What's in your field kit?

I’m glad to hear that, actually. I was tossing up between getting a camera clip like that one, and a belt clip like this one. Yours seems like it’d be a bit more versatile.


other than a camera that i strap to my back, and occasionally an umbrella or a tripod (theoretically for low-light shots, but mostly just in case i need to fight off an unleased dog), i try to carry no more than i what i can fit in my pockets, though in my car, i will keep a pair of boots in case i need to wade through water and sometimes a snack / beverage, some sanitary supplies, and some basic first aid supplies (especially if i’m bringing others on a hike).

for my night hikes, i’ll bring a pocketable red flashlight, sometimes a white flashlight (mostly as a backup), and UV flashlight just for grins (to see if there’s anything that fluoresces – usually just human trash, but sometimes other interesting things).


I have a DSLR with a zoom lense that I can simply flip around for when I want to take a macro shot, some kneepads, a squirt bottle for hydrating mosses, a wide brimmed hat, and sometimes a telephoto lense. Lately I’ve been focusing on aquatic microbes and so the only thing I bring are some plastic bags to hold water. I’d like to get some gear so I can wade through streams as well as a bathyscope and then some measurement devices like a ph/ec/temp pen and a secchi disc. And a better camera with a sturdy yet lightweight and portable tripod. I probably need to look into mosquito countermeasures as well.


Going out in the field has so many different meanings for me between entomology, geology, and paleontology (and I’ve been known to do several at once). Sometimes I’m really into spending long times in the field while other times it may be just a fraction of my afternoon. Short jaunts are likely to incorporate very little beyond my iPhone and a containment unit.

  • camera (my iPhone or Canon EOS Rebel T6 - which reminds me that I need to go through my Canon photos at some point)
  • lenses (if I’m taking my Canon)
  • hand lens (AKA geologist’s loupe, jeweler’s loupe). I can also use this with my iPhone for a decent 10x magnification.
  • insect containment units (capture-and-release or for collection). Empty spice bottles, peanut butter jars, and some larger jars that I can’t recall what originally came in them. I go through spices like crazy, so those are always in supply, and they’re clear.
  • net (homemade, works great with wasps!). This sucker is just under shoulder height for me so is used for more planned entomological outings. It normally stays home for more casual stuff.
  • Sparpie for labeling bottles (my final labels are normally on blue masking tape. Sharpie is easily “erased” from the bottles with ethanol from Walgreen, so I can reuse them)
  • Rite in the Rain notebook (if I’m anticipating taking notes - particularly useful with geo / paleo)
  • general necessities (sunscreen, Off!, water, food, pending anticipated duration)
  • first aid kit (if I have a backpack, I’ve got one)

I suggest also carrying a tick removal kit - important to get rid of them in the right way as soon as possible to reduce the risk of Lyme Disease transmission. Mine is a simple little bit of plastic costing pennies and weighing a gram or two so no problem to carry.


What are plastic dip containers?

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The fruit idea is very clever!


Much rather travel light. Things i always have:
Camera and spare battery
small leatherman to use as a gauge
my iPod to capture audio
water bottle

Usually also:
lopped off Tshirt sleeve to hold my hair back when the wind blows
Petri dish for insects

at night: a hand LED lamp

sometimes: insect repellant. Very seldom need that in my home territory


I agree with “as little as possible”. I usually carry binoculars and camera on longer walks, on shorter walks I may make a choice of one or the other. Often I don’t carry anything else if I’m not somewhere remote. I have a hand lens and ruler on my keys and can often get the identification info I need on my phone.

On longer walks will bring water, food, first aid kit, GPS, bug spray, knife as I feel necessary.

I will sometimes carry a insect net, dip net, fishing rod, spotting scope/tripod, field guides, extra clothing as necessary, but try to avoid as much as possible. Generally I’d rather just do without these things.


My field kit is similar to a lot of the others here, one item I use that I’d like to highlight is this little folding utility knife: https://www.amazon.com/Sheffield-1282-Folding-Utility-Knife/dp/B01A0JZUWI

I think I got mine at walmart for just a few dollars. Now, I have an assortment of pretty nice pocketknives of different kinds and sizes, but the cheapo folding utility knife is sharper out of the box than any of them can be made even with careful sharpening, and has a very thin blade. It’s a viable tool for minor botanical dissection in the field. It locks, it doesn’t weigh anything, and a dulled or damaged blade is easily just replaced and then becomes sharper (again) than any normal pocketknife. I really never bring a “real” pocketknife anymore. When you open it the blade holder forms an extension of the handle, so that the functional handle is much longer than it would be in a conventional folding knife of the same closed length. The extra control is appreciable.

Some days I’m also out there with a full botanical specimen press, felts, cardboards, newspaper flimsies, etc. When I don’t want to bring the full press with me I bring a homemade mini-press involving half-sized carboards, felts, heavy watercolor paper for extra rigidity, and binder clips. I usually carry this in a conventional zipper binder that doesn’t take too much room in the pack, but I’m entertaining the idea of making rigid endplates so I can use a strap. The cardboard is usually stiff enough to press specimens that fit in the mini-press with binder clips, but a proper strap setup may be an improvement.


almost always have:

  • either dslr camera and iphone or just iphone (also for app and ebirding)

  • binoculars on a shoulder harness

  • some kind of insect repellent that repels ticks and mosquitoes (depending on the intensity I will use either essential oil based products or something with DEET. I am very sensitive to bites so if I don’t have this it will end the day!)

Frequently have:

  • head net or bug suit if I’m somewhere like a bog in the ADKs in black fly season

  • a waist apron, cloth saddlebags or hooded sweatshirt with big pocket. I carry gardening tools and harvest and collect things in the same excursions in my patch

  • muck boots

  • sun protection (sunscreen, hat, kerchief)

  • ruler for scale


  • thermarest or gardener’s kneeling pad for hawk-watching or long hikes

  • when also hiking: first aid kit, space blanket, water, hydration salts, food


Read “Thoreau’s’ Method, a Handbook for Nature Study” which includes a good discussion of what makes up a good field kit.

“Qualitative Natural History” is a four-part process that involves an event, meanings, feelings, and felt-significance."

Published in 1985, still available at Amazon.


Apart from the usual camera, gps tracker, spare batteries, water, etc, the most vital extra items that go in my pockets/backpack are:

  • collapsible diffuser/reflector
  • secateurs
  • multi-function knife
  • spare pair of socks
  • towel

• DSLR w/ telephoto lens and attached GPS receiver
• Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone
• Ruler
• Knife
• Spare camera battery
• Water
• Tennis shoes if paved trails, hiking boots if unpaved


image you can get them in a few sizes. Very handy, can fit several in your pocket


I have been asked this so often that I once wrote a blog about it:


@kimssight Nice article. And welcome to the forum!


I use my phone for photography for the most part so all of my gear mostly centers around that.

I bring

  • My phone
  • a clip on macro lens
  • a clip on lens to extend the distance the phone camera can see in detail
  • one or two portable chargers
  • a small backpack for most of my gear
  • a small container to catch animals in
  • a plastic vial with a snap on top
  • a glass vial filled with alcohol (for spider collection)
  • a sweep net
  • a beat sheet
  • a small notebook to make notes and sketches
  • and lastly some snacks

Most of the observations I make are of small stuff so the macro lens is a must for me to bring along.


is a moss packet just a small plastic bag?


-Ruler that fits in the wallet (so that it’s always there)
-3’ tiny tape measure ( for measuring stride of animal tracks)
-10x loupe

  • binos
    -collection vials
    -write in the rain notebook. Squares are 1/4” and make a decent scaled background for photos.