Dick Wills

Dick Wills

Protective Padding

During an excavation I spend a lot of time on the ground, on my elbows, knees and hips. I quickly develop sore areas, so for comfort I pad up.


I have at least 6 types of kneepads. My favorite style are those with two adjustable straps that hook on. Those with elastic straps that attach with Velcro tend to stretch out, get weak, and no longer hold their position. Then my knees slide out. I have small knees and most pads are just too big to wrap around and hold on. Those with a stiff cup at the top, which may be favored by those who lay tile for a living, but they can begin to abrade your leg above the knee as you walk around. The style I use I can leave my pads on while hiking.

When I am on my knees for a long time even these pads can also get uncomfortable. I get grit and matrix in between the pad and my knee or my jeans fabric doubles over into a seam, which causes a hot spot. So, I make an Inner Knee Pad to go underneath everything.  I make these from the thin foam sections of old diving wetsuits. I cut 6-8 inches long tubes out of the wetsuit arms or legs.  I slip the tubes on under my jeans and over my skinny kneecaps. I leave them on all day.

Elbow Pads

My arm and elbows take a beating after hours on my side digging under a specimen. I buy the small shin guards that kids use for soccer and strap them onto my forearm. I sometimes rebuild them with additional Velcro straps or add an extra lining of foam.

Hip Pads

Hip & Body Pads

I build pads from foam camping mats. I cut the mats down and glue two-three layers together with contact cement. I have a larger “full body” version for use on a long-term site and a narrow version that will fit into my backpack.  It just fits and there is no extra weight. I also take a super soft roll-up pad like those used for floor exercises at the gym.

Sleeping Bags

I was once caught in an unexpected freak blizzard, so now in early spring or late fall I anticipate the worst weather conditions. I get too hot in those super low temperature bags. So, on these trips I take along three 40-degree sleeping bags. I tuck one bag inside the other and that inside the third. I start the night with one over me and two thrown back. As the temperature drops, I just pull a second and third over me if I need.

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Triceratops Skull

Finding A Dinosaur

by Dick Wills

Finding A Dinosaur

by Dick Wills