I had written up one of these posts a couple of years ago, but it seems to have been lost in the move to my new server. However, as I get ready to head off in a couple of weeks for yet another season of fieldwork—this time for 3 months in the Pastaza Basin—I am already gathering all my gear together. This is a fairly complete list although I’m sure I’ve left a few critical things off. Any comments or critiques are greatly appreciated!
Quick-Dry Pants (1 Pair) – If you’re going to be hiking in the tropics, there’s a good chance you’re going to get wet. Also quite helpful on rivers, especially during the dry season.
Dress Pants (1 Pair) – Useful for those times you have to go to a meeting or presentation
Jeans (2 Pair)
Shorts (1 Pair)
Button Up Shirt – For going out or meetings
Nice Shoes – For Meetings
Smartphone – iPhone or Android. Preferably unlocked. See the list below for essential apps
Dual-SIM Cell Phone / Unlocked Cheap Cell Phone – If you can’t get an unlocked smartphone, you’ll need some other cheap, unlocked phone for local use
Tablet PC – Android-based or iPad. See list below for apps
MP3 Player – Cheap MP3 player that can be given away at end of trip.
Voice Recorder – For those times where you don’t want to use the smartphone to record something
GPS – If you don’t have a smartphone or don’t want to use it, bring a separate GPS unit
Point and Shoot Camera
DSLR Camera + Lenses
Various Cables – USB, Power, Ethernet
Extra Memory Cards (SD + CF)
USB Thumb Drive – At least 8GB
USB Hard Drive – At least 500GB
Travel Surge Protector
Chargers for All Devices
Solar Charger — See this post for an overview of various configurations. Look to spend at least $200 for any usable setup.
Shaving Kit – razor, extra blades, shaving oil, styptic pencil, aftershave
Contact Lens Solution – Definitely bring your own if you have contacts. It can be quite expensive in the jungle, when you can actually find it.
Copies of Passport and All Forms – Peru Immigration Form, Yellow Fever and Other Vaccinations, IRB approval, Consent forms, Institutional Affiliations, Community Invitations
Stain Remover Stick
Notebooks – I use about 1 small notebook per month of fieldwork. I prefer to use Fieldnotes or Rite in the Rain, depending on conditions.
Business Cards – I use double-sided cards with KU on one side and my affiliate university on the other. Both sides are in Spanish although I think I may make some Kichwa cards this time just for fun…
Plastic Zippered Pockets – For storing miscellaneous items
Business Card Pages – For the billions of business cards that you will inevitably collect
Petzl Tikka XP 2 Headlamp – Headlamps are essential, especially when staying in rural areas. This particular model is a bit pricey but super bright.
Thermarest Trekker Pillow Case – stuff full of laundry and you have a decent pillow wherever you may be.
Poly-Cotton Travel Sheet – for all those times where you’re in a nasty little hotel in the middle of the Amazon
Portable Office Kit – Pens, Post-Its, Super-Glue, Sharpies
CRKT Eat ‘N Tool – Just picked this up recently, we’ll see how it holds up
Watercolors Field Kit
Evernote – It has taken me awhile to come around to Evernote, but now that I have I don’t think I could do my work without it. Previously I relied on OneNote for organizing my mind but the lack of portability really hurt it. I’m not completely sold on Evernote — for example, I don’t like how I can’t write with a stylus on my notes — but it is a great system. Once again, just like Mendeley it has cloud storage, so all my notes are constantly synced and available wherever there is an internet connection.
OneNote – Much like Evernote, although lacking a few key features. However, I use OneNote for transcribing my interviews as the text and audio are linked together.
ACDSee Photo Manager – allows you to organize photos into folders and generally have more control than Lightroom (although Lightroom is excellent for editing)
Photoshop – For editing photos
Mendeley – Hands down the best reference manager available. I just download PDFs to a special folder I made on my desktop and Mendeley (usually) does the rest. The extraction of metadata is fairly decent but I often find myself having to correct it. Thankfully the process is as painless as can be. The cloud storage is essential, though a bit costly over time. Due to the size of my library, I had to upgrade to the “Solar” package which I believe is $10 a month. However, If you want to save a bit of money you can make private groups and store documents within them as Group and Personal storage each has its own quota.
Google Earth – Nice for visualizing GPS data
SkyDrive – For syncing files
Camera+ – slightly better camera
Evernote – quick field notes, ideas, photos, scans, etc.; can be synced with desktop
Mendeley – mobile version of reference manager
Do It (Tomorrow) – to do list
Photosynth – nice photostitching program that creates a pseudo-3d space
FiRe 2 – excellent for recording audio
GPS Kit – high-quality GPS with offline maps
GoodReader – best PDF reader for iOS
Drafts – for quick ideas
JotNot Pro – Best scanning app on iOS
Google Earth – maps!
Fulcrum – I just started playing with this app recently. It allows you to create ethnographic forms (or any type or form really) that integrate with an online app.
The Night Sky – use it to find constellations
Bump – for transferring files between the android tablet and the iphone over bluetooth
SketchbookX – allows you to draw on photos, multiple layers
Scholarley – Android version of Mendeley
RepliGo Reader – The best PDF reader for Android; allows you to mark-up files
Google Earth – maps!
Evernote – same as other versions of Evernote
Skitch – integrates with Evernote, allows you to draw with stylus (annotate photos, etc.)