The Essential Alaskan Wildlife Viewing Toolkit
Here are the essential items for the wildlife viewing toolkit you should gather for your wildlife viewing adventures in the Fairbanks vicinity ~ things to take on wildlife viewing adventures right smack dab in the middle of Fairbanks, and on trails that are road-accessible within a few hours drive.
- Bear spray and bells You should never enter the wilderness without bear spray. And you should know how to use it. That doesn't mean just read the directions. You should actually practice using it.
You probably won't need bear spray though. Because you'll be alert, and watchful. and your bells will alert bears you are there. Generally they don’t want to meet you up close. You want to see wildlife, I know, but you do not want a bear encounter.
- Bug dope Some consider the mosquito Alaska’s state bird. Be prepared, they are big and tenacious. Citronella-based sprays, like Bert’s Bees do an adequate “natural” job through deep woods-type products tend to be stronger.
- Sun block Preferably with non- or low-odor: The midnight sun is no myth and it’s easy to get burned. Use non- or low-odor sun blocks so you won’t alert wildlife to your presence.
- Binoculars Wildlife may be up on ridges, in the sky or across a lake so watching from a distance is often the only option. They might be only 30 or 40 feet away! You don't want to move closer ~ you'll scare them away or put yourself in danger. TaDa! Binoculars!
Like the bear spray ... practice with your binoculars before you go into the wilderness. Otherwise you could miss some amazing wildlife viewing opportunities.
- Spotting scope and tripod Excellent items for extended viewing periods in one place. A scope on a tripod will allow you to search the wilderness at your leisure without arm fatigue. The tripod will also come in handy for wildlife photography.
- Camera, maybe with zoom lens Prove to your friends you really did see a bear or moose; but don't have your travel partner take a shot of you petting the baby moose! She's cute... but mom is probably around and she wouldn't like that. A zoom lens is a better idea.
- Maps, GPS, and a compass Alaskan trails can be confusing, blend in or be non-existent in the wilderness. A map and GPS or compass will help you secure your position. Study the maps, and practice with the GPS and compas before you head out on the trail so you now how to use them.
- Food and lots of water A Camelback is an easy way to stay hydrated in the Alaskan wilderness! It fits in your daypack and has plastic tube that snakes out the top of the pack and up to your shoulder strap. You just tip your head and take a little sip whenever you are thirsty. Cool! Food equals energy, bring a lot be safe. Energy bars, dried fruit, fresh fruits are all good choices, but avoid overly fragrant foods.
- Proper Clothing (Spare in your Pack)Sturdy, comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots. You'll be on the trails, but trails can be wet and rugged. Hat and sunglasses; the Alaskan sun never sets in summer. A good set of shades and wide-brimmed hat will prevent eye fatigue. The hat is helpful in rainy weather too. Bring raingear; Alaska Rain is possible anytime, even on sunny days.
Extra clothing like dry socks and fleece vest~ .... wait a minute... I already made this list .... click here for a really good list of what to bring for different kinds of Alaska adventures.
- Field Guides: Know how to find the wildlife you came to see. Field guides offer animal track, habitat and sign details that aid in identifying and locating wildlife. These can also be helpful with plant and berry identification.
- Comfortable Day Dack It’s important you get a pack that fits right, is comfortable, and has convenient storage pockets for easy access to energy bars, sun block or camera. This is such an important issue when you go on vacation in Alaska, I have a whole page devoted to the topic of picking a day pack.
- Journal, pencils, watercolors I'm an appreciator, not an artist. I sometimes like to record my thoughts. Others like to record their their visions. So bring those tools if you are inclined.