10 Essential Items to Pack for a National Park Visit, According to the NPS
If you plan on going to a national park this summer, you better remember to bring the right gear.
SmokyMountains.com, an online portal for the Smoky Mountains region, analyzed over 100 stories about people who were lost in the wilderness in order to determine the best ways to avoid getting lost and find safety after wandering off the trail.
According to SmokyMountains.com’s research, survivors in the news stories used different methods to care for their basic needs (shelter, food, warmth, and water): 12 percent of hikers relied on clothes for warmth, 11 percent used camping gear for shelter, 24 percent found a natural source of water (like a stream or lake), and 35 percent relied on rations of their own food supplies to survive until being rescued.
With this information in mind, SmokyMountains.com points to a list of 10 essential things you need to pack if you’re going on a trip to a national park. Not only are these items key to having an enjoyable hike, but they can also be critical for surviving a dangerous situation.
According to the National Park Service (NPS), these essential items include navigation tools, especially a map, a compass, and a GPS system. SmokyMountains.com’s research shows that 41 percent of hikers ended up getting lost because they had accidentally wandered off the trail.
Next, it's important to protect yourself from the sun by packing sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat. In terms of clothing items to bring, the NPS suggests bringing a jacket, gloves, a rain shell, and thermal underwear so you can dress in layers.
A flashlight, headlamp, and lanterns are essential for hikers who are staying on the trail after sundown and keeping matches, a lighter, and fire starters can not only help with light but also to keep you warm.
Of course, every hiker should bring a first aid kit and a repair kit with tools like duct tape, a knife, a screwdriver, and scissors in their bag. An emergency shelter like a tent, space blanket, tarp, and bivouac sack are needed as well.
Last but not least, NPS suggests bringing sufficient amounts of food and water, plus water treatment supplies if you run out of bottled water on the trail. Naturally, all outdoor travelers should invest in a good hiking backpack to keep all their essentials as well.
Packing all these essential items is the best way to ensure your safety and enjoyment while exploring all of America's beautiful national parks.