Spare Antenna

I haven’t needed to worry about my pack weight with my activations to date. However, with spring approaching, I plan to get more adventurous where weight will be an issue, Such as overnight trips with tent and food.

The finest Cairn in Scotland, definitely a weight conscious peak.

For such trips, I’m just going bring an end fed lightweight pole and hf radio. I am curious, what does everyone do for weight critical peaks. Do you recommend a spare antenna or not ?

I wonder if this is an overkill, or maybe I just consider a BNC to bullet plug adapter and cut up the end fed if it fails in order to make a random wire to tune.

I’ve only had my end fed fail once at a solder joint, even with strain relief. But I could still tune to anything.


If the purpose of the walk/camp etc. is to do radio/SOTA then will you be distraught if you have a radio problem and cannot do the radio activities you want? If yes then you need a backup.


I use an end fed wire with an L match tuner. I don’t carry a spare antenna but work on the principle that whatever wire is left after a breakage I can use to get a match.
Key in my mind is to build robust and flexible antenna system that should the unforeseen happen you can still get on air.
And to date I have never had a wire antenna break, not so lucky with squid poles, I think I am up to number 4.
Keep the weight down : )
Warren vk3byd



It depends. Although I look after my gear, I had my antenna break several times due to sheer amount of use (metal fatigue) and strong winds.
I will always take a backup with me but it depends where I am.
If on the continent, I tend to pack a very small monoband dipole as backup (which fits in the palm of my hand).
If in the England and Wales, I also pack a UHF/VHF backup.

I think that Matthew ( @M0MZB ) may be able to provide you with some useful insight based on his experience of his multi overnight radio adventures.

Good luck.


I haven’t tried to do a really lightweight activation and probably take too much stuff, just in case. I usually have at least 3 antennas: EFHW for 40/30/20m (and can also do 15m at a push), 2m Slimjim and a groundplane for 10/12/15m (either single band or link selectable for all three). I take these because I want to cover several bands, but it also means I have a spare. I also have a few tools.

Last year I activated The Cheviot G/SB-001 and Ros Castle G/SB-009. On The Cheviot I set up my EFHW as normal and suffered a lot of clicking noises and interference. At first I thought this was because G0EVV was also on the summit but decided it wasn’t. Anyway it was a successful activation and I was happy I had got my 8 points. I then went to Ros Castle and set up the EFHW but it just wouldn’t work - I could receive nothing. I moved to 2m FM but only managed 3 QSOs so couldn’t get the point. I didn’t have a groundplane with me. If this had happened on The Cheviot I would have been gutted not to get the 8 points.

When I got home I found the problem was a broken solder joint in the EFHW matching transformer. Robert’s suggestion of a single band dipole as a spare is a good one - little to go wrong and very small and light.

1 Like

It’s both with SOTA being the bonus - I would be sorely disappointed if I lugged a radio up, say Ladhar Bhienn and then couldn’t activate, especially if there are workarounds.

Thats sort of what I’m thinking. Even bring some spare wire, but if so I may as well just got the full hog and consider @M0RWX’s suggestion of a monoband dipole, maybe 10m that can be used on the 20m band too.

For England + wales thats a good plan. For Scotland, west coast or without a ‘call to arms’ I have my doubts…


I always carry a VHF handheld - that normally guarantees that a SOTA activation still occurs even in the case of catastrophe with my FT-817 or battery or antenna or mast!

Groundplane antennas are a good safe bet if you’re worried about mishaps. If you make the connections with a chocolate block rather than soldered, and carry a small screwdriver in the antenna bag (mine doubles as one of the pegs for the radials!), then if anything goes wrong, on-site repairs are quick and easy.


You’ll struggle to get a 10m dipole to work on 20m. You’ll also struggle to get a 20m dipole to work on 10m. Both will need an ATU or other matching device.

I originally made my 20m groundplane with a chocolate block. On the first EU/Australia S2S day I took part in I wasted some time working out that I had a bad connection and then fixing it. I’ve replaced it with soldered connections and all has been fine since. I do carry a spare connector and tools so I could fix a broken connection, but I found the chocolate block connections too unreliable.

1 Like

Yes, agreed, i should have said with an ATU. I’ve tried a Xiegu’s tuner to tune my 10m vert (Vert + single radial) to 20m and it will tune that, but not 40m.

1 Like

In my experience Tim, it is far more important to remember to take everything you need with you in the first place. I think I have managed to forget almost every item of equipment over the years.

I carry a multi tool and that has enabled me to carry out some minor antenna repairs on the very rare occasions that I have had a failure on the hill top. I don’t carry the spare parts required to manufacture the radio, battery or antenna that I have left behind though :wink:. I also usually carry 2 radios (one HF and one V/UHF) which gives me some redundancy.


If you have an ATU built into your rig then all you need as a spare antenna is a couple of pieces of wire which the ATU should be able to tune on at least one band. Or if you have a failure then just use part of the broken antenna as a spare.


Since going to choc block connections from soldered, I’ve actually found improved reliability! That might be more indicative of the usage/wear & tear my gear experiences, and the quality of my soldering though!

The biggest advantages (to me) of choc block are that I can confidently build antennas in the first place, and repair them easily, on a summit if required.

1 Like

I hadn’t really thought about carrying an emergency dipole, but it’s a great suggestion! I do usually carry more than one means of qualification of a summit. I think I might just build myself a lightweight 20m dipole.

These tool free connectors are a nice alternative, no screws to lose and no screwdriver needed:
The image is a “Wago” in line connector, but other makes and configurations are available.

The trick with solder joints is to avoid stressing them. I knot the two wire ends together, then strip a few mm off each cut end, twist them together, and solder. The knot takes all the strain, and is insignificant to the flow of RF on the HF bands.


There’s lots you can do to reduce the weight (and volume) if you have food and camping gear with you. First of all do it as a 2 man walk and you can spread the radio gear between you.

Or dump the heavy radio. A Xiegu 6100 is listed at 880g ( I don’t know if that is with the battery). A KX2 is 380g without battery. If you are careful you can probably get 8 CW activations out of the standard KX2 battery. ISTR that is what Victor GI4ONL @GI4ONL told me. But they were all wham-bam-thankyou-mam to the point activations on the same day.

You can go further. I measured my lightweight SOTA gear. The

Item Weigtht
EFHW antenna 40/30/20 and winder 130g
QCX 20/30m 210g
1.5Ah LiIon battery 100g
SWR meter 90g
Antenna tuner 125g
Palm paddle and lead 50g
Ear buds 40g

That’s 745g for 2 bands but is the whole system, everything needed. The QCX is surprisingly heavy, it’s the case. So QCX+SWR meter is close to a KX2. But it’s all small boxes and so is much more likely to fit into the individual nooks and crannies you will have in your bag and that could be a big help.

It’s very surprising every time you compare a KX2 with other radios. I’ve been packing up my FT-817s ready to sell. Wow they’re heavy. Likewise, the IC-705 is big and heavy in comparison. Both feel more strongly built than the KX2 and the 705 sounds nicer. I won’t be selling my KX2 anytime soon however.

There are a plethora of small lightweight CW radios that sip from the battery you could use. HB1B, various MTRs etc. etc. I think what this shows is CW weighs a lot less than voice. I know you have only just started on your amateur radio journey. Whilst it’s important you get your Full licence so you can do SOTA abroad, I would be working hard on getting CW capable simply because it enables lower weight and lower volume radio for these camping activations.


This! And this again.

1 Like

Haha. Thats so true, starting with forgetting my boots. Thats was a trip fail before you even leave the car.

1 Like

There is SOTA and there is SOTA.

  1. Nice times on local hills, not too taxing. Spend an hour or two at the top, trying different bands, antennas, modes etc.

  2. Big mountain days with possible mulitiple summits. Quick activations. Work the pile up and get going. Two bands at a push.

For number 2, I always use a 41’ wire and 17’ counterpoise, as an inverted V over my carbon 6 pole. The kx2 tunes it on every band 40m to 10m. If it breaks, run it shorter, eg 29’.

As for 2m FM, yes carry the HT. You never know what will turn up. The west coast and islands have some excellent 2m chasers. Then there’s sometimes unexpected summit to summits. They’re always a great surprise when they come along. Once I qualified a big west coast mountain with four 2m FM S2S, everyone just using handhelds.


Not necessarily. When we met on Pen y Fan, I saw someone walk up in crocks and white socks. :smiley:


And then there’s the wildlife on the Snowdon Mountain Railway :wink:.

You forgot the third type of SOTA, Fraser:

The one where you are praying for a contact.