Packing the 10 Essentials for Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains is like your insurance policy for a back country emergency. Ninety-nine percent of the time you will not need them but when you do, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
The 10 Essentials were originally conceived in the 1930’s by The Mountaineers club based in Seattle, WA. For over eighty years the 10 Essentials were the standard until 2003 when the group updated the list to a “systems” approach instead of an individual items list. This systems approach categorizes necessities allowing a more thorough level of preparedness.
10 Essential Systems for Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains:
1 Navigation (map/compass/GPS)
2 Sun Protection (sunscreen/sunglasses)
3 Insulation (extra dry clothing)
4 Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
5 First-aid Kit/Supplies
6 Fire (waterproof matches/lighter)
7 Repair Kit and Tools
8 Nutrition (extra food)
9 Hydration (extra water/water purification system)
10 Emergency Shelter (Mylar blanket)
Here are the many advantages to the systems approach to the 10 Essentials for Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Navigation – Map and compass are viewed as a single necessity. Know how to use them. Unless you plan to walk an impossible to miss footpath, invest in a quality topographic map for the area you plan to explore. A GPS is great as long as the batteries last and you know how to operate it.
Sun Protection – Especially at the higher elevations in the National Park, this can be critical. There is nothing worse than a nasty sun burn after a great hike. Even on a hazy day, your skin is at risk for overexposure.