Since polar, grizzly or black bear tours rarely take place within the vicinity of malls, department stores or 7-Elevens, you will want to make sure you have absolutely everything you’re going to need for your wildlife adventure.
On the other hand, since these tours usually involve smaller planes and boats, you will be asked to pack light, taking a medium-sized duffel bag at the most.
Those two points don’t necessarily need to contradict each other. Packing light while making sure you have absolutely, positively everything you need on a bear tour still is possible, with a little thought and planning.
Clothing. Since most bear tours involve trekking to cold windy places near bodies of water, you will want to dress warmly in layers, to keep the cold at bay. Bringing enough sets to last you for the duration of your sojourn, plus an extra set of clothing is advisable. Since the head and extremities are where you lose heat the most, you will also need a hat, gloves and waterproof (rubber) boots and thick socks, as well as waterproof, windproof rain gear.
Sunscreen and lip balm (with SPF). Bringing sunscreen might seem obvious in for summer tours, but cloudy weather or winter weather can fool you into thinking you won’t be needing it on bear tours. Sunscreen and lip balm are essential even on the cloudy, hazy days of winter to protect you from the sun and wind, so make sure you pack enough so you can reapply as necessary. Men, this goes for you too.
Water. You probably don’t need to pack water from home, but you will need bottled water during bear tours. Take at least a litre of water to last you the day.
Insect repellent. There is no such thing as indoor bear tours, so make sure you’re protected against insects you’ll encounter outdoors in the wild. It’s also a good idea to bring calamine lotion and skin cream/balm. DO NOT BRING bear mace, pepper spray and the like-they’re illegal on most bear viewing locations and could get you thrown off of the tour.
Medication. Bring a compact, basic first aid kit. If you are on any type of medication, make sure to bring enough for the duration of the trip, both before and after the bear tours as well as two extra days’ supply.
Bear proof containers. If you don’t have them, a good alternative could be sealable plastic baggies (you will use them sealed and doubled up). You will need them to keep food and other odorous items in on your tour, since bears can smell food up to a mile away.
Binoculars and Camera. Bear tours are required to keep some distance away from the animals (around 300 metres), so you will need powerful binoculars and a camera with strong zoom or 200mm-400mm telephoto lenses. Make the most of your trip by bringing plenty of film, or spare memory cards and batteries.