Adapting my pack for SOTA

After my last failed attempt to activate the St. Regis Mountain Firetower, I did a lot of thinking about how to improve the experience and help my chances for success. As I learned, there were multiple issues that were related to me having a very heavy backpack (approx. 42 lbs). So my focus over the past few weeks has been to find ways to rethink the items that are relevant for SOTA and the hike and trim the fat out of my pack. I also took a look at how I could change items to reduce weight for these required items.
The very first thing I did was completely change my antenna system. Although I love my Buddipole, it is just too heavy and bulky for me to carry up a steep summit. So I switched out my Buddipole for a Packtenna system that includes a Packtenna Mini 9:1 and a Packtenna fiberglass pole along with some accessories. Bottom line on this, I was able to reduce the weight by over 6 lbs. by moving to the Packtenna system.
The second big change was getting rid of the stuff that was really not needed. For example, I brought two large tarps, 6 caribiners, 4 days of food (for an afternoon hike), 4 liters of water (again for an afternoon hike), and a bunch of other items that were just not needed.
So I purchased two scales, a small kitchen scale that can handle up to 5kg and a luggage pull scale that can handle up to 50lbs. I also found a website called lighterpack.com (thank you to a You Tuber named Sintax77) and started weighing and categorizing everything that is going into my pack. Here is the output from my lighterpack list:

I weighed the bag to verify and it is very close to the lighterpack weight so I am very hopeful that this will help me hike up the summits a bit easier and therefore give me more time at the summit to complete my activation. I have two SOTA activations planned for April 23rd, Mount Arab and Azure Mountain!

2 thoughts on “Adapting my pack for SOTA

  1. For two sota activations, 9AH of power in your battery is very generous. I get by with a 4.2 AH LIFEPO and still have some capacity left. Depends on how many contacts you want to make and what tx power you use. I generally make 20-30 on a mix of CW and SSB at 10w. if you will need to make many CQ calls just to make 4 contacts, perhaps a different band would be better. Ditching the loaded antenna is a good idea. They do allow multi band operation but with a weight and performance penalty. Simple resonant wire antennas are more effective and can be multi-banded by using links. 73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH

    • Hi Andrew, Thank you for the advice. Before I replied to your comment, I visited Bioenno Power and picked up a 4.5AH LIFEPO for a good price. This will take about 20oz off my pack weight. I seriously need to learn CW, not just for SOTA but in the spirit of HAM Radio. The Packtenna with the 9:1 balun worked really well. Thank you again for your advice and I hope to meet you on the air some day. 73 Dominic KC2DU

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