What's in your pack?

Brand new to this, I have most of the kit to get started, FT817 (or 857 for higher power) even a Z100 tuner if I go HF route. Also have the SB270 SOTABEAM kit (inc. guys, fishing pole, cables etc.) weak link at present is I have just one SLA 7a 12v Yuasa which is fairly heavy having never used Lipo batteries.

My background is that of a rambler so ok with the necessary hiking & safety kit, but specifically need to know what else I need for radio kit and especially how do others house it all? - please near in mind it is a view to traveling light as opposed to weighing myself down.

What do others carry on a “typical” activation?

73 Steve

FT-857D, 8Ah deep cycle, Palm keyer, MP-1 antenna. Doesn’t weigh much and can be set-up at any place with minimum foot-print.

73 Norby

In reply to G0SLQ:

What do others carry on a “typical” activation?

In my case Steve, it would be much quicker to tell you what isn’t kept in my rucksack :frowning:

73 Mike

In reply to G0SLQ:



In reply to 2E0YYY:
For a typical VHF activation I have the usual
Safety, warm kit and nav stuff waterproofed in rubble bags in a rucksack.
A second rubble sack protects a Yaesu VX8 hand held, 2x batteries, guy lines, a four way pole support / bearing as produced by G4VQS and well worth the money, pegs, bungees, lightweight coax, spare rubber duck antenna incase it’s too wet / windy to set up a pole, write in the rain pad and pencil (sharpened at both ends!!), Gerber multi tool for any repairs. A lightweight nylon poncho to sit on or make an improvised shelter if needed. I also have taken to using clingfilm on any electrical items that may get damp, it’s an easy fix that solves potential issues on summits.

I then just add to these basics if I want to do more, just my two pennies worth and there are much more experienced out their than me. Mickey doesn’t need to take batteries with him as he has them airlifted onto the Torr as he is there so often!!hehehe!!

Hope this is of use.

In reply to G0SLQ:

Hi Steve

My SOTA station has evolved over the years to a stage where I’m able to get everything together very quickly and can easly see if anything has been forgotten.

My rig is the FT-817 which lives in its own dry-bag, either of my two HF amplifiers have another and my Li-Pos have a third (I often carry 4x 4000mAh batteries on multi summits/long activations). Microphone, patch-leads, power cables and small log-book are carried in a snap-lock box.

All I then have to decide is what bands I’m going to operate on and take the appropriate antenna/pole; all my antennas are resonant, no tuner is ever carried.

I rarely use HF and V/UHF on the same activation if I’m on my own so I don’t become too cluttered with kit.

I’ve now done just over 250 activations in all sorts of conditions and locations and can not see a way to reduce what I carry… unless I eventually start using cw and really go light weight :o)


In reply to G0SLQ:

One of the most important accessories to remember is whether or not I have enough drinking water, chocolate and waffles, but miniature gas soldering iron and quality adhesive tape are also sometimes useful…


Karel OK2BWB

Hi Steve

I think that the most important things to take that haven’t already been mentioned are the following:

OS 1:25000 Map of area
First Aid Kit

Then if wx worsens and you cannot see much in the mist, fog, rain or whatever, you will at least know your wherabouts.

Nick G4OOE

While not ignoring the safety aspect. I am a rambler and fortunately have relevant kit. I was referring to radio kit. While I have the SOTA Beam kit - which all breaks down nicely, and 817 for vhf/uhf, what are you fellas using for HF antennas, I’m thinking of how are they mounted?

Sure I will try VHF to begin with, but perhaps you use available fenceposts or anything to help mount antenna. Obviously as a new activator, I won’t know what’s up there until I get there!

Is there anywhere on this site with such information about summits?

I think best idea, as others have mentioned, is to take kit in car and decide what to take up top and what to leave in the vehicle.

Thanks for the suggestions though.

In reply to G0SLQ:

what are you fellas using for HF antennas

There is a search facility which lets you search the countless pages of waffle, drivel, nonsense and fine ideas that have been written over the last years. Like many things, when you know what to look for you’ll know what to look for and that makes searching easier! :wink:

Click the big blue link “Reflector” and then type into the search box some search terms. I think search terms have to be 4 chars long or they are ignored.

Typing dipole into the box shows me there are 8 topic tittles containing ‘dipole’ and 1931 posts containing ‘dipole’. There are lots of nice links for you to click on and then you can read what has gone before.

I won’t know what’s up there until I get there!

There is so much info on the net. Google for the summit name and you’ll find walking routes, parking info, pictures etc.

Is there anywhere on this site with such information about summits?



In reply to G0SLQ:

There is a section at the bottom of each summit page headed “Resources” where people can put references to sites, etc, where they have recorded summit information.

I think most people are using dipoles for HF, a few are using doublets (Google the Norcal Doublet) and a few (including me) are using end-fed antennas, either as base tuned verticals or W3EDP’s which are better for the LF bands. I am trying out an M0CVO off-centre fed dipole.

Fibre-glass fishing poles are widely used. These can be fixed with bungees or duct tape to any convenient base; a fence post, a spike of rock, jammed into a cairn or pegged with tent guys, bungeed to a trig point - sometimes the cap at the top of a trig point is missing and the pole will drop nicely into the hole - and a few hills have a convenient National Trust collecting box! All in all, this part of the game is a bit of an art form!


Brian G8ADD

I think most people are using dipoles for HF, a few are using doublets
(Google the Norcal Doublet) and a few (including me) are using end-fed
antennas, either as base tuned verticals or W3EDP’s which are better
for the LF bands. I am trying out an M0CVO off-centre fed dipole.

In addition to fishing pole supported doublets, a significant percentage of US activators are using Buddistick verticals and a smaller, but still significant, number are using end fed half wave antennas with an appropriate tuner.

Barry N1EU

Steve - it’s a 28lb rucsac if I put in the linked dipole. I’m trying to do an adequate, successful activation on 1 or two bands collecting say 12 contacts in an hour or work the pile-up. VHF in high UK mountains and HF on low hills or when with other SOTA folks on joint activations are my preferences.

FT-817ND, microphone and palm paddle
2 3.3Ah Li-Po batteries and voltage meter
2E0BTR ground spike and tommy bar
SOTABeam or dipole for 2m - mountains - choice on time to put up and impatience of non-radio companion
7m tele fishing pole - top 2 sections removed. (10m pole is too heavy for me and mine are up in the back garden)
Linked Dipole - similar to GW4BVE Flickr account photos - low hills
G4MD trig jig
Ground sheet - sit on / place folded over wire fence as wind break / extra cover for activator to make ‘waterproof’ coat last
Grivel Spider in-step cramp ons for any slippery descent [or racing past the rest of the party on icy paths of Pen y Fan!]
Sit mat
Guy lines on a kite winder and peg kit.
Two long luggage straps to tie antenna parts to fence posts and trig points
Rite in the rain note pad and pencils. Pen knife to sharpen pencils
Paramo clothing - we climb, we get sweaty / hot then we sit on a summit for an hour or so. Clothing requirements are unique.
Down jacket - Rab - winter - a revelation!
Trowel and half a toilet roll - grim but true

The rest of the items you know
Welcome to SOTA.
73 es sd
David M0YDH

In reply to M0YDH:

My summertime SOTA rucksack weighs 4.4 kg = 9.7 lbs:

Assembled as single unit and packed in a Tupperware box:

  • ATS-3B HF CW QRP rig with modules for 6 bands

  • Palm Radio Mini-Paddle

  • Elecraft T1 AutoTuner

  • LiIon 3S 18650 cells as spare power source

  • switchable 6 dB attenuator (to protect TX when tuning)

  • LiPo 4S 2.4 Ah in LP-GUARD protective bag

  • power cable with integrated low-drop 12 V regulator and fuse

  • 2 x 10 m antenna wire 0.5 sq.mm on home-made coil

  • 9:1 UnUn (used with EFHW on 20m)

  • 3 m RG-174 coax (tuner to antenna)

  • slingshot and fishing reel (summits with trees)

  • tent peg

  • 20 m guy line

  • Swiss Army knife

  • small tripod-chair

  • A4 size plywood board (base for rig and log)

  • bicycle computer (as digital UT clock)

  • VHF/UHF FM TRX Baofeng UV-3R

  • mobile phone

The summits in my area (HB, DM/BW) are easy to reach, so extra clothing and food are no real issues.

73, Markus HB9BRJ - DL/HB9BRJ/P - AE6MG

Thanks for all the replies and info. For the first attempts, I will concentrate on 2m/70cm FM & SSB with 7a SLAB (Yuasa) & FT857 with the SOTA Beam kit. May as well start simple employing existing kit before looking to change or add.

Just a question of when and where to start.

SB-007, SB-008, TW-001, TW-002, NP-03 and NP-20 apparently being my closest.



G/TW-002 is relatively easy and is accessible just along the Cleveland Way. I parked just higher than the Lord Stones Cafe and combined this with the HuMP G/HTW-004 Carlton Moor which is again on the Cleveland Way on the other side of the road.

G/TW-001 is a bit further to walk than G/TW-002 from the Clay Bank car park but again relatively easy along the Cleveland Way.

Both easy to qualify on VHF and/or HF and both could be done in one day if required.

Nick G4OOE