First Solo iNat Trip - What should I take?

I highly recommend this method:

I used to hold a magnifying glass over the lens of my camera, having first made sure it wouldn’t touch glass to glass by putting a thin piece of paper over the lens… it acts as a diopter that shortens up the focal length. After I lost that (in the field!) I replaced it with a screw on diopter that fits the filter thread of my camera. The purpose designed one is better in that there is less distortion at the edges of frame, but has the disadvantage of not being able to quickly switch between the two. A couple of times I have un-threaded the filter diopter and dropped it in the long grass, potential for losing it and even causing fires if the sun on a later day hits it at the right angle… so I sometimes find myself wanting that handled magnifying glass again…

As someone who regularly goes on accessible solo hikes/trails, the things I bring always is my phone and its accompanying clip-on macro lens, bottle of water, some energy drink (just in case), sunscreen, towel, phone charger and cable, torch, and raincoat.

As much as its an iNat trip I personally would still err on the side of safety first, even if you think you dont need it, ie. extra food, water etc, batteries.

Also I would suggest to go not having a list of potential lifers, but rather not have any expectations on what you may see. That way you will be more satisfied with yourself.


If you want help to ID plants, take lots of pictures. It’s hard to know what you need to photograph for an ID because it’s different for different taxa. This is my general photo approach for unknown plants:

  • Whole plant including its habitat
  • Closeups of flower, fruit, seeds, buds.
  • The flower from top, side, and bottom. The underside of flowers in the sunflower/aster/daisy family is sometimes very diagnostic.
  • A branch or stem showing a variety of leaves and how they attach.
  • Closeups of leaf: top, underside, margins, leaf stalk, how leaf attaches to stem (you can often get most of these in one or two photos).
  • For trees, a bark closeup and base of trunk
  • Anything you think is weird or cool: hairy stems, wings on a leaf stalk or stem, colors, different shaped leaves, oddly shaped flowers, thorns and spines, being covered with insects, if it oozes latex when touched or damaged.

And smell the flowers and crushed leaves. I record this with a quick video narration.

Enjoy! I’m thinking of doing that too.


You’re not going solo at all. We’re with you in spirit. :smile:


And I forgot! If you take photos take as many different angles if possible. For insects I highly suggest at least one dorsal and one lateral shot.

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For anyone wanting to collect small insects, I highly recommend disposable microcentrifuge tubes, in the 2ml size. Google with find you a bag of 500 for $50 or so. I find these indispensable for just about everything small, and I always-always-always have 1 or 2 in my pockets. I’ve discreetly rescued/collected many a bug in many a situation with these. And you can fit 100 into a ziplock sandwich bag for a day trip. They’re small, light, indestructable, reusable, you can label them with a felt pen, and you can use them one-handed. Generally I put 1 insect per vial. You can catch-and-release, or add ethanol preservative, or pop them into the freezer to process later.
For moth collectors, I find that most moths will jump right into the tube if you position the opening in front of them and nudge their antennae with the rim. I can get anything up to the size of a cutworm moth off the net or sheet and into these. For micromoths, these tubes are small enough that the tiniest moths generally stay moist and soft for up to a month in the freezer, for later pinning. With bigger jars/vials, they inevitably dry out and become really challenging to pin/spread. I used to use bigger jars, envelopes, etc but now use these for all but the biggest insects. Their only downfall is you can’t get good photos through them so you need to do that in something else like a clear plastic cassette tape case. Everyone of a certain age has a bunch of those, right?


Also I would suggest to go not having a list of potential lifers, but rather not have any expectations on what you may see. That way you will be more satisfied with yourself.

Finding animals on iNat that I want to see is how I pick where I want to go hiking. I don’t always find them, but I’ve never been disappointed because there’s always plenty of other things to see, and not finding them gives me a reason to visit again. Actually finding what you are looking for feels like an accomplishment, too. I went looking for Taricha newts on my last hike and it really made my day when I found one!


My favourite response so far. Rough day today and this put such a big smile on my face. Thank you. :grinning:


You’re welcome. Wishing you a pleasant weekend. :honeybee:

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I suppose it depends on the situation. Certainly there have been times where I go to a location to find a specific target, and successfully doing so. Other times I fail to find my target species but yet find other cool observations.

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I did also want to say the most important things to have with you are curiosity and patience. Both are indispensable. And open-mindedness about what kind of organisms you might find.


I really enjoyed reading this thread. I have one thing to add. I found that a neoprene lunch bag with shoulder strap is one of the best field bags to carry. It is especially good in the winter. It is waterproof. It is big enough to carry enough things; but, it limits you to not carrying too much. I mainly use it for my camera (Sony H-300). But, there is plenty of room for things like gloves, a washcloth (really just a tiny towel), snacks, etc. If you don’t like the thin strap that comes with it, you can always get a thicker one somewhere.

Here is a link to one at Amazon:

I also have one of these small travel pouches with a clip so I can carry smaller items. I can clip it to the D-ring on the lunch bag so doesn’t get lost in the field. I usually keep extra batteries and zip-lock bags in it. But, I have also carried paper and pen, an extra boot lace (lots of uses) and a small folding pocket knife.

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I don’t know how it’s called in English, but tourists’ sitting thing like one on pic is very useful if you need to stop for rest or you work with stuff near/on the ground - it keeps your clothes dry and in winter it also keeps the cold away when you’re sitting