What Students Should Wear

Initial Publication Date: April 2, 2004
  • Clothes - Long-sleeved shirts and long pants are the most versatile field gear - and may not be the first things your students think to put on when told there's a field lab coming up. The long sleeves and pant legs protect against nettles, thorny shrubs, barbed wire and insects.
  • A  typical reusable water bottle
  • Boots and shoes - For footwear, the important thing to make clear is what NOT to wear: flip-flops, dress shoes, heels. Always have students wear something on their feet when wading through streams to avoid hazards like shells glass fragments. If more specialized footwear will be required for some field labs in the course, be sure to make that known to students ahead of time. You may also want to assemble a collection of gumboots, waders and other specialized footgear for water work. For students inexperienced in using them, waders can be dangerous. If someone slips and the waders fill with water, they can act as anchors. Consider using knee boots - or shorts and old sneakers - as alternatives.
  • Rain and sun protection - Depending on the ambient climate and your philosophy about running field labs in rainy and snowy weather, you may want to advise your students to bring rain gear (jacket, pants, hat) along for field labs. In sunny weather, sunscreen and hats are important parts of field gear.
  • Daypack and water bottle - Both are important and the water bottle should be filled with water. Students may need a reminder to empty their daypacks of other books and items they will not need for the field lab. You may want to bring jugs of water for refills for long field labs in dry weather.
  • Geoscience equipment - Depending on what you've asked them to buy for the course, students will need reminders to bring along their notebooks, hand lens, pencils, calculator, ruler/protractor and other equipment for every field lab.

Teaching students about field gear and attire

One way to teach students about field gear and appropriate attire is to come to class one day decked out in your own field gear with the equipment you carry as a matter of course. You can explain the reasons you chose each article of clothing and empty your daypack one item at a time.

Such a class period could also be used for students to:

  • determine their eye-height
  • determine their pace (lay out a tape measure in a hallway)
  • determine their finger spread
  • lay out their field notebooks
    • student names and contact information on the front
    • the first few pages saved for an index
    • numbered pages
    • notes on pace length, eye height and finger spread
    • any important handouts (describing outcrops, soil texture triangle, etc.) reduced and pasted into the last few pages