SAR Fundamentals/Ready Pack


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[edit] Subject

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What equipment a search and rescue worker should have ready to take to a search

[edit] Authors

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Brett Wuth

[edit] Scope

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SAR Fundamentals Manual: Ch.10 "Emergency Preparedness Kits - The SAR Ready Pack"
Basic SAR Skills Manual: Ch.5 "Outdoor/SAR Equipment"
Ready pack demo

[edit] Objectives

At the conclusion of this lesson the participants:

  1. will be able to ...

[edit] Time Plan

Total Time: 60 minutes

  • 2003-10-19 09:33-10:20: 0.8h
  • 2011-02: 09:25-10:22: 1.0h
  • 2013-02: 70 min

Time Material


3 min

Introduce topic title

Introduce Instructor

Present Objectives


A ready pack is the equipment you take with you into the field.

  • support you in any circumstances possible to encounter
  • could be 24 hours without contact (24-hr ready pack)
  • any type of weather could set in (or already be happening)

Some teams in an urban setting have less stringent expectations

Pack is always ready

  • don't spend 45 minutes trying to gather your stuff after you've been called-out

keep your ready pack pristine

vs. use your ready pack regularly (recommended)

  • you know how to use your equipment
  • you cycle items that expire
  • use it for recreational, or for work, as your safety kit on vehicle trips

Distribute form for students to design their own ready pack.

The pack itself:

volume: 20 to 35L

packs without frames (bags)

  • cheap
  • light
  • very uncomfortable to carry any significant weight

external frames

  • old style
  • most new ones are junk
  • cheap
  • bulky
  • heavy
  • can carry significant weight

internal frames

  • modern style
  • metal slates inside back
    • can be bent to fit your back
  • light, but not as light as bags
  • can carry significant weight

frames distribute the weight

  • typically 70% on hips, 30% on shoulders
  • can change while hiking for comfort


  • compression straps - compresses the load, attach items to exterior
  • front shoulder straps - height on back
  • hip straps - fit and weight on hips
  • top shoulder straps - distance and angle on back, weight on shoulders
  • sternum strap - angle and position on shoulders
  • side straps - sway of load

most important when buying a frame pack

  • go to a reputable store where they'll spend 20 minutes fitting a pack to your back
  • find the right size
  • test with real weight in the store
  • good place: Mountain Equipment Co-op

How to pack

Heaviest stuff low down

  • so it doesn't leverage you backwards

Heaviest stuff close to your back

  • so when you turn not a lot of weight to spin

Protect against drenching when falling/dropping in water

  • 1 large bag
  • or bags for everything that can get soaked/damaged

Advantage to using lots of bags:

  • bags tend to slip against each other rather than having contents tangled

Organize into sacks

  • quick to find the right sack, then right item from sack
  • compression stuff sacks - make things smaller

Mix of loose and tight sacks

  • all tight: creates voids of unused space
  • all loose: tangle

A few items clipped on the outside of the pack, in side pockets. What you don't want to put down pack to access.

have a student completely pull apart every item from an extensive ready pack (e.g. Brett's)

Discuss what item is for.

group discussion: What is the most unreasonable item in the pack? What is missing?

72-hour box

  • emerging practice in SAR

Kit to bring to search base in case you're asked to stay longer.

  • tent
  • change of clothes
  • extra food
  • store off-season items from ready pack

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[edit] Frequently Asked Questions

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Cost of a pack?

Why don't you carry a sleeping bag?

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[edit] License

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Copyright © 2012, Brett Wuth. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 Canada License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA.

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