How does your SOTA backpack compare?

Hi All.

Still relatively new to SOTA activations. I have completed 26 so far, easy 1-pointers, although can I say that some have required very considerable climbing effort for those single points :slight_smile:

I activate on HF using CW and I am gradually optimising my rucksack contents with the aim of keeping the weight to a minimum. The total weight of my loaded rucksack nowadays is just over 4.6kg (about 10lb 3oz). In addition, I usually hike up a summit with a water bottle and a walking pole. The walking pole doubles as a vertical support for my mini-tarp which can be quickly pegged out to give a degree of shelter from an incoming shower.

Here is a picture of my rucksack and its contents laid out. As an exercise, I weighed the individual bits and have them listed below for interest.

My radio is an Elecraft KX3. No internal AA batteries are fitted so as to keep the weight down. I use an external 2.6Ah 4S Li-Ion battery pack with a patch cable that has an in-line 1N5001 diode soldered in the plug. This drops the fully-charged 4S battery pack voltage enough to keep within the KX3’s operational parameters. I use this battery with my KX1 too where the 4S battery voltage is more beneficial.

I wonder how your SOTA backpacks compare?
Best 73
Carl G0KPE



Where’s the safety/survival gear?


He’s got the Band Aids in the bag.
I think my pack is about 8kg but my Squid pole is quite heavy.
Depending on the hike I may take a bit more water.
I don’t take tent pegs anymore there are plenty of rocks on my summits to hook the strings onto. Only other thing I take is a snake bite bandage but in 9 years I have only seen 1 snake in the rocks on a summit.
vk5cz …


Hi Andy.
Interested to learn what safety/survival gear you have in your backpack?
I’d say I am very much a fair-weather activator studying forecasts before committing. Have no ambition to head up mountains in the winter.
I always fully charge my mobile phone ready for a SOTA ascent and I use the excellent Ordnance Survey maps app to locate myself en route to the summit.


My SOTA Pack List

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My equipment list

If you are looking the lighten your pack, note that the Sotabeams tactical minibus quite heavy. I use a cheap 7m pole bought from AliExpress that is much lighter. No doubt it is also much weaker too, but I’ve not had any problems and it halves the weight bid the pole.

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  1. You may only head up the mountains/hills in summer but without at least a waterproof jacket you are taking a potential risk of hypothermia, if it starts to rain, unless you can somehow guarantee that the weather won’t change and that it won’t suddenly rain, or the wind increase. Obviously the risk of hypothermia increases as you get fitter and start to activate higher hills/.mountains.

Tarps are not particularly good for keeping you dry when walking and won’t do at all on windy summits.

Maybe you can get away with this on hills in lowland Britain, but I’m not sure I’d like to in the Pennines, Scotland, Lakes, & Snowdon areas.

  1. Map & Compass. They never run out of batteriy power. You don’t have to carry the whole map as you can copy a relevant A4 square on most printers.

  2. Some people might consider the addition of high calory food - such as chocolate etc., rather essential, but this again depends on your fitness level and whether you can last a whole day out on hills without eating.


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Many thanks for the replies with comments and suggestions. The equipment lists from M0MZB and KB1HQS are particularly handy references should I ever progress to more challenging summits.
I travel extensively around the U.K. with my job. I am content with short hikes fitted in around my work activities and use SOTA as a means of improving my CW proficiency, gaining a bit of fitness and taking in the spectacular scenery that we are lucky to have here. Full days out, overnight camps and higher-point summits aren’t on my radar for now, as I am most usually time-limited with my activations. Enjoying safe SOTA very much though.

Best 73


I’d add paper tissues and a plastic bag to put used ones and any food waste (eg banana skins, apple cores) in. A small hand sanitiser instead of wet wipes.

As for survival etc…the mountains generate their own weather and even specific mountain forecasts such as cannot be trusted 100%. I always carry a warm item of clothing in the bag, as well as waterproofs, hat and gloves. If you want to save weight here, invest in a system such as Paramo gear, which allows you to wear the waterproof layer, especially the trousers, all day. A litre of water and spare sugary & slow release carb. snacks (this in addition to the food I plan to eat) go in the lid, or an inner pocket in cold weather because frozen Mars bar isn’t fun.

With SOTA you can go from 100% output, hot and sweaty to a sustained period of pysical inactivity within a few minutes. I usually put my mast/aeriel up wearing what I climbed in, allowing my body to cool and hopefully lose any moisture from my clothing. I then layer up and get operating.

Have fun finding out what works for you!


Here, here. The perception that it’s ok to throw it away if it’s biodegradable needs to be challenged much more vocally, but that rant is probably best saved for another thread. For those who take such things seriously, the following may be of use:

   73 de OE6FEG

David M6GYU.
This is a particularly good advice. Thanks.

Map & Compass. They never run out of batteriy power. You don’t have to carry the whole map as you can copy a relevant A4 square on most printers


I use the OS Maps app for planning and navigating. Although I have paper maps [a few somewhat dated] of the areas I walk, I find printing out the route on a few A4 sheets is very convenient as I can keep them in my trouser pocket for easy reference.

It’s also good to have it live on my phone for confirmation from time to time. Maybe others have better navigating skills than me but there have been occasions where the GPS ‘spot’ on the e-map [rather than my compass] showed me I was heading up the wrong way around some giant rocky mass.

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Yes indeed! I find my Paramo clothing warm in winter, cool in summer. I recently changed my fleece to a Berghaus one which breathes much better than my old one which has made a significant improvement. Your comment about wrapping up before sitting down to operate is spot on.

As for my kit, if I were to choose an HF activation with a bit of power to my elbow (okay wrist as I use a straight key), the following might apply -

I always go on the premise that I might just be unfortunate to have an accident and always carry the survival kit - thankfully not needed in 650 (SOTA and HEMA) activations. My first aid kit includes items for both man and radio, hence why it is so heavy.


Unfortunately, my Paramo ‘Viento’ zip-off trousers have finally bitten the dust this winter (bought in 2006). The material is failing in crotch area, and repairs would be too expensive. Unfortunately, Paramo don’t make the zip-offs anymore, so I’m looking at the ‘Velez’ adventure trousers. I will also be getting the braces to hold them up, as that was my only gripe with the last pair. Highly recommended, even though they are not completely waterproof!
73 Matt

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My walking colleague at work had some Paramo clothing that was showing wear from use. He got an outdoor specialist to do a load of repairs using Paramo material. Things like new zips and worn areas on shoulders where rucksack straps had worn through replaced. He also had some features he wanted added. The price was very reasonable. His view it was money well spent even though he had bought more Paramo gear, he had a choice of garments for different activities. I’ll get you the details so you can enquire about repairs/re-manufacture etc.

Thanks, no harm in getting a quote I suppose. I just worry that the zip-offs are particularly complex.

Indeed, but I find my 2010 vintage Cascada II trousers only get damp on the inside when I am actually doing the activation bit - setting up, operating, breaking down. Too much bending, kneeling, etc. I am talking the sort of drenching you can get in Scotland here - any sane person wouldn’t be doing SOTA under such conditions, but I generally have too much time and expense invested in an activation not to get on and do it. :grinning:

Anyway, I find the trousers soon dry out once I get on the move again and I’ve never had any issues with my 2014 vintage Aspira jacket. I suppose that with the kind of activity that SOTA is, pretty much anything that is breathable will be compromised now and then, but overall I am very pleased with the kit.

I agree with you 100%. If you were wearing conventional membrane based waterproofs in torrential rain, and doing any serious physical activity, you would get soaked by your own condensation. I just think it’s important to be upfront about it.

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Mountain Rescue England and Wales has great advice on how to prepare, and what you should take with you, for trips outdoors.

Did you know that 40% of UK Mountain Rescue call-outs involve no injuries? These are searches for people who are lost, tired, missing, stuck on steep ground or - surprisingly often - can’t see their way off the hill because the sun has set!

Lesson: always pack a torch, with spare batteries and bulbs, and ideally a back-up torch too. Yes, even in summer: it gets dark every day of the year here in the UK :wink:


Really? What’s the matter in UK? :wink:

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