What’s in your field bag?

Almost every field biologist carries a bag into the field, although the contents differ wildly from person to person. Here’s what I took along every day for casual collecting while I was in arctic Canada last summer (trap servicing days had a much bigger pile of gear):

Field gear for a day on the tundra

  • Back pack and waist pouch (my ancient Serratus fanny pack from the 1980s)
  • Sweep net (don’t leave home without it!)
  • Aspirator (for sucking bugs out of the net and off flowers; the first is easier)
  • Killing jars (1 big, 1 small), vials of 95% ethanol (lots!)
  • Soft forceps (two pairs – if I only take one I am assured of losing them)
  • Label pen and paper (every vial gets a label. immediately!)
  • Swiss army knife (with scissors for labels. and a corkscrew, just in case)
  • GPS unit (a label isn’t a label without those coordinates!)
  • Field notebook (waterproof!) and pencil (for site descriptions, extra label data, weather notes, lists of things I saw, and random research ideas)
  • Binoculars (summer in the high arctic? always lots of birds to see)
  • Compact digital camera (honestly, if I had a digital SLR with a big lens, I’d probably smash it by accident the first day)
  • Watercolour field kit (this was the first trip for the paints. It was great fun)

Not shown (safely stowed inside the back pack): pad of watercolour paper, field guide to birds, field guide to arctic wildflowers, first aid kit, tasty granola bars, water bottle and, of course, insect repellent, just in case.

What’s in your field bag?


About terry wheeler

professor, museum director, entomologist, ecologist, naturalist
This entry was posted in Lab and Field News and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What’s in your field bag?

  1. Your stuff … plus …. toilet paper … and 50 feet of parachute cord and a space blanket

  2. oh yeah! toilet paper too – also excellent for cleaning glasses. On the other hand, with scissors and a space blanket, who needs toilet paper. I often carry some cord in this part of the world but with the tallest vegetation about halfway between my ankle and knee (plus some duct tape in my first aid kit) I dispensed with the cord in the arctic.

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