Backpack recommendations

Hello all,

Following a day trip to the Isle of Wight yesterday to activate the two summits there, I have been reluctantly forced to concede that my dearly beloved backpack which has accompanied me on many trips both radio and otherwise has come to the end of the road. :cry:

So, as I look for a replacement, I would be interested to know if anyone has any recommendations for SOTA activations? In terms of equipment I typically take: Yaesu-817, Wire antennas, LDG 817 tuner (depending on antenna), 7Ah LifePo4 battery, telescopic pole plus cables etc.

I don’t have a fixed idea on price, so would be interested to know what’s out there! This would be for what I would consider the lighter-end of SOTA activations, so at the maximum walking for a few hours rather than an all-day hike. At least for now!

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

Matthew M0JSB

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I use the Osprey Stratos 34, very comfortable, the telescoping mast is attached in the ice pick loop, doesn’t take space in the side pockets. I carry the kx3 with an external battery bank and a linked dipole, and still have room for an extra jacket and food. The side pockets are also very large and deep, holds a nalgene bottle with no issues


This thread may give you a few good ideas:

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I am using a DEUTER FUTURA 32
It is very comfortable and practical, there is enough room for the KX3, battery and equipment, food etc … and the side pockets are useful for the antenna mast.

73 Alain

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A lot of us use Deuter bags especially Deuter Futura series. I’m on my second after the first did 11years brilliant service. Build quality is superb as is Deuter after sales service. The only things that broke on mine were the result of my mistreatment, I crushed a buckle in the car door frame and tore the fabric on some Gorse bushes.

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I would honestly just go into any decent outdoors shop and try a few things on for comfort. For me, 40 litre is a good size, not saggy when it’s half full and they tend to come with a supportive hip belt.

Features I require:
Ski pockets and two straps each side for my mast and walking poles
Single main compartment
Lid pocket and inner lid pocket
Zip away rain cover is handy
Supportive waist belt and chest strap
Ice axe loops and crampon straps or webbing
If it has side pockets, they must be bellow type so they can fold flat to allow pole storage.
Back venting not an issue for me as I’m not really a sweater.

My current summer SOTA sack is a Vango 40l one which was a freebie with a subscription to a climbing mag and has had regular use over the past 6 years without any issues. It has all of the above features. (No side pockets though.)

My winter pack tends to be a Berghaus Extreme 40+10, from my winter climbing days. It’s about 18 years old. As well as the above features, it has a snow shovel pocket. It’s good for lightweight overnighters too, as it has a small bottom section why can take a sleeping bag, bivi-bag and mat. The interior divider can be opened when a single large space is needed.

I’ve also got Lowe Alpine and Marmot packs, which are also great. My son inherited my 30 year old Karrimor 40l pack, complete with its 1990’s pink and blue colour scheme. It’s still going strong.

I think some of the brands are way too expensive. Especially the likes of Osprey and Deuter, but that’s just my opinion.

Good luck hunting!



I think this site has a really good selection of ultralight daysacks that a very reasonably priced:

The Gossamer Gear Vagabond, for instance, weighs 314g and costs £95:

That said, the Murmur is probably the better choice for SOTA:

That’s 1KG off your back before you’ve even filled your bag.
73 Matt

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I think this is very sound advice. Anyone responding to this thread will recommend whatever they happen to be using which may not be available in your area, nor the best choice for you. There are lots of good choices out there. However if you find one with helicopter rotors or filled with helium, buy that one!


Thanks everyone for the helpful replies. All appreciated.

My PackRabbit Frame is my favorite thing save for my radio. I attached a leftover kid’s school bag to it and you will see that it doubles as a chair. Oh my what comfort for the back when you want to operate for a couple hours. So much better than sitting on the ground with no back support. Scott KW4JM


Comfort over features any day. Try a load on before even thinking about buying. My preference is for 20-25 litre but others prefer different sizes. Even done an overnight with that pack although it was a bit crammed full.

All the big brands will have a size to suit. But comfort is king

Did I mention comfort?


Wide straps make a big difference. Certainly, avoid narrow shoulder straps.
73 Matt


Seconding Deuter, I recently got a Gröden 32 which is very comfortable and plenty big enough for my needs

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Delta 65.
And yes, try your good shops. No need to tell anyone here you do want TOP OF THE LINE for this purchase. Inexpensive electronics. Priceless life. For once, is IS all about YOU!

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Hello Matthew,

I use Osprey Exos 38 for a day hike.Mostly satisfied with this product.
:blossom: :partly_sunny: :tulip:

And these are my radio packs in the backpack.

We are in humid Summer…

These are the pictures of the approach walk to JA/AT-016 which is located in my city.

And… it’s fun to see this website as well.

Good day!


Hello Atsu,

Thanks very much for your reply and nice photos. I’m a bit of a Japan nerd having lived in the country for a couple of years sometime ago and I’ve been back for several holidays since. I certainly don’t miss your summers though! :hot_face: Now I have got into amateur radio and SOTA I hope to do an activation or two next time I visit your country!

73 and hope to work you S2S one day…

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I use “Deuter Futura 30 EL” - backpack for very tall people (I’m 190 cm man)

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