Sometimes the most difficult part of keeping a nature journal is feeling like you have the right supplies. One way to combat running around trying to find pens and pencils is to create a “nature journal survival kit.” This is something I keep in my back pack that I take hiking with me, just like I do a first aid kit, to ensure all the supplies I need is with me when I am compelled to record something in my nature journal.
Creating your own “nature journal survival kit” can be a fun way to enhance the nature journaling experience. It allows you to think about what kind of recording tools you’d like to have with you while making observations and which tools can be used later to add detail/go over your work with. While creating your kit, be sure to think about what your preferred style is when making observations and recordings. You’ll also want to think about, realistically, how much you’d like to be carrying with you and what kinds of tools you’ll actually use! I’m someone who likes to make quick field observations, snap some photos with my camera and then add additional details later!
The first step in creating a survival kit is picking a bag or container that you are going to carry your journaling supplies in! To do this, I would poke around your home and gather up any extra containers, bags, etc. that might do the trick! Once you have a couple of options, as you add more or less to your kit, you can eliminate the containers/bags that will not work.
These are the solutions I found that might work while creating my nature journal survival kit:
Once you’ve got the essentials, there are some additional materials that can be helpful to keep in your journal. The first is some kind of ruler, or tool for measuring. I like to keep a teeny, tiny tape-measure, but you can keep string that you know is a certain length, or anything that will help you to give some kind of scale to your pictures, or help you record dimensions! You can even create your own compact ruler using a piece of paper, ruler, and marker/pen. All you need to do is mark your units of measurement on it!
Another great thing to keep in your journal is any kind of supplies you like to use to color your journal with (if you like you to add color to your journal). When I’m in the field, I really only make pencil sketches, but occasionally I like to add water color to my work real-time so that I can get as much detail as possible and capture the color as best as I can. Often times, though, I will take a photo of what I am observing and add detail later, or even put the photo in my nature journal. That being said, I do keep a set of water color pencils in my “survival kit” so that I can use them if I feel like it. I’ve also found that since putting them in with my journaling supplies, I’m more compelled to spend time detailing color in the moment! You can add any kind of coloring tools you’d like to your kit be it markers, crayons, colored pencils or water colors! You can even add a little bit of everything. If you are including water color pencils or water colors, be sure to include a brush! Thankfully most of us bring water on our outer adventures, so you don’t need to worry about keeping water in your nature journal kit!
Those are just some suggestions for how to create and awesome journaling kit to bring with you on your adventures, but as with everything in our nature journals, you can really do whatever works for you! I also like to keep a small notepad in my NJK (nature journal kit) in case I forget my actual nature journal. I take my nature journal with me many places, so sometimes it ends up leaving my hiking backpack, but as long as I have a small writing pad and my NJK in my bag, I should be able to journal whenever I am out exploring, no matter what!
In addition to all of this supplies, I’ve been trying to remind myself to add baggies and or something to collect any interesting leaf litter, or seeds that I don’t have time to draw/observe immediately, but want to take home for closer inspection! This is also what cameras can be really great for!
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