My Gear Evaluation

Real life has been taking away from my SOTA activities the last couple of months. Hopefully, starting this week I will be able to start doing a few activations. Unfortunately, due to changes in real life, I will not be able to activate as often as I have in the past, but at least I can start getting in a few here and there. In preparation I decided to inventory and weigh my equipment. I know for many activators getting their equipment as light as possible is key, not so much for me. I don't want to carry stuff that I do not need, but I do not skimp on the stuff that I think I do. I also like the workout from carrying the equipment around etc. I can do about 6-8 miles +/- round trip with my current gear. That 6-8 miles is an estimate of distance as it only includes 3-4 miles, each direction, using a straight line on a map; I seldom do hikes that have trails, it is mostly bushwhacking etc. This distance does not include detours, increases/decreases in elevation etc. When temperature is factored in (I will hike in 100+ degrees), that distance shortens up a bit. I can usually predict (in the broad strokes) the difficulty of the hikes. Some have surprised me, but by and large they are close to my expectations. On some of these hikes, having lighter gear would have been a better way to go. Some of the hikes have some "technical" aspects to them and trying to climb a 8 foot rock wall is easier with less weight on your back. I decided to get a smaller radio for hikes where the expected difficulty is greater and distance is longer. Save for my first few activations where I used a 1/2 watt rockmite and inverted V, the rest of my HF activations have been with an 817ND; for the money etc, I found this to be the best bang for the buck. As my experience grew, I started experimenting with different antennas and found that the Buddistick (homebrew) worked best for the terrain. The issue with this setup is that it is realitively heavy the way I have it configured. I decided to get a KX1, use a random wire antenna and have a completely minimal setup for these hikes. The KX1 and my minimal setup weigh in at about 2.5 pounds, where my 817ND and all the gear are 17 pounds. Obviously I can strip down my 817ND, ditch the mic, tuner etc and get that weight down, but for me, if I am going to bring an all band, all mode radio, I want the ability to use all bands and modes. Again, hiking with a heavy pack is something that I enjoy within my limitations. Below are pics of my gear and breakdown by weight. Everything included, my 817ND setup is 40 pounds and KX1 is 25. I am considering a smaller pack, with less gear for my KX1 setup to reduce that weight even more. I will have to experiment with that. I did not include items like trekking poles etc as I am not carrying them in or on my pack. On another note and not to start a war, I am not impressed with the KX1 so far. I have not taken it on an activation yet, but I have tested it on the bench and I do not like the lack of transmit power even with external batteries. This is an up to date unit, all the power mods are there etc and with full power in, on some bands I am still <2 watts out, something I believe is going to cause problems using a random wire with a tuner. The jury is still out on this for me, but even with these limitations if I can get the chasers, none of that will matter.

ALICE Pack: 7 pounds.

I wanted an external frame pack and for the money, the old style Army ALICE packs were the best deal. Total weight: 7 pounds with GPS.

Water: 10 pounds.

Water bladder and two water containers. I could probably cut some weight by getting rid of the heavy plastic military canteen, but I think that is minimal.

Total weight: 10 pounds.

Misc Gear: 6 pounds.

Assorted items: Survival stuff, poncho, blanket, compass, electrolytes and first aid. Yes, that is a maxi pad, they are good for bleeding wounds.

Total weight: 6 pounds.

Seat & Log: ?

This is leather piece I use for a seat of for sliding down rocky terrain and my log book. I don't remember if this was included in any of the weights.

817ND & Gear: 17 pounds.

My 817ND is enclosed in a waterproof ammo box. It has the battery, tuner, key, cox etc. The antenna is a pouch that I attach to the back of the pack. The mic and other misc gear are stored in a compartment on the lid of the ammo box.

Total weight is 17 pounds.

My KX1 setup.

Total weight 2.5 pounds.

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