With thousands of miles on foot between us, and a lifetime of backpacking, camping, and traveling, we’ve hauled a lot of gear through the woods and around the planet.
Here are reviews of products sent to us, products we purchase, and products we use every day we are outdoors, from technical clothing to the electronics that help us do the job of keeping you updated.
These include not just items for hiking and backpacking – while that is Sandra’s main focus – but also for biking, paddling, and camping, for which John has lifetime expertise in selecting the proper gear.
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For Day Hiking
Day pack. Water bottles. Snacks. Map. Insect Repellent. Sun Protection (sunscreen, sunglasses, hat). Custom first aid kit. Rain jacket. Small flashlight. Camera and spare batteries. Cell phone. Whistle.
Backpack. Hydration bladder. Tent. Hiking poles. Sleeping bag. Sleeping pad. Headlamp. Food in food bag. Water filter. Water bottle. Extra socks. Dry clothes to sleep in. Toilet paper. Lightweight folding trowel. Custom first aid kit. Trash bag. Insect Repellent. Sun Protection. Map. Rain jacket. Camera and spare batteries. Cell phone. Whistle. Bandana. Hand sanitizer / soap. Camp shoes. Plastic bags to keep electronics dry. Optionally: Bear canister. Camp stove and fuel plus matches or lighter. Fleece. Extra shirt. Pack cover.
Selecting the Right Gear for Florida
If you have not hiked, camped, or backpacked in Florida before, our extreme humidity and wide swings of temperature mean you need to be ready for anything when you plan a trip during hiking season.
Hiking season runs October-April. Paddlers and cyclists can enjoy the outdoors year round, but our sultry, rainy summers make camping tough. As do the mosquitoes.
Things to think about when choosing what to carry on your outdoor adventures in Florida:
- Hydration is a must.
- It is always humid in Florida, which makes it less likely you remember to hydrate.
- Insect repellent and sunscreen are essentials year-round. A hat is a smart idea.
- You WILL get wet. Either your feet will get wet or your whole body, in the rain.
- It will get hot. It can get very cold in the winter. Sometimes within 48 hours of each other.
- Treat your feet right. Sand + water = abrasion and blisters.
This question keeps popping up: what are the best hiking boots? John explains how, through trial by trail, he figured out what works for him. His advice? Keep trying.
Backpacking Gear for Florida
These are our personal preferences for backpacking gear, including Florida-specific considerations you need to keep in mind while backpacking in our state. Florida’s prime backpacking months are January and February.
What does a hiker need to spend a week, or a month, or three months on the trail? Here are trail-tested suggestions for backpacking in Florida for trips of a week or more
A more general discussion about balancing comfort vs. weight when backpacking.
Once you have your core gear established, keep in mind it has other uses as well. The things you carry on a backpacking trip can do double duty in times of emergency, such as when the power is knocked out by bad weather.
Select a particular category to see all gear reviews for that topic.
What’s In Our Gear Closet?
Specific reviews of items we have used in the past or are using today, including gear for hiking, camping, biking, and paddling.
Some of this gear was with us on our Appalachian Trail hike, and all of it has seen time on the Florida Trail. Over time, we replace or upgrade our gear to lighten or strengthen what we carry.
John’s first backpack is now a museum piece. Sandra went through a parade of packs before settling on an Zpacks Arc Blast. Here’s what we carry and why.
For a couple of backpackers that want to share a sleeping bag, the Big Agnes Cabin Creek turns out to be an economical but bulky solution.
John trail-tests the Columbia Omni-Freeze Zero T-shirt after being introduced to the new fabric by a Columbia rep at the grand opening of REI Jacksonville.
If it’s tick season, or if it’s going to be wet and muddy, we break out our Dirty Girl Gaiters. Here’s why we don’t leave home with this piece of gear.
Hydrapak has served us well as an extremely compact day pack and hydration for both hiking and bicycle rides. Whenever one of us wants to “go light,” we pull the Hydrapak from our wall of packs and go.
After trying an array of camp stoves over the years, from Whisperlite to Zip and Esbit, I found the Jetboil. Now I feel comfortable cooking in the woods again.
A fan of lightweight backpacking tents (not tarps) since they first became available, my favorites are those produced by Lightheart Gear. We have two. Here’s why
When we met, both of us owned Tilley hats and wore them for most of our outdoor activities. Sandy’s had the same one for years; I’ve gone through several. Here’s why.
Our field tests of gear in Florida.