Essential Alaska Gear Whether you’re confronting a curious bear outside your tent at night or can’t make it out of the mountains before dark, a good headlamp is a vital part of any Alaska backcountry kit. I bring two headlamps on longer adventures in case one gets broken, lost, or just quits working—which happens more than I’d like to admit. While there’s everything from cheap and quick-to-break models to expensive and large floodlights on the market, the Princeton Tec Vizz Headlamp is a good middle-of-the-pack option that was perfect for everything I needed. Made in the USA with a lifetime warranty, it’s lightweight and offers a relatively long burn time. It fits comfortably, even when you have a Scandinavian bobble-head like me, and it’s easy to use. Other headlamps I’ve tried have stopped working due to moisture issues. I am excessively sweaty and live in southeast Alaska where we locals…
Caroline Van Hemert is a wildlife biologist and adventurer, and the author of The Sun is a Compass, see what gear she carries.
Our gear editor says these freeze-dried meals are the best he’s tasted. The first time he tried them they tasted like real gourmet meals.
Bjorn Olson is a Homer-based filmmaker, photographer, freelance writer, environmental activist, and wilderness adventurer.
Gear Editor Bjorn Dihle spends a lot of time in remote areas, so he reviewed the only satellite phone that gets decent service in Alaska.
Bjorn Dihle highly recommend this pack for outdoorsy parents or people who want to get a good baby gift for a parent-to-be who loves the woods and mountains.
One woman’s stand-off with a persistent grizzly I am drifting off to sleep in my tent in the Ray Mountains, a little-known mountain range north of Fairbanks and south of the Brooks Range. My 12-year-old Australian sheepdog, Blumli, sleeps at my feet. The arctic sun, still above the horizon, casts a soft evening glow on the surrounding peaks. The wilderness is pleasant and peaceful. After a long day’s walk, I drift into sweet slumber, knowing the next 10 days will feed my soul in a way that only wild country can. I don’t know what awakens me, a slight motion from Blumli, or that internal messenger that says, “Wake up, there is a bear 15 feet from your head.” I am not excessively worried. I’ve seen hundreds of bears, and never had anything you would call a bear encounter. Bears, except possibly polar bears, don’t habitually hunt humans. Our troubles…