Outdoor Equipment and Rental
Anchorage is an excellent place to stock up on outdoor gear before heading into Alaska’s bush. The biggest place to shop—and one of the best—is REI (907/272-4565, www.rei.com) on the corner of Northern Lights Boulevard and Spenard Road. This Seattle-based cooperative, where members get an end-of-the-year dividend on their purchases, has a knowledgeable staff who offer free clinics and talks throughout the year. You can also rent canoes, kayaks, tents, backpacks, skis, snowshoes, and other outdoor equipment from REI.
Another excellent outdoor store with a technically adept staff is Alaska Mountaineering & Hiking (2633 Spenard Rd., 907/272-1811, www.alaskamountaineering.com)—better known as AMH—just a block from REI. Though much smaller, AMH often has equipment unavailable elsewhere. This is where the hard-core climbers and backcountry skiers go.
Check the bulletin boards at AMH and REI for used gear and travel partners. Or cross the street to Play it Again Sports (907/278-7529, www.playitagainsports.com), where used equipment of all sorts is available, from backpacks and tents to baseball gloves and fishing poles. They also buy used gear if you need a little cash on your way out of town.
Downtown shoppers head to the Army/Navy Store (320 W. 4th Ave., 907/279-2401, www.army-navy-store.com) for more traditional Alaskan outdoor clothing and boots. B&J Commercial (2749 C St., 907/274-6113, www.bnjsg.com) has a downstairs packed with sport and commercial fishing supplies. This is where you’ll find the really heavy-duty clothing and equipment at fair prices.
For mountain bike rentals, head to Downtown Bicycle Rental (333 W. 4th Ave., 907/279-3334, www.alaska-bike-rentals.com) or Pablo’s Bicycle Rentals (440 L St., 907/250-2871, www.pablobicyclerentals.com); both are close to the Coastal Trail. In Midtown, rent from Coastal Trail Rentals (4800 Spenard Rd., 907/301-2165, www.coastaltrailrentals.com).
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition