Ask A South Florida Guide: Packing List For Your Next Campout

April 27, 2013 9:00 AM

Florida Everglades

(Source: AP)

Jack Shealy established Everglades Adventure Tours is a sustainable eco-tour provider. The firm features the only pole boat ride in the Florida Everglades, water vessels used centuries ago by peoples indigenous to the area. The pole boat tour is the most popular tour from Everglades Adventure Tours and guests are given area, cultural and historical information on each trip. Jack Shealy states that the Everglades is a living, thriving part of the earth and it is the ability to look at the swamp as a living thing that allows us to become connected.

Jack Shealy
Everglades Adventure Tours
40904 Tamiami Trail E.
Ochopee, FL 34141
(800) 504-6554

Jack Shealy was born and raised in the Western Everglades at Big Cypress Swamp. He is a 29-year-old swamp veteran who has been fishing, frog hunting and paddling in the region since he was just six years old. His family has been in Big Cypress for three generations but settled in the Everglades National Park area in the late 1800s. His father and uncle, Jack Jr., have taught him everything he needed to know about the swamp including the simple ways and morals of the traditional Gladesmen culture (‘Never take more than you need. Respect nature, plants and animals’). There’s a feeling of free life in open, wild country here. It’s best described as a true connection of nature and soul, a connection that has been lost in modern American culture but not forgotten. The next time you plan on camping out, consider what Shealy has to say about your packing list.

Bring the proper footwear.

The terrain should never be taken for granted as shoes can make or break a camping trip. One step may be muck and the next may be solid bedrock covered by dirt. Shoes should fit well but also be able to stay on when trekking through muddy areas. Sturdy all-terrain hiking sandals can usually do the job in the Everglades.

Pack lightly.

Pack lightly and only bring along items that may be easily rinsed and hung to dry. Though the days can be about 90 degrees, the evenings and nights can get as cool as to feel like 50 with the breeze, so a jacket is a must. Light shell or rain jackets will do the job of staying warm and they also easily pack without taking up much room. Clothing made of synthetic fabrics are practical for the day to cool and help remove moisture.

Bring everything you think you’ll need. 

Nearly all types of personal products may be purchased in travel sizes that are as perfect for camping as they are for flights. Having all the products that give comfort can also make all of the difference on a trip. Due to mosquitoes and other insects, avoid bringing or using scented lotions, shampoos, laundry detergents, perfume, aftershave, et al. Bees are very important to the eco-system of the Everglades and these products will attract them in a negative and potentially dangerous way.

Related: Best Day Trips For Families In South Florida

Take ground cover and overhead cover.

Stay-dry ground cover (oftentimes referred to as a footprint) is critical to be comfortable in or out of a tent because of the humid, moist, jungle-like climate. They also help to protect the floors of tents from damage from items such as sharp rocks. Overhead cover (for those not using tents) may be obtained by bungee-cording nylon sections to trees. On a hot day in South Florida, the proper shade should never be underestimated.

Take along plenty of water.

Many campers err when it comes to bringing appropriate amounts of water. Many visitors aren’t from the area so they’re not used to how much water it takes to stay hydrated in South Florida weather conditions. Water keeps up energy levels as well as comfort and it’s important to plan for water consumption in advance. Small electrolyte gel packs are great to bring along as they may be consumed on the go and they help sustain vital electrolyte balance. Be sure to research the signs of heatstroke and to be cautious when traveling in the day while the sun is high.

Related: Best Places To See Flowers This Spring In South Florida


Chanoa Chen is a well-published blogger and online journalist on topics ranging from luxury lifestyle living to fashion shows and trends. A self-proclaimed Miami Beach fashion expert, she is also working on launching her first jewelry line, Boki Love. Her work can be found at

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