Gear for Northern Alaska-Coldfoot

6:30 a.m. on February 13, 2013 (EST)
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  I am planning to make a trip to Coldfoot Alaska for a Northern Lights viewing in late March next month. I have been told that temperatures could vary from -20 to 10. I am not going to be doing a lot of hiking, but primarily photography in the night. I was hoping to get the Wildthings Belay as my outer layer, a north face fleece jacket as my middle layer , a thermal base layer and a compressor pant for my lower body. Does this seem reasonable?

Most of this is expensive with limited re-use for me, since I don't think I will be going to such temperatures again.  Any suggestions on attempting to reduce costs? I looked at ebay, but most of the costs are not a lot lower (20% lower) compared to purchasing new.



7:58 a.m. on February 13, 2013 (EST)
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Check the local thrift stores, then watch craigs list, both are cheaper than ebay.

9:27 a.m. on February 13, 2013 (EST)
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MEC in Canada has a great Gear Swap, under 'Community' on their website. It's true mostly Canadians post there, but it's worth a look maybe, lots of serious winter gear (obviously), new posts all the time, and the savings on used gear might make the postage costs worth it to you. Postage to America (if that's where you are) isn't really that bad, though. Sounds like a wonderful adventure, have fun!

11:08 a.m. on February 14, 2013 (EST)
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The Northern Lights are one of the greatest things about the North.  They will be spectacular that far North in March.

2:41 p.m. on February 14, 2013 (EST)
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Depends where you are right now. Gear meant for a low of 0°F is different from gear meant for -40°F, and remember that because  you'll be standing around, not walking, you'll get really cold, really fast. 

You'll find very different gear at an outdoor store in California than you will at the Walmart or the Goodwill store in Fairbanks. And the Walmart gear will probably be better suited to the temperatures in Alaska. I bought a pair of -100°F boots at Walmart in Edmonton for $50.00. They won't last very long but they sure are warm!

A few suggestions;

  • get a size larger than you need so you have room to add layers underneath
  • carry extra layers like a down sweater or a thick fleece hoody 
  • don't forget your legs - loose lined DWR pants will help, and longs johns are really helpful
  • spend money on good boots with a removable liner that can be dried between uses
  • don't forget heavy mittens for your hands, a balaclava or mask for your face, and a toque for your head.
9:12 a.m. on February 16, 2013 (EST)
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Since you won't be hiking, consider a snow machine jumpsuit.  Surf the web for a snow machine club up north; they'll advise a good cold weather set up.


2:56 p.m. on February 17, 2013 (EST)
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848 forum posts

that's a good idea - hit up the thrift stores in Alaska, before you head to your final destination. they'll probably have lots of warm stuff.

April 25, 2018
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