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Survey Legend
What to have in the work truck- we need your feedback!
 This is a globally crowdsourced compendium of gadgets for the land surveyor to be published after first of the year.
Let's work together to compile a comprehensive list of stuff surveyors carry around with them other than instruments- like for survival!   This will be for surveyors just entering the field to be prepared for work!  Not only will the final result be published as an ebook for our members, it will also give us a little insight into what we need to be adding to the Survey Equipment Hunter for next year.
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Just as no two surveyors are alike, so too are no two surveyors’ personal toolkits. Surveyors work in different types of environments, have specific preferences and objectives. Below I have assembled a kind of “working master list,” a basic general toolkit, if you will, for surveyors who work in the field, on the road, in the forest or with residential properties. Of course I wouldn’t expect any one person to have a kit with all these tools in it, but perhaps these tools will generate some new ideas for you to carry.  In fact, depending on the environment, the climate and the types of DANGER which may await around any corner, this tool kit may be quite different depending on where you work.
In any case, we expect to get a few comments saying, “How could you possibly leave out ______________________?” 
That is exactly what we need. 
Comment below and tell us what needs to be added to the publication.  We will also cite your name for the contribution if you like!

  • A/C adapter One straightforward form is basically a black box that plugs into a vehicle’s cigarette lighter (more aptly named Auxiliary DC Power Supply). The vehicle’s DC power is converted into regular 110 AC for powering battery chargers, computers, etc. Keep in mind that these AC devices can quickly drain a vehicle battery. Use with care and don’t leave it plugged in while down a line somewhere.
  • Air compressor Lots of flats are good for a few more miles if air is available. Some Fix-a-Flat wouldn’t hurt, either.
  • Axe , Every surveyor needs an axe of some sort - you know, just in case they get attacked by a tree.
  • Batteries, spare AAs, AAAs, C-cells and don’t forget the D-cells for those flashlights.
  • Binoculars Stick with inexpensive ones with 7x or 8x magnification.
  • Cables Here’s a tough one. The need for spare cables is hard to predict, but when they go bad, you’re probably out of business. Any better solution to this need would be mighty welcome. A cable first-aid kit, maybe?
  • Camera I know quite a few land surveyors who take their camera to the field because you never know what you might see. Most simply use the camera inside their phone to capture moments rarely seen by not only other surveyors but the general public as well. Share your photos from any day of surveying with your fellow surveyors in the community.


  • Compass A wise old salesman once said, “Might as well get the cheap one; they all just point north.” Actually, he was right. Still, there are some nice features available, like setting declination and being easy to read. And there are of course apps for that.
  • Cones The bright orange traffic variety. Great for safety, of course, but can also be used to save your parking place when you go to lunch (not advocated by OSHA).
  • Connectors, auto /battery These can solve some of the problems from the cables entry above, as well as some battery needs. There are several configurations to power various devices, like say, a GPS receiver, from your vehicle battery.
  • Duct tape Hey, there’s a reason for all the lore and mystique. The stuff is handy, and it often provides just enough “fix” to get you through the day.
  • Fieldbook with Land Surveyors United Stickers -or just a voice recorder as an alternative

  • Flagging Yes, you got into that thicket, but can you get out? (It’s much better than bread crumbs!)
  • Flashlight With fresh batteries, please.
  • GPS receiver, hand-held These guys are super handy. Use them to find control stations or locations for aerial target placement.
  • Gloves You don’t want to ruin your manicure, do you?
  • Hammer One useful type is a lightweight geologist’s hammer with a pick on one end. Very handy for looking for property pins without disturbing them. Also works for hammering things. Remember never to get hammered on the job ;)
  • Level, hand If you always know where level is, you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din. Go ahead, cheat a little. Call it an “instrument.”
  • Maps Since this is a toolkit list, we don’t mean the plat map of a particular job; of course you’ll have that. We’re talking here about state, county and city maps, maybe a few quad sheets. And hey, make them current, OK? Especially the city ones. This is a good time to invest the $19.95 for a good book-type map.
  • Magnetic Locator .How else will you know where or how far down to dig for that chunk of metal?

  • Markers Write on whatever; identify points, etc. No graffiti, please.
  • Measuring tape The 33-foot automatic rewind kind is handy. We also favor a regular foldup carpenter’s rule, marked in tenths, of course. Handy to reach into inaccessible areas or even use as a leveling rod.
  • Nails Flagged 60-penny or larger make good, easily placed temporary points.
  • Paint, spray One can of violently florescent and one can of asphalt-colored for when you change your mind. See “no graffiti” above. Also, these should be those times when you don’t inhale.
  • Prism, right angle The fancy way to slap a 90.
  • Plumbob- only the oldest measuring tool which doubles as a formidable weapon

  • Pruning shears Much quieter and more civilized (and with fewer trips to the minor emergency center) than machetes or saws, especially in residential areas. Tell the owner you’re “pruning” or “clipping” rather than “chopping.”
  • Reflector, bicycle-type With adhesive so you can stick it up at that hard-to-access place and leave it for getting a shot later.
  • Shovel, folding The olive-drab camping model comes to mind. Can also be configured as a hoe (with an “e”).
  • Sunscreen the sun is not always your friend.
  • Telephone, wireless of course, But please don’t talk on it while driving around me.
  • TP -aka toilet paper for those who work inside, turd paper outside.
What else? What’s in Your Toolbox? 
 Be sure to tell us where you live if it is unique to your environment.  Looking forward to your submissions
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Survey Legend

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