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.
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.
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
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!