{The Essentials}

Gear up for alaska

Author: Kristian Cole


Heading up to the Last Frontier this summer or fall? We know that packing for a trip to Alaska can be daunting, but don’t worry, we’ve compiled a short list of  “must haves” when heading up North that will not only make you more comfortable but enhance your experience!


We feel really strongly that a good pair of Gore-Tex waders can take you a long way and last you a really long time if they're well-maintained. We carry two great Gore-Tex options from Simms the G3 Guide Wader with 3 layers of Gore-Tex on the top and bottom and the G4z Wader with 4 layers of Gore-Tex on the top and bottom, and a zipper for when nature calls. Both are articulated for better form/fit to the body and give you a better range of motion. Both with fleece-lined hand pockets, these are premium waders that will keep you comfortable and fishing all day in Alaska and beyond.


In Alaska, felt bottom boots are not allowed, but we carry some great options that will get the job done. The Simms G3 Guide Boot has tons of ankle support, Vibram soles with a good tread pattern and the ability to put studs in and out. The G4 Pro Powerlock Boot has similar ankle support as the G3 Guide Boot, but a totally different tread pattern instead of putting traditional studs; this new system allows for interchangeable rubber and metal cleats.

Rain Jacket

Probably the most essential piece of equipment when heading up to Alaska is a good Gore-Tex rain jacket. Anywhere we send people to Alaska, this is on the tip-top of our list. Simms has a couple of great options the G3 Guide Wading Jacket and the G4 Pro Wading Jacket. The G3 Guide is going to have a little bit of a shorter cut on it, but both have a helmet hood with a bill to allow the rain to wash off the brim. In addition, all sorts of interior pockets, and both have good cuffs around the wrist for when you're dipping your hands in the water to release that fish of a lifetime.


Possibly the most confusing part about heading to Alaska is what to wear under your waders. With a wide range of temperatures and conditions, layering is crucial. Base layers are going to be your next-to-skin layer that’s going to allow moisture and sweat to wick away from the body and allow the Gore-Tex in your waders to do its job by allowing it to breathe. DO NOT wear your old blue jeans or your old cotton skiing long-johns. We recommend Merino wool products from Simms or Capeline from Patagonia. Depending on the season, lightweight, midweight, or thermal options for your base layers are available. Next is your favorite fishing shirt. This can be a good button-down or sun hoody that will be between your base layer and your mid-layer vest or low-profile pullover. Finally, a good down or puffy jacket is fantastic as an outer layer for staying wind protected and warm. It’s an easy layer to shed once the day progresses.


Socks are often overlooked when you're buying a pair of waders but ultimately will allow you to be more comfortable and stay in your waders a lot longer. You can go with a lightweight wool sock or you can go with midweight or thermal for later in the season. Even if it’s hot outside, the water will be cold, so an over-the-calf WOOL sock from Simms will keep your feet warm. When you're buying your boots be sure that you try your boots on in the store with a thick sock to make sure that your boots are going to be sized correctly.

Luggage & Bags

NO hard-sided luggage as they don't fit and squeeze well into the airplanes and boats. We recommend waterproof luggage that’s going to keep your stuff dry when you transfer from the float plane to a boat, and then to the lodge. Plenty of room to hold waders, boots, a rain jacket, and other equipment. If you are bringing your own rods and reels to Alaska the Simms GTS rod and reel vault is perfect for carrying up to 6 rods and reels as well as any other small accessories. Finally, a good dry bag for the boat, roll top or zip-up, will allow you to shed layers and keep them dry while fishing.