There are many things that people recommend that you take to the woods when you go to research. I try to pack according to the type of research I’m going to be doing, and the destination of the research. I take different things if I am going riding around looking for good areas, as opposed to deep woods excursions.
In either case; I dress like I’m going to the woods on a deep excursion, because it could end up being that type of trip. You don’t want to pull over to go for a short walk into the woods, and not be prepared for anything. You also don’t want to be weighted down with a ton of gear either. I get my field clothing from three different places:
I usually take a good heavy bladed hunting knife like my Kabar Warthog. The blade is not too big to handle finer cutting tasks, but if you wanted to cut down a larger tree you could do that as well. I have owned mine for several years now and have never had any kind of issues that are related to the overall quality of the knife itself. It’s a tough booger, I will tell you that for sure.
Another thing that I take is a small general survival kit. You can make your own, but I prefer to use the one made by Coghlan’s because it has a good, cost effective mix of the right things that you want to have in a kit. They usually run around $20, and I would recommend that you get three to start with. One to carry on you, one for your pack, and the third to get familiar with at home by practicing survival skills with the included components. These kits come with a waterproof zipper bag, and they fit just right in the leg pocket on a pair of camo pants.
I also have a compass in my pack, and carry a second on me. You can never have too many because you don’t want to be lost in the woods and find out you only have one damaged compass. There are many types available on the market. Which ever you choose; become intimately familiar in using it, because it could save your life one day if you have no power available for your GPS. I use one similar to this:
I generally utilize a smaller sized backpack that is similar in size to a military assault pack. The important thing to remember is that you don’t want to take a 70L pack for a day trip, and you don’t want to take an assault pack for a week long, deep wilderness camp out. It’s very important to factor pack size with the type of event you are setting out on. It is also pertinent to mention that if you use a 70L pack, you will more than likely tend to pack 70L worth of gear into that pack. It’s human nature to do that. There is nothing worse than packing around 90 lbs of gear all day for just a day trip. The lighter you pack, the easier it is going to be on your body. Trust me, I’ve had to pack a lot more than a standard packing list a pretty good distance, and didn’t really have a choice in the matter. The important consideration is that whatever you have in your pack you are going to have to carry for the duration of your hike.
I would recommend something similar to this because it’s not too big, and not too small:
Some other things that I take along are:
Maps of the area – There are many places that you can get maps to use while you are out researching. These include locality maps that you can get in gas stations, or other retail locations. There are also places to get maps online. One place I get maps is:
Bottled Water – If you pack is hydration compatible I would recommend utilizing a water bladder, and take a couple of extra bottles of water. Keep in mind that this is going to increase the weight of your pack. I use Niagara Water
Snacks and Trail Food – You want to take things that are light in weight, but provide a good amount of energy for your time in the woods.
A good quality pair of socks – There is nothing worse than trying to hike with wet feet. It is important to take care of your feet because they are what is going to get you back out of the woods safely.
Two large black garbage bags – Garbage bags aren’t just for collecting garbage. They can be used for many things in an emergency situation and a lot of people recommend them to be one of the highest value components when it comes to emergency gear. You can use them as a poncho, shelter, storage, and for water collection.
Two Bandanas – Bandanas are another useful tool to have with you in the woods. You can use them as intended, or you can employ them alternatively as a sling, water filter, wound compress, signal device, or makeshift weapon.
A Full Size Bottle of Tabasco Hot Sauce – Everyone likes hot sauce on their chicken wings!
50 Feet of ParaCord – There are a million and one uses for paracord, and you will be glad that you brought it with you.
While these are some of the things I take, there may be things that you want to include that will better fit your particular situation. The object is to take enough stuff with you that will aid you in the event you get lost, and have to spend a couple of unplanned days in the woods. While some of the things I take might not make sense to you. I can assure you that everything I have listed here has a purpose for being included.