First Solo iNat Trip - What should I take?

Up until now I’ve mainly been using iNat to track whatever I see when out on walks with the family. However on Saturday 1st August I’m planning my first solo iNat trip where I’ll be heading to a nature reserve for 4-6 hours specifically to document whatever I can find.

Some Basic Info:

  • Weather is set to be a sunny 24*C.
  • The location is a mixture of pine forest, naturally occurring ponds, and sandy heathland.
  • I’ll be going mainly hunting spiders and insects, but also whatever I stumble across.
  • Whatever I take will need to fit into a rucksack/camera bag along with water and lunch.
  • I have an endoscope and an old DSLR but no macro lens (can’t afford one). Plus all the usual kit (jars, paint brushes, hand lens, tweezers, etc)

TLDR: My question to the community is what I should I take?

Also, any tips to make the most of the trip? Any advice, pointers, mistakes to avoid, etc. are welcome too.

Thanks in advance. Liam


Walking stick? I sometimes use mine instead of a tripod to steady my camera.


Oh that’s a good idea. Thanks.

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It’s probably too late for this particular trip, but you can get old manual focus macro lenses quite cheaply from reputable places like My first macro lens was this one, which I got for like $100 and stuck to my Canon 60D with a cheap adaptor. It was manual focus and exposure, but it was a great little lens and built like a tank. It’s a good way to start getting into macro.

Sometimes a cheap white plastic bowl or tray are good for collecting insects and other arthropods. Hold it under a branch or bush, give it a little shake, and see what drops out.

Speaking from experience, don’t get too bummed if you don’t see any target species (if you have target species, that is). I’ve gone on a few trips and not seen much of what I wanted, which put me in a bad mood for no reason. Just enjoy your time outside and exploring.


If you are going to take a walking stick, you can also perhaps bring a small kitchen sieve, which you can attach to the end of the walking stick using duct tape or elastic string. Then you will be able to scoop into the ponds and see what you can find. A plastic dish, the kind that take-away food comes in, would serve to dump the contents of the sieve into, once the dish has some water in it.


I don’t worry too much about what I bring on a trip. On some trips I will take a net (type depends on what I’m after), but for the majority of my trips I just take along my camera and some means of collection in case I find a species I’m after (usually that means a few salsa cups in my pocket), disregarding a lunch. Storing equipment at home is easier for me than taking it with me. Spiders are easy to target and I have never found and then lost a subject - whereas some species of insects are harder and a net may be needed. I may note, having a net and a strange looking camera (rigged for macro) is not a great combination. I have had to do much explaining to park rangers more than a few times …

For mothing trips, I would also carry a flashlight and a UV flashlight, but my camera flash suffices for day trips.

Spiders and insects are usually what I’m after too. Since you have quite a bit of time there, you should be able to take your time and find many :-)

I use a Canon 60D as well :-) An affordable, yet durable camera.

If you see something of interest, and it is ‘iffy’ whether it will stay in one place, get a picture. Having it fly away as you approach it is not good - taking a picture from even far away is better than nothing. Sometimes I take 5-6 pictures of an individual as I creep closer, testing its patience.

That’s a good idea! I have trouble with shaking the camera when I see a lifer - probably because of the adrenalin and the weight of the camera (mine’s about 4 lb with all equipment).


The lunch is important. Take more than you think you’ll want, in case you want to or are forced to stay longer. Maybe a few extra granola or fruit bars for energy. At 24 degrees, extra water, too.


Lots of ideas in this thread:


I add a flat-head screwdriver to my kit to lift pieces of bark or expose critters which might bite.

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More about what to leave behind:

A notice of where you are going and for how long, also covering any possible detours you might anticipate. Especially relevant if you are going outside of cellphone coverage etc. We don’t want or plan for things to go wrong, but in the event they do, make it as easy as possible to get you back in one piece!

I have to say that taking a buddy with you is a wise move… and having someone to share in the joy when you find something unusual is really cool. It also lets you “see twice as much”, as you will both be looking in slightly different spots and in slightly different ways. I’m, always amazed when I take people to places I go often, and they spot things that I would have walked past dozens of times and just never noticed…


A wedge golf club is really really good. A decent snake hook also works pretty well.

I always do this with birds. I will end up with 10 pictures, each getting progressively closer with the best one normally the last.


How will you geotag the images you take with your DSLR?

I’m currently using my Gamin watch to track my location via GPS and geotag the images from my camera (don’t forget to check if the time and date of your camera are set correctly) at home using Lightroom (free software like DigiKam also work fine). Previously I was using my smartphone to record my location (using OSMand) but this drains the battery quite a lot.

Power-bank for he smartphone and a spare battery for the camera are also quite useful.


You may need some kind of extra light off your camera for things in the leaf litter of the pine forest. (I have recently been using my dad’s phone for this, which comes with a handy adjustable mount called my dad.) Something pale you can use as a background for shots or to reflect light may be also of use.


If you’re looking specifically for spiders and insects, a bug vac or net and a bug box to store them in temporarily might be good, and some soft-tipped forceps for handling.


The main things that I’d add to the list are:

  • Sunscreen
  • DEET / insect repellent
  • Hat
  • Mini notebook & pen for jotting down observations.

If you can, find a provincial or state guide to local flora & fauna in PDF form, and load that onto the storage card in your phone. Nice to have a reference handy!


Ah. I almost forgot completely, I also carry a swiss army knife at pretty much all times. Invaluable in many situations involving insects or arachnids.


omg, I’m recalling any number of male palp illustrations that could seriously have been described as “swiss army knife”, so totally an appropriate tool to associate with them!


If there is any possibility that you might get lost, a successful rescue is much more likely if you stay where you are rather than keep moving, which not only makes you more lost but also much harder for the rescue team to track you. Thia ia one of many instances where our instincts can be quite misleading.


Thanks for all the awesome advice everyone. There is much gold here!

Great tip. I wasn’t able to spring a Macro this time, but I did pick up a cheap set of extension tubes. It’s no macro but at least it will give me some options in the field.

This is also good advice and something I’ll need to remember. I do have a couple of target spiders in mind. There are no records of them in area but the habitats I’ll be visiting fit perfectly in the spiders’ niches so, you never know. Yet as you say, the journey is more important than the destination.

Ah yes, the safety shots! I’m well versed in those and the strange looks/comments you get from people.

Great idea! Thanks.

Agreed on both! I’ll be taking an Ordinance Survey map (the reliable companion of all British walkers). I’m also planning on leaving a photocopy with my route marked for my wife and also talking her through the route. The reserve is near a couple of big towns and last time I visited with the family we have mobile reception throughout. That said accidents happen so better to be safe than sorry.

Good question. I plan to do it analogue with a notebook and pen. Jot down a few details about the subject and then the OS map grid ref. That should be enough to locate a rough GPS location when I input the images to iNat. Not the most streamlined approach but it will do for this trip at least.