March 30, 2017

Amateur Radio Backpacking Checklist

Amateur Radio and backpacking are made for each other.  What could be better than enjoying two great hobbies at the same time in the great outdoors?  Amateur radio also adds an element of safety to backcountry adventure by providing a method of communication in the event of an emergency.

Photo by Michael W. Maher
Golden Trout Wilderness

Here is a checklist to help you plan your next backpacking trip:

  • Pack weight - keep it light as possible.  40 lbs or less for adult males in good shape.  Weigh your pack before you depart and adjust accordingly.
  • 10 essentials - these are non-negotiable items every backpacker needs.  Check to make sure all 10 essentials are in your pack before you leave.
  • Extra water carrying capacity - Water is key to survival when backpacking.  There are times when extra water is helpful.  Pack a spare lightweight 1 or 2 liter collapsible water container.  Being able to fill up with extra water will come in handy when trekking over dry areas or when preparing a meal.
  • Program your radios - We enjoy backpacking with our amateur radio VHF/UHF FM handheld radios (Handie Talkies).  Before the trek always take the time to research the area to identify amateur repeaters and program your radios.  This enables maximum usage of the radios during the trek.
  • Charge your batteries - The night before a trek be sure to charge your radio batteries and any spares you intend to bring.
  • Zip Lock Baggies - Pack a couple of 1 gallon ZipLock Baggies.  These make lightweight and inexpensive dry-sacks for maps, radios, books or anything else you want to keep dry.  These can save your gear in the event of rain or when crossing a stream.
  • Large Garbage Bag - One or two large black garbage bags are lightweight and versatile. These can be used for a variety of purposes including a pack cover, rain poncho, food storage, sleeping bag cover, dry bag, or trail trash collection.
  • Improved Antennas - Consider packing a "rat-tail" or j-pole for use with your HT for improved antenna performance over the rubber-duck antenna.
Hope you find this checklist help on your next backcountry radio adventure.

Good DX and 73, 


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© Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Jason said...

Hello sir,

I am studying for my Technician license and have found your website to be very useful for your explanation of the questions and correct answers. I have found answers elsewhere, but they lack any technical explanation as to the how or why the answer is correct. Thank you for taking the time to explain.

I could not find any place to email you, so I hope this is an acceptable way to thank you!

NJ2X said...


Congratulations on preparing for the technician license exam. You are on your way to the exciting world of radio. Thank you very much for your kind feedback. I am delighted you have found my posts useful.



Jason said...

KI7OGT here, thanks again for your posts, they were quite useful =)