Everglades Exploration Network

So, the truth is I am not a beginner at camping. I've been doing it all my life, and for the last few decades mostly out of a canoe.

With winter approaching, when the winds howl and the water temperature drops, the fishing goes to crap, but it is when I really like to go camping.

This site and the descriptions of some of the trails has me thinking I might like to hike out somewhere and spend the night. So I got a backpack, and I have a bunch of camping gear... but I'm a bit spoiled by having all that space in the canoe. 

So, my first question is, what are the essentials to pack; what are the extras that are worth their weight; and how do you get all that into a backpack?

And my second question is if anyone has a suggestion as to where to go. Years ago (too many to remember what I took) I hiked the main tram through the Fakahatchee Strand, spent the night and retraced my way out. I was thinking that might be my first shot. Any other suggestions?

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I would say get all of the essentials you have together (tent, sleeping system, cooking gear, foul weather gear, flashlight, extra clothes.). When I say all I am talking about what you own not what you are taking. Now pick out the lightest option for each. Now add food and water. Weigh your pack with just that stuff in it. You will be amazed at how fast the weight goes up. Now add personal thing like a book or journal things you don't have to take.

As far as what are the extras worth their weight anything you can use for more than one function. I use a hammock instead of a tent and that also serves as somewhere to sit. I wouldn't take a chair if I was using a tent but somewhere to sit is nice so the added feature is another plus to the hammock besides just being light. A tarp is a must have and keep it on the outside easy to get to along with some rope so you can make a quick rainfly if need be. I keep mine folded under the flap on the top of my pack. A water filter of some kind is a good idea. We collected water down in Big Cypress to save having to carry all that weight. I would recommend taking something to flavor the water with. Swamp water starts tasting bad after a few days. Something to drink for each day out is nice. . I always take a small gerber axe and have yet to really need it but always end up taking it. Some hand wipes or baby wipes. Things add up quickly so just be realistic as to whether you will use things.

As far as fitting everything those packs will hold quite a bit. Put extra water on bottom, food next, clothes, extras, and sleeping bag on top inside. Tent strapped to the bottom securely. Camera, water bottles, filter, rain gear, pack cover if you have one, in the pockets on the side. I put my cooking supplies in a small garbage bag and put that in the pocket on the flap of my pack. Also a map of the area. Make a list of what you take and check off what you had and didn't need, what you wished you had. My first trip backpacking after camping out of a canoe or kayak was a real eye opener. W came back with packs that weighed something like 55 pounds. I take a journal with me and made a note that when in the boats take everything, when backpacking take nothing. After hiking with a pack all day you set up camp eat and end up just relaxing

As far as location The Florida trail heading north out of Oasis is a nice hike. First campsite is 7 miles then 3 more to the next one. Good luck.

Good information Dennis. Gator Hook is not bad either. There are some dry places to camp. About 9 miles to Oasis. Camp at the benches.

Try to get your big 3 under 10 pounds. Pack, sleeping bag/quilt, and shelter. After that everything should be essential or have at least 2 functions. If you must cook, look at building a Pepsi can stove and an aluminium mug from Walmart. On my last overnighter with my Scout troop, we were forecast to have good weather, so we did a one gallon challenge, backpack, sleeping bag, and everything else had to fit into a one gallon ziplock bag. The only "group" gear allowed was a first aid kit, water filter, and a folding saw. Most of us still had too much food. I didn't miss cooking and cleaning up. This is a bit extreme, but gives you an idea to work with. Pack light. Good luck, JRC

I didn't think about the stove. I made one from a small piece of sheet metal that folds down flat for storage. It uses small twigs for fuel. I used it to make pizza on our Big Cypress through hike. Here is me boiling water with it.

Gary, I was thinking along the same line. I went to the monthly FTA Loxahatchee chapter meeting yesterday. They have a beginners backpack hike and one nught campout in Palm Beach County. The FTA Happy Hoofers cover Broward County. I think Esther and Vivienne are part of that group.
Yep, Connie, Vivian, Esther, David Denham, Larry Alesi, all belong to the Happy Hoofers chapter. We can give you ideas for hikes north of I-75. The above suggestions are right on. Keep the big 3 as light as possible. None of my canoe camping gear gets used on my backpacking trips. Why? because canoe camping is luxury. I do bring a chair that is sanctioned by the FTA weighs 3 lbs so I give up other stuff


Hammocks are awesome and light I think you already own one.

Just for fun, make an alcohol stove and windscreen. I made one out of Fancy Feast cans and oven liner from dollar store. My water filter is a Sawyer Squeeze but the mini is also popular. But in dry season we have to pack our water in.



Thanks for all the input.

For a preseason "shake out" I camped last friday and saturday night out of the canoe, and as an experiment took my backpack prepacked with a hikers tent, bag, and pad. Still had plenty of room. I then had two days to mull over what would fill the extra space.

I gotta admit I found the tent and bag almost unacceptably small, but I guess if I walk all day I'll be tired enough to not care. Luckily I still had most of my usual "luxury" canoe gear, except the tent, unfortunately. Two man size my a$$!

I think I got it figured out... except I just kept staring at my cooler! I'm not sure how I would handle camping without it. I also was concerned about my stove. ( I really appreciate a cold beverage at night and a hot one in the morning).

So... I had to laugh when I followed Viv's link to the Super Cat stove. I've been using a similar "beer can" stove for years to light my charcoal for the Weber. I never even considered it was initially intended as a hiker's stove. Well that solves that "problem"... but I'm not sure if I can work around the cooler!

A cooler?!! You might need to rethink that idea. Although, bringing frozen bottles of water in an insulated bag would fit in a backpack. BTW I actually built the Gen X 2 cat stove with stand and love it.

On Vivians link to Coleman, the First item I saw was the cooler with Wheels. How bout a Florida style sled dog to pull the cooler down the trail?

Not too long ago I noticed a cooler on the side of the road at Bear Island.  A little further down I noticed a tent. Two people emerged from within. The couple explained to me that their plan was to camp at Pink Jeep. They dragged the heavy cooler over 3 miles until the wheels fell off lol then decided to camp on the road. They almost made it to their destination... They get an A for effort.

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