Never in a million years did I think I would ever experience a winter in Alaska. Never. I’m from Arizona and I have played in snow only a handful of times in my life. As I talked to more and more people, I realized I had no idea what I was in for. I created this Guide to Surviving Alaska where I am documenting everything I need to get through this first winter. What am I missing? I’m also vblogging my experiences in Alaska. Check back if you want to see what craziness I get into!
FTC Disclosure: I have been given quite a few of these products to review for this guide. No other compensation has been given. If you want to have your product included in the guide, contact me at Kristi@OrangeDragonfly.com.
I must have not been thinking when I packed for this trip from Phoenix to Alaska. I didn’t bring any sweaters or warm clothes of any kind with me. I have a hoodie and a couple thermals and that’s about it. I wish I could tell you I’m kidding. Here are just a few of the things that were desperately needed so I could survive this first winter in Alaska!
L.L. Bean Women’s Baxter State Parka $249
Outdoor Research Floodlight Jacket $395
When Outdoor Research heard my story about being in Alaska without any gear, they wanted to help. Boy, did they! They sent me this 800+ fill down jacket that is waterproof with the breathable Pertex® Shield+ fabric. This jacket is what I take with me when I go out for hikes, snow shoeing, and hopefully skiing... on the bunny hill of course! This Floodlight jacket is the best way for me to stay warm and dry while out playing in the snow.
Timberland White Ledge Hiking Boot $78
There is a lot of hiking to do in Alaska. Having quality hiking boots is essential. A lot of the ground here is silt, like slate, and it is very slick. I love these Timberland boots as they give my weak ankles the support they need while taking in the beautiful Alaska countryside.
Sorel Caribou Winter Boots $140
Everyone, and I mean everyone has told me to get Sorel Snowboots for the winter. It was advised not to get the ones with faux fur if I planned on doing a lot of walking out in the snow. The ones with faux fur are made more to keep your feet warm but also to make you look good. Well, I'm not a fashionista, so I went with the fleece-lined Sorel Caribou Winter Boots.
Heat Holders Thermal Leggings $15
These Heat Holders Thermal Leggings are super warm and quite cozy. They are very soft and made from an insulating yarn that keeps my legs from freezing. I wear them with my snow boots and a hoodie - it is my Alaska look so far! You can also wear these leggings under snow pants for an extra layer of warmth. Love them!
Scarves & Hat Set $20
This basketweave orange scarf and hat set was given to me last year by Scarves.com. It is by the most used item in my Winter arsenal. I love the color on me, I love the texture and how soft it is. But the best part is that it keeps me warm. When I started on this journey this was the only scarf and hat I owned. I know own quite a few more, but these set by Scarves.com is my fave. Most of my videos on IG have me sporting it. 🙂
SmartWool Margarita Socks $13.97
First, did someone say margaritas? 😉 Whenever I am out, I always take a look a look at the wool socks. I've picked up a 4-pack at Costco, I search for deals on Amazon. Why? Simple, everyone tells me: Cotton Kills. If you wear cotton socks or anything 100% cotton, expect to freeze to death. I like my toes, I certainly don't want them frozen off!! These cute wool socks come in a lot of colors and it's the first time I have ever wanted socks for Christmas!
Heat Holder Wool Socks $19.99
Then there comes the time when you need to call in the big guns. These Heat Holder Wool Socks. These socks are the warmest thermal socks I have ever tried on. They are oh so toasty and what I grab on the days when it drops into the single digits. I went to a winter campfire this past weekend and my toes wished I had remembered to bring these bad boys. I won't make that mistake again. Bring on the heat!
Head Running Gloves
I think I have owned maybe two pairs of gloves in my entire life. Here, I need at a minimum, two pairs. This first pair I found at Costco as they have a ton of winter supplies. These are the Head Running Gloves which are touchscreen compatible. I use them everyday as running and driving gloves. I love them!
Carhartt Storm Trooper Gloves $65
Well, I just learned that my Head Running Gloves weren't going to cut it for the cold here if I was going to be outside for any periond of time. These Carhatt Storm Trooper Gloves is next on my list of much needed gear to help Survive Alaska! They have Gore-tex which will keep my fingers dry and goatskin to keep them warm. Oh, and I have always wanted to be a Storm Trooper!
My poor, poor car. I didn’t know what he was in for when I decided to stay and check out what winter was like. My car is from Arizona, and I never knew that cars made in different regions of the state come with different packages put on them. Well, my car has been getting all sorts of love lately. I have spent more money on my car in the last month than I have in the three years I have owned Bubba. Bonus points if you know how he got his name 🙂
Clifford Auto Remote Start
Not sure why I didn't have one of these in AZ. The guys at Safe & Sound Alaska hooked me up with the Clifford Auto Remote Start. It is best to allow 10-20 minutes to let your car heat up before you drive anywhere. I have learned to set everything to defrost and on high when I get out of the car. In about 15 minutes all the ice is defrosted and my car is toasty warm for my drive. I can imagine using this in the heat and getting the AC turned on. But, sigh, I haven't used the AC in a bajillion years.
Firestone Blizzak Tires
Everyone has an opinion on what kind of snow tires you should have, but the hands-down favorite are Firestone's Blizzak Tires. The debate in Alaska is typically between getting studded snow tires, all-weather tires, or winter specific tires. I called Firestone (I met them at BlogHer), I called my tire sponsor in Arizona who researched the hell out of these tires, and I asked a ton of people in Alaska. Most get the studded tires, but those that try the Blizzaks never go back to studded as these handle so much better and are made for snow and ice. I had NO idea that tires where made specifically for a region. I bought 4 tires at Costco and it costs $700 with the rebate they were offering. So not cheap, but they handle pretty well.
Engine Block Heater $65
When I first got to Alaska I noticed everyone had extension cords hanging out of their hood. I had NO idea what that was all about. Well, looks like people plug their cars in overnight using an engine block heater. Say what? Yep, my response to. I haven't gotten this yet, but it is next on my list. It heats up your engine so a few times throughout the night so it doesn't freeze. O-O.
Shovel & Ice Scraper $24.99
People keep telling me to get a snow shovel and be prepared in case I get caught out in a storm and have to dig my tires out. I sure hope that never happens. I need both an ice scraper and brush too. I haven't bought this yet, but this combo of everything looks pretty good. I just hope I never have to do the whole shoveling thing!
Emergency Roadside Assistance Kit
This Emergency Roadside Assistance Kit has a good start for what is needed in Alaska. Heaven forbid I have car trouble, I need the basics. This kit has jumper cables, Duck Tape, a poncho, and a flashlight. I will also add in there a mylar blanket, hand warmers, electrolyte packets, and a Jetboil for water.
Emergency First Aid Kit
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a tad clumsy. Just a tad. And if it can happen, it will. I also have severe allergies so in my First Aid Kit there is Benadryl, an Epi Pen, ice packs, Arnicare Muscle Cream, and Calendula ointment for cuts or burns. I seriously can not have enough Band-aids. I have a slight allergy to the adhesive sometimes, so I tend to pack a couple different kinds just in case.
As an injured runner, I haven’t kept up with my fitness as I need to. I have put on a little bit of weight again. Sigh. I have been working on different fitness plans to get me through this winter. I have been doing a lot of yoga lately and want to continue working my practice, as I need the mental calmness and physical stretch.
Gaiam Yoga Mat $39.98
Gaiam was the first yoga mat I had ever owned given to me as a Christmas present years ago. I love the designs and how durable their mats are! I didn't have a yoga mat up here in Alaska and was just using a beach towel. There is something so calming and peaceful about sitting and meditating on a yoga mat. I can't wait to try out all the yoga gear that has been graciously sent my way. Namaste.
My Living Situation
I have rented a room in a cabin in a suburb of Anchorage, Alaska. It is really close to a nature center, but it isn’t exactly close to town. BUT… it is incredibly beautiful out there. I see Bald Eagles weekly and have even seen a family of moose too. Did I forget to mention the brown bear that visited us a few weeks ago? Here are a few of the things I needed to make my winter home a little bit cozier.
With the long dark days of winter and an inclination for depression, I have to be very mindful to keep my spirit strong while experiencing Alaska. This is the hardest one to really know how to prepare for.
Gaiam Yoga Mat $39.98
Gaiam was the first yoga mat I had ever owned given to me as a Christmas present years ago. I love the designs and how durable their mats are! I didn’t have a yoga mat up here in Alaska and was just using a beach towel. There is something so calming and peaceful about sitting and meditating on a yoga mat. I can’t wait to try out all the yoga gear that has been graciously sent my way. Namaste.
Lexie Hallahan, Director NW Women's Surf Camps and Retreats says
I heard your interview this week on KMUN in Astoria with my friend, Donna Quinn. It was exciting to hear about the journey you are on. It sounds like you will be back to Astoria in the future. I would love to meet up for a cup of tea and connect. I am a new blogger with my NW surfing program. Here is a link to one I posted yesterday, How to expand your surfing experience. http://www.nwwomenssurfcamps.com/blog/ I’ve been directing surfing events, group lessons, custom events and SUP lessons for 10 years. Perhaps if you love water and swim well, we could connect you with the experience of surfing here in the NW. I think it would fit well with your mission. We have numerous breweries here on the North Coast that could be added to a surf and beer adventure. You can contact me at the email above next time you are headed this way. I look forward to meeting you and expanding both of our visions! Our season runs June to October 2015. Enjoy yourself this fall, Lexie
Joanne Thong says
I am going to Alaska in about 3 week’s time and I am living in the tropical weather. I have experience cold weather before (I used to lived in Europe) but not the extreme weather like in Alaska.
I am doing some research on what jacket/parka to buy & I came across the LL Bean Baxter State Parka. It says it can withstand below 45 degree do you mean Fahrenheit or Celcius? From the picture & the price point, it doesn’t look like it can within that kind of coldness but your thought?
Thank you so much!
Hi Joanne – that is Fahrenheit. I love that coat!! I never have to worry if I am going to be cold with it on. What part of Alaska are you visiting? I’m in Anchorage and it gets to about -20F but up in Fairbanks it can get below -40F.
Have fun up here – it is awesome!!