What's in your field kit?

Cool, I hope I have the opportunity to use it for that. Here there are only harmless snakes (garter snake, De Kay’s Brown Snake) that I can grab by hand, although I guess if they are running away, the cane might come in handy to hold them until I can pick them up.


I have a waist pouch that holds water, snacks, hand lens and a field guide and/or camera. My camera is my wife’s old Sony 15X DSC-H7. It is old, with a few minor mechanical issues (slow to focus, and switches to picture taken mode when zooming on photos you are reviewing intermittently). I have a Pentax Papilo binoculars for most trips and Vortex binoculars for birding. When I do dragonflies, I have a collapsible insect net (18" rim) plus chest waders.

Since I got my camera I bring field guides with me into the field much less often. The Newcomb’s Field Guide to Wildflowers is usually the only one I bring into the field or the Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Algonquin Provincial Park and the Surrounding Area.

What I bring into the field will evolve over time.

1 Like

I have original papilio binoculars and ironically I use them more than my birding binoculars (even though they have close focusing as well to though to just five feet). I can get closer to not just insects plus plants, lichens etc as well. With chest waders they can be easily tucked into the waders so you can swing a net with more vigor versus a heavier pair of binos.

i use the pibella.

it is the smallest and most leakproof one (plus you can use it to squeegee yer squishies after), but it has the steepest learning curve. i practiced with mine at home for a couple of days before taking it outside, but i am now DONE with straining my knees to squat and peeing into my shoes.


It depends a bit on where I am (different environments require slightly different gear), but some universals are:

Pocket knife, multi-tool, folding trowel, compass (old school), GPS (usually a Garmin), 10x hand lens (doubles as a macro-lens for a smartphone), larger magnifying lens (nice for larger things, not needing to squint, and as an emergency macro lens for a normal sized camera), pocket sized spotting scope/semi-microscope (this is small enough that I have it with me even if I have binoculars with me), flashlight or headlamp, thick plastic bags (for samples, to keep dry when sitting on something wet, or to keep equipment dry), bandannas (many uses), heavy cord/light rope (3-5 meters), hat, camera (type and lenses vary), smartphone with a collection of useful apps, small umbrella (sometimes a raincoat is too hot, and it’s good for shade and for a dry area to work), steel water-bottle, sunglasses, power bank (for smartphone and to recharge flashlight if needed), notebook (waterproof) and pen/pencil, lighter (and sometimes a magnesium bar), rain-fly for pack, and a folding fan (nice to have in hot weather, and you can use it to gently blow dirt off of things).

While that’s a long-ish list, none of it other than the camera and water-bottle takes up much room. It all easily fits into a standard day-pack with room to spare. Most of it stays in a secondary shoulder-bag inside the pack.

For a pack, I prefer a top-loading type with a drawstring closure and a small sipper top panel that closes over the entire pack. This type tends to be more durable, comfortable, doesn’t get caught on brush, and the top pocket sticks up a bit ensuring that the rain-fly stays on properly. Admittedly, accessing what is inside is not as easy as with some other pack styles, but if you’ve organized your bag and gear well it’s not an issue.

1 Like

Since I often am alone and in black bear, cougar and wolf country I carry bear spray


My shoulders are garbage so I travel as light as possible. I have a little string backpack that I might shove a lightweight raincoat, water bottle and a small plastic container into. I try to put as much kit in my pockets as I can without looking like a lunatic on public transport. I also have a cheap bumbag for extra kit, or summertime when the heat necessitates wearing less pocket clothing.


  • Sony A6000

  • Long lens for birds etc

  • Raynox macro lens. This clips onto the end of the long lens for instant long to macro conversion. I can snap away at insects and whip it off in a heartbeat if a good bird flies by. Means I don’t have to carry a standalone ‘proper’ macro lens.

  • Smartphone with clip-on macro lens

  • Powerbank, not that I need it much I’ve found

  • Stainless steel chopsticks. Good for prodding things.

  • Hat and sunnies all year round. This is Australia after all!

  • Washable shoes. I’d rather just get my feet wet/dirty than wear heavy boots.

  • Pocket change, for that all important post-ramble coffee and cake ^_^


The chopsticks are a great idea! cc Life Hacks for naturalists


Interesting thread!

When I’m out running, I always take

  • my iPhone SE (for GPS tracking, photos, and audio recordings)
  • my compact 8X25 monocular (for bird ID and far-off photos through iPhone)
  • a small macro lens for my iPhone (actually, I use the lens from my first camera, for both sentimental reasons and it’s higher quality that the cheap plastic clip-ons)
  • a plastic vial for collecting insects (just in case)
  • a plastic bag for collecting plants (just in case).
  • a battery pack (my iPhone’s battery is getting old and I’m out for several hours at a time)

When I’m biking, I’ve also got my bluetooth microphone (a Sony ECMAW4 Wireless Microphone) which I clip onto my helmet so I can make observations (geotagged, timestamped audio notes) while riding. I use a Bic ballpoint pen as a scale for all my roadkill photos (one day I should swap it out with a short ruler but the pen does the job).

If there’s a chance of rain (or if it is raining), I have a clear plastic bag so I can keep using my iPhone in any weather. Taking photos with an iPhone is a bag in the rain doesn’t work well but I can continue to make audio notes of everything I’m seeing and hearing.

When I’m out walking, I take my DSLR kit with a 28 mm lens, 90 mm macro lens with 50 mm extension tubes, and a 300 mm lens. And plenty of vials and plastic bags. If it’s available, I take my wife’s Garmin GPSMAP64 for more accurate GPS tracking. Otherwise that gets done by my iPhone.

But no chopsticks. I’d not thought of chopsticks!


Just curious, does the bear spray actually work (hopefully you never have to use it!)?

Interesting how much a field kit can change in a year! Right now whenever I go out on lengthier excisions I bring:

A camera bag holding all of my equipment
A newer DSLR with the same macro and telephoto lenses
A small Olympus TG-5 for general photos and underwater stuff (which happens a lot more often than you think!)
My phone with an app that creates a gps file so I can apply location metadata to any photo I take in the field
misc. minor things (cleaning kits, extra batteries, snacks for really big trips, etc.)

1 Like

Olympus TG-5
iPhone X
Sunglasses, sun hat, sunscreen (the joys of living in Egypt)
Nikon Binoculars


Welcome to the forum, @youssefelnahas!
It’s nice to see someone from a neighbouring country.


Thanks. We need to pick up our game, I’m always jealous when I look at the map and see how many observations there are in Israel and Palestine compared to us!


We had one occasion where just the sound of the safety being pulled was enough to cause an unsuspecting approaching grizzly to change course by 90 degrees and high tail away.

1 Like

Of course the main is husband with flashlight. :D
But usually at daytime it’s 2 cameras with macro and tele lenses (Nikon D750/5100). If on a vacation I take a bag with me for cameras, food, water, smartphone for quick plant shots. If anyone asked me I also bring containers for collecting insects.


A few things that haven’t been mentioned, which I keep in the car:

  • small (26") shovel
  • tire plug kit + pliers
  • jump-start power bank
  • 12v tire pump
  • folding pruning saw
  • hatchet
  • ratchet + socket set
  • 10,000 lb tow strap
  • emergency space blanket
  • lantern

With the exception of the space blanket, all of these have either been used to get out of a sticky situation, or were bought because they would have gotten me out of such a situation much faster/easier if I’d had them available at the time. Always good to be prepared if you are going solo out on rugged roads and/or out of cell coverage.


Small kit: 10x Coddington loupe, forensic scale, smartphone.

Large kit: as above but add; longer ruler, 14x hastings triplet loupe, pad and pencil, micro tweezers from the hardware store, scalpel, piece of cork, mounting pins, reading glasses

1 Like

You carry a phone and a phone? :wink:

1 Like

Yes, one is a xylophone.