A General Land Survey Equipment Checklist | Engineer Supply - EngineerSupply

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Land Survey Equipment Checklist

Land Survey Equipment Checklist

A Land Survey Equipment Checklist

Surveyors use analog measurement tools, digital devices and other survey equipment to measure distances over land and changes in elevation. Surveying land requires specialized equipment for accurately measuring distances, such as levels, supports, hand tools, charts and tables. Reference this general checklist to make sure to bring all the gear you need for a land survey.

Land Survey Equipment Checklist-01


Levels are essential surveying tools. Sighting tubes or lasers may be used to measure the angles of fixed points on rods positioned relative to the level. The primary use of this equipment is to provide measurements for determining the topography of land.

Basic hand levels are less accurate than laser levels and other advanced surveying technology. Given equipment availability and accuracy requirements, a surveyor may initially use hand tools to obtain preliminary estimates and then fill in accurate measurements obtained with a laser level.


Tripods, bipods and single-legged monopods support surveying levels. Tripods are the most stable configuration when sufficient room is available for setting up this equipment.

Bipods or monopods may be the best options when measuring terrain that is not level. In the event that equipment gets jostled, these supports may not be as stable as a tripod. The superior stability that three points of contact provide makes tripods standard survey gear.

Hand Tools

Small and lightweight hand measurement tools prioritize convenience over accuracy. This category of survey supplies also includes measuring tape, wheels and ropes as well as axes and saws used to clear sightlines.

Surveyors may bring an assortment of analog or smart hand tools on site along with advanced measurement equipment. You can find hand tools for any surveying method, such as a hand level with a spirit level in a static horizontal position or an Abney level that has a graduated arc.

Charts and Tables

The methods that a surveyor uses for recording measurements can make or break the accuracy of a survey. Many next-generation measurement tools have built-in memory functions. These capabilities can range from recalling the last few measurements for performing calculations to wireless connectivity that makes it possible to instantly record and backup measurements in the cloud for future reference.

If you still prefer to record measurements by hand, you may need a field book with designated spaces for measurements. No matter whether you rely on advanced technology for the most accurate and currently synced measurements or a writing instrument and paper, the survey equipment that you use can significantly affect the accuracy of measurements.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What equipment do I need to survey land?


Measurement systems with laser levels or sighting tubes or manual measurement equipment can be used to survey land. Choose measurement equipment that fits your budget and is suitable for the terrain you are measuring. You should also bring relevant accessories for a measurement system and a way to record measurements.

Are laser surveying tools more accurate?

Advanced digital and laser-based measurement systems are more accurate than hand tools. Lasers are accurate to within ⅛ or 1/16 of an inch. Based on your needs, you may be able to use rough estimates of distances, or you may need precise measurements that require the most precise settings.

How were surveys done in the past?

Historically, various types of chains were used for surveying. The most common types of measurement chains include 66-foot Gunter’s chains, band or steel chains, and engineer’s chains. Basic and advanced measurement wheels are still used for measurement, though these tools are not as accurate as sighting tubes or laser levels.

How does GPS technology impact surveying?

GPS technology has indicated errors in historical surveys that have led to adjusted surveys. Disparities between GPS data and survey measurements taken across the western United States have led to boundary disputes and renegotiations. While GPS data informs surveying, laser sighting and other modes of ground measurement are still used.

What are the most important survey accessories?


Supports and targets for sighting systems are among the most important survey accessories. Even a laser measurement system cannot deliver accurate measurements if it has not been properly situated, calibrated and aimed. Shop a full selection of survey equipment such as levels, supports, markers, poles and rods at Engineer Supply.

Regardless of the type of surveying equipment you currently use, you can find replacement components and high-tech alternatives such as laser surveyor equipment at Engineer Supply. Whether you use advanced equipment such as 3D scanners and robotics to arrive at precise measurements or take general measurements with hand tools, you can choose from a wide array of the best land surveying equipment at Engineer Supply.
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