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Thermal base layer suggestions, Alaska

Suggestions for lightweight or middleweight thermal base layer for CamperVan style camping and hiking, nothing extreme, mid May to early June in Kenai P. and Denali areas Alaska. Also height for boots. Thanks!

5 Replies

I've always had the best luck with Patagonia long underwear. Other brands either don't work as well or seem to wear out prematurely. The stuff's expensive, but you do seem to get what you pay for.

It's difficult to recommend a particular weight of clothing, because everyone's different. I get cold easily at night so I tend to wear something a bit heavier than my son would. I tend to wear something lighter during the day, because I also get hot with the slightest exertion. On the other hand, my wife is cold much of the time. I have no idea what you'd be comfortable in!


I reached out to a good friend with your question, who lived, worked and played in the Kenai area for several years, until recently. 

Here is his quoted response:

“Be prepared for snow, especially in early May. Despite the chance of snow, May used to be my favorite month. June, depending on where you are can be rainy. Dress like you would during a normal early spring in Idaho*. Most important gear... Gore Tex rain gear and calf high Xtra Tuff waterproof boots. Xtra Tuffs are the boots of choice of most Alaskans who commercially fish and are worn year round. I have two pairs that I wear whenever I am up there fishing and at home when I power wash our vehicles.”

“Visit the Duluth Trading Company on line. They have a whole section of clothing devoted to the Alaska weather. It’s called Alaska Hardgear.”

* Check the Internet for Coeur d’Alene ID weather for the months of May and June, to identify specifically to what he is referring. 

Oops… my error Flipperfla!

* Check the Internet for Coeur d’Alene ID weather for the months of March and April to identify specifically to what my friend is referring. 



Another vote for Patagonia thermals.  I wore one set for three weeks continuously on  partial climb of Denali some years ago.  Somehow they were rather raunchy at the end of that tour, but cleaned up fine (as did I).  I still have the set.

I have no direct experience in the country you will be frequenting, but I wonder is long gaiters, paired with medium high boots, might not work well....

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The Kenai peninsula will be pretty mild by then (and gorgeous), but Denali could still throw some cold nights. My Dad lived in Alaska much of my childhood (and worked in the bush most of that time) and always swore by Helly Hansen everything- base layers (merino wool can't beat), mid layers, waterproof work clothes. I only own a HH rain jacket- I find the REI brand merino wool and silk base layers to be just fine for my purposes. 

For the boots really depends on what you're doing... light day hiking ankle or just above would be fine, the understory in the Kenai peninsula is pretty clear from my memory. Mostly trails covered in soft dirt and pine needles, some wet rocks. The marked trails in Denali are very clear, would go taller if you're going to be in the backcountry, since squishy tundra makes for wet feet quickly. Have fun! That time of year is a dream. 

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