By Justin Fricke, aka the JustinTheWeekendWarrior.
My buddy and I are section hiking the northeast portion of the Florida Trail, through the Ocala National Forest this weekend. Since the Florida Trail is a trail like no other, I thought I’d share with you the things I’m taking and some things to keep in mind, that are essential to hiking in Florida.
Backpack and Water
You’ll of course need a backpack to carry all of your stuff. I prefer a backpack with an H2O reservoir built in and side pouches for a water bottle. You’ll need to carry plenty of water with you since Florida can get extremely hot and water filling stations can be few and far between.
Chaco’s tend to be my footwear of choice. They give great foot support and I prefer sandals over shoes. However, in the winter, hiking boots/shoes are a necessity, especially the further north you go.
Always carry rain gear with you because storms can form in an instant. You can usually get by with shorts and a t-shirt, but make sure they’re anti-microbial and sweat wicking, of course. The winters can be mild and chilly so some long pants and a base layer is helpful as well.
If you’re looking to hike the Florida Trail, make sure to buy the map for the section you’ll be hiking and the data book. Both are essential to keep you from getting lost and they do a great job of showing you where campsites, water, and civilization can be found. A compass is always a great idea to bring as well, along with a safety whistle, in case you get lost. You can also download some great apps right to your smart phone that are non-essential, but super useful nonetheless.
Bring some duct tape. Sounds odd, but seriously, have you seen what duct tape can do? It can help you in almost any situation. I also bring a needle and thread to help with blisters.
Here’s a list of obvious things to bring that really don’t need any explanation:
- Bug Spray
- Flint/Fire Starter
- Water Purification System
- Hat and Sunglasses
- Toilet Paper
- Garden Shovel
- First-Aid Kit
Lastly, you should always plan ahead. Know the weather and dress appropriately, know what permits you need and precautions to take, like the dates for hunting season. Finally, make sure you tell people when you’re going, where you’ll be going, how long you’ll be gone, and when you’ll be checking in.
Bring these items and keep all this in mind and you should have a good time.