Wild Nature Media Resources

10 Essentials Plus

Navigating safely and boldly on a 10 mile off trail hike in Colorado.

Navigating safely and boldly on a 10 mile off trail hike in Colorado.

Wilderness Navigation can be an enjoyable experience if you have the skills and critical essential items with you to handle emergencies. Most lists do not include the critical and most important task of creating a route, sharing the route, sticking to the route and notifying two contacts of your route and itinerary and when you are returning. Contacting your contacts by a specified time upon your return is also critical.

If you have to spend the night out, there will be two pressing questions:

  1. Who knows my location?

  2. When do they expect me to return?

Without solid, positive answers to these questions it can turn hopeless in a hurry. You can avoid this challenge completely by ensuring you have the ten essentials with you AND a personal locator beacon like the SPOT unit (www.findmespot.com). This unit has many helpful features, including an S.O.S. signal for 911 emergencies.

I highly recommend testing your skills by spending the night out with just what you have in your ten essentials list. I’ve done this several times and made adjustments based on personal preference. There are a few things I’ve added to my list, including a down vest and two balaclavas, a heavy one for daytime use and a lightweight one for sleeping.

Testing your gear without the comfort of a tent, sleeping bag and pad will give you the confidence necessary to navigate more boldly and safely wherever you want to go in the backcountry.

Camera Trap Tips

Reviewing lion footage with friends

Reviewing lion footage with friends

My favorite trail camera:  Browning Recon Force Advantage

My favorite trail camera: Browning Recon Force Advantage

A favorite tripod, allowing me to set up a camera anywhere.

A favorite tripod, allowing me to set up a camera anywhere.

I am asked almost daily what kind of trail camera I recommend for capturing footage or images of wildlife. In addition to my favorite camera below, I’ve included a list of other items you might consider to capture the highest quality footage and minimize damage from animals such as black bear and elk.

Camera: Browning Recon Force Advantage

Comments: This camera records at 60 fps and has enough resolution to create images from video frames. I've printed them up to 11 X 14 and they look fantastic.

Batteries: AA Energizer Lithium Batteries

If you purchase them from Amazon or Ebay you can typically buy them for as low as 79 cents to $1.10 per battery. I only use lithium batteries because they last 6-9 times longer than alkaline. I'll get three months out of 8 batteries per camera this time of year. Alkaline batteries will give you trouble once they reach 74% charge.

Browning Camera Security Box

Use a metal case designed for the camera if you are setting them out where bears or elk are active. You'll want the model BTC-SB for the recommended camera.

Memory Card

For the SD cards, buy the full size Sandisk 32GB class 10 cards that write at 80 MB per second. You can pick these up on Amazon for about $7.00 per card! That's a screaming deal. Don't buy anything less than a 32GB card.

Cable Lock

Purchase the cable locks from AllPadlock.com. You'll want the 5/16 cable used with the MasterLock Python lock. When you order locks, use the option for "keyed alike" so that if you have more than one camera all of the locks are opened with one key. That saves me a lot of time with 28 total cameras in the field.

Camera Tripod

Finally, if you are using these in areas where trees are limited, consider a short tripod. I like the Jobi Gorrilla Pod tripods, the 3k model. They give you ultimate flexibility. Just make sure you set them up where nobody will see them as they won't be locked. You might also consider getting a heavy duty tripod with a ball head that stands between two and three feet high, with tripod legs that adjust to being nearly flat with the ground. I place rocks against or on the legs to sturdy the tripod. This gives you unlimited flexibility without relying on a tree.

Another feature of this Jobi tripod that is so handy is the simple bubble level that comes with the camera plate. It is easy to see and with a quick release of the knob you can level the camera, tighten and know that the horizon, trees, etc will be level, avoiding the challenges of adjusting the image or video later and losing part of the scene due to cropping.

Much of my work is with apex predators. There is something primal and accurate about a video where the predator is glancing toward the camera and looking down, a fitting stare from an animal that sits on the top of the food chain.