2020 trip
2020 schedule
North to Alaska
2020 in Alaska!
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What to Bring
What to do in Alaska?
Archive and thoughts
Brian Revels
Garrity, John
Tuccelli Mike
Evans Steve
Metcalf Ken
Haas Carl
Behrens Roger
Gramling Frank
Nudi Howard
Kyle Metcalf
John Dickie
Joe Peek
Gus Gar
George Moroz
Ricardo Carlini
Donald Matheson

Here are some things you might want to carry:

Good suggestion from Darryl Petrack:  "Items to take suggestions:  not really items to take as such, but packing suggestions:   Be sure to pack tools in an accessible location, esp. if they may be needed for access to cargo -- like the screwdriver I borrowed so many times from Dave because mine was BURIED!
       DO NOT PACK FULL!  One can pack so much better at home with lots of time, but on the road, packing may not be done as well, and overflow becomes a problem.  Also, you may accumulate things (souvenirs, if nothing else) and then you will need a "bag stretcher" which does not work on hard bags!"

From Darryl -- posted June 13, 2009 -- Thoughts for '08 -- especially for the Haul Road Fairbanks to Deadhorse -- voice of experience -- be sure someone has toilet paper or kleenex or the like in case of a call of nature -- after the end of the Elliott Highway, it is 420 miles with only three fuel / restroom stops!  (approx. 55 miles to Yukon Bridge, 175 miles to Coldfoot, and Deadhorse -- oh, yes, there is a facility at the Arctic Circle (with picnic tables as well) between Yukon and Coldfoot).

Do NOT pack saddlebags tight.  You may not be able to pack that well each time on the road.

Dress in layers -- one or two extra shirts in the cool-cool-cool of the morning.  These can be shed at fuel stops and transferred to the saddlebags.

Initial pack should have these in the saddlebags so you will have room for them when shedding them.

Initial pack can be flat and snug, suitcase style works well.  When repacking soiled clothing, or fresh laundry, put parts -- like T-shirt / shorts / socks combinations in a coil like a sleeping bag, and you will generate some free space for souvenirs, sloppy packing, snacks.

Double bag spillables like vitamins, laundry detergent.  I had both containers leak.

My anti-motorcycle but Darryl-loving incredible super-wife had another observation last night -- it should be obvious, but some people like me blithely assume that we will be able to ride between patches of rain!  Everyone should have a GOOD rainsuit that they can operate in for all day!  And it should be packed where it is easy to get at!  And hopefully easy to get into on the roadside . (Mike's comments -- so true!  One year, just thee hours of rain, another year, 4 straight days of rain).

    (Mike Tuccelli) On my first three trips, I used a large plastic file storage box that had a lip all around the upper edge (which allowed me to use bungee cords to put an ice chest on top of that) and put that on my passenger seat.  That is a huge storage area and is waterproof.  You may want to consider a Givi case ... the kind that has a quick disconnect and you can carry it into the motel like luggage.

Things to consider:

Credit cards ... you should be able to charge everything on this trip though I bring $50 Canadian for things such as a cup of coffee, etc.

Ride-On Tire Sealant is a good item.  I got over 30,000 miles on my tires with this stuff.  If you check their link for motorcycles, and scroll down, you will see a photo of Patrick Henry at Alaska!
    Tire repair kit and an air pump!

Tire Pressure Monitoring System -- I endorse the BigBikeParts system.  Here are two reasons why I insist you consider getting a TPMS:  1.  You will know of a leak and be able to stop and repair the leak before you FEEL it (by the time you feel it, the insides of the tires may be damaged and/or overheated.  One biker found out this the hard way to the tune of $1,000.  2.  Much of the highway in the Northwest have inconsistencies due to frost heaves, breaks, etc.  This may cause your bike to feel "squirrely" which is a symptom of low tire pressure.  Everytime you feel this uneasy heart-in-the-throat side to side motion effect, all you have to do is to glance at your TPMS readout and know it is fine.  This peace of mind alone is worth the price!

Cup holder for your drink

MOSQUITO REPELLANT!  There will be some areas where we need to stop for road construction and the mosquitoes up North are huge!   Make sure you check Consumers Report to get the ones that really work.  I like Off!  Deep Woods kind.

Passport and Canada insurance card (your insurance company should give this to you for free)

An electrical outlet installed on your bike so you can plug in a electric coffee mug (Bed, Bath and Beyond has a thermostat one for $19.95 and you can dump in a can of soup and have it hot and ready to sip in a few minutes).

Lip chap

Sun screen and skin lotion

Lightweight nylon long sleeve windbreaker (to keep the sun off your arms and neck)

Sleeping bag (only if you plan to economize by sleeping on the floor in hotels)

Spare chain; TWO spare master links; Spare tubes, front and rear, Set of spark plugs, air pump to fill tires, tire irons or items to serve as such, for changing tires.  (one biker didn't have a spare link and fell behind two days!)

Throttle adaptor so you can keep throttle open with the heel of your palm (or a throttle lock) or an electronic cruise control.  On my former '02 Silver Wing, I had one installed by Joe Wolfe in Kingsport, TN

Sun glasses/goggles 

Powdered laundry detergent and dryer softener (suggest laundry every 3 days)

Rain clothes!  Waterproof shoes or boots.  DON'T GO CHEAP HERE .. wet feet are no fun.  Again, get top of the line rain clothes!  I can't emphasize how miserable you can be if we have days and days of rain and cold.  It can and will drop down into the 40s.

A powerstrip to recharge all of your accessories ... most motel rooms don't have enough plugs!

With laundry every three or four days, you don't need to take along so many clothes.  In fact, pack lighter than you think you need and you can always stop at a Wal-Mart and get more if needed.

Warm water proof gloves

List of motorcycle service at every location we stop.

A warm jacket (weather unpredictable ... in July 2004, it was 40 degrees all the way across Quebec!)  And then it was 95 degrees at the Arctic Circle!

Extra headlight and taillight bulbs (and know how to change them!)

Good idea to have accessories installed, duffel bags, etc. packed and carry all that stuff around for a couple of weeks BEFORE the trip to do a good "shake-down".  For example, I had to have a couple of things re-welded and/or re-tightened such as a new tank bag.  You may find that you need more bungee cords.  Bring duct tape also.  Nylon ties.

Any service, new tires, etc. should be done a month before the trip.  One un-named biker had fuel system problems for a whole week and a mechanic found out that her dealer did NOT clean out her carburetor as she requested.  Maybe a new tire will have a defect which will show up within the month.  Darryl had windshield problems which was ultimately fixed in British Columbia.  My trailer hitch had the wrong pin coupler. Belinda had oil coming out of her Harley but luckily she had service done a month before the trip and had a chance to make the dealer do it right.   Bottom line is ... any changes you make to your bike, do it a month early so you can catch any problems while you are home.

I suggest synthetic oil ... my '02 Swing had it for 133,000 miles and when I sold it, the mechanic said it had great compression.  Bike runs cooler, better MPG and based on Chilton's book, you will save 90% of wear and tear on the engine ... and synethic oil doesn't break down, varnish or sludge as regular oil does ... and the service interval is twice as long.  I've done the entire trip without changing the oil.  My favorite since the ealry 1970s ... Mobil 1.   Make sure if you have a wet clutch, get the one that does NOT say "energy conserving" per owner's manual warning. 
As of July 2011, my '05 Gold Wing has over 210,000 miles.

Camera and tripod

Darryl sent this to me April 18, 2008 concerning Deadhorse (Prudhoe Bay):

VERIFIED:  you cannot put water on the ground, but there are ways around this as some places can wash inside or on a catch basin and put the water into the sewage system rather than on the surface.

Airport Rentals ( 907 659 2000) can do some vehicle washing, i.e. radiators

The Post Office ( 907 659 2669) is located in the General Store Building

The Arctic Ocean Shuttle bus tour is booked through the Arctic Caribou Inn ( 866 659 2368,  Fax = 907 659 2692)

24 hour advance notice, with drivers License Number for security check,
Cost is $38.00.    Tours run at approx. 2 hour intervals and often book up,
so reservations are worthwhile.


Arctic Caribou Inn  866 659 2368
Room with private bath:  $235  for 1 or two persons
Meals available, NOT included

Arctic Oilfield Hotel  907 659 2614
Room $125 / person, includes meals, CALL FOR AVAILABILITY

Prudhoe Bay Hotel  907 659 2449
Private room, dorm style restrooms
Single $110, Double room - 2 persons - $90 each person / night
Private room with TV, phone, restroom
Single $125, Double room (two people)  $100 each person / night

No tent camping in Deadhorse
No dump station in Deadhorse

This is all from my data sheets as obtained at the Ranger Station at Gates to the Arctic National Park in Coldfoot, plus a phone call to the Deadhorse Post Office this afternoon.
Post Office Hours are 1pm - 3:30pm  and 6:30pm - 9pm, Alaska time, 7 days
Alaska time is 1 hour earlier than Pacific Time (which you already knew, but others that you just pass this on to might not)

Arctic Inter-agency Visitor Center
P.O. Box 9079
Coldfoot, AK 99701
907 678 5209  Fax = 907 678 2005

Please email me at DrASL@aol.com if you have other suggestions.

More recommendations from a 2014 biker ...

1.      What I learned from the Alaska Bike Run #13 2014:   There are SO many things it is hard to know where to start...so I will just dive in....this is in no particular order.   I started with making a detailed list of the "must haves" and a list of the "nice to haves"....but I soon realized that the "must haves" was all I really needed as one should travel as light as possible.   I suggest you pick out a room in your house where you can gather and sort the items you will carry.  You may wish to place these items in piles according to where they will be on your motorcycle ie. sidebags, tankbag, etc.   And speaking of bags....it is essential that ANY bag/pannier MUST be waterproof....NOT just water resistant....AGAIN WATERPROOF...or carry and use good quality garbage bags.  We were blessed to have only a few sprinkles on our trip but it could have been very different.

(Mike’s comments … 1.  I try to get to our destination by mid afternoon before afternoon thunderstorms.  2.  I had one trip with three straight days of rain.)  Just plan on rain and your adventure will not suck.....wet clothes and wet equipment equals suck. My panniers were waterproof...my tank bag was waterproof with the cover....my two bags strapped on behind me were waterproof....and I carried TWO sets of GOOD rain gear.  During my many years of riding I quickly discovered that NOT having good rain gear quickly turns an adventure into a disaster.   I learned that Frog Togs are worthless.  I got two GOOD sets of rain gear from Leather Up....a great company with excellent customer service and excellent products.     Again DO NOT scrimp on rain gear...AND carry two sets as once you are in Canada and Alaska you are pretty much on your own and whatever you carry will have to work. I rode from Savannah Georgia to Burlington and rode through four major storms and the rain gear from Leather Up kept me 98% dry.  I also found that your rain jacket needs to have a hood that you can put on UNDER your helmet and the rain pants should have a anti skid posterior so you do not slide around on your seat.   AND full face/modular full face helmets work MUCH better in the rain that open face helmets.  It's your decision but being wet and cold sucks bad.   One also needs TWO sets of waterproof gloves...and/or you can get waterproof glove covers....this is what I did...they are a little bulky but they kept my hands dry and warm...nice.   One of the best pieces of equipment I carried/used was a Givi tank bag that "snaps" onto the gas tank fill area....worked great.  I was able to carry my most used items close at hand along with a complete set of rain gear and my camera, wallet, and my passport card.  I bought a nylon velcro wallet that I kept in a zippered side pocket in my tank bag...this worked great.  

  DO NOT forget your passport or passport card....you would be VERY unhappy to get to the border and NOT have either...time to turn for home.   Riding gear???  This is up to each one of you.  Again, DO NOT GO CHEAP.  Good steel toed 8" waterproof boots with waterproof boot covers work great...add a couple pairs of 100% wool socks...they will keep your feet warm on those cold mornings and if your feet do get wet wool is the best insulator when wet and they dry quickly.   Jeans with leather chaps seemed to work the best even on cold mornings.  The chaps were easy on and easy off and offered great protection.   You want riding clothes that you can layer so as the day warms you can start peeling off riding clothes to suit the temperature.   I did not take any insulated underwear I carried, and used, fleece pullovers/sweatshirts and layered them so on our stops I could easily pull them off as needed.   I also had a fleece balaclava...I wore this under my helmet on the cold mornings...keeps your head/face/neck warm and keeps the cold air from coming in around your neck....very nice.   I carried only enough clothes for four days with the idea of using jeans 3 to 4 days and doing laundry at some point.  I DID NOT carry laundry supplies as any laundromat always have these supplies for sale and this means less I have to carry....sweet....less is more.  

 Tools to carry???  I carried what I thought I might need along with a small air compressor AND a 2 1/2 pound ABC fire extinguisher...one never knows.  Zip ties, electricians tape, Gorilla duct tape, shop towels, a roll of paper towels which can be used for toilet paper in an emergency, large quality garbage bags for whatever.  The Zip ties came in very handy for another biker. It is also a good idea to carry a Leatherman multi tool on your belt....very handy.   A good bike cover is essential for overnight stops...and extra bungee cords are always a good idea.     I started the trip with new tires with Ride-On tire sealant in them.   I NEVER had to add air to my tires on the entire trip and I installed, on the tire air valves, air pressure visual caps that you can get at Wal-Mart....they work great as all you have to do is look for the green band to see if your tires are inflated correctly....the red band means to add air.   I also started with a fresh oil change using Mobile One synthetic and NEVER had to worry about my oil on the entire trip.  You can go a long ways on synthetic oil...your choice.   I changed ALL the light bulbs on my bike so I did not have to worry about changing them during the trip although I did carry spare brake light bulbs.   I did not carry a cooler but I did carry bottled water to stay hydrated.  And I also carried snacks...nuts, granola bars, beef jerky, and some hard candy. 

 Make sure you have some type of first aid kit and DO NOT forget a supply of any medications you need.  We had NO issues at the Canadian border with medications or alcohol just as long as you declare them IF they ask.    I had a Buck knife on my belt but was never asked about it At the border all they wanted to see was your passport/passport card...I was never asked for my drivers license or proof of insurance.  NOTE:  you MUST have your insurance company send you a Canadian Vehicle Insurance card that you MUST carry with you...we were never asked for it but YOU MUST have it.   Travel insurance is never a bad idea.  I also got the AAA RV plus coverage which covers towing a disable motorcycle. 

  Suggestion:  at the border crossing DO NOT make jokes or small talk...just answer their questions as briefly and truthfully as possible and wait quietly for the next question.  I was asked about alcohol and I told the officer that I had fifth of Jack in my pannier and nothing more was said.   If you have prescriptions just have them in the original rx bottle with YOUR name on it and declare it IF asked.  AGAIN just answer their questions as briefly as possible and you should have no issues.  Sometimes they will ask the same question either two different ways or at different times to see if your answer stays the same...just keep calm and answer the question with the same answer as before....again, DO NOT make jokes!!     Money??....I used my credit card and US dollars.   I carried two credit cards but only used one....the other was a backup just in case.  NOTE:  call your credit card companies in advance and let them know you are going out of the country and into Alaska.  This way they will not block the usage of your card....that can really suck.  (Mike’s comment … find a card with chip technology that doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee.   If your card doesn’t have a chip, that means you need to go inside for authorization (getting in line), going out to pump gas, then back inside (line again) to pay for gas.) 

 I did not get any Canadian currency before I left I just used US dollars in Canada and received Canadian currency as change.  I never found a place that did not take US currency. NOTE:  spend ALL your Canadian currency BEFORE you enter the US as the Canadian currency is NOT accepted in the US.  The night before I got back the the good ole' USA I spent ALL my Canadian currency on "snacks".  If you do laundry in Canada you will need some Loonies and Toonies....don't worry you "newbies" will learn what a Loonie and Toonie is.  I also kept the Canadian currency in a small side pouch on my Givi tank bag so as not to mix the two currencies. 

  I did bring three different types of bug spray that I never used...but I would still bring some.   A spare motorcycle key kept in a secure secret location on your bike can be a life saver...also spare keys to any bags or panniers.   Check with your cell phone carrier as to coverage and fees.  You do not want a surprise thirty days after you get home.  I had Verizon and talking on my phone was crazy expensive in Canada but txt was free. (Mike’s comment .. most places have wifi so you can check mail and send text). 

 I carried a full set of maps and no Garmin.  Many on the trip had Garmins so I just followed them and hoped they knew where they were going.   I would also start the day with some type of breakfast and 3 Advils to get ahead of the daily aches and pains.  Aleve also works fine.  You do not want to wait for the pains to start before you decide to take something.  This is just what worked for me.   It looks like there will be about 18 riders on this trip so remember NOT to waste time at fuel/rest stops.  Get what you need, do what you need to do, and prepare to move.  (Mike … thanks for saying this, John.   Everyone was calling me torturemaster instead of tour master because of my sticker for watching time!) 

 One final thought....BEFORE you go....pack and unpack your bike multiple times.  This way you can see what works best for you AND you should remember about where everything is located. Remember to try and keep the lowest center of gravity as possible...heavy items closer to the pavement. (Mike’s comment … do this a week early and do about a hundred mile trip to see if things do stay in place). 

 If this is your first ride with Mike....it will be a great adventure.  Travel with and open mind, enjoy the ride, and relax.   Reminder:  the previous is just my opinion and views...ride safe always....   John Williams   Alaska Bike Run   Lucky #13  2014