It is getting close to graduation for university students and that means another class of geologists is about to pack up and head to summer field camp! Field camp is a rite of passage for the geologist and often the only real mapping experience they will get during their careers. The experience is crucial to being able to read and understand geologic maps in their careers and pulls everything they’ve learned in their last years of study together in the full cohesive picture of the Earth system.

Getting Field Camp Gear Made Easy

One of the most difficult things about field camp is the preparation. Okay, maybe it is the hikes and heat and bugs, but let’s stick with preparation. Getting the right gear to go into the field can be tricky. Students are often budget conscious and don’t want to spend a fortune for equipment that they may not use all that often after camp, but they also don’t want garbage that will break in week one and cause frustration the rest of the course.

Ordering all of the gear can be a pain as well – there are many different suppliers that each carry a piece of the puzzle, but you have to place many orders, pay shipping multiple times, and hope that everything gets to you in time.

Example of a field kit assembled by a geologist

Well, those days are over! We now carry everything you need for field camp, a field expedition, or your next rock hounding trip. From hand lenses to tweezers to map boards it is all in one place. We have put a fully customizable kit together that lets you put many of the essentials in your cart with one click, but gives you the option to remove items you may already have.

Picking what goes into a field kit wasn’t an easy task. There are more options than ever for supplies, but to be frank, many of them are just cheap garbage. We hate cheap garbage and know you do too. To find the optimal balance of quality and price we consulted our network of friends and customers who are out there in the field mapping, collecting samples, and doing the hard work of field geology and geophysics. We also talked to field camp directors and past field camp students about what their experiences in the field were and what gear they found to be necessary and what was still in the packaging when they packed their bags for home.

What we found was for a surprisingly economical price we could put together a kit of the essentials that made getting your supplies a simple one stop task. Not only is it fast, but you get gear you know is going to work. We then called on the excellent web site developers we work with to add the capability to have a single product page for the kit that allows you to pick and choose what you are getting. The defaults are what we recommend for a basic field kit, but you can upgrade, downgrade, add, or remove as much as you’d like. This is especially useful as we know some field camps provide items such as field books or map boards while others require students to purchase them.

While we’re mentioning map boards, the map boards we’ve developed with our field friends are awesome and we don’t recommend going to the field without them. Their development is a whole other story, but be sure to check them out!

12x18 inch map board
Hand Loupe close up

There are a few items that may seem puzzling at first glance – like tweezers. This is one of those “been there, done that” items. You only fall into a Cholla cactus once before you carry tweezers.

We were also pointed to this inexpensive hand lens which is surprisingly great for the price and even has a UV light. Kits even have the lanyard so you’re never unsure of where your hand lens is. (Personally, we think you should never use the belt holster except for storage as it makes it too inconvenient to use the lens quickly out on the rocks.)

Finally, don’t forget a field pouch. This is one item that many students skip when gearing up and then really wish they hadn’t when they get outdoors. Carrying all of your equipment in a way that it is quick and easy to access and does not slow you down is essential. We’ve seen everything from grocery store bags to school backpacks to military tactical gear in the field, but the field pouches from Plateau Designs are just about the closest thing to perfect on the market today. 

Field Pouch Open View Full

We generally carry to dark navy blue pouches, but your color may depend on the availability from the manufacturer at the time. These little pouches hold the essentials without getting bulky and are made of durable material that survives those scrambles across dolomite outcrops or tangles with the local flora.

So make gearing up for summer camp the easy part and order our field camp kits early! We stock a lot of gear, but we expect to be running low by the time camp starts. Don’t wait till the last minute to order!

Are you a student or field camp director and think we’ve missed something or have a recommendation of times for the kit? Let us know! Also a big thank you to Dr. Shannon Dulin and Steve Adams for many discussions of field gear and working with us on numerous revisions of products and kits. 

Don’t forget to listen to John and Shannon’s weekly podcast, the Don’t Panic Geocast! There’s a great episode all the way back from 2015 talking about field camp and being prepared!

John Leeman
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