The Alaska Road Trip Checklist For The Tent Camper:
Well before you set out on the road, you’ll want to put a good deal of thought into your Alaska road trip checklist for things you’ll need and want along the way. You might also want to plan your efforts on how you want to store that gear. Unlike your average weekend camping trip, there are some concepts you might want to apply that will make your experience smoother and overall more enjoyable. You don’t want to find that you’ve forgotten something important when you’re 2,000 miles from home and have no means of replacing it.
We feel that having an appropriate Alaska road trip checklist is one of the main differences between a haphazard journey and a well researched, well thought plan that will get you to Alaska and back without incident. Certainly there are some people who won’t feel as strongly towards this and feel they can simply prepare on the fly. This section is for people who want to make sure they have what they need and there aren’t any surprises along the way.
Preparing Your Alaska Road Trip Checklist:
One of the most important aspects of outfitting for a trip like this will be your Alaska road trip checklist. This will be a list of everything you want to take along the trip, major and minor. We suggest getting ahead of this effort as much as possible, simply because your list might evolve over time. As you think of things, add them to your list so you’re sure it’ll be in your vehicle when you decide to make the trip. When it comes time to pack your gear, you’ll have a very comprehensive and fantastic checklist to work from that insures you’ll have everything you need.
A long time ago, we found it very useful to prepare a gear list for camping. Over the years, we’ve forgotten sleeping bags, stoves and even a tent! It’s not a fun situation when a critical piece of gear fails to make it into your vehicle. It’s especially risky when you’re camping on a regular basis as your mind tends to think you’re ready when something critical may have slipped your mind.
It might be obvious that you’ll need a tent and a sleeping bag, of course. You might be inclined to say, “Oh, I’ll remember when the time comes!” We can’t stress enough that these things should still be on your checklist as you’ll have a lot going on as you get into the final preparations for your trip. If you have some things on a list and others not, you might be inclined to think you’re good when you’re inadvertently missing an important item.
Your Alaska road trip checklist should be fairly comprehensive, meaning it can act as much more than just a basic packing list. You might find you want to buy items before heading on your way. Making a list of these items will help you track what you’ve all ready purchased and what you still need. A good set of checklists can help with budgeting efforts, coordinating with others, vehicle maintenance and other things you need to keep track of.
We find it useful to prepare our list in a spreadsheet program (like Microsoft Excel or Google also has a similar online program) so we can format it well and make it truly like a checklist. We also like to include things in the list like planned vehicle maintenance, budgeting info, task lists and other similar lists.
When final preparation is in order, we print the list and hand check every single item as it’s loaded into bags and/or the vehicle. We recommend checking and double checking your packing so you’re absolutely certain everything on the list made it into the vehicle. You really don’t want to find out four days into your trip that you’ve forgotten something important and then either have to go without it or pick up a replacement along the way.
Outfitting Your Alaska Road Trip Checklist Gear:
Outfitting is all the above gear that will be on your Alaska road trip checklist. More importantly, it’s also the storage mechanisms used to keep your gear tidy, accessible and organized. It’s important to remember that you’ll be accessing your gear on a frequent basis, so organization will help you know where important things are. Good organization will ease the efforts of packing and unpacking, which you’ll likely be doing every day on a tent camping road trip. If you haven’t experienced tent camping road trips before, you’ll definitely appreciate a good outfit overall and proper storage will insure you’re successful night after night, with little possible room for failure.
We highly recommend using duffel bags for gear storage. They work well for this type of effort, mainly because they’re good at transporting a lot of stuff, allow you organization opportunities, are relatively lightweight and optimize limited storage capacity very well. Previously, we used plastic Rubbermaid totes for storage and when we switched to duffel bags, it was a night and day difference. We were able to pack more gear and the better organization options allowed us to more quickly get what we need and get on with our activities. If you can afford some good quality duffel bags, they will go a long way to make your trip successful.
Storing Your Alaska Road Trip Checklist
It’s truly up to you how you go about organizing your gear, but we recommend some levels of organization. You want to avoid just throwing everything in your vehicle haphazardly, as this will make it difficult to find what you want on the road. This is the basic structure that we feel results in a well-organized, long distance camping outfit for your Alaska road trip checklist:
- Kitchen bag
- Features essentially the entire kitchen, perhaps minus the stove. Having all this dedicated to a specific place makes meal prep easier and more efficient! The size of this bag should be adequate to fit most of your kitchen gear. Some things, like hand wipes or other multi-use items can be stored elsewhere to save on space.
- Kitchen cooler
- This obviously will be the cooler(s) that you choose to take on your journey. It will largely carry items that will be kept cold and will also be accessed often. We recommend placing your cooler in a very accessible place to make sure you can readily access your food. Plan on having to fill it up with fresh ice every few days, as needed. A cooler designed for high performance will be well worth the cost as filling up ice every day could get much more expensive than you like. We also recommend testing your cooler’s performance before hand so you will know if it’s up to the task.
- Clothing bag
- This will be all of your clothing items, shoes, socks and other thing’s you’ll wear on your journey. Not only is it good to know right where your clothes are, it also makes laundry days a bit easier since you can quickly grab the bag to put fresh laundry away! We also recommend a separate dirty clothes bag or two to keep things fresh in your main clothing bag. This eases laundry days as you know right where all your dirty clothes are.
- Personal toiletries
- It’s helpful to have your personal toiletries in a small, accessible bag. When it comes time for a shower or morning prep, you’ll appreciate having all your toiletries in a common place. This is easily stored in your clothing bag or or backpack, if desired.
- Personal items
- It will be good to have a place for your personal effects. This could be head lamps, sunglasses, your camera or binoculars, work gloves, your cell phone or many other things. A backpack is a good choice for this since most of these items will likely be going with you on your adventures. Conveniently, many backpacks also have locations for water bottles or hydration packs and perhaps bear spray, if needed.
- Sleeping essentials bag
- This should include your most of your tent setup, minus the tent itself. If possible, it should include your sleeping mattresses, sleeping bags, pillows and your tent blanket. It is not recommended to store your tent with your sleeping gear. If you experience rain, your sleeping gear will get wet when you tear down camp the next morning. Waiting out a storm could have you waiting for days, so it isn’t an option.
- Tent bag
- This will contain your tent, rain fly, tent footprint, rain gear and possibly other things that will likely get wet if it rains. It is not recommended to store your sleeping gear with your tent. You may want to combine your inclement weather preparation materials with your tent since these both may get wet if it rains.
- Rain & inclement weather bag
- We like to keep this separate from our tent gear, mostly because it’s not used on fair weather days and it often is more wet than anything else when it rains. This is everything you need to respond to rain in camp. It usually includes tarps, stakes, bungee cords, rope or paracord and other materials that will be helpful for establishing more shelter. This can also be combined with your tent bag, if desired and you have the space. Typically, when experiencing rain, this is the first bag we’ll grab to set up a temporary shelter from the rain.
- Vehicle emergency
- This should include your vehicle emergency preparation. This bag will include things like a tire wrench, jack, perhaps a battery-powered air pump, tire gauge and so forth. Depending on your desired level of preparation, this could be a simple setup or may need more storage for more elaborate preparation.
- Information storage
- You’ll find you’ll want a spot to have all your informational materials, such as maps, books, print outs, reservations if you’ve made them, and other essentials along these lines. This will help you avoid damaging your materials and will also give you a “go to” spot for your planning resources. You might find that you add to it over time, so having a bit of extra room for information resources you pick up along the way is helpful. A medium-sized handbag or fabric grocery bag works well for this.
- Food bags
- These bags will store your dry goods and other food that doesn’t belong in the cooler. If you generally plan for 3-5 days between food resupply, two or three medium size bags will be enough. Be aware that soft things like bread or fruits do not fair well in duffel bags that are packed and unpacked often. Keep any sensitive foods in a safe place somewhere, like behind your front seat or tucked into a corner somewhere.
- Souvenir tote
- We recommend having a plastic tote for storing your souvenirs that you pick up. This should protect most small items, like magnets or cards, but it should fit conveniently most anywhere. You’ll definitely want to think about how you can safely transport larger items since your vehicle will likely be having gear tossed in and out quite often.
You’ll find that some things just aren’t suited for a bag, so these are fine to store where makes sense. Things like camp chairs, water storage, spare fuel and other large items are better kept separate. These items typically take up a fair bit of space and will have a natural home in your storage system. The goal, however, should hopefully be to contain as much as possible so you’re not spending your morning looking for a spatula or your bathroom towel. A disorganized approach will cost you a fair bit of time on the road and will also put you at higher risk of inadvertently leaving something behind.
How you choose to physically organize the gear might be different from how you prepare your checklist. That’s OK! For example, items that might relate to shelter might be separated into your tent related items, sleeping gear related items and perhaps a water proof preparation kit per the recommendations above. You also might simply need to store something where it will fit, not what it goes with. We simply encourage trying to organize the bulk of your gear as it will ease your camp setup and tear down efforts every day you’re on the road.
Sample Alaska Road Trip Checklist:
This site would be remiss without a sample Alaska road trip checklist of items that one could use as a reference for what to take. This will hopefully help you plan out and organize your trip more efficiently and give you guidance from fellow tent travelers who have also made this trip. This is an exact gear list that we used on our last trek to Alaska, minus perhaps a few extra goodies we either picked up along the way or put in last minute. Our Alaska road trip checklist worked well, nothing was missing and our journey was overall successful.
We would caution you from a “copy paste” aspect of planning for a trip like this. The list below met our own personal needs, equipment and requirements. It is by no means reflective of everyone’s requirements, equipment or level of experience, so your mileage may vary. You should absolutely consider your own personal needs, requirements and desires from your gear to determine an optimal Alaska road trip checklist that works for you.
|_____||Tent Footprint||_____||Lantern||_____||Games||_____||Bear spray|
|_____||Tent Blanket||_____||Spare lantern wicks||_____||Bug spray|
|_____||Sleeping Bag||_____||Propane torch||Clothing:||_____||Sun screen|
|_____||Sleeping Mat||_____||Duct tape||_____||T-shirts||_____||Lighters|
|_____||Camp Pillows||_____||Trash bags||_____||Long sleeves||_____||Water bottles|
|_____||Bungee Cords||_____||Axe||_____||Sweat pants||_____||Head lamp|
|_____||S-Hooks||_____||Hatchet||_____||PJ pants||_____||Flash light|
|_____||Carribeaners||_____||Zip ties||_____||Rain jacket||_____||Cell phone|
|_____||Tent Light||_____||Thermal pants||_____||Multi-tool|
|Kitchen:||_____||Water (5 gal)||_____||Hat (Warm)||_____||Camera batteries|
|_____||Stove||_____||Water filter||_____||Undergarments||_____||Camera cards|
|_____||Mess Kit||_____||AK/BC/YT/AB Maps||_____||Shorts||_____||AA batteries|
|_____||Cast Iron Pan/Pot||_____||Camping Alaska Book||_____||Socks||_____||AAA batteries|
|_____||Spoons/forks/knives||_____||Milepost Book||_____||Boots||_____||Work gloves|
|_____||Cheap chef knife||_____||First aid kit||_____||Sandals||_____||Warm gloves|
|_____||Cutting board||_____||Compass||_____||Swimsuit||_____||Lip balm|
|_____||Can opener||_____||Waterproof matches||_____||Laundry bag||_____||Passport|
|_____||Wine Opener||_____||Emergency shelter||_____||Belt||_____||Laundry soap|
|_____||Kitchen Towels||_____||Emergency poncho||_____||Dryer sheets|
|_____||Silicone pint glasses||_____||GPS & charger||_____||Shampoo||_____||Tablet charger|
|_____||Percolator||_____||GPS vehicle mount||_____||Conditioner||_____||Tablet case|
|_____||Thermos||_____||Extra gas, 5 gal||_____||Soap||_____||Cell phone cable|
|_____||Cooler||_____||Music USB Sticks||_____||Hair gel|
|_____||Camp plates||_____||Flies||_____||Bath towel|
|_____||Camp cups||_____||Wader belt||_____||Nail clippers|
|_____||Dish rags||_____||Thermal pants||_____||Shaving cream|
|_____||Mixing Spatula||_____||Rod 9′ 5 Weight||_____||Kleenex|
|_____||Flat Spatula||_____||Rod 10′ 7 Weight||_____||Dental floss|
|_____||Quart ziplock bags|
|_____||Gallon ziplock bags|
|Road Emergency Kit:|
|_____||First aid kit|
|_____||Star lug wrench|
|_____||Foam tire sealant|
|_____||Roadside assist #|
|_____||Pen & paper|
|_____||Coolant hose repair kit|
|_____||Quart of oil|
That’s a somewhat comprehensive Alaska road trip checklist we used to successfully make a tent camping road trip. As mentioned above, you’ll want to consider your own requirements, equipment and gear for your own checklist.