What I Take on a SOTA Activation

Whirlwind walkthrough of what I bring on a SOTA (Summits On The Air) activation. From backpack, water bladder, clothing, wet weather/hot weather/cold weather gear, survival gear, medical kit, food, orienteering, hiking, comfort, antenna, radios, even what I bring afterwards, it’s all there.



Ye Gods - I hope you have a tame Sherpa to help carry that lot :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


Too much oaty/crunchy stuff and far too little chocolate!

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I’m hoping to take my lucky anvil Mark M0NOM gave me as a prize for winning the Chaser section of the 2021 Lakeland Challenge weekend. I must remember to pack the anvil when I get round to doing another activation :upside_down_face:

73 Phil


It it a trojan horse anvil with hidden spare parts? Maybe some HF adapters or micro end-fed antenna. If not then the next version should have a secret compartment…

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HaHa Joe - good to hear from you. Ol’ Lucky is actually a very heavy anvil and really large…

12 grams in weight and 80mm long!

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Indeed Phil. I guess the solid gold letters add a lot :wink:
I hope to venture out on Saturday for a snow shoe hike. Maybe we manage a QSO. Hear you soon.
73 Joe


At least my anvil is metal!


Here’s a master intended to be cut down for a custom check-list. Not for overnight and not for freezing weather


==== Before hitting the trail:

Test equipment at home, add name and phone number to all items, use checklist at home and again when arriving at trailhead, post SOTA alert, pre-hydrate, do final weather check, call home with location of trailhead and summit plus estimated times, place everything on hood/bonnet of truck while getting organized before the climb, lock truck.

==== At the top:

Safety first, don’t run out of sunlight, watch for approaching thunderheads, leave no trash or gear behind, show the simple courtesy of taking out other’s trash, announce your new freq when you QSY and when you QRT, consider returning to original freq right before going QRT, use all your tools to find your way back down to the trailhead.

==== Back at the truck:

Put everything on the hood while stowing gear, change into dry shirt, call home, drive safely, add tips/cautions to summit resource page in database.

==== What to take:

Checklist including alerted freq’s and peak reference, backpack, radios & mini-manuals, mic, headphones, keyer paddle and backup straight key, tuner/balun, transmission line, adapters (sma-bnc), antennas (hf-vhf), tripod-base, fish-rod/mounting spike & straps, counterpoise, fully charged batteries/power cable, clip leads, cordage, tent stakes, light hammer, fishline, 2 oz sinkers, slingshot, log book, 2 pencils, Swiss army knife, cigarette lighter, chapstick, light tarp, water bladder, food, headlamp, orange survival bag, pistol (where legal), bear spray/bell, whistle, signaling mirror, binoculars/camera, altimeter, thermometer, clock, GPS/map/compass, route plan, Bushnell Backtrack or similar, locator beacon, phone, APRS, mini-stool, spare truck key, copy of radio license in plastic envelope with money/papers, layered clothing/rain gear, hat, gloves, goggles/dark glasses, sunscreen, spare socks, trekking poles, snow gear, boot traction devices, towel, mini-dictaphone, first aid kit, toilet paper, bug repellent spray, flag.



I have several SOTA peaks within 10 miles (80 furlongs) of my cottage here in Calif. I ride a trail bike to many activations. I take 5 x 16 ft of wire, one 2.5mAh 12 volt battery from a drill hand set, a QCX 20 radio, a tiny key by N6ARA, headphones, cell phone, a water bottle wrapped with a turn of duct tape, and wear spandex shorts - riding shirt - cleated riding shoes, and a 20’ collapsing pole. If cold I toss in a prima-loft insulated jacket. Sometimes a banana.


I think K6ELs toilet paper is the most essential thing on his list…


I know a guy with the trail name of “Hammer”, he used to backpack with a hammer to drive the stakes for his tent, then he realized he could just use a rock, he lost the hammer and gained a trail name :joy::hammer:


Nicely done I said everything out on the floor the night before to make sure I don’t forget anything and I have a morning checklist that I go through to make sure everything’s packed and ready to go

Yeah taking fewer cliff bars they’re too sweet I like the kind bars they have dark chocolate and nuts

that’s why I do the stairmaster at the gym at least once a week :sweat_smile:

That is about it. Sorry to hear that you lost your son.

73, Jaakko oh7bf/ac1bb

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Scary when you lay it all out.
Broadly the same as me, but I miss out one or two of items, but add in some others.

Heavy isn’t it… it’s quite a load for a “fun” hobby.

To quote Jason Bourne madly out of context “look what they make you give”… except no one is actually making me do it… and I enjoy it too! Ha ha.


When we do a drive up SOTA activation we just put the gear in a bucket, and bring a water bottle and a hat, pretty easy, but when we hike 7-15 miles in the middle of nowhere, you bet we go prepared. Here’s the toughest hike I did where I broke both my hiking poles, we go caught in a heavy wet snow at the top (13:28 if you want to fast forward), and my buddy fell into a crevice, but luckily, only got scratched up:

【SOTA】Hike & Views Granite Mtn (W6/SD-033) with Activation


Thanks for sharing. No gun? I’ve seen hikers and campers in the US backcountry with anything from a handgun to a shotgun. Better than an anvil I guess. :wink:

73, Fraser