Backpacking ft857? nice, small and protected?

Hi all,

Im going to be on the move for my days off so I need to think about backing the radio with some ‘peripherals’ nicely and cushioned. For my portable (not SOTA) setup I currently have a Maplin flight-case with foam that I get the yeasu including a zm2 tuner, a small SWR meter, connectors, cables and a 7Ah battery. Too big and heavy to take with me on the trip.

Any ideas and/or pictures about a nice and small backpack or something that can accommodate the ft578 and some minimal setup? (without the heavy battery for now! I’ve got other plans for that)

Im afraid of putting the radio pushed against at the back with all the connections/power cable exposed.

How do you “wrap” a radio like this? the 817 has its own case for example and its by design a bit better for backpack madness :smile:
Any backpacks that fit the size with some pockets maybe?

Thanks in advance!

Many good rucksacks have an internal compartment at the back which is padded and will take the 857, I think the compartment is actually intended for modern rehydration kits - at least, that is what the gang in my local climbing club use them for. Being old-fashioned I prefer a water bottle or thermos! The sack I have is the 65 litre extending “Explorer” model which was surprisingly cheap from Asda but is very robust and hard-wearing, but there are plenty of similar models to see at Cotswald or Go Outdoors. This pocket being against the padded back of the sack gives good protection to the rig, other gear can go in the main compartment or the side pockets, a pocket on the underside of the “lid” is well protected for the log and there is a pull-out waterproof cover.


Hi Tasos,
I suggest you check out a couple of specialist stores after making a list of what you need to put in the pack. Then you know for example if you need only two pockets and less than 15 L capacity or something bigger with more volume and more compartments and pockets.

Here in VK we have many stores selling outdoor equipment with packs ranging from $24.99 to nearly $1,000. You can spend hours in one store looking at stuff that would be useful for hiking and SOTA.

Most have a large pocket at the rear. My pack has padded straps, a pull-out rain cover, a top pocket for my first aid kit, insect repellent, sunscreen etc, and an internal pocket that takes the rig, which I wrap in bubble wrap. The battery and ATU are also wrapped in bubble wrap and go in the main pocket along with the antenna, pegs, feedline, etc. Takes more space but with belt and braces there is less chance of finding my pants around my ankles. (That has happened at an airport check-in where they took away my belt and made me raise my hands over my head in an X-ray scanner. Thank goodness my mother taught me to wear clean underpants when traveling.)
My pack also has a bottom pocket where I store other stuff I might need to get without unpacking.
There is an external A4 size pocket for paperwork (log, maps, passport, tickets) and two side pockets for water bottles.

Another possibility is a store selling office supplies. Here they often have back packs with a compartment designed to take a lap top computer and an FT857 would probably squeeze in there. OK for traveling or a simple half day trip. They also sell bubble wrap.

I suggest you do some on-line exploring and then visit a couple of stores.

Mostly I use my main pack. For flying out of the State I now have a small 3.6 m squid pole that compacts enough to fit in my suitcase. For the hike it goes in a side pocket with a water bottle. Sigs are down compared to the 8 m pole but Its much better than finding a bare summit and no antenna support.


Padding can be very light. I’d tape something together out of blue closed cell foam, or even bubble wrap.

Andy Howell built a nice 15g case for a small camera using bubble wrap.

I would probably keep it simple and line a silnylon dry bag with bubble wrap


One of the outdoor stores here sells a camera bag that carries the ft817 and a LDG tuner but it is not long enough for the 857. An alternative is to find a plastic food container that is large enough for the radio and possibly some extras like microphone, power cable, key, headphones. Sealed with a good lid, this is water resistant and can take the pressure of other items away from your radio. The radio can be protected with bubble wrap inside the plastic container. I use one of these for my IC703 which I think is a little larger than the 857.

One of the VK1 activators found that a Tupperware container originally intended for cereal was large enough to carry an IC706 and battery. They no longer store cereal in that container but that’s hardly a problem…and we have our priorities!

73 Andrew VK1DA VK2UH

Going back to the theme of a rucksack with padded internal pocket: a half-way decent rucksack has the wall that is against your back well padded, and the internal pocket padded as well. Any incident that would damage the radio in that pocket would damage you a lot more!

Looking at the Argos catalogue there are several suitable rucksacks at a range of prices,


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I use a neoprene foam notebook PC case which is just the right size. That goes inside a roll-top waterproof clothes bag which seems to be even air-tight when properly done up. This then rests at the back of my sack against the backpadding, on top of my spare waistcoat and below my air-filled sitmat. The sack has side pocets (filled) so the radio is protected that way too. As Brian points out, if it gets damaged inside that lot the wearer is not going to be too concerned about the radio :frowning:
The LiPo is in a separate pocket camera case.


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Entirely my thinking Brian. I always have the rig inside the backpack and padded. Having been base-over-apex on a couple of hills, I was pleased to have it thoroughly protected.

When selecting a backpack, I would suggest looking for one which is squarely shaped as this accommodates plastic containers more easily without wasting space. I will soon be looking around for a replacement for my old Eurohike Revolution Aqua 35L backpack which has done 7 years good service, but having been “infected” by operating north of the border in recent years, I suppose I could exercise my needlecraft and mend it… :wink:

73, Gerald G4OIG

FT-857D packaging (now superseded by FT-817ND + amp), box A4 paper storage box (eBay)


Thanks you all!

From the replies I think I should go with a medium size backpack and some plastic box like Gerald’s.
I;ve got some spare foam from the flight case so I could build something like that!

I really like the photos! Got ideas spinning!


Gerald, what is the name of the orange straps you use for securing the box?

They can be useful for attaching the fishing pole to some other pile/wood or something!

Hi Tasos

I think that the main weakness of the FT-857D is the exposure of the very vulnerable knobs on the front panel. A friend of mine broke his once and had to send his rig away for repair. I use a plastic flexible chopping board to cover these so that anything placed on top does not cause damage. Of course it is always an advantage to have the extra power of the FT-857D but I would consider also purchasing an FT-817D for longer trips if the budget stretches. Also consider using LiPo batteries to keep the weight down.

Nick G4OOE

yes, honestly a 817 or KX3 would be perfect but at the moment the 857 need to earn its living for some time (I got it recently).


Hi Tasos - the supports beneath and at the side and rear of the 857D were polystyrene covered with elephant tape. The orange straps keep the two halves of the box together. They are generally sold as luggage straps for putting around suitcases.You can get heavy duty straps with metal ratchet tighteners for attaching poles to trig points, fences, etc.

The 817 is set up for wet weather activating and has now developed into a fairly complex 4 compartment set up based on A5 size plastic boxes. The side panels are plastic cutting boards. Since taking the photograph I have added a pair of powerpole connectors to the bottom battery compartment so I can power external equipment, such as my 432MHz linear.

No doubt it will morph into something else within a year or two…

73, Gerald G4OIG

BTW - I put a towel in a dry sack on top of this lot before anything else so it is protected. Beneath are the first aid kit and bothy bag.

Thnaks for this. Im sometimes missing the correct word for some things that im looking for in the uk as I grow up in Greece.

In turms of protecting the radio ill probably go to layland tomorrow and get some bubble wrap and make a custom pouch/cushion. It will get me through the next mount and when im back ill look for something more all in one pack. (The flight case was really good in terms of organisation but heavy and big)


I use a Pelican U160.

The lower half of the U160 is a Pelican case that protects may (this must be my, but the spellingchecker “incorrects” it) radio and photo gear. My MacBook Air just fits in the upper part. Not shown on the photo are straps to hold a tripod. We would use the straps to hold an antenna mast. If the FT-857 case size 155x52x233 includes the knobs, the radio would neatly fit in the lower part of the U160 (approx. 170x180x235)
As you can see on the photo there is lots of room for other stuff.

73, Hans PB2T

wow it looks very secure and organised (and probably a bit expensive)
857 is a bit big. you need around 30 by 20cm (more if you need cushioning)


Have a check in TK Max they do some sturdy protective covers/bags for laptops and tablets always seem to be reduced.
I got a nice little tablet case that holds my FT817 and NUE PSK modem is well padded and a water proof bag over it does the job. Also purchased a laptop messenger bag that I used earlier in the year with the ts480 fitted in to the rucksack easily, the extra compartments were handy, but it does add extra bulk and weight.

Yes nice tip! Ill give it a go after xmas.