This packing list will help ensure you have everything you need for your trip with us. Dress is casual and comfortable. Our trips are not “hard-core expeditions” and special clothing or gear is not necessary to enjoy exploring this Alaskan coastal wilderness.
What to pack?
Prince William Sound has a mild maritime climate (this is the northern reach of the same temperate coastal rainforest environment which begins on the north coast of California and runs up along the coasts of Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Southeast Alaska, Prince William Sound, and all the way west to Kodiak Island). Our Spring and Summer weather can be variable with temperatures ranging from the low 40’s at the tidewater glaciers to the low 70’s on our hikes.
Layered clothing is the most suitable. For example, wear a light shirt with a wool sweater or fleece and a windbreaker. Items made of wool or synthetic fabric remain comfortable and warm even when wet. Cotton is not recommended for most outdoor activities as the fabric does not dry easily and once wet has no insulation. Rain can be frequent in Prince William Sound, but we have found that when our gear and spirits are well suited, the weather is always perfect.
To help keep your packing to a minimum, the Discovery provides shampoo and conditioner, soap, blow-dryer, towels and wash cloths in each bathroom.
Due to limited stowage space in the shuttle van and on the Discovery, it is important to pack as efficiently as possible. (Note: Our historic passenger vessel Discovery [originally named the Anna Jackman and owned by the Presbyterian Church Missions] was designed and built in 1958 as a church mission vessel. The onboard cabins are simple and efficient with little stowage space outside of various shelves or drawers.) Please limit luggage to necessary items only, and use SOFT-SIDED frameless luggage that can fold and stow in your cabin after it has been unpacked. One medium size bag of approximately 18”x24”x12” should be sufficient for the voyage. Hard-sided luggage is cumbersome, and will take up too much floor space in your cabin. If you have any questions about packing needs, please let us know. If you are continuing your stay in Alaska following the Discovery Voyage, some additional luggage storage is often available at the Anchorage Bed & Breakfast where you will be staying before and after your trip on the Discovery.
The Discovery provides sturdy rubber boots that pull on over socks (preferably thicker wool socks for warmth and cushioning) for shore excursions (hiking, beach exploring, etc.) and kayaking. These boots allow room for your orthotics or additional ankle supports. Our rubber boots are the best for exploring Prince William Sound as our on shore journeys often take us through wet terrain with areas of above ankle level bogs and almost up our knees stream crossings. Hiking boots are not recommended because of this delicate peat land bog / temperate coastal rainforest environment. Hard-soled boots tend to slip and tear up the soil (which is a thick carpet of mosses, lichens, ferns, grasses, etc.) more than our soft-soled rubber boots. You are welcome to bring comfortable, lightweight tennis shoes, sports sandals or similar for use on the boat. One pair of boat shoes is sufficient.
A small pack will come in handy for shore excursions to hold an extra jacket, water bottle, snacks, camera, binoculars and anything else you would take on a day hike.
The Discovery provides quality raingear: jackets, pants, rubber boots and waterproof gloves. You are more than welcome to bring your own raingear. Please provide your height/weight and shoe size when making your reservation and complete our online guest information form. We do read the guest information forms!
Two to three pairs of quick-drying synthetic pants are the best for our climate. Include a pair of shorts, just in case! Jeans are not recommended but if you’re comfortable in them, they’ll work fine.
Two or three long sleeved shirts are useful for bug and sun protection. Non-cotton shirts for hiking and kayaking excursions are best. One t-shirt.
The onboard cabins are rarely cold, so we recommend lightweight pajamas. We have extra blankets on board if needed. (note that the Discovery is fully heated when needed and fresh air is circulated throughout the ship)
WARM JACKET and VEST:
Synthetic fleece or wool sweater and a windproof jacket make great layers for warmth, especially near glaciers. A fleece vest is also a good option to ward off chilly days.
WOOL or SYNTHETIC FLEECE HAT and GLOVES:
A warm hat for skiff excursions and a brimmed hat (such as a baseball cap) for rain protection (to wear under a hooded raincoat). Medium or lightweight gloves are great to keep your hands warm when paddling or taking photos. The Discovery provides waterproof fleece-lined gloves for kayaking in cooler areas if needed.
Sufficient for your needs, plus one or two pair of medium to heavy weight for use with rubber boots. Again, wool is recommended over cotton.
We recommend one pair of polypropylene, capilene or wool tops and bottoms. Synthetic fabrics are designed to keep you warm even when wet, wicking moisture away from the skin. Wool is great because in addition to staying warm when wet it also can be used for a number of days without needing to be washed. Whereas the synthetics tend to retain and release body odors after only minimal use. (hey … we don’t mind but you might?)
Make sure you bring an adequate supply for the trip. Do not count on having your prescription refilled during the trip. We keep a supply of basic non prescription meds such as Ibuprofen, cold & flu meds, etc. onboard if needed. Also, we maintain a stock of basic first aid items such as bandages, topical antibacterial ointments, etc.
There are times when local environmental conditions foster the hatching of biting insects here on the coast of Alaska. It’s hard to predict when and if those times will be. It is advisable to bring a small amount of insect repellant with you. Also, we keep some onboard for anyone to use.
Sunshine in Alaska can be strong at times, especially when on the water or reflecting off of snow and ice! Don’t forget your sunglasses.
Bring extra storage capacity (memory cards) for your digital camera. The Discovery provides 110-volt outlets for recharging batteries in each cabin and in the lounge.
We carry good quality binoculars onboard for everyone’s use. However, you are welcome to bring your own if you prefer.
Depending on where you live, finding a few of the above items can be challenging. We have some recommendations for obtaining gear and clothing items for your trip to Alaska: