360 degree prism attached on tripod

Land Surveying Supplies and Equipment

A land surveyor’s job is the measure a piece of land with pinpoint accuracy. But in order to do that, they need to have the right tools for the job. Therefore, land surveyors use a variety of land surveying supplies and equipment to finish their job properly.

Land surveying is a very old profession, dating back to Roman times. The tools back then were surprisingly accurate, even though they are now viewed as rudimentary based on today’s standards. But the equipment that they used back in the day has evolved significantly as the modern land surveying equipment that surveyors use enables them to not only measure the land precisely but to do it in all kinds of situations and weather conditions.

All in all, there are various tools that a land surveyor carries in his arsenal and pieces of equipment that will help them perform their task. 

Land Surveying Equipment

There are a few basic pieces of equipment that surveying will need when they get out in the field. This mostly includes measuring stations combined with various types of software and a variety of surveying supplies.

Total Stations

One of the most basic pieces of land surveying equipment is theodolite. This is a surveying instrument that uses a rotating telescope that measures horizontal and vertical angles and that way measure correct and precise measurements of areas and at the same time triangulate the position of an object within an area.

A total station is actually a theodolite that uses electronics to help us calculate the angles and distances. It actually comes with an on-board computer that allows for data collection and triangulation calculations. This tool also enables us to record features in topographic surveying or even set features like roads, boundaries, or houses.


Using the Global Positioning System or the Global Navigation Satellite System is a very important asset for a land surveyor. It is a modern piece of equipment that makes the job a lot easier compared to old times. It uses the signals via an antenna to help us determine the form, position, boundaries, objects, or points in space that are relative to other points, forms, or boundaries.

This type of technology has received upgrades in recent times and has evolved to a point that it helps to determine everything with impressive accuracy. The speed and productivity on-demand have increased in an incredible manner making surveying possible in centimeter-accuracy and it is all thanks to Real-Time Kinematic positioning that upgraded the system immensely.

3D Scanners

A 3D scanner is a very important and valuable piece of software that helps the surveyor in accurately measuring and collecting data from objects, buildings, surfaces, and landscapes. A scanner collects info in the form of point cloud data, consisting of millions of 3D coordinates.

The collected coordinates can thus be used to form a variety of 3D computer-aided design models which in turn are used to analyze topographic features and structures. The more accurate a 3D scanner is, the lesser the costs of the project will be.

Land Survey Supplies

Stepping into the field for a surveyor also means carrying a bunch of valuable supplies with him. There are actually more of these than you may think and although some of them may sound like pieces that you don’t really have to carry with you, they are much more helpful and important than you think. They will allow a surveyor to create a perfect measuring environment and perform the task correctly.

The most basic types of land survey supplies that a surveyor will need include:

Prisms are used in surveying to secure control points at an accessible and comfortable height. Prisms are usually mounted on surveying poles and used alongside electronic distance measuring (EDM) instruments which improve overall accuracy.

Reflective targets are an important tool that ensures that measurements are taken as precisely as possible. Reflective tapes need to be durable and made of quality, UV resistant materials, especially for construction work projects. Targets used in conjunction with total stations are there to ensure precise building or site layouts.

These parts may look small but are a very important part of the entire construction surveying process. Adapters in particular are used to help point the prism towards the tribrachs after installing them.

The very precision and accuracy of a total station will depend on having quality tribrachs and carriers. They come with either a screw for a GNSS antenna, a stub for a prism, a plate level, or an optical plummet. 

Land Surveying Supplies FAQ

For more to learn about land surveying supplies, check out the following answers.

What materials do land surveyors use?

Surveyors usually use such materials as chains and tapes, compasses and clinometers, transits and theodolites, levels, safety gear, prisms and reflectors, as well as various poles, tripods, and mounts.

What equipment is needed for a survey?

The most frequent type of equipment that a surveyor will need involves a theodolite, a total station, measuring tape, a total station, 3D scanners, various GPS/GNSS accessories, as well as a level and a rod.

What is used for land surveying?

While there are many types of different tools used for land surveying, the most basic ones are a theodolite and a level.

What is the best land survey method?

While there are many methods suitable for land surveying, the ones that feature EDMs are much more accurate than when using metal measuring tapes for instance.

Back to blog