What would you take into the field?

As the time draws closer for my first ever extended period in the field as a real-live grownup, I find my self wondering, what on earth do I bring with me? Of course as a girl I wonder what if I need to look nice? Should I bring make-up? Just in case? Maybe follow Mireya Mayor‘s lead and pack a little black dress? But then the outdoors[wo]man in me kicks in and I wonder which parts of my Wilderness First Aid training I’ll need to use… Will I have to splint a leg with branches and a sleeping bag? What about stop a gushing wound? Then I wonder if I’ll end up pulling something Bear Grylls-esc and get stranded away from my camp and have to use nothing but a knife, a lighter and the shirt off my back to survive for days on end while living on the leaves and trying to not get eaten by a lion.

Well most of this stuff probably won’t happen, but now you know what it sounds like in my head! But I was curious after reading Mireya Mayor’s book Pink Boot and a Machete about what kinds of quirky things are useful in a field situation, so I reached out. I asked the Twitterverse what their item they would never be caught without in the field was, which also morphed into, which books do you read in the field. Here are some of the great responses:

@Ben_garrodPrimates Memoir: Knife – all else can be made/found! Other than that – best book ever 🙂

Ben Garrod is a primatologist and evolutionary biologist. He is a trustee for the Jane Goodall Institute and is a BBC presenter.

@SnowHydro: Books! And Scotch! 🙂

When I asked Sarah Boon (@SnowHydro) which books she responded

@SnowHydro: One yr I brought 3-in-1-LoTR, was great for the field. Also Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy. Books on my region (Arctic, mtns)…

Sarah Boon is the editorial manager @ScienceBorealis and is an environmental scientist with an academic background in cold regions hydroecology!

@Gruntleme: An e-reader. Honestly, no other optional item seems essential.

Her favorite books to read in the field are:

@Gruntleme: Last time my favorites turned out to be Into Thin Air, Eating Animals, Theodore Rex and the Girl Who books.

Meera Lee Sethi (@Gruntleme) is a “serial volunteer on biological research projects” and is working on applying to graduate programs in ecology.

@PopePolar: My field mascot Fjord! & duct tape. & raingear. & a camera. I don’t travel that light.

Fjord- Allen Pope's field mascot

Allen Pope is a postdoc studying snow, glaciers and ice using satellite images with the help of his reindeer Fjord, who is from Svalbard (not to be confused with the continental reindeer)!

@Howitt_julia: I usually pack a dissection kit and a roll of electrical take in case equipment needs to be repaired/modified. Plus this is Australia- pack a first aid kit in the car and a snake bandage in your pocket!

Julia Howitt is working on her PhD at Charles Sturt University. Her research is on the photochemical degradation of dissolved organic matter from freshwater systems and considered interactions with iron oxides and the impacts of these reactions on carbon cycling and bioavailability. What a mouthful! Her Twitter says she is “Applying environmental and analytical chemistry from the alps to the ocean.”

@DocDez: DEET

Dr. Dez is very straightforward in what he needs in the field! He blogs on The Boreal Beetle.

@JMichelleLavery: Headlamp. Goretex. Camera. And, of course, @picaroons beer. 🙂

Michelle Lavery is a grad student with a passion for the English language and the outdoors.

@WhySharksMatter: @5HourEnergy

David Shiffman (@WhySharksMatter) runs a very famous twitter page with over 15K followers. He is a marine biologist studying shark feeding ecology and conservation.

@labroides: I swear by my @FieldNotesBrand notebooks. I almost always end up reading Lord of the Rings. Last year however I also took “Spillover”

Dr. Wrasse is a marine biologist who also advocates feminism! She splits her time between New York and Fiji.

@MiriamGoldste: If I’m going to sea… Saltines. Good electrolytes and they taste the same on both their inward and return journeys!

Miriam Goldstein is a marine biologist and a science communicator. She received her PhD from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography where her research focused on zooplankton and invertebrates that attached themselves to flotsam.

@EdFarrelly: Never go anywhere without my diary, I know that’s old school but it helps me to a) dissect the day b) document all the details.

Ed’s favorite books out on the trail are:

@EdFarrelly: Three Cups of Tea by Mortenson & A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Newby. Different reads but both awesome tales of adventure

Ed Farrelly is a little different from everyone else on this list because he is more of an explorer than a professionally trained scientists. But in a way, aren’t explorers and scientists kind of synonyms? Both reaching out and trying to go where no one has gone before? Ed Farrelly is a world record holding mountaineer and adventurer (Swoon!). At 21 years old he will be attempting to become the youngest Briton to solo a 7000 meter mountain in Kyrgzystan.


Well folks! That’s all for now! I’ll post more as people respond to my tweets! I hope you enjoyed, and maybe even learned something! If you have a favorite book or item to bring with you in the field write it in the comments! I would love to hear it!


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