May 17, 2017

Ladypants and Archaeology

One of the reasons that I've been posting very little here lately is that I am gearing up to go into the field in July, for some excavation, 3D modeling, and osteological analysis at the site of Oplontis outside of Pompeii. My goal for the summer is to blog here about that fieldwork, although it'll likely take the form of writing about work-life balance. You see, I'm bringing my family to the field for the first time! So I'll send missives about the adventures of traveling and seeing Europe with my 8yo and 3.5yo daughters and software engineer husband.
Found this on Pinterest as a "summer archaeology excavation
outfit". To which I say Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

In preparation, since I really haven't been in the field in a while, save a few weeks every other summer, I've been restocking my archaeological toolkit -- not the actual equipment, since my Marshalltown doesn't age, but my field clothing. Between the changes in site rules in Italy and the changes in my body following two kids, my old field garb isn't cutting it. Shirts are a no-brainer, and Italy requires EU-rated steel-toed boots, but that leaves the question of pants.

Ladies' pants are problematic. I'm currently wearing jeans that fit me well, but that annoy me because they have lady-pockets. You know, the teeny half-pockets (or sometimes no pockets!) that you can't fit anything in except lipstick because of *course* that's the only thing I want to carry with me. I've also found that ladies' khaki pants (no laughing here, Brits!) are woefully inadequate for fieldwork, especially if purchased at a store like Old Navy. The fabric is thin, the pockets are sad, and the worst part is that the men's pants are far more useful and rugged... and usually cheaper. My last pair of field pants was a men's style and size (plus a belt), since I had to prioritize function over fit.

To remedy this, I did what any social media maven would do: crowdsourced suggestions for archaeological ladypants. If you're also looking for rugged but lightweight pants for the field, here's a big ol' list that is only vaguely organized. (Full disclosure: I've not tested any of these except Rothco.)



National Sports/Sportswear Stores
  • Columbia Sportswear. Among the recommendations here were the fishing pants. To save on the cost, find an outlet near you.
  • REI. Highly recommended were the Sahara pants - there's a regular kind and a kind that can be rolled up when you get hot. Bonus points: these were also recommended by a recently postpartum archaeologist. 
  • Eddie Bauer. The zip-off hiking pants, rip-stop pants, and the Horizon pant were recommended (which also rolls up).
  • These stores were recommended as well, but no specific pants were mentioned: Academy Sports, Tractor Supply Company, Bass Pro Shops.
Local or Online Sportswear Stores
Other 
  • Army surplus was recommended for either hiking combats or paratrooper style pants. I found the Rothco brand of fatigues online at Amazon and ordered a couple, mostly because of the drawstring waist/side tabs at the waist, figuring that would get me through weight fluctuations.
  • Workout pants / activewear. I don't think this is allowed where I work, but if you are in a more lax country, sweat-wicking workout capris or other activewear could be a good bet. I was warned, though, that mosquitoes can bite through the thin stuff (see Ex Officio above).
I'm excited to try out the Rothco pants to see how comfortable they are. If they're not, I guess I'll try one of the above. Sadly, archaeologists are not as cool as NASCAR drivers and don't get crazy sponsorship deals. But man, I'd totally list sponsorship on my project page and say nice things about the company if I got free field clothes and backpacks! 

The author in 2003 as "queen of the trench"
at the site of Azoria on Crete. Definitely
can't wear this sort of field gear now!
-----

Thanks muchly to all the ladypants wearers who contributed to my Facebook thread: Traci Ardren, Jo Buckberry, Sarah Levin-Richardson, Julie Hruby, Kate Ellenberger, Erin Stevens Nelson, Claire Terhune, Mindy Pitre, Tanya Peres, Katie Brewer, Amanda Mathis, Beth Koontz, Jane Holmstrom, Liz Berger, Kate Spradley, Megan Perry, Sonia Zakrzewski, Michelle Ziegler, Sheri Pak, Jess Beck, Anna Osterholtz, Sarah Miller, Ruth Beeston, Carlina de la Cova, Sarah Rowe, and Shannon Hodge. And thanks to the menfolk who also suggested pants: Dimitri Nakassis, Andy Danner, Stephen Savage, and Jim O'Hara.

Clearly, the sheer number of people with opinions on this topic means finding good archaeo-pants is a very real concern!

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