SAR pack ideas

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

  1. nemoaz


    Mar 14, 2007
    Next is my homemade PEST (not a pack, not a vest; ergo a PEST)

  2. 2dogs


    Apr 20, 2003
    I have never worked in a dedicated SAR unit but I have worked as an EMT on an ambulance, as an EMT for motocross/enduro events WAY off the beaten path, and as a career firefighter/EMT (retired). In central Commiefornia it was all about drinking water and communications. The med gear I carried was comprehensive but fairly light. The truck had the heavy stuff as backup. I would have loved to have had a Camelbak BFM back then. My first line gear and water was carried on an ALICE belt and suspenders and the second line in a fanny pack that I still carry in my truck. In fact I had use of it today.

    I constantly update my med load, usually buying from Chinook. Nowadays my concern is the Boy Scouts and the occasional logging/milling job.

    I recently saw one of local SAR teams training and all the guys were wearing woodland camo BDUs and hats. Where is the sense in that? They must be taught that lost scared people often hide from their rescuers. I might hide if I saw a force of camo clad men beating the bush looking for something. Most of the SAR team were kids just out of high school or old out of shape fat guys. Not a very professional image portrayed by these guys.
  3. nemoaz


    Mar 14, 2007
    First guess, CAP?
  4. Midnight Scout

    Midnight Scout

    May 27, 2007
    If it was CAP (Civil Air Patrol) then I think they are required to wear the BDUs. CAP is open to high school students as I recall. As far as the out of shape oldsters, who knows?

    I wouldn't be too harsh on them. If not CAP (or who ever it was) going out to look for a lost person, who else is going to do it? At least they seem somewhat organized. Not every community has large amounts of professional SAR assets available. I hope they find the person. :thumbup:
  5. Rescue Mike

    Rescue Mike

    Sep 5, 2006


    That's the funniest thing I've heard today!!!

    Ya.... I guess you could say you've been on a search or two....:D

    After much trial and error, I settled on a SAR VEST from:


    My knife.. A Busse HHFSH..

    Here's the contents of the sheath...

    Keep up the good work!
  6. nemoaz


    Mar 14, 2007
    And I think they get them for free, which is a big issue for some of the kids.
  7. skammer

    skammer Banned by Moderators Banned

    Jan 18, 2005
    Not a short list gents but pretty complete. Sorry for the delay busy. This is a direct copy from the teams list.

    SAR Suggested Searching Equipment

    The Safety Officer has the responsibility to restrict the un-prepared from wilderness duty. What you and your fellow searchers have on your backs is all that you have when you are finding and caring for the lost subject and each other. Being prepared means you hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Don't be a liability to your team.

    In Your Pack

    . Food or snacks (Self sufficient for 24 hours)
    . Water (2 liters suggested, 3 in heat of summer) and capability to prepare more
    . Metal pot or cup
    . Several lighters
    . Waterproofed matches
    . Rolls of flagging tape
    . Raingear
    . Sitting pad (closed cell foam 12”x20”)
    . Spare compass
    . Spare flashlight
    . Spare whistle
    . Spare batteries 2 sets per unit
    . Spare socks
    . Spare winter hat
    . Spare fleece or wool sweater
    . Spare mittens
    . Spare pens, pencils, grease pencil, permanent markers
    . Several large, heavy duty garbage bags,ideally orange
    . Various Ziploc style bags
    . Heat reflective heavy duty emergency blanket
    . Candle lantern or safety candle
    . Duct tape
    . Weather proof shelter large enough for more than one person (Tarp, Heavy Plastic, manufactured emergency shelter, etc)
    . Para cord, string or twine (strong and easy to use) 50ft minimum
    . Signaling devices (flares, glow sticks, etc)
    . Folding saw
    . Tubular webbing strap (twice arm span)
    . First aid kit (made to suit your ability)
    . Strong Bug repellent

    On You, Not In Your Pack :

    . Safety glasses
    . Primary compass
    . Primary knife
    . Primary flashlight
    . Primary whistle
    . Extra bright flashlight/headlamp
    . Survival kit (small pocket kit in case you are separated from main pack)
    . Watch
    . Personal medication
    . Kerchief or Bandana
    . Identification
    . Notebook (waterproof)
    . Pencil or all weather pen

    Suggested Additional Items

    . Toilet kit (paper, trowel, Ziploc bags)
    . Hand sanitizer
    . Vinyl gloves
    . Stove & fuel or Fire bowl
    . Fire starters
    . Thermos bottle of hot water
    . 8-12mm Rope & carabineers
    . Sun glasses
    . Binoculars (optional)
    . Spare prescription glasses or contacts
    . Blanket
    . Lip balm
    . Sun block
    . Safety pins
    . Ruler
    . Map case
    . Multi-tool
    . GPS unit

    Clothing Suggestions

    Orange is the color of choice for any clothing.
    . Orange jacket
    . Non-cotton clothing appropriate to season and conditions
    . Light, moisture-wicking inner layer
    . Heavy non-cotton socks
    . Warm or cool hat
    . Brimmed hat
    . Light durable gloves
    . Mittens
    . Gaiters
    . Durable H2O proofed broken in boots (not Rubber boots)

    This list is only a guide to ensure a serviceable pack that will keep you and the lost subject safe in severe conditions.

    Any comments feel free.;)

  8. skammer

    skammer Banned by Moderators Banned

    Jan 18, 2005

    Nice observation.

    It should not be allowed subdued colors. It is even for the searchers safety let alone visability to the lost subject.

    Our team you wear orange head to torso or you dont go in, simple.

    SAR is not a Michigan militia operation and shouldnt look like one.

  9. skammer

    skammer Banned by Moderators Banned

    Jan 18, 2005

    While all are entitled to their opinion it is clear there are regional differences. In my neck of the woods the extreme Northeast you will die without gear in winter simple. The terrain and weather here is unforgiving to the ill prepared and one must plan for every eventuality and this means gear.

    That said there is a balance that must be struck between what is manageable over distance while doing the mission. Sub 40lb pack weights are the goal but in winter this is not possible usually.

    FYI, SAR non-hasty teams who do not know where the subject is DO NOT run through the woods "FAST" it is actually a slowish and a methodical search for clues that takes time and patience. The goal is not to merely "cover ground" but to search it and eliminate areas of high probablitity thus shrinking the search area.

    I have personally witnessed Pj's humping 70lbs+ to a scene for 5 hrs (training) sans weaponry and enough gear to start a field hospital if needed. Its all perspective. One thing is for sure a fanny pack filled with a power bar, can of coke, sunscreen and some bandaides do not constitute a SAR pack.

    Your mileage may vary.

  10. ras


    Jan 9, 2002
    Good list. Like the fact that many items have spares in the backpack.
  11. Midnight Scout

    Midnight Scout

    May 27, 2007
    Great list Skammer. I have one question--why do you guys carry rulers? Is that marking maps?
  12. skammer

    skammer Banned by Moderators Banned

    Jan 18, 2005
    Great ? Scout.

    ITs 2 fold.

    A) makes map marking easier as you said.

    B) It also allows us to get exact measurements of any clues we find (footprints etc..) to relay back to command.

    On that topic cell phone cameras have been used to great success in the last couple years for beaming back images of possible clues for analysis. When there is coverage of course:rolleyes: .

  13. River-8


    Sep 24, 2006
    When I wear a pack over the afore-mentioned PEST, it is of a True North variety...

    Here's a shot of Dunner on a recent evidence search, sporting a True North pack and a chest radio harness.


    You may notice he's also sporting his Busse Heavy Heart :eek: !



    Nice list - What kind of ruler have you found best?
    I've gone to toting a fabric measuring (seamstress?) tape; does all you've noted,
    and is long enough for tracking measurements (foot dimensions, stride, gait, etc.).

    Good stuff!!

  14. nemoaz


    Mar 14, 2007
    I can cut sign and follow it as fast as I can do a forced march under most conditions night or day. Of course, it depends on the age of the sign and ground cover. I have co-workers who do it jogging-- though I never do. The goal is most certainly to cover as much ground as possible because the sign is deteriorating with every puff of wind and every drop of rain (added that for you none southwesterners). Once the footsign is gone... it's gone forever.

    And I must add that if your people aren't competent trackers, all it takes is time and dedication.
    I'm surprised that a GPS is a optional. It's one of the first things I always take.
    Really? I been through extreme blizzards for days with a poncho and poncho liner. I'm REALLY hoping this comes off ok but I'm struggling with a better way to put it... but if someone couldn't survive without a pack full of stuff I would say that they probably shouldn't be there. It's pretty easy to get separated from your gear. Or to have gear fail on you. Has there been a time in your past where you would have died without that pack instead of your survival kit? I doubt it.

    Do you guys do your slow methodical search for clues then camp in place for the night as a matter of course? I never do unless I'm on some real smoking footsign. But then we follow it as far as I can then have someone else take over. I don't camp in place often.

    If something extreme happened and you were caught in a sudden snow storm do you believe you'd die if you only had a survival kit including a poncho and a space blanket? SAR teams should have survival type training before hitting the woods. Practice sleeping under a few trash bags and improvising everything a few times prior to having to do it in the field. Sleep out in a blizzard with a hasty shelter and a small fire. Your pack with your compfort supplies can be close by. Confidence goes a long way.

    I train with PJ's and one of my closest friends (of many, many years) is still a reserve PJ in NY on Long Island. I know what they carry in training... but it's training. We do things in training that we never use also. And some things are just meant to weed out the weak.
  15. Eyegor


    Feb 22, 2006
    I hesitate to say this not knowing you or your skills. I find that statement very difficult to believe. If true, congrats! You are indeed a special breed. If not, it makes everything else you write suspect.
  16. 2dogs


    Apr 20, 2003
    +1 on Eyegor's post.
  17. skammer

    skammer Banned by Moderators Banned

    Jan 18, 2005

    Is it possible? Who knows. All I know and I instruct NASAR courses is that it takes time to properly search and area for clues and it cant be done at anything faster than a stroll kind of pace. Can you go faster? Sure but your POD or probability of dectection goes down exponentially.

    On hasty teams its a different story. Simplified, their job is to cover ground fast on trails and look for very obvious clues like the subject themselves etc..

    Don't mean to hijack this gear thread.

    2 cents.

  18. nemoaz


    Mar 14, 2007
    Is it possible? It's done every day, by many of my co-workers. (Maybe not quite that high because we have a few who just haven't tried to master the skill.)

    NASAR Instructor? Tell Don Cooper that Nemo says hello. I've lost track of him since he left Hocking Tech (which I believe is now Hocking College), like in 89 or so.

    Partner, I know what hasty teams are. I chucle a little every time you try to imply this is what I'm talking about. No one is talking about volunteers walking up and down trails and blowing whistles or shining 100,000 candlepower lights under every tree. I'm talking about SAR tracking (or cutting). Our dedicated SAR folks get flown all over the country and sometimes to international incidents. I'm not talking about hasty team of untrained folks.

    I understand your skepticism. I used to think tracking was somehow mystical. That you had to grow up on a reservation, have the right DNA, and have some Apache scout to teach you the skill over a few decades. I didn't put much time on developing the skill because I didn't believe it was attainable.

    It's not hard. I don't profess to be an expert. There are many with whom I work who are far better, many who are worse. It's simply a matter of time spent on the trail. It's something you should be able to do with a FEW WEEKS of dedicated practice. I'm assuming you are tracking who isn't trying to evade you. A typical SAR with an weary/injured and typically panicked person is a fairly easy person to track.

    Out for a hike? Follow the sign of someone in front of you. Choose the sign that is on top for the first few weeks. Make yourself look at the dirt all the time. (You will also find sign on foliage, but spend your time at first looking for the footsign in the soil.) Then start following the older sign that is going to be partially obliterated. No sign? Cut for sign along the edge of a trail, road, or creek. Do it every time you are outside. Keep doing it.

    Less time playing with your gear and more time learning the most important skill. Track animals and people whenever you can. Our new folks often become competent trackers within a few weeks, and in no way is all their time spent on tracking. I'm not talking becoming a guru who reads feelings and moods while caressing a week old footsign or reads the thoughs of brother deer while licking some scat. But anyone can become a competent tracker who can reliably with a high degree of success, given a little effort.

    This is a real pet peeve of mine. I was just talking to a State Emergency Services director who also runs that states biggest SAR organization a couple of days ago. His comment was "Who knows how to track except hunters?" My answer was everyone on your SAR team should be learning and practicing. Those kind of comments just drive me a little batty and probably precipitated my semi-rant.

    I would also suggest if you haven't tried to weather a few storms/snow storms with your emergency gear, you should do so. You may not be real comfortable in a sweater, space blanket, and poncho in a hasty shelter, but you should do it a few times just to become confident in your abilities. I don't carry tents and sleeping bags on SAR ever.

    We're seriously off topic now, and it's my fault for going this way. My apologies.

    We've had good luck with these folks. Though our vests aren't really SAR specific and wouldn't be what you guys would want, they will custom build anything you want. The are a wide mesh so they are very cool. That being said, a vest is comfortable and easy on easy off but I don't think they are as an LBE setup is probably more comfortable with heavy loads or and is cooler during the heat. I also like the idea of this: Vests with chest pouches are more convenient to access and much more convenient if you are mounted on a truck, horse, bike or ATV, but they are also far, far more expensive than a surplus LBE setup which can be made to be fairly comfortable if you add some closed cell padding at on the harness.
  19. skammer

    skammer Banned by Moderators Banned

    Jan 18, 2005
    In over 150 live missions I have never seen what you describe.

    I will pass your info onto Dr. Hill who literally wrote the book on SAR Operations.;)

    I just dont buy what you are selling, no disrespect.

    I will chalk this one up to opinions are entitled in free speech. This thread has been off track long enough.

  20. skammer

    skammer Banned by Moderators Banned

    Jan 18, 2005
    Cheers 8.

    I carry a cut down 12 inch ruler to 8 inch as it fits nicer in the map case. Just a plain ole plastic ruler. Plastic as it weighs less. When we are doing paper map work it is easier to mark your beirings with a long ridged ruler.

    For gait I have a hiking pole that is colapsed and pack strapped 99% of the time and is marked with homemade glow paint graduations.

    Nice result up your way for the lost women in Olympic. Good to see hikers who are preparred.

    As for GPS being optional. 90% of our SAR people use it but truly is not mandatory. It is fast but I only use it for current positional info, I still paper navigate as I dont like gps maps, too small not enough detail. Paper topos are 100% mandatory for us.


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