Yes, yes, we've all got preamps and recorders and mics and cables and hoary marmots in our field recording sound bags. But what else is in your bag? What are the little bits and bobs you really shouldn't leave home without? (Don't include what you can't carry, or all the extras you leave in the car just in case...we'll save "What's in your Grip Truck?" for another day! :-p)

My list includes:

  • Gaffer's, medical, electrical and paper tape in various colors (rerolled on small 1/2" PVC pipe segments and hung on shock cord attached to a carabiner, or wrapped around pens)
  • Sharpie and regular pens
  • At least one extra battery
  • At least one extra memory card
  • One spare cable in every length I bring (usually just 1-2 lengths per outing)
  • Variable In-Line Attenuation Pad
  • In-Line Phase Inverter
  • Extra o-rings and mic clips for windscreen/zeppelin/blimp
  • Comb for fuzzy windscreen cover
  • Shower Cap (for rain, in case my weather covers don't fit or wet out)
  • Lav mounting kit, if applicable (blue tacky gunk, medical tape, topstick strips, self-adhesive moleskin, and standard lav mounts)
  • Black twist-ties
  • Black zip ties
  • Bongo Cords
  • 2 pairs of latex or nitrile gloves
  • Sometimes a small folding tripod stool

For extra credit: What do you keep all this stuff in while in the field? (For me, it's a LowePro Magnum 200 AW and a PortaBrace field recorder bag with RM pouch.)

  • Why the latex/nitrile gloves? :) Jul 6, 2010 at 17:37
  • @hayden-payne: You're not cleared for that. ;-) Jul 7, 2010 at 4:47

12 Answers 12


A few things I have in my bag that no one has mentioned are:

  • a tiny lightweight mic stand (about six inches long)
  • a tiny LED torch
  • a tiny point & shoot stills/video camera (for documenting every recording)
  • iPod Touch (can be handy to compile a low rez reference video of the material you are capturing sound for eg vehicle moves)
  • a bird caller (a tiny wooden rod object with a brass rotating centre which can be used to perform squeaks like a bird - it came with a little bottle of rosin, some birds like it) http://audubonbirdcall.com/

Totally agree re velcro on bags - nothings scares birds away like the rip of velcro!

ps I've always wanted to get a GPS logger for geo-tagging all recordings...

  • Agree too on the velcro side. I'm still using Porta brace but I have to take a look to another option. Mar 10, 2010 at 5:10
  • Yeah, Velcro's a sad reality of many bags, even with photo gear. All the pro's I know seem to be moving towards Petrol cases, but in the US, it's really hard to find a place that stocks them to find the right fit. Mar 10, 2010 at 16:19

Depends on where I'm going and what I'm doing, but here's a general overview:

  • Extra batteries (I usually bring 2x NP1s and then internally battery everything so I can pull an NP1 on the fly without powering down)
  • Gaff Tape (usually 1/2" B and W, sometimes 2")
  • Extra cables
  • Rain coverings and a poncho if the weather is threatening, and usually a spare pair of socks
  • Water
  • Granola bar or power bar of sorts
  • Leatherman (Wave)
  • Utility Knife (Smith and Wesson S.W.A.T. semi-serrated 4")
  • Torch (Surefire w/ extra batts)
  • Motrin IB
  • Ear Plugs
  • Trick Line
  • Sunscreen / Bug Repellant
  • Rycote collapsable brush

Sometimes I throw in something extra if the day calls for it. I carry my main rig in a portabrace bag with a back harness, and everything else in my backpack.

  • Oh, right, ditto on the Leatherman. Indispensible! Nice to hear the additional idea of running internal batteries in addition to the NP1's for hot swapping. That is a killer tip. Mar 10, 2010 at 4:37

To add to this already fantastically useful list...

Cash: By far one of the most useful tid bit. It can come in handy to:

  • buy a cup of coffee and sit down to record an ambience.
  • Paying a property owner or guard to get into somewhere.
  • buying an urgent piece of equipment.
  • Giving a few karma bucks to a school, or street performers etc.
  • Paying someone a little for their time, maybe they switched off the music in their shop, or kept customers out for a few minutes.
  • In more corrupt countries, bribing a cop. This is not even for illegal trespassing, it's just the way it is done in some places. In Mozambique for example, you cannot drive a car more then 1 hour without being stopped and threatened to be arrested for things you haven't done. The best here is to have enough cash in different locations (pocket left, pocket right, gear bag, etc.), this way you don't part with all the money on the first cop.

GPS Logger: I'm also seriously on the market for a GPS logger. Some GPS logging apps on the iPhone work okay in cities, but the second I'm in a slightly remote area it either won't work or will take way too long to locate me. On a side note, I'm in the process of building a Max/MSP patch which will combine my sounds, photos and metadata somewhat automatically.

Camera Tripod: I actually prefer using a camera tripod than a mic tripod. I find them better built for the road, better value for money, lighter, more stable on uneven ground (as you can change the height of each leg significantly). For this to work, I need a adapter thread.

  • "I'm in the process of building a Max/MSP patch which will combine my sounds, photos and metadata somewhat automatically. " Nice! Keep in touch Mar 10, 2010 at 15:38
  • Oh, right, great reminder and good recommendation: I, too, carry 1/4->3/8" and 3/8"->5/8" adapters, in both directions, to make sure a mic can be attached to pretty much any piece of grip equipment. Mar 10, 2010 at 16:21
  • Benoit, I thought you were going to say a MaxMSP patch to bribe the cops! I wish!
    – MtL
    Mar 11, 2010 at 22:43
  • I'm in the process of building a Max/MSP patch which will combine my sounds, photos and metadata somewhat automatically. Keep us informed on this one...... I know a lot of nature recordists would be very keen to have something that can do this...
    – user139
    Mar 13, 2010 at 11:32

Wow- I have a mic box which has a small cardboard box (about the size of an average hardcover book) that I keep my inline attenuators, a Shure stereo mount, a Behringer cable tester, mic stand thread adaptors and wrap ties (amoungst bits of foam and other junk). It is a part of my general load out bin which usually has 4 zeppelins, a SASS, the CSS5, VP88 and 3 Oktavas.

As to what I always carry- It depends on where I am really. If I am in the city or on federal property it will be very different from being in the desert.

the things to always have though are a knife and water.


I used to carry anything and everything, and 2 of everything! Even just for day to day recording. I still do if I'm doing something big like a gun shoot.

Lately, I've really slimmed the rig down. I bought a Timbuk2 messenger bag that can hold my recorder (744T), 191 in the zeppelin (with cable), the 191 Matrix box, and my Beyer headphones. I have everything in the bag, ready to go. All I need to do is open the bag, turn the 744 on, pull the mic out, and I'm rolling.

That's all I carry most days. Way more important to me these days to be fast and light vs prepared for anything. Again, on a big shoot (guns, animals, etc) it is a very different story, I load up the truck! What I pack is not all that different from what you guys have already mentioned.

Oh, and I've finally stopped using Portabrace bags. Got so sick of all the noisy velco and how non ergonomic they have become. I remember my Tascam DAP1 bag was awesome. The bag for the Fostex FR2 is terrible, and the 744 bag is only marginally better.

  • You hit upon one of my biggest challenges: Carrying that damn zeppelin around. Few bags can fit the one I have, although I do need to downsize a bit, as I'm using a hyper more than a shotgun these days. Love and respect the minimalist approach. Mar 10, 2010 at 4:35
  • I agree with Nathan. That zeppelin is a beast, especially with the jammer on it... I love the minimalist approach as well, but I cringe every time I attempt it...
    – Colin Hart
    Mar 10, 2010 at 5:11
  • try fitting my schoeps ms rig in that bag. it is a fat zeppelin.
    – sepulchra
    Mar 11, 2010 at 20:26
  • Exactly why I cary a 191! That stereo Rycote is insane. Mar 14, 2010 at 7:16
  • Oh, and a few things I always carry: ID - So that they can easily identify my body or to present to the police as I'm being detained. Water. Cash/ATM Card. Mar 14, 2010 at 7:20

Don't forget a few of the elastic pony tail things with a ball on each end. They can secure cables etc and are cheap to lose.


When "nature recording" I carry the following: a cheap $2 shop rain poncho in my backpack, handy to sit on so I don't get a wet butt in the forest.. can also throw it over the mixer/recorder in an emergency. Many other items including: torch , some sort of snack food bar , collapsable water bottle , paint brush to remove any dirt that gets on the mixer , local bird ID book , moleskine journal for writing recording notes and interesting t/c points , several pens/pencils , map to mark the location on. and much more... I have a small backpack with all these things ready to go. If I want to, I can be out the door ready to roll in about 3 minutes. (my day job is as a tv location recordist and that kit is always ready to go too)


  • Ah yes, +1 on the journal for me too. I'd forget everything I ever learned if it wasn't for them! Mar 10, 2010 at 4:36

Another toys that I carry usually are tiny elements and tools such as sticks, wires and things that could help me to interact with a specific surface or element and record some "reactions" to that.

And if you don't have a hydrophone... don't forget to carry a condom! ^_^ You don't know when you need to submerge your mic into the water, so be safe :)

A blanket or thin rug are also great to have for those moments when you need to leave your gear in an unclean place or need to protect it from dirt or sand, etc..


I just found an extra flash card and a threaded stand adapter for my rycote. What do you know, I have other stuff besides zip ties in there.

  • Cloth & Tissue - for drying rain off gear
  • Waterproof plastic bags - Some large enough to keep recording gear inside
  • Silica Gel Sachets
  • Gaffer/PVC Tape
  • Cable Ties
  • Leatherman
  • Torch
  • Elastic Bands
  • Spare Battery for recorder
  • Notepad & Pencil
  • Ear Protectors
  • Wallet with ID
  • Food & drink
  • MP3 player & earphones
  • Phone & Spare Battery
  • Camera
  • Clothing suitable for hot, cold, and rainy weather
  • Radio Scanner (when im recording aircraft which is often)
  • High Viz Vest - to make it look like im officially allowed to be places im not ;)

I carry these bits & my SD recorder and rycote in a rucksack & 1 bag, I can just about manage to cycle.


Like many here I carry what I think I'll need and no more. But one thing I use a lot that I haven't seen in any posts yet that always come in handy for me are Cable Clamps:


Even though I always carry some cable ties I rarely use them because these things are so easy to clamp and un-clamp. I always have a few latched onto to my D-rings on my bag. They are lightweight, very strong and come in many colors and sizes. I've seen them marketed under different names for different purposes but they all seem to be the same. Saw them at Home Depot too.

Oh yeah, one more thing I carry...a little jewelers screwdriver to pop the batt off the bottom of the 722, 744t and super light and compact aluminum tripod chair that I can easily sling over my shoulder.


For some reason, I always have an abundance of zip ties.

  • Can you bribe NYC cops with zip ties? :-p Mar 12, 2010 at 4:49
  • I"ll have to try that
    – sepulchra
    Mar 13, 2010 at 15:04

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