The recent thread entitled ‘Bungees’ brought up the matter of how much weight activators carry so I was wondering … what really is lightweight?

I think the answer is very much subjective.

One person may simply take a handheld with perhaps an additional antenna … most definately lightweight.
Another person might carry a rucksack containing a couple of large SLABs, FT-857 (for example), antenna matching unit, clothing, bungees, ropes/cords, pegs for guying, food, flasks of hot drink, bottles of water as well as large aerials and poles, a folding chair etc etc. This person may consider their kit to be lightweight , especially when compared to what is in their shack.

I prefer to carry as little as possible BUT still feel I have everything I ‘might’ need to be comfortable including warm / waterproof clothing in case of unexpected adverse weather, extra water or hot drink and of course food.
Whilst some can get down from an AZ relatively quickly I can not, hence the need for the extra clothing.

So, as I said, it is subjective and I dont think it really matters as long as the activator is content to carry whatever they feel they might need for a successful trip.

We all have different level of fitness, ability/disability which may also influence what we carry. I am still very much a novice activator but find the three that I have activated so far, G/SP-004, G/SP-013 and G/SP-015 to be damned hard work (but enjoyable lol) yet others almost ‘fly’ up them and in order of difficulty I think they are considered very easy.

I admire all activators simply for the fact they they get off their bum and get up there and do it … the weight (or lack of) their gear makes no difference to me as long as they have a safe and successful time.


In reply to M0VFR:

What really is lightweight? There is no simple answer to that. A fine summers day activation of an easy one-point summit might involve nothing more than a shirt-sleeves stroll in trainers carrying nothing more than a handy and a notepad. Do it in midwinter with snow on the ground and spindrift in a steady force six wind and you will be in boots and heavy clothing, using walking poles and carrying extra clothing etc, but the handy would still categorise it as “lightweight”! Add HF into the mix, you may be carrying an FT817, antenna and pole instead of the handy but it would still be lightweight (by comparison with the activators using FT857, IC706 and the like with separate SLAB!) Compare this with an activation of Ben Nevis - even on a (rare) fine summers day you would be foolish to do it in shirtsleeves and trainers, though some do and get away with it - you will carry a rucksack with extra clothing, food, water and all the other gear appropriate to a major summit plus whatever radio equipment you have in mind. In other words, and this is a personal viewpoint that others may not agree with, lightweight applies to the radio gear only, the rest of the gear should be appropriate to the summit, the time of year and the anticipated conditions both underfoot and meteorological.


Brian G8ADD

In reply to M0VFR:

Light weight is an issue on longer hikes with significant elevation gain. IMHO, lightweight is a total pack weight of under 10 lbs (4.5kg) for an HF activation. Fred KT5X (aka “Cloud Runner”) is the lightweight meister and I suspect his SOTA pack is well under half that. Winter time packs are going to naturally be a few pounds heavier.

73, Barry N1EU

Lightweight is simply not carrying what you don’t need. That’s the short answer.

For the long answer, see Brian’s post above.


In reply to N1EU:

There is more to it than pack weights, Barry - my winter boots plus (forged steel) crampons and gaiters weigh several pounds, my ice axe weighs more than my FT817! The all-up weight that comes onto your feet must include these things, they will slow you down even though they are not in your rucksack.

The trouble with Tom’s definition, good guide tho’ it is, is that you only really know what you didn’t need when you get back!


Brian G8ADD

I suppose assessing accurately the likelihood of needing certain stuff only comes with experience Brian. The only things I regularly take and regularly don’t need are the 40m dipole (carried in case 12m isn’t playing) and the bothy bag. Other than that, everything carried gets used.

I admit to probably being a bit light on safety gear - I don’t carry first aid kit for instance. But I find that a flask of soup and a bothy bag can get you out of most scrapes on the hills!


In reply to M1EYP:

But I find that a flask of soup and a
bothy bag can get you out of most scrapes on the hills!

Just out of curiosity, what capacity of Thermos flask would you recommend, Tom?
I am thinking of buying one and I see they are available in sizes from 0.2 litre up to 2.0 litre! Probably 1 litre would be adequate for a single person.

Also, should one go for the type with a metal outer case - even though this would add a bit to the weight?

Walt (G3NYY)

Stainless steel flasks are the best. They seem to retain the heat of the contents much better than traditional types, and don’t smash to bits when you throw your rucksack off a boulder on Kinder Scout having forgotten there was a flask inside! (Sorry 2E0NSR…).

Mine is one litre. This feeds up to 3 of us on the hills, but 2 of us or even just one of me always seems able to get through it in a day! It would be a bit much for tea/coffee though, so if I am on my own and taking such a beverage, I also have a half-litre stainless steel flask.

I would agree that 1 litre is more than adequate for a single person. In fact I can confirm it is also sufficient for a married man.


In reply to M1EYP:

“and the bothy bag. Other than that, everything carried gets used”.

That’s too close for comfort for me Tom - other than a low hill with a short walk near civilisation or well frequented I would like to return with at least an emergency layer + couple of handwarmers, emergency rations + water + torches, whistle & minimal first aid kit (selection of painkillers/NSAIDs, aspirin for MI, antihistamine, plasters, swabs + couple of bandages + emergency foil blanket & scissors) unused the majority of the time. My experience, although not as vast as yours, tells me accident can happen and conditions can change very rapidly and sometimes unexpectedly at height even on a warm summer’s day - I feel the cold badly and am no longer able to run down a hillside. Solo I would always carry extra even though I struggle with weight, accompanied I might walk with less - perhaps with a primaloft that would fit either of us.

I dare say I would have eventually managed to crawl through the stream and back to the car & sound the horn but I was only about 15 mins walk away on a 1 pointer.

I’d rather think ‘what if’ beforehand than ‘if only’ later.

Dib dib dib :slight_smile:
Karen 2E0XYL

In reply to 2E0XYL:

I carry much the same as you, Karen, although my first aid kit is more limited! I suppose the thing is that I learned in an earlier era when mountain weather forecasting was largely guesswork, and gear was more primitive and heavier (who remembers the Blacks canvas cagoules with the big kangaroo pocket - or rock climbing with hawser-lay rope tied around your waist with a bowline?) and when packing my rucksack I always remember long-ago epics with sudden vicious changes in the weather or sheet iced summits which would probably be forecast now but came as a surprise then. Learning the ropes then was learning to cope, or more dramatically, to survive! I’m still here, somewhat to my surprise!


Brian G8ADD

In reply to M1EYP:

Thanks. Very useful info. I am coming round to thinking it would be worth having a half-litre AND a 1-litre flask, both stainless steel, so that I can have the choice of either depending upon my plans for the day.


Walt (G3NYY)

In reply to M0VFR:

Hi Steve, thank you for starting the thread, I always find the answers useful!

All that I would add from my relatively short SOTA involvement, is to decide in advance what you hope to achieve, and carry no more than necessary for that. (I entirely agree with the need for spare clothes, emergency supplies etc)

I find it easy to get carried away with enthusiasm from reading this reflector and feel that I should be operating on all bands for hours on end, using large antennas. In fact, though, my main focus at present is to qualify summits and gather activator points. With that in mind, I have reduced the battery capacity that I carry, and minimised the antennas. I tend to carry two radios, chosen from FT817 / MTR / VX5 and enough battery to last a minimum of one hour per summit. Two wire antennas, one VHF and one HF. That allows for poor band conditions / low activity / equipment failure. 5m fibreglass pole, which collapses to 600mm.

Oh, yes, don’t buy a huge rucksack - Parkinson’s law applies, and you are bound to fill it :o)

Best 73s