What to Bring on the Florida Trail

My buddy and I section hiked the Northeast section of the Florida Trail, from Clearwater Lake to Juniper Springs, in the Ocala National Forest this past weekend. Since the Florida Trail is a trail like no other, I thought I’d share with you the things we took and some things we learned along the way.

National Scenic Trail: Florida Trail Trailhead Marker

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 Nalgene. 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…we found this out the hard way.

Sleep System

I prefer to sleep in a tent and sleeping bag, with a sleeping pad, but if you don’t mind spraying on some bug spray and dealing with the bugs, a fly and foot print would work. A hammock with a bug net and tarp is always a viable option as well, but sometimes the trees can be spread out too far.

Footwear

Chaco’s tend to be my everyday footwear of choice. They give great foot support and I prefer sandals over shoes. However, we found out the hard way that they’re not ideal for long-distance hikes. Hiking shoes/boots would be best because of the extra support you get and the protection they provide.

Clothing

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.

Navigation

When you’re hiking 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.

Oddities

Bring some duct tape. Sounds odd, but seriously, have you seen what duct tape can do? It can help you in almost any situation. You don’t need an entire roll, just wrap some of it around your trekking pole a couple times and you should be fine. 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

    Sunscreen

    Headlamp

    Food

    Stove

    Flint/Fire Starter

    Water Purification System

    Hat and Sunglasses

    Toilet Paper

    Knife

    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, keep these things in mind and you should have a good time.

Happy Hiking!

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