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Alaska here i come!

Florida girl headed to Alaska & i have never seen snow or experienced COLD outside of the Florida norm. 

I need help as to what I should be buying that will get me through November- January .

I've searched through what seem like a million coats & still have no clue what I should get. I might be over doing it in my mind and should just "get a coat" lol but my Florida skin gets cold easily & I'd rather be too warm & take off layers than be cold. 

Oh and I dont want to break the bank.


3 Replies

@Florida Thanks for reaching out!

What an exciting adventure! I moved to Fairbanks, Alaska in 2014 and I can tell you that there is no place quite like Alaska! I have a couple of questions for you to help me narrow down some advice, feel free to answer them as you can and we can continue this conversation as it evolves.

1) Where in Alaska are you moving? Alaska is HUGE. The climate difference between Anchorage and Fairbanks is significant (almost a 20-40 degree difference sometimes) and Juneau is basically a temperate rain forest so that can be a completely different climate experience. I will move forward with my advice speaking from Fairbanks, which is by far the coldest and most extreme weather of the major cities in Alaska.

2) When are you moving? If you're coming in November then you're fully into an Alaskan winter at that point and you'll want to be ready for it, if you're coming earlier there might be some transition time. Additionally, we are just now starting to see our winter gear trickle in as we transition seasons, it will probably be another month or so before we're fully assorted with our winter gear and apparel.

3) What kind of activities do you like to participate in/hope to participate in? We all hope to find the 'one coat to rule them all' and that becomes a bit more challenging in Alaska, but we can sure try our best!

In terms of dealing with the extreme cold the name of the game is layers, layers, layers! This concept should be applied to every part of your apparel system: pants, socks, shirts and jackets, and head wear. Typically in the winter when it is at it's coldest (-40 degrees) I will wear a base layer (t-shirt), a long sleeve shirt, a light weight fleece layer, and lightweight down or synthetic insulating layer, and then my heavier outer insulated jacket. Once you've been here for a while you begin to know your metabolism and body's needs for keeping warm. I can swap out or change any piece of that system to accommodate different temperatures or activities.

Two additional considerations to keep in mind: When you are in temperatures that cold, every opening in your system will release your heat and make you cold. So you want to make sure that you can lock down or cinch up any openings (i.e. waist, arm holes, around your neck, etc.). Secondly, you don't want any of your layers to be too snug. It is easy to think you want them tight so they fit over each other but when you're wearing that many layers it is easy to restrict blood flow and that will make you very cold. When I am out in extreme cold I actually wear pretty thin socks in my boots and my feet stay warmer because the circulation is good. 

Please let me know what other questions you have, I hope this is a good starting point for your upcoming adventure!


At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.


Thanks for getting back to us about your location! Ketchikan is beautiful! You'll be in for a real adventure. The good news is that because it is located so far south (relatively speaking) and on the coast it will be one of the most temperate climates you can find in Alaska in the winter. You will experience snow, but it will likely be a mix of snow and rain and temperatures right around the freezing point. 

You will definitely need some layers but not nearly as many as my first post. Additionally you will absolutely want to make sure you have a waterproof outer layer and that any boots you buy are also waterproof. I think you would be just fine with an insulated waterproof jacket and a solid set of base layers. Unfortunately we have not gotten in our full assortment of insulated waterproof jackets yet for the winter season. A jacket like the REI Co-op Stormhenge would be a great starting point. I would also encourage you to check out some 3-in-1 systems that allow for more flexibility in your layering needs knowing that our selection will likely expand in the coming weeks as we receive more product for the season.

Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns. I hope you have an amazing adventure in Alaska!


At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

@Florida That's great that you were already looking at the Stormhenge, it's a great jacket!

In terms of what jackets we have in stock throughout the year we are in what is referred to as the 'shoulder season' right now. We are moving out of our summer assortment and into fall/winter. We are assorting our stores as such, with winter jackets and gear landing in stores as I type this. It will take a few weeks for all of it to get to the store, get processed, and onto the sales floor. Likewise our brand partners are shipping their fall/winter products to us now as well. All of that is to say that yes, there will be more cold weather jackets and gear coming in the next several weeks. That being said I hold that the Stormhenge Jacket is an excellent choice!

Keep the questions coming, we're happy to help!


At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.
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