What Goes Into a Land Surveyor’s Backpack?

Land surveying is one of the oldest professions in the world, dating back to ancient times. Surveying illuminates the features of a property, outlines property boundaries, locates underground utility lines, and so much more. So what type of equipment do surveyors usually take out into the field? We decided to ask our survey crew and here is what they had to say:

“We’ll start with our basic personal equipment. Unfortunately, as surveyors, we are constantly in the field so our survey attire isn’t always office-appropriate. Whether it’s a ragged shirt with torn jeans, or a t-shirt with holes, our field attire is not really ideal to wear in a professional office environment. The same could be said for wearing nice clothing while performing fieldwork. No one wants to survey in khakis and a button-down shirt. That’s why we always keep a spare change of work clothes, just in case we need to perform fieldwork in an emergency. This means we can dress respectably in the office and still have the option to change into field clothes.

As far as personal gear, safety is always a priority. We keep our orange vests in our packs as well as our hard hats and boots. Using proper footwear while surveying in the field is essential. There’s a lot of standing and walking, so a good pair of boots goes a long way. Additionally, we may have our own tool belts as well as safety glasses. Again, safety is always a top priority so you’ll always find these either in our backpacks or survey truck.

Shorts are not a recommended item of clothing because half the time we’re walking through tall brush and need to be cognizant of ticks. You’ll also find bug spray, sunblock, and sanitary hand wipes. Some other items you may find are a magnetic compass, a small mini-reflector prism, and a 25-foot steel tape.

As far as the typical surveying equipment, these are our surveying instruments:

  • The Nikon Nivo 2C; and
  • The Leica TCRA 1103 Plus robotic instrument.

These instruments are used by field crews on a daily basis for collecting data. However, the instruments are always brought inside at day’s end and are never left in the survey truck. Tripods, prism poles, and various other tools can be found in the bed of the survey truck."

All of these items are used in different ways but are essential to performing the duties of a land surveyor.

South Brooklyn Marine Terminal Surveying Project

KC performed a boundary survey for the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT) located in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. This survey consisted of surveying the 144-acre port, which is on the Gowanus Bay and includes 96 acres of dry land. This project required extensive record research to recover property records on the SBMT and adjoining properties. The survey work required KC to resolve the boundary of the property as well as locate all features on and adjoining the premises. The purpose of the survey was for the NYCEDC to have a proper survey of the property so it could easily lease portions of the terminal in the future.

In conjunction with the boundary survey, KC performed a topographic and utility survey for a portion of the SBMT for AKRF. This survey was for the purpose of SIMS Municipal Recycling to expand their state-of-the-art material recovery facility located at the terminal. KC was tasked with researching existing utility maps and working with a SUE contractor for locating said existing utilities. KC provided AKRF with a base map for the design of the extension of the SIMS facility.

A Look at Some of the Different Types of Land Surveys








Did you know that not all survey services are alike? There are several different kinds of surveys and they each serve a specific purpose. The following list is by no means comprehensive, but it outlines some of the most common types of surveys that can be conducted:

ALTA / ACSM Survey

This type of survey is typically conducted for use in the buying and selling of real estate. ALTA / ACSM stands for American Land Title Association / American Congress on Surveying and Mapping. It is one of the most detailed types of surveys and includes all of the physical features and characteristics of the land being surveyed.

Boundary Survey

Just like it sounds, a boundary survey is utilized to determine property lines. To do this, surveyors may need to conduct research on the history of a property and find paperwork and deeds associated with the property, in addition to performing a physical survey.

Construction Staking

This type of survey is used to interpret engineering design plans in preparation for building a structure.

Location Survey

A location survey is similar to a boundary survey, but this type of survey involves marking out all additions or improvements made to a property. This helps to determine that all local zoning laws and property boundaries have been adhered to.

Right-of-Way Survey

Right-of-Way (ROW) surveys help property and utility owners to determine the access rights and access points on a particular property.

Topographic Survey

Topographic surveys are used to identify and map the existing features on the surface of the earth, including contours, utilities, and other physical features (ditches, roads, water, etc.).

There are many different types of surveys and it is important to know the difference in order to determine which type of survey may be needed for different applications.

KC Engineering and Land Surveying, P.C. is a full-service engineering and land surveying firm that offers all of these surveying services and much more.