What To Bring Hiking In The Smoky Mountains?

Hiking in the Smoky Mountains is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. Not only does it provide a great way to explore nature and enjoy the great outdoors, but it also allows you to get away from everything (and everyone) for a bit. 

In order to ensure that your trip is safe and fun, there are some things you should bring with you on your hike. 

In this article we will cover what to bring hiking in the Smoky Mountains.

The BEST Gear for BACKPACKING in the SMOKY Mountains
Proper preparation is key for a successful hiking trip in the Smoky Mountains.
Bring essential items such as appropriate clothing, sturdy footwear, and a backpack.
Don’t forget navigation tools like maps, compass, or GPS device.
Pack enough water and snacks to stay hydrated and energized during the hike.
It’s important to have sun protection, including sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses.
Carry a first aid kit and know basic first aid skills for any potential emergencies.
Always check the weather forecast before heading out and be prepared for changes.
Leave no trace by practicing responsible outdoor ethics and pack out your trash.
Respect wildlife and stay on designated trails to preserve the natural environment.
Inform someone about your hiking plans, including your expected return time.

Hiking Shoes

The best hiking shoes are comfortable and supportive, waterproof (if you’re going to be in the rain), but not too heavy. The perfect pair will have a good grip and fit your feet like a glove.

If you’ve never done any serious hiking before, it’s a good idea to break in your shoes before embarking on your journey in the Smoky Mountains.

When hiking in the Smoky Mountains, it’s crucial to take precautions to prevent falls and ensure your safety. Our comprehensive guide on how to keep from falling when hiking provides valuable tips and techniques to maintain stability and enjoy a safe hiking experience.

Backpack (Or Fanny Pack)

As a general rule, you want to pack your backpack so that it’s not more than 50% full when you leave the house. 

This will leave some space for things you may pick up along the way: snacks, water bottles and other supplies you may need.

The biggest mistake people make is to overload their backpacks with unnecessary things. You only need to bring what is absolutely necessary for your hike. 

If there’s room in your bag then great! You can always stop and pick up something if you forgot it at home – but don’t put too much weight on yourself by trying to plan ahead of time what might happen on your trip. 

The more gear we bring with us while hiking in the Smoky Mountains National Park means more weight on our backs which equals less fun when we get there!

Here are some tips on how best choose an appropriate hiking backpack:

Gear OptionDescription
BackpackA versatile and spacious option for carrying your belongings on outdoor adventures. It typically features multiple compartments and adjustable straps for a comfortable fit. Popular brands include Osprey, Deuter, and North Face.
Fanny PackA compact and lightweight option that allows you to carry essentials hands-free. It usually wraps around your waist and provides easy access to items like keys, phone, and wallet. Popular brands include Herschel, Patagonia, and JanSport.

Water / Drinks

The second thing you should consider is water. The Smoky Mountains can get very hot and humid, so it’s important to stay hydrated during your hike. 

The most important thing to remember when hiking in the Smoky Mountains is never drink before you are thirsty. 

When hiking in extreme temperatures, this will only make you much more dehydrated faster than if you start drinking when your body signals that it needs more fluids. Once again, aim for at least 2 liters (of water) per person per day!

Trekking poles can greatly enhance your hiking experience in the Smoky Mountains by providing stability and reducing strain on your joints. Learn the best practices for carrying trekking poles and make the most out of your hiking adventures.

Snacks (And A Pocket Knife)

You’ll need snacks. Snacks are essential for energy, and replenishing your body with them is vital for a successful hike.

But what if you need to cut something? Or what if someone else needs to cut something? You’re going to want a pocketknife on hand (and knowing how to use it) in case of emergencies like these. And believe it or not, carrying a pocketknife is not illegal in Tennessee!

Clothing Layers

One of the most important things you can do to prepare for hiking in the Smoky Mountains is to layer your clothing. 

The mountains are famous for their unpredictable weather, and a sudden drop in temperature can leave you shivering or soaked to the bone if you’re not prepared.

While cotton may be comfortable, it’s not great at keeping you warm when wet, which is why wool or synthetic fabrics are a better choice for hikers who want to stay dry and cozy on their trip. 

A base layer made from synthetic fabric will wick moisture away from your skin so that sweat doesn’t get trapped next to your body as easily, while wool is especially good at retaining heat when damp—which means it’ll keep you warm even if it’s wet outside!

Base LayerClose-fitting, moisture-wicking clothing that helps regulate body temperature. Examples include brands like Under Armour, Icebreaker, and Smartwool.
Mid LayerInsulating layer that provides warmth. Common mid-layer options include fleece jackets and sweaters from brands like The North Face, Patagonia, and Columbia.
Outer LayerProtective layer that shields against the elements. Options include waterproof and breathable jackets or shells from brands like Arc’teryx, Outdoor Research, and Marmot.
AccessoriesAdditional items to enhance comfort and protection. This may include hats, gloves, scarves, and socks from brands like Black Diamond, Buff, and Darn Tough.

Sunscreen And Bug Spray


If you’re like me, you probably don’t think about sunscreen unless it’s the middle of summer and the sun is beating down on your face. 

But when you’re hiking in the Smoky Mountains, visibility is low and there are still a lot of hours left in the day. 

That combined with UV rays bouncing off of everything around you makes for one very sunburned hiker! 

If this happens to be your first time hiking in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, then I highly recommend bringing some sunscreen along with you on your trip. 

You can buy small travel-size bottles at any drug store or pharmacy to keep in your backpack or car just in case.

Bug spray

I know what you may be thinking: “Why would I need bug spray?” Well….bugs bite! And they get pretty annoying when they land on every inch of exposed skin while hiking up into higher elevations where there’s no tree cover. 

If this happens to be your first time going camping with kids or just want something that’ll keep mosquitoes away so that everyone can enjoy their day without being bitten all over by those pesky critters–then bug spray is definitely something worth packing!

Properly lacing your hiking trail runners is essential for comfort and preventing foot fatigue during your Smoky Mountains hikes. Discover effective lacing techniques in our guide on how to lace hiking trail runners and ensure a snug fit that supports your feet throughout the journey.

First Aid Kit

For the sake of your family or friends, it’s a good idea to have a first aid kit with you on any hiking trip. You never know when someone might get hurt! A basic first aid kit should include:

  • Bandages and gauze pads
  • Band-aids in various sizes
  • Antiseptic wipes and alcohol pads (to clean wounds)
  • Thermometer (in case someone gets sick)
  • Anti-diarrhea medication (like Imodium AD) in case anyone has food poisoning or feels nauseous on the trail
  • Pain reliever like Tylenol or Ibuprofen if anyone is hurting after an injury

Extra Toiletries (And Trashbags)

The essentials of hiking in the Smoky Mountains include plenty of water, a good pair of shoes and some snacks. But when you’re out there enjoying nature, there are still things to consider:

Extra toiletries (and trashbags). It’s always good to have an extra roll of toilet paper or two and a few packs of hand sanitizer on hand. 

It may seem silly at first who goes through that much toilet paper?—but trust us when we say that comfort is worth it! Hand sanitizer can help keep away those pesky germs while you’re out on the trail, while having an extra roll of TP will come in handy if you need something stronger than leaves or moss (both are perfectly fine options as well). 

Sunscreen is also a must-have; even if it’s overcast outside, sunscreen will protect your skin from harmful UV rays coming through the clouds. 

Bug spray is also essential for anyone who wants to enjoy their time outdoors without being eaten alive by mosquitoes! Bandages are important because they can help prevent blisters from forming after long hikes (or long nights partying with friends). 

Lastly but not leastly: tampons/pads might sound funny but they’re probably one of the most important items in any woman’s backpack pocket—so don’t forget those too!

Compass / Gps Or Phone With Gps Feature

In the event you get lost, a compass or GPS device can be a lifesaver. A good compass will allow you to find your way back down the mountain by aligning north with the needle and then reading the bearing in degrees on your compass ring.

The same goes for a GPS device: even if you don’t get lost, it’s nice to have an accurate record of where you’ve been in case there’s an emergency situation. 

Most handheld models will allow users to track their progress, which can be useful if someone else is waiting at home for your return. 

If nothing else, this allows them to see where (and when) they should start looking for their missing trekker!

Embarking on a 7-mile hike in the Smoky Mountains requires careful preparation and packing the essential items. Check out our detailed checklist for what to bring on a 7-mile hike to ensure you have everything you need for a successful and enjoyable hiking adventure.

Camera (And Or Phone)

You’re going hiking in the Smoky Mountains. You want to take some pictures, right? But what kind of camera should you bring?

If you go with your phone, keep in mind that most cell phones nowadays have pretty great cameras. 

If it’s just for personal use and not professional photography (or if there is a chance that someone else might want to see your photos), I’d say go ahead and just bring your phone. 

That way if you want more detailed shots or wider shots or something like that, you can always ask someone on the trail who has a better camera than yours to take it for a spin. It’s always nice when people share!

Gear Repair Kit And Toilet Paper (Or A Pocket Notebook)

A gear repair kit is a good idea. They don’t take up much space, but they can be invaluable in fixing small problems that might take you by surprise.

A toilet paper roll just doesn’t get the job done sometimes, especially if you find yourself hiking in the Smoky Mountains for multiple days at a time! 

Bring a pocket notebook and some pens instead; this way you can record your thoughts and doodles during breaks from hiking (and maybe even leave behind some funny notes for other hikers).

Gear Repair KitA collection of tools and materials for repairing outdoor gear. Includes items like patch kits, adhesive tapes, sewing needles, and cordage. Recommended brands include Gear Aid, McNett, and Tenacious Tape.
Toilet Paper (or Pocket Notebook)Essential for personal hygiene or jotting down notes on the go. Choose biodegradable toilet paper or opt for a compact pocket notebook from brands like Sea to Summit, Rite in the Rain, or Moleskine.

Preparing For Your Hike Is Essential

Being prepared is essential for any good hike. Here are a few tips to help you get ready for your adventure:

  • First Aid Kit – Bring a first aid kit with bandages, antibiotic ointment, gauze pads and scissors.
  • Compass – A compass will help you navigate unfamiliar territory (but don’t rely solely on it).
  • Water – You need at least 2 liters of water per person per day (more if you’re hiking in hot weather).
  • Appropriate Clothing – Wear clothes that are both comfortable and appropriate for the weather conditions you might face along your journey.
  • Camera – Plan ahead for how many pictures of breathtaking views or wildlife encounters you’d like to capture on your hike! If possible bring an extra battery or two so that they don’t die during their time in nature with us!

Before heading out to the Smoky Mountains, make sure you have the necessary essentials for a safe and comfortable hiking experience. Our comprehensive list of 17 hiking essentials covers all the must-have items to pack, ensuring you’re well-prepared for your outdoor exploration.


If you’re planning on hiking in the Smokies, I hope this list has helped you get a feel for what you might need. 

It can be overwhelming to think about all the things that could go wrong on a hike, but by being prepared with the right equipment and supplies, even if something goes wrong it won’t be so bad! 

It’s always good to have an idea of where you are going before setting off on any adventure. 

It will help keep your mind focused when faced with difficult decisions like which trailhead should we take today?

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources to help you prepare for your hiking trip in the Smoky Mountains:


Here are some frequently asked questions about hiking in the Smoky Mountains:

What are the best hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains?

The Smoky Mountains offer a wide range of hiking trails for all skill levels. Popular options include Alum Cave Trail, Abrams Falls Trail, and Charlies Bunion Trail.

Are permits required for hiking in the Smoky Mountains?

No permits are required for day hiking in the Smoky Mountains. However, permits are needed for overnight stays at backcountry campsites and shelters.

Are dogs allowed on hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains?

Yes, dogs are allowed on most trails in the Smoky Mountains, but they must be kept on a leash at all times. Certain trails may have specific restrictions, so it’s important to check before you go.

What is the best time of year to hike in the Smoky Mountains?

The Smoky Mountains can be hiked year-round, but spring and fall are considered the best seasons. These times offer pleasant weather, beautiful foliage, and fewer crowds.

Are there any safety precautions to take while hiking in the Smoky Mountains?

Yes, it’s important to be prepared and take safety precautions while hiking. This includes carrying a map, plenty of water, and proper gear, as well as being aware of weather conditions and wildlife encounters.