also lightweight and compact, making it easy to pack and carry.

  3. Fenix LD22 Flashlight: This flashlight has a maximum output of 300 lumens and includes multiple lighting modes, including a strobe mode for emergency signaling. It's also durable and waterproof, making it a good choice for outdoor activities.

  4. Olight S2R Baton II Flashlight: This flashlight has a maximum output of 1150 lumens and includes multiple lighting modes, including a moonlight mode for low-light conditions. It's also rechargeable and has a long battery life.

  5. Streamlight ProTac HL-X Flashlight: This flashlight has a maximum output of 1000 lumens and includes multiple lighting modes, including a strobe mode for emergency signaling. It's also durable and waterproof, making it a good choice for outdoor activities.

  • Multi-tool or knife

  1. Leatherman Wave Plus: This multi-tool knife has 18 different tools, including pliers, wire cutters, knives, saws, and screwdrivers. It also includes a nylon sheath for easy carrying.

  2. Victorinox Swiss Army Huntsman Pocket Knife: This pocket knife has 15 different tools, including knives, saws, scissors, and a can opener. It's also lightweight and compact, making it easy to carry.

  3. Gerber Gear Truss Multi-Tool: This multi-tool knife has 17 different tools, including pliers, wire cutters, knives, saws, and screwdrivers. It also includes a nylon sheath for easy carrying.

  4. SOG PowerAccess Deluxe Multi-Tool: This multi-tool knife has 21 different tools, including pliers, wire cutters, knives, saws, and screwdrivers. It also includes a nylon sheath for easy carrying.

  5. CRKT M16-14ZLEK Folding Knife: This folding knife has a partially serrated blade and also includes a seatbelt cutter and a glass breaker, making it a good choice for emergency situations. It also includes a pocket clip for easy carrying.

  • Warm clothing (base layers, insulating layers, waterproof outer layers)

  1. Patagonia: Patagonia offers a wide range of layering options for different outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, and climbing. Their Capilene line of base layers is a popular choice for its moisture-wicking properties, while their Nano-Air line of insulation layers offers warmth without bulk. Their Torrentshell line of rainwear is also a popular choice for its durability and water-resistance.

  2. Arc'teryx: Arc'teryx offers a range of layering options for different outdoor activities, including skiing, mountaineering, and backpacking. Their Proton line of insulation layers offers warmth and breathability, while their Beta line of rainwear is designed to withstand harsh weather conditions. Their Rho line of base layers is also a popular choice for its moisture-wicking properties.

  3. The North Face: The North Face offers a wide range of layering options for different outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, and skiing. Their Thermoball line of insulation layers offers warmth without bulk, while their DryVent line of rainwear is designed to keep you dry in wet weather. Their Summit Series line of clothing is also designed for mountaineering and alpine climbing.

  4. Columbia: Columbia offers a range of layering options for different outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, and fishing. Their Omni-Heat line of insulation layers uses reflective technology to retain body heat, while their OutDry line of rainwear is designed to keep you dry in wet weather. Their Silver Ridge line of clothing is also a popular choice for its moisture-wicking properties and sun protection.

  • Insect repellent

Weve all heard of OFF insect repellent and the like, but here are some other options of a more natural nature.

Lemon Eucalyptus Oil: Lemon eucalyptus oil is a natural insect repellent that has been shown to be effective against mosquitoes and ticks. It's also non-toxic and safe for use on the skin.

  1. Citronella: Citronella is a natural essential oil that is commonly used in candles and other products to repel mosquitoes. It can also be applied topically to the skin.

  2. Neem Oil: Neem oil is a natural insect repellent that has been used for centuries in India. It's effective against a wide range of insects, including mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas.

  3. Peppermint Oil: Peppermint oil is a natural insect repellent that is effective against mosquitoes, ants, and spiders. It can also be used as a natural deterrent for rodents.

  4. Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree oil is a natural insect repellent that is effective against mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. It's also antiseptic and can be used to treat insect bites and stings.

  5. Lemon Eucalyptus Oil: Lemon eucalyptus oil is a natural insect repellent that has been shown to be effective against mosquitoes and ticks. It's also non-toxic and safe for use on the skin.

  6. For a completely natural solution in a pinch on the trail in the Alaskan Wilderness use what the indigenous tribes have used for centuries. Carefully cut off a piece of Devils Club leaf and place the soft side on your head (thorns facing up) the mosquitos absolutely hate it!

A trip to the Alaskan wilderness can be an incredible experience, but it's important to be prepared. Make sure you have the essential skills and gear you need to survive and thrive in this rugged terrain. With the right preparation, you'll be able to enjoy all the beauty and adventure that Alaska has to offer.


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