The following is a guest blog by Warwickshire Clothing:
Even an afternoon hike along one of the beautiful Smoky Mountain Hiking Trails warrants carrying some small amount of supplies with you. The further you're planning to go, or the less populous the trail you choose, the more consideration that needs to be given in what you should take. Remember, you are not packing based on what you want at the moment or only what you want to do (a picnic for example) but also for what might become helpful or needed. It's better to be prepared and not need something than to need something and not have it.
Some things should be carried regardless of distance. A very small day pack or fanny pack will suffice for the shortest hikes in well-traveled areas, but even a trip of an hour merits a canteen of water, a small minimal first aid kit for minor scrapes or mishaps, a whistle or similar attention getting device, and insect repellent. These assure comfort and a small amount of additional safety.
For planned trips of an afternoon or more, always consider the possibility of it taking longer than planned. A misstep resulting in even a minor sprained knee or ankle can easily turn 4 hours into 8 hours or more. At that point the single quart of water is no longer adequate and the lack of any type of high energy snack food and additional clothing or protective gear can range from uncomfortable to life threatening. For planned hikes of more than a couple miles consider these things:
• Water – two full quarts per person. Additionally, commonly available water purification tablets are a better option than risking parasites or bacteria from unpurified sources.
• Flashlight – useful if anything happens that extends time past dark. It not only may allow safe travel on marked trails after dark, but will also aid in locating you by emergency crews if needed as well.
• High energy snack bars - if you don't make it back before dinner as planned avoiding hunger and the extra calories to stay warm will be appreciated.
• Basic First Aid kit – small bandages, an ace bandage wrap, over the counter pain reliever, anti-bacterial ointments, and butterfly closures are minimal for safety.
• Rain Gear – regardless of the weather at time of departure, rain gear such as a poncho should be taken at least.
• Bear Pepper Spray – this should be carried on the belt. It does no good stowed in the bottom of a pack. Ensure it meets the requirements listed on the linked page.
Additional dry warm clothing is always a good idea. Small tents for emergency shelter can be found that weigh about 5 pounds. This is minimal weight to carry for the added safety provided when hiking through the wilderness. Samples of clothing and equipment can be found at Warwickshire Clothing. A back pack carrying these items will still weigh only about 15 pounds.
Hiking in the Smokies