Following a “proper” Lake District soaking on Binsey this Saturday, there is a serious need to question my sanity and inadequacy of the weather protection.
I wanted to test out my data system, so had a larger than usual pack with me.
The activation started well with a run of data contacts on 20m, followed by a rapid darkening of the sky, and the first spots of rain. As I had the kitchen sink, lucky anvil and QRO kit with me, I deployed a much carried, but seldom used 2 man bothy bag.
2 man could be a bit of an exaggeration on the packaging, as it was almost full with just the rucksack and equipment, leaving not a lot of room for me!
The rain started in earnest, and by stretching the bothy bag over the rucksack I managed to keep every thing dry, apart from the seat of my trousers which was now trying its best to save the saturated ground further soak away problems by exhibiting sponge like qualities and diverting the downpour into my boxers.
The second problem was trying to operate from what was in effect a soaking wet bag, only held up by my head, and the now “freshening” wind. I soon found the lock button on the 857 so at least the flapping bag stopped adjusting my dial frequency with each gust.
It was at this point that work decided to call me with an urgent out of hours problem to sort out, at least the rain was slowing, the summit was activated, and the whole one point claimed.
Gear packed, away to the car and that was the end of my day off.
For those much better equipped and qualified to work in foul weather, the minor inconvenience would probably have been better handled - I would like to be that person, any pointers, hints and tips much appreciated.
As a side note - I was running data to be a part of the flavour challenge, and yes, CW with an Altoids tin tx would have taken far less space to weather proof.
My questions to seasoned activators:
How do you cope with sitting in a bothy bag to operate?
If you dont use one, what do you use?
I was aware that the WX would change and did have coat, waterproof trousers etc, the onslaught came on so fast that I had to choose between keep kit dry, or put on the waterproof trousers, kit dry won on this occasion.
We have similar WX here in W7W-land, and I’ve operated in many a downpour and snow storm.
I too have a 2-person bothy, and agree that it is fairly cramped and not the most pleasant operating position. When it’s very cold outside it also has the delightful tendency to condense my breath into a nice steady indoor rain shower. I always carry rain gear as well - a good set of rain trousers would have kept your bum dry while sitting in a puddle under the bothy.
I only carry the bothy during the winter months. The rest of the year I use a simple tarp. Erecting the tarp can sometimes be tricky in the wind, and having trekking poles is essential for treeless summits.
For protecting my KX2 from rain, I use clear shower caps, pilfered from hotels that I’ve stayed in (I refer to these as ‘KX2 Condoms’). Not sure they would be big enough for an 857, but a big zip-lock bag might work.
A tarp, depending on its size, can be set up as roof, walls and/or floor. If you use hiking poles, it can be guyed up even in an open area.
I usually carry one Exped’s larger roll-up dry bags (XL or XXL) for protecting electronic equipment. They are lightweight and open wide, so you can have one spare in your backpack at all times and it’s easy to get your gear in to it in a rush.
I don’t usually carry the 857 with me as I also have a KX2 and an 817 - the 817 is the workhorse and used on the beach too with good effect. The bothy bag has been on just about every Sota activation with me, but only used in anger a couple of times. Both times I was pleased I had it, but thought there must be something better out there. Good tip with the shower cap, I also travel a lot for work and use the shower cap on the TV remote (or the bag out of the ice bucket).
Thanks for the tips.
Thanks Sara, I also use the roll up dry bags, but should part with a bit more folding stuff and buy a bigger one. Mine only fit the equipment when ready to transport.
Good tips with the tarp
Yes, you want one that will fit your equipment and your arm as you shove it in. But a bigger bag also means that you often can leave the equipment sitting in/on the bag and just fold the bag back/down around it. Obviously taking care that nothing is overheating etc!
I often use the back of my backpack as a table and once used the raincover as an umbrella above it using the hip belt to keep it lifted up a bit.
For things that you transport in transparent sandwich boxes, turning it upside down can work, using the bottom as a cover while the equipment sits on the upside down lid.
I am now using a rucksack raincover (50 to 80l, for sale at 6 euros). I mainly use it to securely lay my “stuff” on the ground and not lose them. The second advantage is that it is heavy enough (with the elastic) not to fly away. It can be quickly folded in two to protect the gear from drizzle to light rain. It will give me enough time to either setup something more heavy duty (tarp or small tent) or pack up and escape.
Binsey was particularly foul weather and the last day I could join in with the flavours challenge due to work. I wouldn’t usually bother trying to activate with high wind and rain forecast, this was an exception.
The advice on this (and the linked thread - thank you Allan) is interesting. Good to see how other activators cope with the conditions. I can pretty much cope with most things, but rain and expensive kit isnt good! I had not realised that the socket in the bothy bag was to wedge a pole into, I do have a pole but it lives in the car most of the time, for the extra weight it will be worth a try for future activation’s. This weeks challenge is to practice better bothy bag technique in the comfort of the garden, ditch the majority of the kit, and just enjoy Sota for the contacts and occasional rag chew in nice scenery.
I’ve done a lot of activating from the inside of a bothy bag. You get better at it with practice. The bag does need to be kept away from touching the radio gear as it becomes saturated in heavy rain. It’s just a case of keeping the fabric taut through positioning of one’s feet, rucksack etc. A walking pole can be useful to use as a kind of tent/tarp pole.
Remember that water will trickle under the bag into the ground you are sitting on - so avoid siting it in a dip or even slightly lower section of ground (as I found to my cost the other week).
Thanks Tom,The sun is shining here in Cumbria for a change, so will dig out the bothy bag and have a trial in the garden.
Do you run your 817 barefoot with the full 5w for data modes? I can see from your logs you have good success with the system.
I use something similiar to a bothy bag. Its supposed to be a two man ‘summit’ shelter - you’d have to be intimately friendly with your pal though. But it does allow plenty of room for rucksack and kit. My experience of bothy bags is they are rather flimsy and not waterproof?
Mine is waterproof - but the company don’t exist anymore. To keep it taught and off my back I discovered that a small collapsable brolly erected inside the thing works very well to keep it reasonably taught and stops it blowing in over your kit.
S’cuse the late reply, just back from GM.
I had a go with the bothy bag and walking pole, if time is with you it works, in the middle of a monsoon, not so great as it needs careful fettling, in my example at least.