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Denali Packing List: What to Bring to Denali National Park

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Making your Denali packing list is an exciting part of planning your trip. Alaska’s Denali National Park is part of the last frontier of North America.

So you must be safe and comfortable to enjoy this amazing six-million-acre park. That’s right–six million acres of wilderness with exactly one road. High alpine tundra starts where the forest ends and peaks with Denali at 20,310 feet.

This makes Denali North America’s tallest peak. It is home to many wild animals since human development has been banned. The only lodges inside the park are on private land, but you can make reservations.

There are also six park-service campgrounds for tent and RV camping. Although some off-trail hiking is available, hiking trails are found close to the road and the park entrance.

So, such a rugged environment calls for gear…and lots of it. It also calls for travel insurance.

You never know what will happen on your trip until you get there. Protect your travel investments by going to Travelex and finding a plan that works for you.

We evaluated the best outdoor products by scouring real user reviews and personal experiences to develop our Denali packing list.

We looked at core features, durability in the backcountry, materials used, ease of use, and affordability. Now, back to the fun. Gear!

Essential gear to bring

Gear ItemDescriptionRecommended ProductProsCons
Hiking BootsSturdy, waterproof boots with excellent traction for navigating Denali’s rugged terrain and varying weather conditions.Lowa Renegade GTX Mid-Hiking Boots– Waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex lining
– Vibram outsole for excellent grip
– Durable nubuck leather upper
– Expensive
– May require break-in period
BackpackA comfortable, durable backpack with ample storage space for carrying essentials during day hikes or overnight trips.Osprey Atmos AG 65 Backpack– Anti-Gravity suspension system for superior comfort
– Plenty of pockets and compartments
– Ventilated back panel
– Heavier than some ultralight packs
– Costly
TentA lightweight, weather-resistant tent designed for Denali’s unpredictable weather conditions and rugged terrain.MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Tent– Freestanding design for easy setup
– Durable yet lightweight materials
– Excellent ventilation and livability
– Relatively expensive
– Not as spacious as some larger tents
Sleeping BagA warm, compressible sleeping bag that can withstand Denali’s chilly overnight temperatures and varying conditions.Western Mountaineering Versalite 10°F Down Sleeping Bag– 850+ fill-power down for superior warmth-to-weight ratio
– Waterproof and breathable shell
– Compresses well for easy packing
– Expensive
– Not suitable for extreme cold temperatures
Trekking PolesAdjustable trekking poles that provide stability, balance, and support on uneven terrain and steep inclines/declines.Black Diamond Trail Back Trekking Poles– Durable and lightweight aluminum construction
– Adjustable length for customized fit
– Comfortable cork grip handles
– May not be as sturdy as carbon fiber poles
– Some users report wrist discomfort over long distances

What to pack for Denali National Park

Your Alaska packing list should center around sturdiness and safety. Ditch the tennis shoes and sweatpants for something more technical.

Best Hiking Boots for Men

Vasque Men's Boot

If you’re wondering how to tour Denali National Park without sacrificing your feet, the Vasque Men’s St. Elias Fg GTX Hiking Boot is the answer.

This shoe is designed to reduce fatigue and is made with a waterproof full grain leather upper from All Terrain Compound midsole and EVA comfort pods. Get mega durability with the molded rubber toe cap. The boot is lined with Gore-Tex with Performance Comfort Technology and weighs 2 lbs 15.

Reviewers are impressed with their durability and comfort with several reviews indicating that their boots are several years old with little wear showing.

Ensure you break these in before taking them to Denali so the leather gets loose and supple.

  • Pros: Durable and built to last.
  • Cons: Heavy and need some breaking in before they feel comfortable.

Best Hiking Boots for Women

Solomon Women's Boot

For your Denali packing list, the Soloman Women’s Quest 4D 3 GTX is a waterproof backpacking boot designed for traction.

The boots were made with running shoe technology for reduced weight and cushioning, but remain supportive enough for hiking on mixed terrain.

Reviewers liked the ankle support and stability and felt their feet were protected on rough terrain.

They noted they felt heavier than other shoes, but also seemed well-balanced.

  • Pros: Excellent ankle support and traction
  • Cons: Pricey, heavier, stiffer, and had a high cuff

Best Backpack for Carrying 35+ Pounds

Osprey Atmos Backpack

When you researched what to do in Denali National Park, we’re pretty sure backpacking was at the top of the list. You’ll need a backpack that can hold a tent and your gear. Many good ones on the market will handle a variety of preferences and needs.

The Osprey Atmos AG 65 for men and the Aura AG 65 for women are ideal for multi-day, backcountry hiking. The packs feature an anti-gravity suspension that minimizes the weight and should be comfortable for at least five days with no more than 40 lbs.

Get the perfect fit with the adjustable harness and hip belt. Store extras in the convenient front mesh pocket. There is also an internal sleeve for hydration systems and a place to stow your trekking pole.

You should also include a rain cover for your backpack on your Denali packing list, but this is a separate purchase, as is the water reservoir.

The pack might be a little bit large for traveling on planes. Call your carrier for advice if you need to fly with it. The National Park Service also recommends you pack a bear-resistant food container to protect your food, you, and the bears.

This one is large enough for seven days worth of food but light enough to put inside or strap to your pack.

Best Tent for Camping in Denali

Red and White Hubba Hubba Tent

A tent with a waterproof floor and rainfly is required on your Denali packing list for camping. The MSR Hubba Hubba NX fills those requirements and more.

When it’s set up, the tent weighs 3.5 lbs and then folds down to 18×6 inches. The Easton Syclone Poles resist strong winds. And it will protect you from bad, wet weather. It’s also roomy due to its vertical sidewalls.

  • Pros: Excellent protection, freestanding, 2 doorways, easy to pitch, roomy
  • Cons: The outer tent is close in on the short sides

Best Sleeping Bags for Camping

Kelty Cosmic 20 sleeping bag in blue

The National Park Service suggests that campers have sleeping bags on their Denali packing lists with protection to 20 degrees F…and that’s for summer.

Check out the affordable, 550 down-fill Kelty Cosmic 20. It’s light and warm with two zippers and a mummy-style design. It also compresses down and is very easy to backpack with.

  • Pros: Light, hood for added warmth, down-filled
  • Cons: Not so roomy

Best Rain Gear For Hiking in Denali

Marmot rain jacket in black

The Marmot Bantamweight Jacket for men and women is an ultralight, water-tight, and windproof coat that won’t add weight to your pack.

Yet, it will keep you comfortable and dry if you get hit with a shower on the trail. The weather is unpredictable in Denali, and the winds are often high. So, a packable rain jacket is essential for your Denali packing list.

The Marmot Bantamweight is made of 100% nylon, which is breathable and weighs less than five ounces. You can store it by stuffing it into its internal pocket. It’s more expensive than other jackets, but the quality is high. Matching Marmot waterproof, lightweight pants made from the same breathable nylon as the jackets are also available.

  • Pros: Breathable, lightweight, and can fit into an internal pocket.
  • Cons: Pricey, can snag, and no zippers in the armpits.

Regarding other clothing, the National Park Service recommends warm, fast-drying layers made from polypropylene, nylon, fleece, or wool. Avoid cotton clothing at all costs as that fabric will absorb sweat and water and make you cold in the wind.

Make sure your Denali packing list includes the following clothing if you plan to do a backcountry hike:

  • Quick-drying pants
  • Long underwear
  • Long-sleeved shirt (at least one)
  • Warm hat
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Fleece jacket

Best Stove for Camping in Denali

Camp Stove

What to do in Denali National Park when you’re camping and it’s dinner time? Cook your vittles on a packable liquid fuel stove in record time. The MSR XGK stove is a favorite of mountaineers and guides in Denali, and other epic mountain ranges worldwide.

It’s my personal favorite on our Denali packing list because it’s powerful and heats up fast, which you’ll appreciate if you have to melt snow, boil creek water, or need to prepare a meal for a group.

  • Pros: Heats up fast even in cold and wind, easy to pack.
  • Cons: Does not simmer, and requires a fuel bottle (sold separately).

Make sure to bring your cookware and water bottles too. Since water from creeks can harbor dangerous bacteria and parasites, you’ll need a way to filter the water. I like the MSR Guardian water purifier. It’s bulky but works fast, which is great if you’re getting your water from “nature.”

“Nature” is creeks filled with giardia and other tiny beasties. Also, glacier water contains a lot of silt, so you’ll need a silt-stopper on your filter to prevent clogs.

Best GPS Watch for Backcountry Hiking

Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar

Pair your low-tech maps and compass on your Denali packing list with a watch that will help keep your bearings. The Garmin Fenix 6 Pro is solar-powered, so you can stay on the course for miles without worrying about battery life.

Monitor your heart rate and sleep. And train using the grade-adjusted pace guidance. Comes preloaded with colored topo maps that you can view on a larger-than-average screen.

It does have a battery that averages 14 days in the smartwatch mode and 36 hours in GPS mode. It also supports a variety of activities, including skiing, running, and biking.

  • Pros: Detailed maps, waterproof to 100 m., customizable, decent battery life
  • Cons: Pricey, steep learning curve

Best Food for Hiking in Denali

Woman drinks coffee next to a tent

Personally, this is my favorite part about backpacking–picking out the food for a Denali packing list. Whatever you choose should be calorie dense, yet lightweight. Fortunately, delicious choices abound.

Breakfast:

Lunch sandwich made with:

  • Cured meats and cheese
  • Packets of chicken or tuna, mustard, and relish mixed into a salad

Dinner:

Pack a sandwich baggie with little packets of salt and pepper, hot sauce, relish, mayo, and mustard if you need to amp up any flavors. Anything you bring into Denali, you have to bring out with you. So keep in mind how much trash your food choices will generate.

See Related: Best Cabin Rentals in Denali

What to Bring on an Alaskan Cruise

Cruise shipped docked at Alaskan port

When most people think about cruises, they think about warm, moonlit nights and days spent poolside.

But cruising in Alaska means being prepared in your Denali packing list for any kind of weather. What to bring on a cruise to Alaska in June may be the same wardrobe you’d wear in November in any other state.

Dressing in layers is always a good idea. Ensure you have some athletic wear too, for any active shore excursions you book. Kayaking and zip lining require clothes you can move around in.

You will also want to find travel insurance to protect you in case of cancellations or other interruptions…because, you know, they happen.

Try TravelInsurance.com to compare different plans and prices.

What to Bring to Alaska in August for a Summer Cruise:

See Related: Places to Visit in Alaska

What to Bring on an Alaska Fishing Trip

This might be the fishing trip of a lifetime. Don’t get caught unprepared. Our Denali packing list will outline some of the essentials to stay safe and dry.

Big activities like Alaskan fishing trips need travel insurance that will stand up to interruptions. Try TravelInsurance.com for active vacationers like you.

Best Waterproof Bags for Boating

MARCHWAYwaterproof bag in aqua

You’re on the water so you need to keep your belongings dry even if you get a splash or rain shower here and there.

MARCHWAY Floating Waterproof Dry Bag comes in different sizes with a buckle closure and a sturdy design.

  • Pros: Roll-top closure system makes a watertight seal, easy to clean
  • Cons: Not waterproof when submerged, folding over diminishes space

Best Polarized Sunglasses for Fishing

Polarized sunglasses with black frames

Protect your eyes from UV rays by including these KastKing Skidaway Polarized Sports Sunglasses on your Denali packing list. These sunglasses have a scratch-resistant coating and are polarized to reduce glare and tested for optical distortion.

  • Pros: Affordable, lightweight, strong but flexible frames
  • Cons: Tint could be darker for highly sunny conditions

See Related: Things to Do in Juneau, Alaska

Best Boots for Fishing

XTRATUF Boot in blue and red

You’ll need a tough boot on your Denali packing list for walking around the cold, wet shores and decks that come with fishing in Alaska.

The XTRATUF Ankle Deck Boot (which comes in both men’s and women’s sizes) is a great choice. They’re short enough to be comfortable but will still keep your feet dry.

  • Pros: Slip-on style, easy to clean, breathable lining
  • Cons: Little traction or arch support

What Else to Bring with You

Other important items to bring are:

See Related

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