It's Wilder Than You Think, Camping in Florida…
There is no doubt that Camping in Florida can be WILD! With the nearly year round mild weather in Florida and nearly unlimited activities available to enjoy outdoors there are some things you should know before you head out.
Florida’s Ever Changing Weather
While winter and spring provide many near perfect sunny days, the temperatures can fluctuate by over 40 degrees in just hours as the cold northern fronts come through. Summer weather brings even more drastic changes in Florida and is often unpredictable. Staying on top of weather forecasts is paramount! Because of demand, often camping reservations have to be made months in advance leaving your outing to rely on chance when it comes to the weather. Educating yourself on Florida's weather patterns will help you to avoid some of the nastier weather situations, but being prepared for anything will go a long way to helping you enjoy your trip:
Know About Hurricane Season
Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30, with the most active months typically being August through October. Plan accordingly and check cancellation policies t campgrounds in reference to your deposit. Closely monitor local weather stations and watch any developing systems or storms. Take evacuation notices seriously!
Take Cover During Thunderstorms
Summer in Florida brings almost daily rains, we are in the tropics. In this area thunderstorms often produce a lot of lightning. Lightening before, during and after a thunderstorm requires its own set of outdoor safety tips
You are in the strike zone if you are within 30 seconds of seeing and hearing a burst of lightning. Make sure you take cover in this instance until storm passes.
Avoid being in or on beaches, lakes and other bodies of water. Try to get to a shelter quickly if you see a storm approaching and avoid trees and tall objects as they will be a possible “target” for the lightning. Your safest place is indoors or if you have to inside of a vehicle (convertible’s don’t count).
Always pack appropriate rain gear. For a full selection of quality “Florida Proof” rain gear shop our online store!
Orvis Pack and Go Travel Jacket - Designed for a lifetime of adventure, the stain-, wind-, and water-resistant Pack-And-Go Travel Jacket keeps you dry
ENO ProFly Rain Tarp Black - Want sound, foul-weather protection, but not looking for a bomb shelter? Step under the ProFly.
Kuhl Skull Cap - Wind and water resistant.
Hot and Cold Precautions in Florida
Everyone thinks about the hot, humid days of summer when planning outings here. Yes, the heat and humidity will suck the enjoyment of the outdoors right out of you if you are not prepared with the correct clothing and hydration. Consider “wicking clothing” that will pull the moisture away from your skin making you feel dryer and cooler. Also clothing with SPF (sun protection factor) built in will help you from having to grease up with sun block over and over each day. Breathable hats will keep the direct sun off your head and face, providing a welcome shade effect.
Orvis Tech Chambray Shirt - The Tech Chambray Work Shirt features mechanical stretch, quick-dry fabric. Lightweight and wicking
Orvis Guide Convertible Pant - Quick-dry stretch fabric and articulated knees offer a full range of motion for any outdoor activity from fishing to hiking while UPF 50 helps prevent sunburn and sun damage.
Tilley LTM6 Airflow Hat - Maximum sun protection – fabric is certified UPF 50+, the highest given Air flow
The months of December through February are known in Central and North Florida to bring in waves of very cold temperatures dipping down into the freezing zone. Coupled with the winds and rains that typically precedes the cold fronts an unprepared camper could be left out in the cold and risk hypothermia if also wet. Paying attention to weather fronts that are always on the move and packing the correct equipment to stay warm and dry are very important in the winter months in Florida.
"It always rains on tents. Rainstorms will travel thousands of miles, against prevailing winds for the opportunity to rain on a tent." – Dave Berry, author
Spring Awakens the Insects
North and Central Florida get a break from the bugs in the winter months and even in South Florida they “die back” a bit. Insect issues are a small price to pay for the nearly perfect Florida weather – if you prepare in advance to deal with them.
Wear clothing treated with repellent:
Insect Shield® Advantages Insect Shield® technology converts clothing and gear into effective, long lasting and convenient insect protection.
Don’t forget your pet w/ Buff Dog Insect Shield
Make sure any exposed skin is also treated
Know your bloodsuckers, these are the most common:
Mosquito – There are over 80 varieties of mosquito in Florida, all the females will bite and bites will itch, some cause more irritation than others. The most common issue with mosquitoes in Florida is the viral encephalitis viruses they carry and transmit
Ticks - Ticks are small bloodsucking parasites. Many species transmit diseases to animals and people like Lyme disease. Some ticks are so small that they can be difficult to see.
Redbugs (Chiggers) - Chiggers are found in tall grass and weeds. Their bite causes severe itching that can last up to 2 weeks. Chiggers bite humans around the waist, ankles, or in warm skin folds. Bites commonly occur in the summer and fall months.
No-See Um’s - Also referred to as Biting Midges, Biting Gnats, Punkies or Sand Flies. They are so small they can get through screens on windows and doors. Besides causing painful bites they also can transmit diseases
How then do you prevent getting bit by these pests? Do everything you can and there is a lot of options available!
- Wear clothing that covers most of your body.
- Use repellent. Sprays or lotions with Picaridinor Deet can be used on human skin or clothing to repel mosquitoes, biting flies, ticks, fleas, and chiggers.
- Treat you clothing and gear with Permethrin, an effective pesticide, should be used on clothing only – never apply to your skin as it is a neurotoxin.
- Avoid being in the woods or secluded beach offering little breeze at times of the day (early morning, dusk, and evening) that biting insects are most active.
Florida put the wild in “wildlife”
Many folks looking for outdoor experiences are eager to see the wide variety of wildlife that call Florida home including Manatee, Panthers, Black Bear, & Alligators. Though some of the wildlife you will experience most likely will be raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, snakes, tortoises, fox, skunks, and armadillos. There is a very large variety of native and migrating birds as well that will surely please visitors. You are not likely to see Burmese Pythons, Tegu, Iguana or Rhesus Macaque monkeys unless you are specifically searching them out.
Use Common Sense when Encountering Wildlife
It is frightening to witness people getting a too close for comfort to wild animals. It is not uncommon for people to try and feed deer or to try and get a selfie with a bear (or even worse turn their back on an alligator for selfie) to post to social media for all of our friends to see. Not only are these occurrences a hazard for our personal safety but it also poses a threat to wildlife.
As a wild animal becomes habituated to the presence of humans, a distinct shift in their actions will occur.
- Animals become reliant on searching for human food and stop hunting for their natural prey.
- Wildlife is wild; if animals feel threatened they may act out in rage.
- If an animal continuously searches for human food in the same location, the animal will be transported in hopes to deter its efforts.
- If the relocation of an animal fails to work, the animal may be euthanized.
- If you see wildlife it is important to remember a few tips and tricks on how we can keep animals wild and prevent habituation.
- Always remember to plan ahead and prepare to bring a bear canister or bear bag for proper storage of food and smell-able items such as sunscreen, lip balm, deodorant, and soap.
- When camping store all food and smell-able items inside of a sealed vehicle or hard sided camper. Backpackers should hang “bear bag”.
- Keep track of food scraps including apple cores, banana peels, and orange peels.
- If you encounter a wild animal, utilize the Thumb Trick. Extend one arm with a thumb up, close one eye and attempt to hide the animal with your thumb. If the animal cannot fit behind the entirety of your thumb, back up and give the animal more space.
- Use binoculars or a zoom lens to achieve that close-up view.
- The habituation of wildlife is completely avoidable. By taking the necessary precautions, we protect the animals and the places we love.
A final word must be given to venomous snakes of Florida. Take time to learn to identify these snakes and keep your distance from them at all times.
Getting the Right Gear for Camping in Florida
With full lines of men’s and women’s clothing a large pet section, a fully stocked hiking, camping and cycling departments capped off with one of the largest fly fishing departments in North & Central Florida.
Regardless of clients outdoor experience, Flint Creek Outfitter’s friendly and knowledgeable sales staff is on-hand to offer advice, answer questions, and to help make your outdoor adventure dreams a reality. FCO is passionate about Quality, Uniqueness, and Adventure.