How Cold Is It In Alaska?
The question I've gotten most often about our trip to Alaska: "Did you freeze?"
Nope! Our weather was not too different than fall days here in Houston. Unless you are going to Denali or on a mountain trek, assuming your vacation is during the tourist months of May through September, you won't need to pack anything extra special.
I overpacked. Severely. As usual. But I only ended up needing the following items: base layer or tight-fitting long sleeve tee, fleece jacket, rain jacket, puffer vest, knit hat. I didn't take gloves but they would have been handy. Definitely take some waterproof hiking boots or trail shoes!
For outdoors, I typically paired the base layer with a casual sweater and puffy vest. On days when it was a little cooler, my base layer and Patagonia fleece were enough. If it was windy, my rain jacket went on as my outermost layer to block the wind. Mine is a Patagonia and designed as a windjacket, too. One day I wore leggings under my jeans and got too hot.
The hat was handy for keeping my head warm and my hair out of my face. The only time I wished I had packed gloves was when I was taking photos and video of Glacier Bay. It was windy and holding my hands in one position for so long got them really cold. I was fine just stepping inside for a couple minutes every half hour or so to warm them up, but next time I will take fingerless gloves.
I took a heavy coat and a couple more jackets....and tons of clothes, but I ended up wearing less than half of what I packed. I've decided that for future trips, I'm going to pack as usual, then just immediately take out half the clothes and I'll still be fine.
If you're going earlier in the season, before September, I would take some shorts and long-sleeve tees, and skip the base layers.