SAR pack ideas

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by Eyegor, Jun 23, 2007.

  1. Eyegor


    Feb 22, 2006
    I came off a search Thurs. and have been re-thinking some of my gear. Essentially, I need to lighten the load some. I'm thinking of going from a 1200 cu. in. pack down to a buttpack and 2 canteens on LBE. In addition, I will still be carrying my M3 medic bag. Previously, I stuffed the M3 into the backpack so I'm not losing that much space. But I am losing some.

    I should still be able to have my 24hr gear with me, and with a little space left for victim comfort gear, (2nd space blanket, extra food, etc) This set up will leave me a little light on water (AOR is primarily the Catskills) but everything else should fit.

    At this time, I'm not very fond of Camelbak style systems. Can't give a good reason, just my taste. That is why I'm thinking retro with the LBE set-up. I'm otherwise pretty squared away gear wise, but replacing my pack and water carrying has gotten me thinking. Any thoughts on LBE, Camelbaks, or other SAR packs would be greatly appreciated. I'm trying to keep as small and light as possible because my load always seems to grow to match the space available. This way I limit the excess. Thanks for your help.
  2. 2dogs


    Apr 20, 2003
    The Camelbak BFM will hold 2-3L bladders or one 6L bladder in a dedicated pocket and also takes a specific medical insert. I really like mine as it will takes 30-35 pounds or just lunch and a jacket. The waist belt is removable but I would not remove it as it takes the weight of the pack. All in all I can highly recommend this pack.
  3. Midnight Scout

    Midnight Scout

    May 27, 2007
    I used to wear LBEs in the Army. They are not a bad choice for carrying canteens and a butt pack. My complaint about them was that they get tangled easily once you take them off and securing the canteens in the spot where you like can be difficult because of the way the pistol belt is designed. Once we switched to the LBVs (vests) I missed the LBE because they were cooler to wear in warm weather. I never saw the real advantage of the switch to the LBVs.

    I am not sure what kind of pack you are exhanging for the LBE, but the LBE is rugged and therefore a little heavy when it is all tricked out with filled canteens and a quality butt pack. You might want to weigh your pack against the weight of your LBE. They might be even.

    I am a fan of the CamelBak. I just got my second CamelBak about two weeks ago. My first was the older Omega model. It held a 70 ounce capacity bladder, but it had no MOLLE attachment points on the carrier. Once it was on your back, there was no way to carry anything else there. Plus, it was hard to clean and dry the bladder with the original small sized water opening.

    The second model I recieved is the Ambush model which has a 100 ounce capacity bladder. It has a larger opening so that you can get your hand inside the bladder to clean it and dry it out. The carrier has MOLLE attachments and some small pockets. I like having the pockets so that I can carry my survival kit, a CamelBak cleaning kit, and other small items.

    Is bigger better? I agree with your desire to go lighter with your field gear. I can definitely feel the extra 30 ounces of water when I fill up the Ambush model and the carrier itself is heavier than the Omega's. I think that I am going to keep the Omega for light day hikes and will see if I can get some MOLLE attachments sewn on to carry a sheathed knife :)D) and my PSK.

    I hope this helps!
  4. Salamander42


    Mar 21, 2007
  5. nemoaz


    Mar 14, 2007
    here's a similar recent thread where I was told that one cannot use a buttpack. :) I think it works well, but I don't carry much medical gear anymore. So long as a have my radio (and an extra battery), a bird with full ALS will be there in a few minutes. I don't try to carry it all anymore because I'm a better tracker than I ever was and I view that as the primary thing I bring to a SAR op. If I were carrying medical equipment, it would be a few 4x4s, some abd pads, some fluid, and a basic ET kit. I can improvise splints and such if for some reason medical backup (bird or truck) isn't there soon enough.
  6. RescueRiley


    Mar 22, 2006
    maxpedition devildog versapack...been using one for about 2 weeks tough and roomy...I don't do sar but carry a reallybig fak, and sofar so good. also accomdates 2 nalgenes and is a buttpack
  7. jw556


    Jan 18, 2005
  8. ironraven


    Apr 26, 2007
    This is going to sound like an odd suggestion, but why not a chest rig? Not a little radio harness, something like the MAV? I can hang a pair of CountyComm EOD bag on mine with room to spare. The M3 IIRC is about the same size.

    That way, if you NEED extra gear, you can wear it with a ruck. That is how my camping/bug out gear is set up, with the basics on the chest rig. If I'm not carrying it with a pack (when hunting), I swing my MAV around and wear it as a lumbar pack.
  9. 2dogs


    Apr 20, 2003
    Re Camelbak and other carriers we have I have switched completely to the Camelbak military Hydro Link system. There are several advantages to it such as using the pump or pump and filter to refill the bladder without having to open the pack and removing the contents. As the bladder empties gear carried in the pack shifts slightly. When you refill the bladder it needs room to expand so you have to empty the pack. With the pump/filter I can remove the bite valve and pump in filtered or non-filtered water. The filter is 0.2 micron, same as my Katadyn filter. I can pump out a liter of chlorine dioxide treated water from a Nalgene bottle in 30 seconds straight into the bladder.

    The Omega opening is large and easier to clean than other bladers and seems to be very rugged. The Omega bladder is treated to kill bacteria that might grow in an empty bladder. You still need to dry it for long term storage. I wash and dry ours it it will onger than a week between uses. My wife carries an Omega 3l and my daughter an Ambush which has a small pouch and several pockets. My son uses an Omega reservous in his pack.

    A few days ago I bought a Kelty frame pack to replace a Cabela's pack that I am going to return. A 6L (or smaller) Omega bladder fits in the hydration pouch with a little help from a paracord loop.
  10. EmsRescueGuy


    Oct 21, 2006
    As I posted when I was asking advise for a Sar pack, I too like the true noth packs. In your case I would especially look at the Firefly Medic. The cool thing is that they are very modular. these are also very well built and the company is very helpful. My team is currently looking at their products.

    Some other companies make similar packs, most are designed for wildland fire fighting, but their usefulness in SAR is obvious.

    L.A. Rescue makes high quality gear and has a very nice web gear set up

    Infinity Gear Makes a pack for Usar teams that is a web gear set up with a removeable large additional pack for extra sleeping gear for a 24 hour pack, This system is well thought out and niceley made

    And last but not least I would suggest you reconsider camelbak, My sar packs currently consist of one Bfm for longer wilderness rescues, or as a 24 hour pack and a camelbak Transformer which holds 1000 cu inches but has two removeable pouches and molle straps that allow for alot of versatility I use this one for my less gear intensive excursions.

    As far as the hydration bladders go, there is a reason why the military started using them over canteens in many areas. People tend to stay better hydrated when using them and it is easier to carry more water. If you had issues with this set up, I have to wonder if you werent using either older gear or one of the cheper brands. Walmart hydration bladders do not work as well as camelbak.

    I hope this helps,
  11. skammer

    skammer Banned by Moderators Banned

    Jan 18, 2005
    This has always been a loaded question in the SAR community.

    How much to carry? After 10 years of debate our team reached an agreement. First we laid out a minimum gear list that would accomplish a few things.

    A) support the searcher for 24 hrs with no resupply under worst case conditions for that season.
    B) Support a lost casualty with an extra piece of clothing or 2 (usually fleece) between 3 team members on a squad you should be a ble to cobble together a complete clothing set for a lost and probably hypothermic subject.
    C) Medical gear to support the primary medic in your squad.

    After this was done and argued and hashed out to agreement we then assembled some kits with 100% accuracy.

    Then we weighed them.

    Weights ranged from 25 to 33 lbs depending on products used.

    Note this is for a temperate summer, late spring and early fall loadout. Winter weighed in at 35-45lbs.

    What this exercise did was several things. It hammered home the importance of having the gear once you reach the subjects to actually help them. And 2 it debunked the myth that a 6lb fanny pack is anything but useless as it cannot hold enough gear to be much help on scene.

    Since then All team leaders on our 200 strong team take one look at a persons load on their squad and it either looks and weighs the minimum or it doesn't and if it doesn't that person does not deploy as they are a liability to their squad for lack of minimum gear.

    This also forces members to gut check their fitness levels. If they can't hump 35 lbs into hell and back in 24 hrs they need to work on their fitness.

    This benchmark is now spreading across our reagion and is being adopted very fast as the standard.

    I as a team leader got very fed up when in the back 40 having to give out my personal extra batteries, water, clothing articles, food, flashlights and basic medical gear to ill equipped team members.

    The standard is in place now and it works well. Some with poor fitness levels have made noise but have quickly realized this is not only the way it should be this is the way its going to stay.

    My 100% summer SAR pack load out including comms gear, water and food for 24 hrs is 33 lbs.

    I used it 2 times in the last 3 weeks for 4 days total. Found one female subject alive! and 2 boys desceased in separate incidents. I used near all 33 lbs of gear during the 2 missions.

    This is not some ultralight hiking experiment in ounce counting.
    This is serious business carry the gear for it.

    PS. This is pure wilderness SAR not an urban loadout. If you have logistical support 100 yards away gear loads change drastically.

    I can dig out this much fought over list for anyone who needs it.

  12. Eyegor


    Feb 22, 2006
    ...and the link for the other thread. Don't know how I missed that. I'm taking some time to seriously re-consider my planning since the general consensus appears to be that I am headed down the wrong path. I'll let you know what I come up with.


    Aug 28, 2006
    If you wouldn't mind posting that gear list, I'd love to see it.


    Marco P
  14. Midnight Scout

    Midnight Scout

    May 27, 2007

    Me too! :thumbup:
  15. akennedy73


    May 5, 2006
    I'd appreciate the list as well! Many thanks! :thumbup:
  16. LocoLurker

    LocoLurker Banned BANNED

    Jun 27, 2007
    One other pack I would consider is the Camelbak Transformer. The pockets are removeable so you could customize the size. Mine sees duty when I go inland bird hunting. There is an expandable compressible compartment that permits the addition of an expandable bag, very similar to the Dana Designs Racer series of packs. I keep a game bag handy, and my birds go into that pouch and compartment. If I don't have my bladder in the compartment, I keep my notes and maps in it. You could add or remove compartments as you wish, and keep your med kit in a molle compartment, of which this pack is compatible.
  17. skammer

    skammer Banned by Moderators Banned

    Jan 18, 2005
    Workin on it fellas.

    Its buried in the HD somewhere.

    Gettin a SAR pal to mail it to me.

    Soon. ;)

  18. nemoaz


    Mar 14, 2007
    I take issue with the "general consensus." EMS folks in particular are gear whores and carry far more than they will ever need. In every search, you will need to be FAST and cover much ground. I constantly see SAR mule gear whores dragging around, physically wasted. While conditioning is essential, anyone can cover much more ground unencumbered.

    I change the tactics a bit if comms are going to be sketchy or terrain is especially difficult. And a pretty large collection of gear bags are with my vehicles so I can adjust my loads for the situation. I do that on a daily basis, it seems.

    My co-workers are conducting a search right now to which I have been listening. Funny that the rest of the world considers them elite, yet some here would call them incompetent for packing too little apparently. EDIT: Found him the next morning.

    That being said the weights mentioned by Skam for a small pack aren't bad.

    FWIW, I have a custom vest that I sometimes wear, a belt with gear, and a Camelback HAWG (the government version, not the civvy one). I also have an extra med kit that is carried over the shoulder if I think I will need it. I'd like to buy a larger Camelback that carries two 3L bladders by design. Two fit in mine, but it doesn't zip completely. For now, I also add additional bottled water in 1L containers. I also have a few military 2Q canteens with shoulder straps that I sometimes carry.

    Water is really the only concern here in the southwest. A space blanket would get me through the worst nights with ease. A poncho liner gets me trough almost anything else. I know that others have other needs or wants.

    I could function easily with a fanny pack and did so for years. I used to spend WEEKS at a time in the field in various climes with only spare socks, undies, a poncho, a poncho liner, and maybe a wool sweater. We got occasional resupplies, but we never knew if it was coming or not. Usually didn't carry a field jacket. Used the poncho instead if it was really cold. I never carried a sleeping bag except in extremely cold weather, meaning subzero. I don't know why I'd carry MORE just to go on a search when the odds of me getting lost and spending the night are miniscule.
  19. Leanwolf


    Mar 18, 2001
    SKAMMER - "Note this is for a temperate summer, late spring and early fall loadout. Winter weighed in at 35-45lbs."

    Skammer, in what State do you work SAR???

    Also, others who post they work SAR but don't list what State, it would be informative to me -- and I'd bet, others -- in the type area you do SAR.


  20. River-8


    Sep 24, 2006
    I've done a bit of SAR in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State.

    My approach is to layer gear, starting with appropriate clothing and the stuff
    in the pockets and on the belt, to include a SAK, Lockblade, Leatherman and
    a stout fixed blade knife in a sheath (with a pouch for basic 'survival' stuff).

    Next is my homemade PEST (not a pack, not a vest; ergo a PEST), which
    carries most of the rest of the gear I've found useful, to include a 100oz
    water bladder.

    All is rather modular, and if needed a pack may be worn over it. When I do
    carry a backpack, the bladder usually goes in it, instead of on the PEST.

    Just my $.02... Vary your sources, practice your methods.


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