Backpack weight?

Dear activators & hikers

I’m interested in what you carry in your backpack and how heavy it on a general activation is. Also what distance do you usually carry it?

I noticed how i’m a very slow hiker when doing activations, but a fast walker without backpack. So I decided to weight my backpack. :sweat_smile:
(Probably an idea that you can only have during a time like this…)

My backpack is 8kg and that contains the following:

  • 2L of water / Isotonic drink
  • one small box of nuts
  • 1 Apple
  • Rain protection jacket
  • Pullover
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Metal clip board for the log
  • 3 pencils (incase i loose one)
  • Icom 3062 T (2 batteries)
  • RH 770
  • Swiss pocket knife
  • GPS logger
  • GoPro
  • Phone
  • First aid kit
  • Sunglasses

I usually hike 2-5km distance with 300 - 1100m in height difference.
(Backpack 30L)

I noticed that I’m usually the person with the biggest backpack, that explains why I’m the slowest. But i don’t know how to improve the weight. I feel like I only pack the things i really need. I would not feel save if i only brought 5dl of water or no additional clothing to the summit.

Did you experience something similar or are you one the fast trail runners that only carry a tiny backpack? :grin:
Do you see advantages or disadvantages in the strategy for a big / small backpack?

I’m looking forward to reading your opinions and your strategies.
Sabrina HB3XTZ


No chocolate? How is that even possible?


I’m a diabetic and even I take chocolate with me!


I’m sorry I don’t eat chocolate and i also don’t eat cheese if this would be the next response…
@swissgov. please don’t take away my passport. :sob:


But you do need something to offset the extra energy required to carry the anvil :rofl:


The anvil is the least of the issues, the at-least 10kg of excess lard could do with being left behind!

Before chocolate bars were reduced in size and mass to that of a Higg’s Boson whilst not changing price, I had a whole scale of distance walked, height ascended scales that determined whether I could have a full or partial Mars bar. Now that you need a scanning electron microscope to see a chocolate bar I have a whole Double Decker if it’s been a good distance and a Toffee Crisp if it’s a bit of a weedy distance.

Oh the debauchery of a whole chocolate bar to myself!

I’ll weigh my bag later and post the sad numbers.


Hi Sabrina,

Very similar packlist here in a 32 Liter backpack for a typical activation.
If I go high alpine I might skip the 817nd and just use the handheld FT1

  • Backpack
  • 2 Liter water bladder (in winter 1 Liter thermos instead)
  • 817nd
  • 5Ah LiFePO4
  • 6m Telescope Pole
  • J-Pole
  • Linked vertical for 20/17/15/12/10 m
  • FT1xd for APRS and QSO during the hikes
  • Logbook
  • Insulation pad to sit on
  • Zoom Q4n Audiorecorder/Camera
  • Rain jacket
  • Müsli bar / Sandwich (also no chocolate)
  • First aid kit (most of the time)
  • Buff (UV protection in summer, Warm in winter)
  • Phone

I never needed a knive so that stays home on dayhikes. GPS Log on my wrist watch (Suunto Traverse)

Lightweight radio setup / Alpine:

  • FT1xd
  • 3 m Fishing rod
  • J-Pole antenna


  • Harness
  • Crapons
  • Ice axe
  • Helmet
  • Half-rope
  • Bivi-Bag

Trekking setup (usually teaming up with my hiking buddy Alexandre)
Gear gets distributed between us.

It’s just a matter of training. You are doing a lot of hikes so endurance and leg-strength will build up for sure over time.

73 Joe

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Hi Joe

A very impressive list!
Same here for the knife, but i bought it specifically for “me beeing ourdoors” so i must carry it. :rofl: I still hope that it will be usefull some day… If I don’t carry the chocolate at least a swiss pocket knife Hi.

For casual hiking/picknick/grill summits i also have a “bushbox”, Fire-stick and some ultra light weight cooking gear. (I also prepared my own fire starter kits made of small wood sticks and resin.) But it usually stays at home since i don’t spend a lot of time on the summit.

I started hiking in December 18, ~1 summit a week. I feel like my fitness has improved but I still have persons passing by me that walk faster.

73 Sabrina HB3XTZ

As you can see I pick the gear very much based on the tour I am doing. As light as possible as this is part of safety on the mountain. But trying not to compromise on the fun doing an activation and safety gear.

There are always some that are faster. But I bet there are a lot that you outrun even with the radiogear in your backpack.
Look on the bright side :slight_smile:

73 Joe

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Hi Sabrina, I think the obvious answer is it depends on what type of walk/activation it is. Unless it is a very quick/easy walk, it is usually wise to carry some additional gear that we hope won’t be used.

I’ve never weighed my backpack, but sadly I suspect most of the excess weight is in front of me, rather than on my back :slightly_frowning_face:

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Hi Andy
I agree, my strategy is also to carry the additional things just in case i need them. If i’m not sure what conditions i will find during autum or spring I also attach the snowshoes to the backpack.

73 Sabrina

Hi Sabrina,
My pack, which is what I used in yesterday’s activation and it’s what I normally carry with me for a SOTA activation, just weighted 9.6Kg.
The backpack on its own with the SOTA kit inside weights 5.6 Kg. The rest up to 9.6 is the warm clothing, the 2 smartphones I usually carry and the GPS.
The calculation was done by weighting myself with all that stuff on me and then without.
Weight with all the stuff: 86.9 Kg
Weight without: 77.3 Kg
The fishing rod is not included as it is in the boot of my car and I use it as a walking pole, neither the trypod+blue PVC tube which I often use in my setup when on easy summits, as it is in the boot of my car too.
My weight was with the short sleeve jeans, a T-shirt and the flip flops I’m wearing now at home instead of the long sleeve trousers, and long sleeve shirt plus the hiking boots I wear when hiking.
I’ve usually carried all this stuff while hiking up to 3.5h, although most of my hikes are shorter ones, being under 1h or up to 1.5 or 2h max.
Bear in mind that the weight of my pack vs my own weight ratio is probably less than yours. Your weight will be probably far less than mine, so your backpack weight is relatively a big lot to you.
One thing I often don’t bother carrying is water. When doing a short hike of about 1h or 1.5h, I manage well drinking my water before starting the hike, so I carry it in my body and avoid having to carry such weight and volume in the backpack.
Regarding food, on shork hikes less than 2h, I don’t carry any food or just some nuts, chocolate or energetic bars.
That’s all I can think of for now.


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Equipment taken/used on the hill:-

  1. HB1-1B MkIII
  2. 2amp SLAB battery*
  3. Small morse key
  4. SOTA beams linked dipole
  5. Telescopic pole
  6. Norwegian collapsable snow shovel (For digging snow shelters)
  7. Small two man Bivvi shelter (with a sewn in section to sit on and prevent it being blown off. This proved absolutely superb - My wife bought me it several years ago but until SOTA dawned I’d not needed it - indeed I’d forgotten all about it until some weeks ago
  8. Ipad, + antique iphone 4, but neither used much other than taking photos with, or posting a ‘spot’, if I’ve a signal.
  9. A5 log book, A4 clipboard (thin plywood), with callsigns + names of regular chasers. (It seemed a nice thing to greet callers with their names when they use mine.)
  10. Fingerless gloves with a ‘pullover’ mitt - another new purchase which proved excellent . I also carried a pair of simple goretex overmitts which made a great combination. (Gloves from Jack Pyke and only £6.00!)
  11. Map, & compass
  12. Spare gloves
  13. Waterproofs, Spare thin duvet jacket
  14. I don’t often take food or drink into the hills but took some fruit most days.
  15. Bungee cord & 16” length of drain pipe, the pipe which is just the right size to allow my pole to fit inside. Driven in the ground, hard snow or supported by rocks makes an excellent support for the aerial on bare soil or peat and I never had to use any guys, even in winds of 25 knots or over. I guess you call it a drive in and pull out stake!
  16. Sit pad, sometimes two if I know I’m sitting on snow.

That lot weighed in at around 15 lb - 20 lb, somewhat lighter than a rucksack full of climbing
kit I use when I go climbing, which I do less and less now.

*now replaced by 2amp Lipo, (tks Phil).

If conditions in winter require them I also take crampons and ice-axe.


Hello Sabrina: to answer your question, my complete HF radio set-up weighs one half KG. My pack itself weighs only 150 grams. it is an ultra-runner’s pack made of gauze. Beyond that I carry very little for a 2-5 km hike, probably just one 1/2L water bottle and an energy packet. 73/88 Fred KT5X (aka WS0TA) here is the vest:


Hi Sabrina,

Only you can decide on your priorities, so you have probably already refined your pack on the basis of what is needed. Over time you will continue to refine it.

My pack weighs about 10kg when carrying gear for HF, an HT for vhf, hf dipole and feeder, various radio and antenna items, food and clothing.

Where there is uncertainty I usually take extra water, food and a sat phone.

Where could you save weight? There would be 1kg saving by reducing water by 1 litre. You know whether you usually drink the 2 litres. Is your pullover a heavy wool item or a lightweight version. To force reductions, change to a smaller pack.

Good luck, your fitness will improve and you may be more comfortable reducing what you carry. If your walking partner has space in their pack you can always transfer some weight over to lighten the load, even for just the uphill trip.

73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH

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I know I usually carry too much - and it depends on the weather but probably

  • FT817ND
  • MX P50M Amp
  • 4AH LiPo battery
  • Speech Processor
  • Probably FT 270
  • Probably spare 4AH LiPo Battery
  • Leatherman multi Tool
  • Battery booster for iphone and lead.
  • Usually spare 1:50000 Map. (Dropped a map once and navigating off was a sobering experience)
  • Compass
  • 7M Sotapole
  • 80/60/40 Trapped dipole
  • 2m Jpole (Ladderline)
  • Food - Sandwich and Biscuit
  • Flask (Coffee)
  • Paper log (Rite in the Rain)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Possibly Shelter / Stove
  • Hat ( Either Sun or fleece) Gloves
  • Small Torch or Headtorch
  • Dog Food / Bowl / Coat / More Water / Screw in spike to anchor dog… if I have Woody
  • Water Filter
  • Cut down mat ( Approx 1m square)
  • Down Duvet
  • Waterproof
  • Plastic survival bog or Bivi bag depending on the weather
  • Lots of my things are in small plastic boxes or bags so the paper log, pencils, Leatherman, torch etc are all together.

In addition I carry on me

  • iPhone
  • Suunto Ambit 3 Peak Watch (GPS)
  • 1:25000 Map

So far I have rarely needed the spare battery and never needed the first aid kit, survival bag, torch or spare map. Although I usually plan carefully the execution is less well organised so there is likely to be at least one additional mystery item included (Not an Anvil) , and potentailly one missing to add to the excitement.


I just weighed my pack. It is 13.3 Kg. I know I carry to much but most of it is safety type gear to allow me to overnight if I had to. Most of those items I have never used. Some of the places I go may not have people there for weeks or months so I need to be self sufficient and be able to call for help. I am usually on my own as well.

I used to pack the pack for the summit I was going to but got tired of taking things out and putting them back in, so now I just leave it loaded up.

10KM would be a longish walk for the summits I go to.


PS; which of course got me thinking, so I just went through the pack and got it down by 1.3KG, most of which was the spare battery. I’ve never needed it and I now trust I wont!!

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When I decided to do SOTA a couple of years ago my prime goal was minimal weight and HF CW. That radio gear weighs just 2.1 kg (HB-1B, 18650 battery pack, Te-Ne-Ke paddles, linked EFHW, QRP-guys tuner, arborist’s throw bag and line, cables, notebook, padded bags, cellphone).

Extras are: VHF handheld and antenna, emergency kit, food, water, bothy bag (winter), extra clothing as needed. The “extras” weigh a lot more than the HF radio kit! I can generally get away with 1L of water, even in summer as I don’t live in a hot climate and my activations are usually under 5 hours long, including the hikes. Total weight basically depends on the season and whether I choose to bring VHF gear or not. At any rate I am no spring chicken but have no problems with the weight even on very steep hikes, but then our local summits are not high altitude nor very long hikes. There has yet to be a SOTA hike where I wish I had brought less stuff and am managing so far.

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Hi Sabrina,
I think 8kg isn’t bad really: not heavy, not ultralight. One thing you should consider along with the weight of your gear is the weight if your rucksack. Some rucksacks are ridiculously heavy. I would say, for a 25l daypack it should be under 500g. There are dozens of videos on YouTube about ultralight gear, some of them are quite good and focussed on keeping the price down:

 73 de OE6FEG
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22L Pack:

  • 2L Water
  • 4-5 Clif bars
  • Ultralight Crazy Creek chair
  • Small notepad, 2 pens
  • FT-2DR
  • FT-818 (2x if operating linear sats)
  • BLF-1209A Battery
  • Arrow Antenna (if operating sats)
  • SOTABeams Bandhopper
  • SOTABeams ultralight mast
  • SOTA flag (because of course)
  • Rain Jacket/Light down jacket
  • Small first aid kit
  • Phone
  • Pocketknife
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat

I need to weight the pack next time I’m able to head out. I usually have shorter hikes here in Kentucky but I believe my longest with this setup was 5 miles?


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