This might sound like a call to get in there for new releases, but it's not. I work with what I have going waaaay back, and have long used the same gear for years. This is all gear I own and love, and no one is paying me to say any of this.
I have a uniform for birding, which doesn't stray far from my everyday uniform. I'm a firm believer in making one's hobby a part of everyday, so long ago adapted Filson bags as part of my sartorial footprint. This one is a small field bag I've had for 11 years which has served me well for work and birding in equal measure. Filson, to their great credit, has replaced the clips on this bag three times over the years (their flagship store is in my hometown, Seattle) for free, and patched the worn spots (plenty, as you can see from above). I own two other of their bags, and am an acolyte.
This field bag is big enough for small bins, a wallet, phone, and field guide. My arms are free and I look sharp like I know what I am doing (which I do, thank you very much).
I love Nikon Optics, 8 x 25 is a great starting point and this pair of Travelites was a gift from my dad 20 years ago. They're a bit battered like the rest of my gear, but this stuff gets better with age and give me more street cred! They are super compact, accurate and light, perfect for everyday.
You see my preferred bird guide: Sibley. This one is the 2015 edition. While this book is heavier than other guides, it includes updates to his original, which was my mainstay prior. David Sibley puts out regional guides for both Eastern and Western (west of the continental divide) U.S.. I prefer illustrations to photos when in the field. Sibley guides are entirely illustrated (meaning no photos) and include maturity, flight and repose angles and breeding plumage of each bird, as well as regional variations of morphology, and range maps. I love them.
Finally, my hat. I'm a hat person if you have caught on, and this one is a vintage fedora from a company since gone out of business but you can find a similar fedora here. I have hats for winter and summer in different materials. Hats are great because they keep the sun out of your eyes for easy access to your bins (not taking your sunglasses on and off constantly), and in cold weather, they keep your head warm.
Everything you see in this photo is something used for over a decade (excluding the book), so quality and durability means something. Compact and smart mean something too. Find what works for you.
This post was updated on December 6, 2018 to include an Indie Bound affiliate link to the David Allen Sibley bird guide. The other item links are not affiliated with the respective vendors.