How To Pack For An Alaskan Adventure


I’ve just returned from Many of Alaska’s 2.07m visitors each year are there to explore the state's great outdoors, whether they are planning to hike through Denali National Park, kayak through Kachemak Bay or practice yoga on a glacier. And many, I’ve learned from local outdoors experts, come unprepared for the elements. I visited this past month to do all of the above activities, and learned some lessons on which gear was an absolute must and which just weighed me down and went totally unused.

While packing for my own visit to Denali National Park after winning the annual road lottery, I polled a number of Alaska residents and local guides to get some real advice on what to pack for an outdoor Alaskan adventure. Here is what they shared:


Lighter the better

Float planes might be required to reach destinations too remote for cars, and have a strict 50lb limit when it comes to luggage. Lighter weight duffels made from technical fabrics like those from Osprey or Baboon can shave off a bit of weight and be durable enough to withstand rain, ice and being tossed from truck to boat. Streamlining gear so that at least a few pieces can do double-duty is also helpful. For instance, hiking boot-sneaker hybrids like those from Forsake can be worn on the flight over to save luggage space, and cleverly disguised hiking pants like the cult-favorite Meme pant from PrAna are comfortable and polished enough to go from plane to trek to dinner. Lululemon’s technical-chic Swing Trench jacket is a city slicker-friendly top layer that transitions nicely to semi-chilly nights out in Alaska.

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Merino Wool

Outdoor enthusiasts anywhere will recommend this lowest fidelity of performance fabrics for base and mid-layers. The reason? It's hydrophilic so in the cold, it keeps heat close to the body, and in the heat it keeps cool air close to the body. Additionally, the fabric is said to have antimicrobial properties and subsequently does not smell. For this reason, it's been an outdoors person favorite for a very long time. Entire brands revolve around the fabric, like New Zealand-based Icebreaker whose finely crafted Merino wool gear is treasured by international hikers, skiiers and lodge loafers. Younger New Zealand brand Cotopaxi offers a similarly natural line of llama wool-based gear, including a gender-neutral and colorful Libre sweater that can do triple duty from trail to social gatherings to campfires.



Alaska has a seemingly large swing in weather patterns, especially in the summer. So if you have no idea if or when the morning rain and fog will clear, or how warm you might be at the end of a five mile trail, a packable vest can be a real savior. Down vests such as Mammut’s packable Alvra Light down vest can be stored into a pocket on the vest itself or a small bag and easily tossed in to a daypack. And at the end of a day of chilly trekking, if you don’t want to wear a stiff, crunchy-sounding rain jacket to dinner at the lodge, this same vest can act as a sort of Alaskan dinner jacket.

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Rain gear

The outdoor experts I’ve spoken with who take tourists out on active excursions on a daily basis all insisted on one key piece of advice, to bring waterproof gear. They all advised inbound Alaska visitors to bring with a waterproof jacket, waterproof pants and waterproof shoes. Jeans, I learned, and any other garments made from hard-to-dry cotton, are the single worst item to wear in the often wet Alaskan outdoor. Waterproof gear by California-based Marmot is favorite of Karyn Murphy, scientist-in-residence and naturalist guide at Kachemak Bay luxury lodge Tutka Bay Lodge. Their new EVODry rain jacket line is waterproof for up to 24 hours and highly breathable. Mammut’s waterproof Runje hiking pants are a nicely tailored take on traditional hiking pants, and North Face’s fleece-lined Impendor Warm Hybrid tights are a nice choice for those preferring a slim leg look and a touch more warmth. For more playful patterns, Backcountry’s splashy Trail Weight jacket is a long-cut and lightweight jacket with a paint splash pattern. And when combining a trek with a cold plunge, I found that my surf-inspired swimsuit from Sensi Graves was a godsend at being movement-friendly and quick-drying.


As important as gear is, for any dietary restrictions - packing some shelf-stable sustenance can be the difference between a pleasurable and a painful road trip between outdoor destinations. Due to Alaska’s scale, it is twice the size of Texas, many stops are four hours or more from one another with no eateries in between. Easy, lightweight healthy snacks might include the new mug muffins from Health Warrior, clean protein bars like those made by Navitas Organics or Tone It Up and oatmeal packets for when it’s cool outside.

Healthy City Guide to Washington DC


We here on the easy breezy west coast often mistakenly associate DC more with House of Cards and heated CNN debates than yoga and highbrow vegan brunch. But the capital is a wellness hotbed that’s only growing hotter, and with its annual VegFest coming up on September 2, we realized our Google Doc of ‘DC must-visits’ needed some expert attention, stat.

We turned to Well + Away friend and founder of Grassfed Media in DC Sacha Cohen for her pro advice. As someone who exclusively represents conscious clients and supports organizations including the Animal Welfare League of Arlington and the Humane Rescue Alliance, Sacha has become our go-to for navigating where to sweat and what to eat in the capital city. Here are her favorite conscious spots around town to get fit, fed, zen-ed and sunned.


For a yogic experience that ranges from super chill to 90-minutes of sweaty inversion practice, I turn to Tranquil Space in Arlington or Dupont Circle for the 60-minute mindfulness meditation sessions or the 90-minute Flow and Fly class that focuses on training arm balances. For something a bit more scene-y, try Rocket Vinyasa with Jonathan Ewing or Jivamukti with Cory Bryant at Flow Yoga Studio in vibrant Logan Circle. When I need to mix up my practice with something different, I’ll pop into an aerial yoga class with Susan at Spark Yoga in Arlington and Fairfax, or wind down with candlelight yoga on Monday nights at the Arlington Spark Studio, taught by Lika Elwood.


Book ahead for a table at Equinox Restaurant, the city’s most delicious vegan brunch, helmed by husband-and-wife co-owners Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff. A signature brunch buffet serves up fresh seasonal dishes including a crispy cauliflower tempura, yellow tomato and pineapple gazpacho, as well as a made-to-order tofu scramble bar and vegan sweets like chocolate pot au creme. Mocktails and cocktails including an American Vegano and, naturally, a signature Equinox Bloody Mary are made from fresh juices and purees.

Get Out

Get outdoors to hike it off throughout 32 miles of trails in DC’s beautiful Rock Creek Park, sprawling across 1700 acres and bisecting DC’s northwest quadrant. If you’d rather try your SoulCycle skills in the great outdoors, all roads and paved trails in Rock Creek Park are open to bicyclists. A popular paved path begins just north of Peirce Mill and follows the creek all the way to the Lincoln Memorial.

Get Cultured

Many of DC’s art and culture institutions are free because they are part of the publicly and institutionally endowed Smithsonian Institution. A few of my favorites for contemporary and modern art include The Hirshhorn Museum, The East Building of the National Museum of Art, The Renwick Gallery and The Phillips Collection. If you want to museum hop, the epicenter for access to most of DC’s free museums is the National Mall. Each of these museums has renowned permanent collections as well as rotating exhibitions such as the recent much buzzed about Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrors exhibit at the Hirrshhorn.


The adorable, always packed Baked and Wired is tucked into a pretty cobblestone street in Georgetown, one of DC’s most popular shopping areas for the well-heeled. B+W’s Soccer Mom bar with a graham cracker crust, chocolate and butterscotch chips, coconut and pecans is a decadent indulgence, or a Chocolate Oreo Cakecup is an ever-so-slightly lighter plant-based treat. Grab one of the bistro tables outside to watch the world go by or settle into the cozy back room with your sweet treat.


Nusta Spa is a relaxing oasis in the heart of bustling Farrugut North in downtown DC and the first LEED-certified spa in the world. Skincare and bodycare treatments include traditional massages, facials, scrubs, wraps, hydrotherapy and mani/pedis. A personal favorite is the matcha brightening decollete facial to soothe summer skin or a massage using  handcrafted essential oils by BodyBliss.


Opened in August, Take Care is the place to find small batch, synthetic-free and handmade apothecary goods from indie makers around the U.S. Some of my favorites include the cacao antioxidant face mask from Josh Rosebrook, “Ritual” from Smoke Perfume, and the goodness lipstick from vegan lipstick company Axiology. You’ll also find a beautiful collection of handmade lifestyle goods that focus on simple, natural designs and ingredients such as the pure essential oil and a soy cure-all candle from Essential Apothecary Alchemist. With a focus on self-care and taking time out for oneself, Take Care also offers a variety of workshops and events including an upcoming Superfood Latte Workshop.


I’m a little reluctant to mention Bar A Vin because it’s still somewhat under-the-radar. This sexy little spot will make you feel like you’ve just landed in Paris, complete with a stunning copper bar, 30-40 old world wines by the glass, and sophisticated bar bites including marinated olives, pickled vegetables and assorted dairy-free cheeses. On a promising date? Settle into the "living room" just off the main entrance and get better acquainted by the roaring fire.


It’s a bit of a trek from DC, but for amazing organic vegan fare Great Sage Vegan restaurant is  a must. This comfort food-inspired restaurant features plant based entrees ranging from light to lightly battered. The avocado kale hash and gobi Manchurian--battered cauliflower florets with chiles, cumin and ginger, served with stewed black lentils and green pea-coconut jasmine rice-- are perfect for cooler nights.