A gear bag post

All winter, and well into the spring, I was operating from the car; only rarely was my radio pack used for anything but carrying to and from it. I wasn’t entirely satisfied with either of the existing packs, they exemplified the old saying about “the two standard sizes; too big and too small”. Operating portable on Oak Island required a reshuffling of gear that is by no means finished yet! Right now I am in the “too small” option, a little cross-body bag that is really good as a light day-hiking bag, but is clearly inadequate for the two big items needed for full in-the-field operating; the Robens Geographic High folding stool and my improvised knee board, which for all of its simplicity is working really well so far! The next iteration will be packing the same basic gear in the Osprey Talon 33 backpack. I know that the stool and knee board will fit inside, anyway! Probably room in there for a good lunch and some rain gear, too. I’m thinking about trying this out on Field Day next weekend.

Biggest change: no more dry box. That thing was just too big, too heavy, and too much wasted space. I replaced it with a Caseling “hard case” that seems adequate to protect the radio, and fits a lot more of the accessory bits.

The only thing that doesn’t fit is the 3 amp/hour LiFePO4 battery.

Everything goes nicely in the little cross-body sling bag – except the knee board and the folding stool. At this time, they both hang from the top of the bag on mini carabiners, free to flop around, rattling and clanking against each other and my water bottles. It’s kind of pesky, but also just barely functional, so I can operate portable in the field, but it is not the smooth, comfortable easy-carry that I hope to have, someday. A few days ago it weighed 7 1/2 pounds without liquids; I’m guessing close to 10 fully loaded as it was this morning at Wildcat Mountain S. P.

Better than nothing, I suppose …

I only had a couple of hours after dawn available for recreation, and I decided to hike rather than try to activate K-1480, so it was off down Old Settler’s trail at about 6:15, with all of my radio gear coming along for the ride. I think I prefer to carry this bag like a regular satchel over my left shoulder rather than cross-body, at least as it is right now with all the stuff hanging off of it; I can use my left hand to control the worst of the motion of the stool and knee board and the accompanying noise. The Baofeng HT in the little pouch on the strap ends up setting almost vertically behind my shoulder; a perfect position if I were monitoring 146.52 or a local repeater, which I sometimes do even though my preference is to move along as quietly as I conveniently can.

Well, that was as far as I got on June 19th; then Field day weekend came along ….

Now it’s the 29th, and it’s about time to start wrapping this up! For Field Day, I basically emptied the little cross-body bag into my Osprey Talon 33 backpack. This worked pretty well; there is plenty of extra room in there, and carrying it feels good, though I will be making small adjustments to the straps and belt for a while. The folding stool and knee board fit inside, no problem, and so does the little flexible tripod. I am thinking that right now it is near the point of maximum function for minimum weight that I am trying for; I am struggling to keep from adding all sorts of additional “useful stuff” just because there is space for it. It’s a nice pack, overall; if it has one flaw in my opinion it is the lack of inside pockets. There is only a single zippered pouch at the top rear, which is just not adequate for all of the little items that I like to carry. I will probably have to use a small ditty-bag for some of that stuff.

Okay, now it’s July 2nd; had a wonderful hike yesterday and the little cross-body bag is working well in that application. I am going to just publish this now and start another where I can go into detail on some of the items I carry.

Thanks for visiting driftlessqrp, and please feel free to leave comments!






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