Field School Equipment

Here is the inventory of required and optional gear for Field School participants.
Most of the gear on this list would be great to have, but keep in mind that costs for equipment can add up. If this is the only time that you will be using this gear, buy only essential items, and see if you can borrow other equipment from friends or family members.
This is a six-week course, so keep comfort in mind. Even after a full day in the field, you will have a lot of camp time to use as you wish, so be sure to bring forms of entertainment, such as books, crossword puzzles or games.

Personal gear

CAMP GEAR
  • Backpack or duffle: This should be something in which to pack all your personal belongings for the entire six weeks. We will be limited on space in vehicles, so limit it to one duffle or backpack containing the most necessary items.
  • Tent: If you want sufficient room and dislike feeling confined, consider a four-person or a two-person tent. Costco, Target, Sports Authority, Big Five and some other retailers all tents at reasonable prices ($60–$80). Don’t skimp too much on this, because it is going to be your home for six weeks.
  • Ground cloth for your tent: an inexpensive plastic tarpaulin works fine.
  • Sleeping pad: Thin foam mats may be fine for a weekend backpacking trip, but you might want something thicker for six weeks in the field. You can double up foam mats or maybe consider an air mattress (no bigger than single bed size if you’d like to fit more than just the mattress in your tent).
  • Sleeping bag: You don’t need a heavily insulated one intended for freezing weather, but make sure you have something that will keep you warm with nighttime temperatures in the 50s.
  • Pillow: You can purchase a small camping pillow or just bring a regular size one. That’s not a must-have item, but it will help keep you comfortable.
  • Flashlight or headlamp. Headlamps work best because they are hands free.
  • Mug: A good multi-use mug for hot and cold beverages.
  • Alarm clock: You will be responsible for waking yourself up each morning and will need a battery-powered alarm clock or watch with an alarm. Don’t rely on your cell phone or any other device that needs to be recharged periodically. Our access to electricity will be limited.
  • Two water bottles: We recommend the 1-quart size. Nalgenes work best, but anything that holds water that you can carry around will work. Camelbak 2-liter water bottles are ideal for survey work.
CLOTHING
Working in field conditions requires adequate protection from sun, vegetation, rocky ground and other potential sources of injury while at the same time trying to remain at a comfortable temperature. Strong work pants (such as jeans, Dickies, Carharts) are recommended, along with long-sleeve shirts (especially for survey work) to protect from the sun and vegetation. In some circumstances, working in shorts and T-shirts may be possible. We recommend layers of clothing so you can adjust for cool mornings and hot days, as well as more comfortable camp clothes for off-duty hours. Bring plenty of socks, T-shirts and underwear, and remember that everything will be getting extremely dirty and worn out.
FIELD CLOTHING:
  • Pants: Old jeans and khakis work well in the field. Comfortable pants make a huge difference in the field. If you have to purchase some cheap jeans or work pants, try a store like Wal-Mart, Kmart, or the thrift store.
  • Shirts: Same idea here as with the pants. Old T-shirts and tank tops work best, as the potential to re-wear after field school is low. Remember, the days will be hot, so stick to materials that breathe well.
  • Socks: The type of socks are really up to you. You don’t necessarily need thick wool ones, but it wouldn’t hurt to have some quality pairs. Try to bring a week’s worth of socks.
  • Shoes: Old tennis shoes work out great. Hiking boots are fine and can protect your feet if you plan to go on hikes and for survey work. The key is comfort, and protection of your feet from aching. While working you will need to wear closed-toe shoes.
  • Hat: A hat of some sort – a straw hats, a baseball cap or a wide-brimmed cowboy hat -- will protect you from the sun and help to keep you cooler during those hot days. A bandana can offer some protection, too.
  • Top layers: A good lightweight windbreaker jacket can be very helpful. Fleece is light and warm and fairly inexpensive. Cotton Sweatshirts are OK, too, but make sure you will be warm enough if the nights become chilly.
  • Rain gear: A good set of rain gear is important to have on hand. Any hardware store should have a two- or three-piece set of rain gear for under $20. You may look like a fisherman but you will be toasty warm and dry when it rains. We may also use rain gear if we wet-screen.
CAMP CLOTHING:
Bring a couple of changes of clothes that will be comfortable when we are hanging out at camp after work. Temperatures will be hot during the day and cool at night, so bring some comfortable clothes with that in mind.

Field gear

Make sure to label all your gear with your initials or a personal symbol.
REQUIRED GEAR
  • Pointy trowel: A Marshalltown size 5 trowel is the standard model people for archaeological field research. Look for it in the masonry equipment section (not in garden supplies) at a hardware store.
  • 2m folding rule and 5m metric tape: Make sure they are metric! It’s OK if they have both standard and metric scales.
  • Line level: Plastic is fine, and it should cost about $2.
  • Paintbrush: Nice to have at least one; a used is fine.
  • Field bag: The most common is a standard backpack. An electrician’s bag or tool bag also can be sufficient. Just make sure you have something that you can put all of your stuff in.
  • Reusable lunch box or bag, for trash.
  • Work gloves: Leather or imitation leather gloves will work best. They can become worn out quickly, so you may want to bring two pairs.
  • A bound field journal: You will be required to keep a journal while in the field. The 6-by-8-inch composition books with the black-and-white covers that most school bookstores sell is fine.
  • Small root clippers.
  • Sharpie pen: Black, fine point.
  • Pencils: Mechanical or regular. Bring lots of cheap ones, because they get lost.
OPTIONAL BUT RECOMMENDED GEAR
  • Flat-nosed trowel: Great for edging. If you are going to buy one optional piece of equipment, get this.
  • Knee pads or foam gardening pad: This isn’t required, but is highly recommended. You’ll spend a lot of time kneeling while you excavate, and the ground can be very unforgiving.
  • Ice pick or dental tools.
  • Flagging tape.
  • String.
  • Small hand broom and dustpan.
  • Toothbrush: Great for cleaning off artifacts.
  • Compass: If you are going to buy a compass make sure it is declination adjustable. If it is not you are out of luck. A good Silva compass is the best, particularly the Silva Ranger.
  • Clipboard

General gear

REQUIRED GEAR:
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen: It will be sunny and hot! Make sure to bring lots of sunscreen.
  • Aloe vera and sunburn cream: Just in case you do get a sunburn.
  • Bug spray
  • Personal medications.
  • Personal toiletries.
  • Batteries for everything.
OPTIONAL GEAR:
  • Swimsuit: You may have access to a river or lake for swimming.
  • Towel.
  • Sandals or flip flops.
  • Gum, candy, other snacks, and drinks: For personal consumption
  • Cooler: You will not be able to store any personal food or drinks in the camp coolers, so you may want your own.
  • Camping chair
  • Earplugs
  • Books, games, playing cards, iPod (but keep in mind that you may not have access to an electrical source for recharging).
  • Mobile phone: Wireless connectivity in remote areas may be poor or nonexistent.

Suppliers for gear

  • Forestry-Suppliers.com: Certain to have everything you need to assemble your dig kit. Very archaeology friendly. See the environmental science subcategory.
  • CSP Outdoors: Not quite as broad a selection, but if they carry it, they usually have the absolute best price you can find. Search for "archaeology and geology gear," but be aware that the full selection of useful items might not be listed under "archaeology."
  • BenMeadows.com: Another major outdoor equipment supplier. It's similar to Forestry Suppliers, but prices may not be as good, and it's not archaeology-oriented.