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Gear Checklist: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

From the deep wooded hollows to the lofty Appalachian summits prepare for rain (Clingmans Dome, the park's high point, averages 85 inches each year), humidity, rapidly varying weather conditions, and lots of creek crossings. Here's what you'll need.
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1 synthetic baselayer T-shirt (dries faster than wool in the soggy Smokies)
1 pair synthetic hiking shorts (pants in colder weather)
1 synthetic, breathable midlayer shirt
1 synthetic puffy jacket or sweater
1 bombproof rainshell (don’t forget, or you’ll be sorry)
1 bombproof pair of rainpants
1 pair waterproof gaiters
1 rain hat
Wool socks
Undies of choice
Sturdy hiking boots that can handle steep, rocky trails
Sturdy sandals for creek crossings
Shades and sun hat—but only if you’re heading to the high ridges
Gloves/mittens and a hat if it’s cold


Map and compass or GPS
First-aid kit (make sure it has blister dressings)
Trekking poles
Emergency gear (space blanket, firestarters, lighter, headlamp)
Field guide (with the thousands of plant, animal, and insect species, you’ll need it)

Add the following to the dayhiking list:


1 baselayer top for sleeping
1 baselayer bottom for sleeping
1 pair extra socks
Camp shoes (I like waterproof Chacos because they double as creek-crossing shoes)


Tent (make sure it’s rainworthy and breathable for humid nights)
Synthetic sleeping bag (15 to 30 degrees for three-season use)
Inflatable sleeping pad
Bandanna or camp towel for mopping up any rain puddles
Stove and fuel
Lighter and waterproof matches
Bowl, spoon, mug
Water bottles/reservoir with treatment method of choice (there’s water everywhere!)
Extra carabiner and stuffsacks for hanging a bear bag (many sites have cables)
Zip-top bags
Lip balm
TP, trowel, and hand sanitizer

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