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The ultimate kit list.... Holy grail or reality?


Hi All,
Just about to start a huge equipment debate here I think.
I am looking to build the ultimate kit list to assist everybody on here.
I use an FT857/ 5m pole/7Ah Bat pack/ & kitchen sink that has been keeping me Company on my adventures for the last few years (Only just recently discovered SOTA so many summits activated but not claimed!). I also use the radio from the car, bike and beach. It works well but is pretty heavy to lug around. The majority of my operating is either SSB or data, and CW as a last resort (sorry guys). If traveling light I use an FT60E and homebrew j-pole dual band built in a plastic water pipe and strapped to the rucksack ( www.g4ytd.co.uk for a picture of me “wearing it”) which works well but limits things slightly with being FM only. I usually use mono band dipoles with a quick change center or more recently thanks to John G4YSS a link dipole for multiband operation. I would be interested to have a look at other peoples kit lists to see if I can substitute lighter or more efficient equipment.

By way of getting the thread going, here is my kit list (excluding normal climbing/safety equipment).

Radio (FT857/FT60E)

7Ah Gell cell in a lightweight box with power connectors (for 857).

Log book and pencil (log is usually a print out of the location info including locator and grid ref, helps to remind me where the contacts have come from when I get home at the end of the week.)

Pole 5m to carry, 8m for the car.

Antennas (depending where I am going, dipole kit, link dipole, kite ¼ wave, delta loop 40m etc, all in the car in a case ready to be thrown in the rucksack or the trusty and battered J-Pole for the FT60).
Coax – until recently 10m of RG58, now 8m of RG178 with a snazzy gold BNC (Thanks for this tip John, G4YSS)

A pocket full of grip seal bags – instant waterproofing

Emergency repair kit – fuses, connectors etc

So what are you using??

The intention here is to create the ultimate lightweight kit list from this thread and turn the uphill slogs into a pleasant stroll (?).


(Going to have a browse through the forum now and try to find the “ultimate” radio…FT817 maybe? watch out for another thread shortly re radio choice).


In reply to G4YTD:
FT-817, fist mike, Mini Palm Paddle, internal 2.7Ah battery pack.
(sometimes 4.2Ah or 7.2Ah SLAB)
VX-7R & SB Rucksack special antenna (for walking or quick activations)

Choice of antenna - usually just take one of these:
SB270 (2m 3-el and 70cm 6-el beam), WASP mast and walking pole
6m delta loop & fishing pole
40m dipole & fishing pole
80m dispole & fishing pole

foam mat to sit on
"Rite in the Rain" waterproof notepad & pencil

…and the usual rucksack, clothing, safety equipment, map, water, energy bars and fancy soup!

Yes, I think the 817 is indeed the “ultimate” radio for SOTA. The 857 has one major advantage over it - the ability to be heard on SSB on the crowded 40m band! But the 817, which is smaller and lighter, has more than enough power for success on the VHF bands, 80m (CW or SSB) and 40m CW.



In reply to G4YTD:

Hi Tim and welcome to SOTA. I don’t think such a thing as the ultimate kit list can ever exist for sota use because there are so many interests within sota. QRO, QRP, fone, cw, data, HF, uhf, vhf, microwave, drive ons, huge climbs, etc.

For what it’s worth, I use either a FT-857 or FT-817, FT-60 as a back up radio, all depends on the length of walk. 7ah or 5ah SLAB for the 857 3ah SLAB for the 817, palm paddle for cw, linked dipoles for HF, Sotabeams SB5 or 1/2 wave vertical for VHF dependant on the amount of room at the summit and 7 metre poles. Obvious wet weather and safety gear.

As you get some more activations under your belt you will soon decide what suits you the best for SOTA. Good luck and enjoy this wonderful part of our hobby.


P.S. the ultimate radio to me would be a QRP cw txvr in an altoids tin, running from a 9v battery. You wouldn’t even know it was in your pocket, but I like to do multimode/multiband activations to give all chasers a chance of the points.


In reply to G4YTD:

VX170, sma-bnc coax lead, FT817, mic, paddle, HF antenna, VHF antenna, leatherman tool, feeder, CW beacon, logpaper, pencils (both ends sharpened), waterproof paper, 2.8Ahr slab, guying kit, fishing rod.

Compass, gps, 1st-aid kit, spare diabetic medicine, extra-carbohydrates, spare boot laces, windup torch, penknife, reading glasses, paracetemol, waterproof map case with Anquet printouts for area, Tesco foam mat, camera, anenometer.

Goretex jacket, overtrousers, operating gloves, thinsulate gloves, thin wooly hat, microfleece, waterproof rucsack liner, spare socks.

Sandwiches, fruit, 1.75L water or 1L water + 500ml flask coffee

[Winter only]
Fleece jacket, waterproof gloves, thick hat, scarf

[Summer only]
Sun hat, sun creme, midge repellent.

[Digimodes only]
Asus-eeePC laptop, USB<>COM adaptor, Soundcard cable

Including rucsack itself, full bottles and un-eaten lunch the weight varies between 14 and 17.5kgs.



In reply to G4YTD:

Hi Tim,

Welcome to SOTA. You will find that there is no ultimate kit. We all develop what we consider to be necessary and aim to avoid taking the proverbial kitchen sink. My inventory for what it’s worth is as follows:

FT-817 housed in a lightweight plastic box with hinged lid kept inside of the rucksack - avoids rain ingress and houses the 20w dual band linear for 2m and 70cms, mic, small straight key, HF antenna (60m/40m/30m linked dipole and 5m RG-58 feeder), SB5 5 element for 2m, 6 element DL6WU for 70cms, 4.7m 5D-FB semi rigid feeder fitted with BNCs, link coax cables.

Standard C710 tri-band handheld, 15 over 15 elements for 23cms, 5m LMR400 semi-rigid feeder fitted with N types, link coax cables.

Log sheets on A5 size clipboard and Pilot V5 Hi-Tec pens, Waterlog and pencils, 2 x 3.3Ahr SLABs or 12AH SLAB, 5m fishing pole and guying kit, various bungies for fixing pole to fences and trig points, reusable tie wraps.

Compass, GPS, first-aid kit including anti-histamines and ibuprofen, 2 man bothy bag, small towel, small LED torch, lightweight rope, Kendal Mint Cake, lightweight Hi-Viz waistcoat, various small tools, biodegradable bags, map case with OS printouts for area, camera, mobile phone (set up for web access and posting activations).

Anorak, waterproof overtrousers, thinsulate operating gloves, thinsulate wooly hat, fleece, gaiters, Kayland Contact 1000 boots, spare socks.

Sandwiches, fruit, water (amount generally depending upon time away from the car), Orange Lucozade.

[Winter only - taken and hopefully left in the car in the summer]
Extra thermal layer, waterproof gloves.

[Summer only]
Sun cream, insect repellent.

Weight varies between 11 and 16kgs.

No doubt I’ve forgotten something! I do have a check list… it is now on revision 6 and no doubt it will continue to develop.

My vote for the ultimate rig goes to the 817 even though I use a linear on 2m and 70cms.

Hopefully work you S2S sometime soon.

73, Gerald


In reply to G4OIG:

No doubt I’ve forgotten something!

Spare boot laces? I forgot to say that I have a survival bag and whistle in the kit. In fact the packing priorities are what is needed for safe walking in sometimes hostile Scottish hills and any space left over is available for radio gear!



In reply to G4YTD:

There is one essential item of “kit” not mentioned yet, it weighs nothing at all but in my book it is essential. Before heading for the hills I look at www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/uk/surface_pressure.html which if you have the ability to read a weather chart will add depth to the forecasts posted in the more popular mountain areas. In particular you will be able to estimate the potential for the forecast to go wrong, and in which way.

I admire the dedication of you guys that go out in any weather, but over the decades I have had my fill of battlng against the elements, I enjoyed it at the time but am now an unashamed fair weather mountaineer - just think of the weight saving, at the summit I zip up my jacket and just have a cagjac handy in case of showers, and besides, with all those little holes I doubt that the FT857D is waterproof!


Brian G8ADD


In reply to MM0FMF:

Hi Andy,

Spare laces - as my boots are only 4 months old the laces are fine, but a spare pair will be purchased in due course. I could always use the small bungies I carry as a temporary measure.

Hostile hills… well, I carry my survival kit all of the time regardless of the terrain. It’s not worth taking the risk, particularly on solo activations.

Still hoping to do a few more Galloway ankle breakers this autumn, but finances may be a problem if fuel prices keep rising.

73, Gerald


In reply to G8ADD:

with all those little holes I doubt that the FT857D is waterproof!

One advantage of the FT-817 Brian - hot little beast, so it keeps moisture at bay. The FT-290R used to mist up in inclement weather, but not the 817. However, I still put the kit into the airing cupboard after a wet activation, just as a matter of precaution. The C710 handheld spent a few days in there after Snowdon back in February.

73, Gerald


hi chaps

found a halo works well for 144 ssb in very windy wx and fast to mount and be qrv. this was a must for some hills last winter.

73 dave


In reply to MM0FMF:

Spare boot laces? Tie your whistle to them, or if you leave them at home/in the car you could always cut down a guy rope as a short term measure. I always carry cable ties which could be pressed into service as boot lace replacements if needed and both my whistle and compass have strings on so they could be used.

Has anyone mentioned chalk? Handy for writing “HELP!” in big letters on the rocks or leaving a trail to follow back down in misty conditions.

Steve GW7AAV


Has anyone mentioned Autan or a similar bug repellant & after-bite spray or stick, vital in midge season, especially in GM.



Thanks all.
The kit lists are varied, and it looks like most have a choice of a lightweight low power, or a heavier “create your own aurora” pack. Some good ideas appearing, keep them coming!
Looks like an 817 is on the cards in the next couple of weeks from this side. It’s a pity my family moved from Ambleside to the relatively flat Yorkshire Wolds now I have found SOTA!
Watch this space, more info to follow when I have compiled it.
Have fun on the hills.


In reply to G4OIG:

One advantage of the FT-817 Brian - hot little beast, so it keeps
moisture at bay. The FT-290R used to mist up in inclement weather, but
not the 817. However, I still put the kit into the airing cupboard
after a wet activation, just as a matter of precaution. The C710
handheld spent a few days in there after Snowdon back in February.

Thats the way I used to think of the 817, Gerald, but the 857 is an even better handwarmer! In base station use it gets warm on 13.8 volts on receive!!

Nobody has mentioned a small flask of single malt, so I won’t either!


Brian G8ADD


In reply to G8ADD:
How about one of these ? :-))


Roger G4OWG


In reply to G8ADD:

Nobody has mentioned a small flask of single malt, so I won’t either!

That’s right, if it is small it is not worth mentioning!


In reply to GW7AAV:

In reply to G8ADD:

Nobody has mentioned a small flask of single malt, so I won’t

That’s right, if it is small it is not worth mentioning!

then you surely need one of these, too:


Bernhard DL4CW


In reply to GW7AAV:

Fair enough, a litre doesn’t go very far!


Brian G8ADD

PS Bernard, where can I get one?:wink:


In reply to G4OWG:

How about one of these ? :-))


Hi Roger,

That would really ruin your “mountain cred” when your pack beat you up Tryfan!

73, Gerald


In reply to G4OWG:

That would be good, but not sure if the SOTA rules allow :wink: It might be ok if I carried my handheld on my person to the summit :wink:

Colin M0CGH