Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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