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How do you stay comfortable during a long activation?

Andy @G6PJZ messaged me with a suggestion after I mentioned my discomfort crouching under a tarp for a couple of hours. And this got me thinking:
What do others do to avoid (or try to avoid) aches and pains in back, legs, etc when activating for a long time?
Do you change your sitting / lying / standing posture or have some aids (chair, cushion, etc) that helps?

I’ll include our exchanges to set the context:

G6PJZ

Continuing the discussion from Trans-Atlantic S2S Event 23rd April 2022:

“but after two hours crouching under the tarp my old back and legs had had enough.”

Hi Andy I suffer from the same issue after a long time sat in an uncomfortable position. I bought a Helinox Ground Chair a few months ago and have been very pleased with it. It packs down to a large water bottle size, is lightweight and provides some back support. They do versions that sit higher off the ground but I was concerned about them sinking into soft ground and also they wouldn’t be as easy to get under a tarp.

Didn’t want to hijack the thread :wink:. Best wishes,

G8CPZ

Thanks for the tip Andy.

I did borrow a portable chair from Nigel M5TUE for my tent-based adventure for last November’s TA S2S event but didn’t really use it. Most of my HF SOTA activations are about an hour long and aren’t crouching under a tarp - so I wouldn’t normally carry a chair.

I have a Klymit V Seat inflatable cushion which is very comfortable so my backside no longer complains. I put the cushion inside a large drybag which [so far] stops sharp rocks puncturing it [unlike its two predecessors].

My mistake this time was not varying my operating position [too wrapped up in doing the radio] and alternate between lying on one side, legs out, and sitting [more or less] upright. I use a Velcro/metal-plate leg strap to hold my twin paddles on my thigh or kneecap allows a range of posture positions.

Best wishes for comfortable activations,

Andy G8CPZ / M0ALC

PS I will look into getting a lightweight portable chair.

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To add further to the context :wink:, I normally use just a foam sit mat. I only take the chair if I’m planning to sit in one place for a while (eg the S2S events or evening 2m contests). It’s also a balance depending on the hike. Any benefits from a comfy chair can easily be offset by the bad back caused by carrying too much!!

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I’m 10dByears younger than you Andy CPZ and probably just younger than Andy PJZ. I sit on a Tesco gardeners kneeling mat with my legs crossed. I have noticed legs getting stiffer sitting like that now than 10 years ago but I just swap the top and bottom legs every mode/band change. I bought a Decathlon folding sit mat to try. It’s not up to the job like the Tesco kneeler is. But I also have significant amounts of backside (!) and that may help cushion things somewhat.

It’s cold affecting my toes and feet that becomes a limit to operation in Winter. I now know from how cold and numb they’ve got when it’s below zero and windy how many minutes walking is needed to restore feeling and then comfort. All other parts of me can be made comfortable/acceptable with fleeces, Thinsulate lined hats/gloves, Down and artificial Down jackets, wind proof jackets etc. Just dead toes is the limit.

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I have a Helinox Chair One and have used it often, the Zero version they now do is only 500g but the legs of both sink into soft ground unless you buy the mesh attachment for the bottom of the legs. It is comfortable but too high for a tarp I think.

The Ground Chair Looks good and shouldn’t sink and is lower. :slight_smile:

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That’s the ground chair in action today. (I know the mast isn’t straight - I’ve rigged the antenna dozens of times yet today it took me 3 goes to get it up at all :man_shrugging:t2:).

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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
PR2
PR1

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I’ve found the most important thing is to have my feet lower than my bottom while sat down. I try to pitch my tarp so that I’m sat in the right position. Failing that, I sit on my rucksack which usually contains a shelter and spare clothing. If not, then after half an hour activating when I stand up I can’t feel my feet (that’s assuming I’m not in agony first).

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a comfortable place is very important during the activation… cramping does not work at all… especially with CW

actually … as soon as I reach the summit… my first sight is the place where I can sit comfortably and handle the trx well… in combination with the place for the antenna (so I can sit comfortably I also have 4m coax)

I rarely do activations that go longer than an hour. However, sometimes I do several activations in one day or I have longer routes. Then the weight is a factor… so I don’t like to carry chairs… (or anvils)

As increasingly have problems with cold, I always have insulation material with me. In winter I use all 3. :innocent:

73 Armin

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I’ve rigged up the tarp with two hiking poles close together so that they can act as a backrest. Sort of. Don’t lean back too hard ! I also use a padded laptop sleeve as a seat. It’s waterproof and insulated and doubles as a coax and antenna bag when packed in the rucksack. I sometimes alternate between kneeling and sitting, just to keep the blood flowing in the legs. My favourite spot is right at the edge of a peat hag, where you can sit on the edge like a chair with your legs lower down.

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I’ll skip the obvious misogynistic joke - we have loads of them in G/LD and G/NP - due to soil erosion I think - but rarely at the summit itself.

Peel Fell G/SB-004, impressive scale to the hags there.

Is that a double entendre …

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Get off your duff and start walking.
Pedestrian Mobile has no duff cramping problems.
You can still find a rock to sit on for lunch.
Yes, it was snowing at the time i was working 20M CW with a 10 foot whip. Rig is a PRC319 @ 50W. Drag wire flowing down into the snow. Using a Whiterook single lever paddle. Running on 14 26650 LiIon cells. i was grabbing the icicle to see if it would improve my counterpoise. It broke off :< St. Elmo is a ghost town at 11,000 feet in Colorado.
Paul w0rw


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So those of you in chairs …

  1. where is the radio & how do you read the signal if its way away on the ground?
  2. how do you log? 1-handed on a pad balanced on your knee

Both of the above mean the only successful postures I’ve found are crouched or lying. And the ground is rarely dry enough for the latter. After 1hr playing DX this week legs were completely numb to extent I needed to hold myself up off a rock! Keen to hear how you make seated options work.

(that rabbit frame looks clever)

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Nice frame concept. I like their marketing illusion of technology, “Exo Frame Technology”, which has only been inexistence for at least 200 years :).

I carry a lightweight version of the Crazy Creek chair. It’s now marketed under the name Hex 2.0:

I can sit in that for a few hours comfortably. The major issue I find is I’m so low to the ground that chiggers, ticks, etc., have easy access.

For @ZL4NVW here is my setup while I’m seated:

Screen Shot 2022-04-26 at 2.57.19 PM

I learned to send CW with my left hand so I can write and weight down my notebook with my (dominant) right hand even in windy conditions. I place my backpack on the ground next to me and rest the radio on top:

On this activation I was operating HF and amateur satellites so I had both of my 818’s in tow. Usually I bring just one for a HF-only activation.

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This is how it works for me, but it may not work for everyone.

The set sits either propped up in its case or sometimes on a 6" high Manfrotto tripod. The screen is generally very readable even in sun and the buttons easily reached by leaning forward.

The photo shows an MS tablet because I was doing a bit of digital using WiFi to the 705 which cuts out a cable.

When using voice or CW the log is on a millboard on my knee. I’m probably not normal as I write naturally with my left hand and do everything else, operate CW key or the microphone with my right.

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Best idea is to pick a summit that has a bench at the top, like this

Elliott, K6EL

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This stone bench was comfortable a few days ago. But it was a ****** to carry up the hill. :slight_smile:

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I use an inflatable cushion to sit on. Rig sits on a collapsible camping table which also has room for my phone, earphones and log book. I also take a break and walk about every 45 minutes or so unless I’ve already got up to change antennas.

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