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):
- 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?