Packrafting the Alatna

The Fashion

Clothing was an area that we both felt reasonably comfortable with packing for, but there were aspects of it, particularly clothing for on the water, that we really winged it on. I interrogated sales assistants at three or four different REI stores, called canoe and kayak outfitters and scoured the web for rafting blogs to get a good idea of what I would need.

The key pieces of information that I gleaned from all of this were:

  1. Buy merino wool thermals. They’re super warm and the wool won’t smell after extended use (they won’t smell too bad). I had one set that I used the whole trip and they were lifesavers.
  2. Rainproof pants and jacket – essential items. I was recommended Gore-tex by a ton of sources, but went the cheaper route and bought a stock-standard Patagonia waterproof on sale. It worked like a charm for me. I’m sure Gore-tex would have been great too, but I’m also sure you’ll get by fine without it.
  3. Lightweight long sleeve. It’s sun 24/7, 91.25 (quarter of the year). A long sleeve shirt will not only keep you from getting sunburnt, but it’ll also keep the mosquitoes at bay when you get into the lower areas of the mountains.
  4. Neoprene socks and shoes. I spent a lot of time agonising over whether I would need to buy expensive knee-high boots for the river, or just wear sandals, or what I needed to do for footwear. The best solution was given to me by Nick at North Alaskan Packrafts. Buy some neoprene socks. Your feet will be wet, no doubt about it, so just try to keep them warm. Throw some old sneakers over the top for a good base and you’re golden.
  5. And then, obviously, keep it steezy. You never know who you’ll run into out in the wild so you have to be on your A-game.

So without further ado, here’s our clothing list (per person):

  • 1 x long sleeve wool thermal top
  • 1 x wool thermal pants
  • 1 x hiking pants
  • 1 x hiking shorts
  • 1 x Rainproof pants
  • 1 x rainproof jacket
  • 1 x synthetic t-shirt
  • 1 x long sleeve lightweight button shirt
  • 1 x fleece jacket
  • 1 x micro down jacket
  • 4 x underwear briefs
  • 3 x wool socks (I usually wore the same semi-wet pair every day, hung them up at the end of the day, and rotated dry pairs at night)
  • 1 x neck gaiter/buff
  • 1 x Brimmed hat
  • 1 x Beanie
  • 1 x Polarized sunglasses
  • 1 x Croakies for sunglasses
  • 1 x neoprene gloves
  • 1 x neoprene high socks
  • 1 x old sneakers or durable sandals to wear over neoprene socks
  • 1 x hiking boots (these will be wet the whole time and you just have to get used to it. Wear them in beforehand or you will get blisters, as I can now attest)

Packrafting the Alatna

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Patagonia O-Trek

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The Goat Trail

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