Following on Short Geologist’s list of things you do and don’t need at a field hotel, and fresh from the field (where by “field” I mean “three days of driving around the mountains looking for stuff”, and by “fresh” I mean I’m still at the airport), I thought I’d do a list of amenities that I want in a field vehicle.
I was on a fairly simple reconnaissance mission, which involved driving around with a map and a clipboard and taking notes. Obviously, jobs requiring more equipment (and less driving/working while your foot’s on the brake) have slightly different requirements, mostly involving cargo space.
- Multiple cup holders. Constantly scrounging for the whatsit you put on the passenger seat next to the map, that has since rolled onto the floor or gotten wedged in the cushions, is tiresome. Actually, what I want is a cup holder (or two, if I am in the field with a coworker), plus a pencil holder, a GPS holder, and a wallet-change-keys-iPod holder… but we could start with just putting the parking brake lever on the left-hand side somewhere, instead of the right, and using that console space for storage. Chevy Aveo, I’m looking at you here.
- Emergency kit. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a rental car that came obviously stocked with basic first aid supplies, or been offered a kit in the list of pay-per-day add-ons, but it would be nice. It’s a pain to pack your own, but when you’re driving around on random back-country logging roads all day, it’s a good thing to have with you.
- Aux input on the stereo. Much easier than fiddling with a little “personal radio station” adapter thingie, or trying to find decent music on the radio.
- Although I’m sure the folks at Enterprise would be horrified if they saw some of the roads I covered with their precious little econoblob, four-wheel drive is still worth thinking about for, say, back-country logging roads. It’s unfortunate that the “wee little Jeep” class isn’t more well-represented on the rental market, because for any job I’ve been on short of a multimodal geophysical survey or 30-person field trip, a “standard” 4WD pickup or SUV is total gas-guzzling overkill (I’ve complained about this before).