Alright I'm a bit behind the curve here... but ever since The Lost Geologist posted a photo showing all the bells and whistles comprising the field geologist's kit, the world of geobloggers has been weighing in. (Also see... Geotripper, Hypocentre, Kim, the Ethical Palaeontologist, Johannes, Silver Fox, etc...)
Over the years I've developed some very climate and duration specific field kits. I hate to carry anything I don't need and I hate to be overloaded as to be uncomfortably hot. I also hate to run out of water and/or food.
1. No Belt. I wear pants or shorts with many deep pockets. In those: Brunton Compass (I have one for S and one for N-hemisphere field work) Rite-In-The-Rain field book, at least 2 mechanical pencils, fatty eraser, many fine-tipped sharpies in multiple colours, a few big black sharpies for marking samples. Can't have enough sharpies. (often: cell phone, gps, whistle)
2. Handlens(s) on a chord around my neck.
3. At least twice the water I think I will need. Two or more pieces of fruit which are waste-free (I eat apple cores and orange peels rather than leave them in the field or carry them home. Thanks to Eric Thompson for long ago convincing me of the edibility of citrus peels). To keep this light as possible, I have knit some water bottle slings which I will use in place of carrying a pack if the water is all I'm bringing.
4. Map board - still using the Hilde Schwartz-style boards from UC Santa Cruz which are made from two pieces of plexiglass (one with a 1.5" bit cut off from one side), duct tape, and binder clips. Put the topo maps +/- aerial photos in here. I'm still looking for a replacement for standard binder clips which does not affect my compass, as I do end up taking measurements on the map board pretty often.
5. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in zip-lock baggies (also twice as many as I think I could possibly need; these roll over every day if I don't eat them. They keep just fine, even improve with age(?), they're high energy, and there's no need to wash out the ziplock between pb&js.
6. Camera. Currently rocking the Canon EOS 1000D. Always with spare battery and SD cards.
Hot Weather Kit: Photo by Taufeeq Dhansay, Near Monapo, Mozambique (2008)
----That's it for the "always" items. ---
7. Hammer and heavy plastic bags, duct tape, and super glue for sampling - The way I do field work often involves several days of structural measurements at one outcrop or small area - normally then I do all the data collection and then set aside a day for sampling at the end. That way I don't a) smash anything I should have measured or b) take unneccessary samples before I understand the full picture. This has been a pretty important adaptation to my field plan because as a structural geologist who works on brittle rocks I NEED REALLY BIG ROCK SAMPLES and when rocks cross borders in Africa, they often have to go through customs with a certified currier company. This means I pay by the kilo. I want fewer, bigger, better samples.
----Matters of personal style---
When mapping in arid and semi-arid environments, I wear running shoes ("takkies") with short cotton socks. I hate being too hot more than I hate getting my legs all scratched up in the blasted fynbos. I wear SPF40 super waterproof sunscreen everywhere but somehow end up burned anyway.
When mapping in cold wet places, I wear NO COTTON WHATSOEVER not even underwear. Synthetics and wool only. In Alaska I often wear extra-tuffs while mapping in the field but I'm not sure this is the best way to go.
Hair: Always with the dual-braid configuration. Fits best under hats.
Hat: My SeaHawk Air hat has been my standard since 02. However, I lost it when it blew away in sub-gail force winds while I was sitting on top of a really fantastic sycline-axis koppie with a crinkly little bit of Prince Albert Formation in a sea of Dwyka diamictites. I got SeaHawk to send me another and it's almost as good. Finally, Sila talked me into getting a proper 360-degree brimmed floppy hat and it's ... alright. But I feel like such a dork.
Pants: Dork score increasing here: I wear zip-offs these days. Specifically, Convertable nylon pants from Cape Storm. They have kick-ass pockets with zippers so i don't lose keys. They look terrible because there is some bunchy elastic at the back for some odd reason. I don't care. They are light-weight and seemingly bulletproof, even in the face of elephant-skin weathering (also known as tareponts weathering to the Poleta crew).
Kit for Alaska field work: Photo: Asuka Yamaguchi, June 2006
---- Also, things that live in my backpack forever ---
15m of good strong 3mm nylon line (good for clothesline if nothing else)
a powerbar or two of unknown antiquity
ziplock baggie of extra TP (also of unknown antiquity)
Ha ha I'm looking for pictures of myself in the field and I realize something that's present in nearly every photo but I completely forgot to add to the list:
Students. Not technically required for every field campaign but they sure do make it more fun. That's me in the green. Laingsburg field trip 2008. (not sure who took this picture.)