Welcome to Part V of our VI part series on life in Alaska with ColIin & Kendall Strachan. In Part I, we met Collin & Kendall. In Part II learned what it takes to move into a 33 foot Airstream, and start traveling with no specific destination in mind. In Part III, we experienced a world like no other and in Part IV, we discover what lead to the investment in "Streamy" in the first place. This is PART V, where the gear to stay alive, and make the most of your time comes in handy in more ways than one.
In Alaska, we like to say that there is no bad weather, just bad gear. And when your life is dictated almost entirely by weather, nothing is more important than gear!
In addition to handling weather, living off-grid in our Airstream has unique gear requirements as well. Here’s a look into what keeps us going:
We live full-time in a 33’ 2018 Airstream Classic. It’s a pretty custom rig that we’ve renovated inside and out. It’s mirror polished (do not try this at home) and has a pretty decked off-grid suite.
First, we’ve installed a Battleborn Lithium power system that includes 2 Battleborn Game Changer 3.0 270AH lithium batteries, a Victron 3,000 Watt inverter/charger, and 750 watts of solar on the roof, which ROCKS in the 24 hour summer sunlight. We own a small generator for backup power needs and winter charging, but try to use that as rarely as possible.
Along with the longevity that our power bank gives us, we replaced our toilet with an OGO Composting toilet that eliminates our need for a black tank. This means we can compost our waste and dispose of it safely without moving the Airstream. It’s a very simple to use contained unit that literally changed the game for us.
For heat, we installed a Tiny Wood Stove Dwarf 5k wood burning stove, which means that it’s 70+ degrees inside when it’s well below zero outside and in shoulder seasons we can easily create a dry sauna if we don’t open our windows when the stove is burning! We also have a diesel heater that we got off of Amazon for quick, convenient heat when it’s warmer out, but we prefer to be as independent of fuel as possible.
Last in the list of crucial off-grid items that we carry, we have a Clearsource Nomad water filtration system. This allows us to back the truck right up to rivers and lakes, fill our holding tanks, and take water out to the Airstream. The Airstream’s fresh tanks hold 55 gallons and we have capacity for another 60 in the truck, which equates to 2-3 days of water when we’re using it liberally and about a week when conserving, which we rarely do. There’s not really a lack of water in Alaska!
Finally, while surviving is nice and all, we’re here to thrive. One of our favorite Alaskans says “I spent years roughing it. It’s great if you know you can rough it, but I’m spending the rest of my life smoothing it!”
One of our favorite ways to smooth it is to kick back under the midnight sun. Whether we’re hanging down at the beach or cooking salmon on the campfire, we set out our PARKIT chairs and take it easy after a big day.
Apart from the Airstream, quality technical clothing gives us a HUGE amount of flexibility in responding to the weather. While new gear has its place, we LOVE to source what we need from Poshmark and local gear consignment shops. You can almost always find what you need, and usually get your hands on name brands with a scuff or two (which you’re sure to add in Alaska) for a steal, so don’t be daunted by price if you think you want to own climbing gear, ski gear, arctic weather gear, fishing gear, whatever!
One of our most memorable stories was that we wanted to try our hand at salmon fishing, so we went and bought a cheap rod and a couple of hooks, checked local Facebook groups for where the runs were hot, and were able to catch 15 fish! While we were out, we heard a group of guys saying they spent $57,000 on gear for their fishing trip! If that’s you, ROCK IT, and have a blast! If you’re in the $57 crowd, don’t let it stop you, cause it really just matters where you’re standing!
If you’re headed into an Alaskan summer, bring rain gear, a jacket for cold mornings, and your usual summer hiking gear. Additionally, you cannot live in Alaska with XTRATUF Legacy boots. Just trust us on that one.
If you’re headed into an Alaskan winter, grab yourself some insulated boots (Kamik has wicked warm boots for a great price, and we love Sorel Caribous), snow pants, a jacket with at least 600 down fill, and wool base layers, some insulated gloves, and a gator/scarf that can cover your neck and mouth (don’t skip the gator. Seriously). Minus 33 Merino wool will rock your socks off for comfortable wool at a great price.
And finally, if you’re looking for a little more fun, one of our favorite Alaska toys is our packrafts!! Our Alpacka rafts fit in a backpack, weigh 3 pounds, and allow us to paddle the coolest hidden lakes, rivers, iceberg lakes, and whatever else we need to cross.
So yeah, we have some legit, expensive gear that we’ve received from clients, saved up for, or thrifted. But “toxic gear culture” is very real, and we hit the road WAY before our kit was complete (before Alaska we were climbing Mt. Whitney in discount rack boots from Cabelas), and you can too!
Get out there and have fun!
Follow @kendal.strachan on Instagram to keep up with their journey as the take on the true wilderness of North America.
READ PART 1: Airstreaming Across Alaska | Meet Collin & Kendal Strachan
READ PART 2: Airstreaming Across Alaska | Off-Grid Alaska
READ PART 3: Airstreaming Across Alaska | Other Wordly Beauty
READ PART 4: Airstreaming Across Alaska | “I am not living in a trailer.”