Just like in any unique environment, there are going to be unique pieces of gear and tools of the trade that will mean the difference between a successful trip and a bad time in the Lowcountry. Picture the best characteristics of the swamps of Louisiana, the hardwoods of the Southeast, and a remote Caribbean island, and you’ll have a great vision of the Lowcountry.
There are not that many dangers to be on the watch for, but the few that are out there are subtle. And if you’re not careful, you might find yourself in a sticky situation (and not just because of the humidity). A lot of backpackers in the Southeast come to the Lowcountry looking for a completely different experience, and while they'll certainly find it, many of them will forget to take into account just how different this part of the country is, and will pack either an excess of non-essential items, or forget to pack what’s important.
Don’t forget to read all the literature you can about coastal Carolina and know what you’re getting into before you pack. On top of that, here's a list of a few useful items from our experiences backpacking in the Lowcountry.
As scary as it may sound, one of the larger (figuratively and literally) problems backpackers face here are alligators. If you’re camping on a barrier island, or anywhere near a pond in the Lowcountry, odds are that an alligator is close by. It improves your chances of avoiding these dinosaurs by sleeping in a hammock at night. Plus, they're extremely comfortable and having that cross-breeze under your backside keeps you cool during the muggier (hotter than hell) Lowcountry evenings.
2. Mosquito Net/Bug Spray
If you’re planning a trip to the coast in the warmer months, you absolutely have to pack bug spray and a full sized mosquito net that you hang outside while cooking or sitting. The mosquitos and gnats in this part of the country are relentless and will drive you insane if you don’t have any protection against them. Honestly, we would rather have a run in with an alligator than go one day without bug repellant or a mosquito net.
3. Camp Soap
It may add a little extra weight in your pack, but camp soap is crucial while camping in the salt-laden trails of the Lowcountry, especially if you plan on getting in the ocean. Your skin gets extremely tough and salty after hiking around the coast, and you’ll need soap or your preferred method of chafing-prevention.
4. Waterproof Phone Protection
Don’t go backpacking without your smartphone or a radio to contact the Coast Guard. It’s stupid not to bring something that can literally save your life and only weighs 6 ounces. You’ll need it to watch the tides, look at maps, research something you’re unsure of, and to communicate. That being said, you’ll also want to protect it from the mud, salt, and water. Invest in an Otter Box , Lifeproof Case , or something similar that will protect your smartphone, and quite possibly your life.
5. Clothes Line
There are mixed feelings out there about whether packing in a clothes line is worth the extra weight or not. It most certainly is in the Lowcountry. You can buy the most expensive wool or capilene apparel out there, but it’s going to get wet here, and if you don’t have a line to dry your gear out fast and thoroughly, you’re going to lose time, and probably come home with some serious blisters. Sea to Summit makes an incredibly small, super lightweight clothes line that you can throw anywhere in your pack. It sounds like a luxury that will add unnecessary weight while backpacking, but it's worth having.