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So the clocks have changed, Spring/Summer is here, and thoughts inevitably turn to trips out to savour and enjoy our ancient heritage. Nearly two years ago now, we featured an article, ‘6 ways to enhance your visit to a prehistoric monument‘ which listed essential equipment to assist and enhance understanding of any monument visited.

As an avid reader of technical computing blogs, a common theme I’ve noticed on such blogs is the concept of a ‘Go-Bag’ – an easily packed pre-prepared bag containing all the goodies which may be required at very short notice for whatever reason. There are several variants on this theme, the EDC or Every Day Carry bag, the Go-Bag and at the top-end, the Survival Kit. Many proponents of these bags are looking at them from the ‘survivalist’ viewpoint, see the 10 C’s of Survival, but the concept can easily be adapted for day trips spent visiting our heritage sites.

Just a few of the items from my bag. Compass, Wipes, Charger and Tripod missing, Phone used to take the picture!

Just a few of the items from my bag. Compass, Wipes, Charger and Tripod missing, Phone used to take the picture!

The contents of my own Go-Bag change from time to time, as better/different options become available or kit becomes outdated. Indeed, I have a great deal of redundancy built into my bag, with both technical and ‘old-school’ versions of several of the essentials. So what exactly is in my bag a) as standard, and b) included dependent upon context? Let’s get the all-in-one technology out of the way first.

  • Mobile Phone – my current weapon of choice is the Samsung Galaxy S3, an Android-based phone.
  • Tablet Computer – I double up here. I have the Asus Nexus running Android, and an iPad Mini Retina for iOS. Why both? Quite simply, there are apps I use which are available only on Android, and others which are only available on iOS. I may go through the apps I use in a future post.
  • Camera – a now aging Nikon Coolpix s3000, but I also have the phone and iPad for photography, so I’m well covered there. The S3000 is particularly useful for ‘timer’ shots. (I also have a Nikon DS3200 DSLR and an old Canon eOS DSLR, but you can have too much of a good thing!)
  • Device Charger and cables – I got mine from Proporta a couple of years ago. It can recharge any one of my devices almost fully – or give a boost to a couple at a pinch. I should probably consider an upgrade.

All the above are usually packed as ‘last minute’ items, due to pre-charging needs. Items which always sit in the bag ready to go are as follows:

  • A5 Sketchbook – I’m no great artist, but it can be useful to make a quick sketch of a site or feature sometimes.
  • Pencils and Pen – a box of sketching pencils of various weights, 4H to 4B is usually sufficient.
  • Binoculars – a small set of Nikon Sport Lite 10×25 bins, which is sufficient for most general uses.
  • Gorillapod mini tripod – used when taking those ‘timer’ shots mentioned above.
  • Compass – a basic compass from Millets or similar should suffice, just check its accuracy from time to time!
  • Babywipes – useful for getting grass/mud stains off equipment, clothing and body parts.
  • Torch and spare batteries – I quite like the Rolson 9 LED torches – small and very bright.

And finally, obviously dependent upon the location of the planned trip:

  • Maps – OS Pathfinder 1:25000 are the bees knees. There are mobile apps which can replace these to an extent, but don’t be reliant on batteries – carry a paper copy, particularly if travelling any distance ‘off-road’.
  • Guidebook/Gazetteer – or your reference material of choice for the intended location/site – I have a variety of e-books on my tablets which helps keep the weight down.

Remarkably, this all currently fits in a small shoulder bag, but I’m considering swapping to a rucksack, if only to make room for a bottle of water and some snacky bites. I’m also considering getting a collapsible ranging pole, to provide some scale in my pictures, but that would take even more room, so I may need to review the contents again in future.

But after charging batteries the night before a trip, I can currently be ready to go in minutes with all of the above. So what have I forgotten? What’s unneccessary? And better still, what’s in your bag? Why not share your preparations for at trip with us?

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