Camping Quick Tip

Over the years I have found that when campground camping in cold weather it pays to be prepared for the worst! By the worst I mean a sudden cold front that blows in bringing the temp down to about 20 degrees ferinheight and the air mattress your sleeping on just allows the cold air to get you not only from the top but the bottom. Tents are mostly designed to breath so it's hard to trap enough heat in. A portable heater will just go up and out through your rain fly, and can be dangerous around flammable material. So what do you do?

Photo by William Gillette

Photo by William Gillette

Heated mattress pad! For two reasons. One the heat wants to rise, if the heat is coming from underneath you it will be trapped in your covers and keep them warm as well. And two the heat will keep your air mattress full of air. As it gets colder the air inside your mattress will shrink causing your bed to sag, very bad for your back.

Why not a heated blanket? A heated blanket is ment to go on top of you not underneath, what I have found is that this keeps you top half warm fine, but the air in your mattress will slowly cool down and your bottom will get colder with it.  

A queen size heated mattress pad will run you about $30 and will fold down much smaller than a blanket for space. I always have ours with us, it is just a part of our equipment. We learned our lesson one day in late March in FL when the day time temp went from 75 degrees to a night time of 20 degrees. That was a miserable night! 

Sometimes it the little things like a nice warm bed on a cold night that makes your trip just that much more relaxing. Enjoy!



A real life treasure hunt! One of my favorite things to do when I am hiking and camping is to Geocache. Geocaching is basically a global game of hide and seek, one person hides a small countainer full of stuff and then posts the GPS coordinates online at, then the seeker downloads the FREE moble App on any smartphone to find it.


The App is simple, one button push and you will see all of the Geocaches in your area. Just select one on the map and then follow the map to the treasure. Once at the container you will find a standard set of items. First is a card or paper telling you that you just found a Geocache. Next is the logbook, this book is left in the cache for everyone who finds it to sign and leave a message to all other finders. Other than those two item you will find "stuff" basically buttons, pins, trinkets, toys... I have even found tool kits, flashlights, money, and an RC car one time. This stuff or swag as most cachers call it is meant to be traded for. #1 rule you take something you leave something of equal or greater value. This makes every cache exciting to find because you never know what you might find! 

One of the most eye opening things about Geocaching comes when you first download the App. The first time I pushed the find a cache button I realized that these things are everywhere! There were fifty to sixty in my home town, I walked within feet of some of them for years and did not even know they where there. But the best part is that some of them led me down back roads and to nature trails that I never knew about. I have lived in this town for over thirty years and just last year found amazing thing miles from my house that I did not know existed. 

This is by far one of my favorite outdoor activitys and now my friends and family are all into it! I have found several hundred caches in just two short years. And every time we camp, hike, backpack, or if I am just out shooting a few nature photos, I always check to see if there is a Geocache near by! Download the App

Get Out There! 


S'mores Remix.

Photo by William Gillette

Photo by William Gillette

Try this! Next campfire grab a mixed bag of Fun Size chocolate bars. I am a fan of the Almond Joy S'more! Mix and match, part of the fun is trying somthing outside the box. A friend of mine loves York Peperment Patties on her S'mores. There is always the classic but it's awesome to kick it up a notch! 

What is That Sound!? ( Campfire Story )

This is a true camping story that I love to tell around the campfire. 


One Birthday camping trip a few years back, my girlfriend and I headed off to Hillsborough River State Park. In Hillsborough County, Florida. A beautiful state park on the banks of Hillsborough River. One night after a long day of canoeing, hiking, and Geocaching, the girlfriend and I were cooking dinner over the fire. If I remember it correctly this all unfolded somewhere between the wood grilled hamburgers and a Reese's peanut butter cup S'more.    

As we sit talking about our day, I start to hear something way off in the thick forest behind me. It sounded like maybe a raccoon rustling the underbrush or maybe a passing deer traveling an old trail that runs along side the campground. At first I did not think much about it. It was a cool night in March so we sat close to the fire side by side with our backs to the forest, the fire pit between us and the tent. With no moon and a lot of cloud cover the night seemed very dark and you could not see much farther than the edge of the fire glow. As we talked about the normal campfire things I caught the sound of rustling leaves getting a bit louder, and then louder, then faster and LOUDER! And it suddenly appeared to me that something was running through the forest directly at us!! And as it got closer it sounded BIG! In my mind flashed images of every horror film, rabid dog, and pack of wolves. I stopped talking and looked at my girlfriend quickly, she looked back at me and for a split second no words needed to be spoken. She jumped up and ran full sprint toward the tent. And no lie I jumped up, pushed down both chairs on there sides in front of me and took stance facing the woods like a football linemen waiting for the blitz! I stood starring into the darkness, heart pounding out of my chest... Out of the extreme darkness running full blast came... Four babe armadillos with there mother. They scurried over the arm of my chair around my feet and continued there way back into the forest. 

I laughed out loud to myself for a minute and then went to find my girlfriend, who I found two campsites away. LOL. The next day was my Birthday and on a long hike on the Florida trail I asked my Girlfriend to marry me, she said yes. What a great trip!   

Camping Overkill!

Photo by William Gillette

Photo by William Gillette

I hear so many stores about people being under prepared on camping or backpacking trips. But when on the trail I tend to see more people over prepared, including myself sometimes. 

Over prepared? Countless times,  I have passed hikers on a back country trails. Hanging from there packs I have seen Dutch oven, cast iron skillet, gallons of water, full size camp chair, extra shoes, full size Ax... Not saying that they are not going to use this stuff but is it worth the weight? 

Car camping is a little different story. Not carrying it miles on your back, I say bring that 10 lbs cast iron Dutch over. Bring the big camp chairs and the gallons of water. But even car camping can be over done. For instance I have a folding standalone hammock that I bought years ago that I take when we car camp. I have set it up fifty times and might have sat in it two times. LOL. It actually has been used more often to cover firewood, odd when I keep four extra tarps in my equipment. This year I am going to make it a point to slim down my setup. What is it that we truly need, or more so what is it that we will truly use?   

As for for my camera gear... I need all of it! 



SD Survival

Photo by William Gillette

Photo by William Gillette

SD Survival.

Here is a helpful tip for your next outdoor adventure. Always keep a small SD card (or whatever your camera uses) labeled Survival in your camera case. On this card keep information in photos, that will help you in the event of an emergency.


Trail Maps, Area Maps, Photos of eatable plants, knot instructions, trap and snare diagrams, poisonous plants from that area, poisonous snakes...  

The idea is to give your self any information that would help you in a dangerous situation. If your planing a trip, take the time to do a quick search for these things for that area, and then just snap photos of your computer screen. Most photographers will have plenty of batteries in there pack to keep a camera running for days so you can reference these photos at any time.   

I also have made it a habit to take a photo of the trail map at the trail head before I head out, I have used this on several occasions to find my way back to my vehicle. I also put useful info on my card that I use as a photographer like tide information for the week I am shooting near the ocean, sun rise and sun set calendars, light meter calculators... 

It always pays to be prepared for the worst even if you never need it. If you have other ideas for the SD survival card share them! You may help save a life. Be Safe!  

and get out there!