The Cold Land Processes Field Experiment (CLPX) produced 37 data sets totalling about one terabyte in volume. This presented a considerable challenge for data managers. Two unique aspects of the CLPX data management process include participation of data specialists in field data collection and identification of one person, the ‘data wrangler’, to coordinate the acquisition of the entire collection of the experiment data. These unique aspects increased the quality and completeness of the overall CLPX collection. Data managers were guided by basic data management principles from the literature, including consideration of potential future users and applications and an imperative to keep data as simple and as flexible as possible. These principles guided data management decisions about data formats, data integration, data presentation, and documentation. This principle-based approach improved the usability and long-term viability of CLPX data. It is recommended that data managers be involved early in the planning of future large-scale field experiments and that data managers develop appropriate principle-based rubrics for guidance through persistent data-management challenges.