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HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsGeneralGeneralGear Recommendations for SARGear Recommendations for SAR
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12/24/2021 9:15 AM
 

I'm just getting started in SAR and am getting my 24 hour pack together. I'm looking for any gear recommendations people might have. What pack should I get? Flashlight? 8x10 Shelter? Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

 
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12/27/2021 1:05 PM
 
That's a pretty broad category! For starters, you'll want to look through our equipage lists. SAR isn't that much different than a hiking or backpacking trip, except you are more likely to be operating at night, operating off trail, and you need to be able to care for the search subject if you're the one who finds them. There will be SAR specific items, and even more of them if you've specialized, but our equipage lists will be a fine baseline to start with.

the Randall's Adventure Training (ESEE knives) guys do quite a bit of SAR work. You might check in on their forum.

We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
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12/29/2021 6:01 PM
 
I have been on an SAR team for about nine months. I know little, but have observed that flexibility is key. Our callouts have varied widely in scope and nature. Evan's advice about reading the levels of equipage is spot on.
Bottom line: Be prepared to walk out the door into the weather right now, work in in it for 24+ hours, and be able to handle any of the terrain within a 100 mile circle. That means having portable low prep energy dense calories in your pack. Snack bars are snacks- they are not useful calories. It means having 1+ gallons of water in/on your pack. It means having flexible layers in your pack, and maintaining basic awareness of the local weather trends and forecast. It means having sufficient batteries for your lights and headlamps, as well as a battery pack for your cell phone and spare batteries for your radio.
It means keeping your Kit Bag ready and stocked with compass, matches, TP, lighters, pencil, paper and sharpie, small LRF or binoculars, Kestral unit, flashlight, (pistol if authorized) I will say that the Original Kit Bag is the single most used piece of equipment I have, going back for probably 8 years of personal outdoors time. It is priority kit.

Most important though is learning the basics of SAR- search patterns, incident command and control, scene protocol, red flag conditions, wilderness first aid, etc. Bushcraft skills have their place and overlap with SAR a few places, but the principles of bushcraft are in many instances at odds with the SAR mission.

Learn your Area of Operations, look into the kinds and frequency of calls your team has worked in the last five years. Use that information to prioritize your equipment procurement. Ask what worked and what didn't. Think about the why's of this. Find out if there is a cache of unit equipment you can get issued to you.

SAR is different critter and requires a different mindset than most other first responder jobs. Seek out nearby training and embrace it. Build out a network- you will be doing a bunch of interagency work, particularly if your unit has specialty skills- most do, and rely on sister SAR units to cover the areas they are not specialists in.

 
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12/29/2021 6:27 PM
 
I will also note that I have really changed my gear color approach for SAR work. On my own time, I prefer earth tones, generally Ranger green. I want to be part of the landscape, not an intruder.
When on SAR mission, I have realized the purpose is to be easily seen- by other SAR personnel, by the search subject(s), by the public, etc. There are exceptions, which will depend on how closely your unit works with local LE, and what types of assistance the unit provides. These are things to ask your unit SAR mentor.
For most tasks, I am adding Blaze Orange, red or lime in the case of my helmet cover and beanie. Rather than OD or tan 550 cord, I have Orange.

Things like the BO Pals Pocket, BO Kit Bag, or the red SAR bag are easy ways to be highly visible while not having to change out your entire gear train.
Again, these are fundamentally different approaches to problems than you may be use to.
 
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12/29/2021 6:33 PM
 
If your AO has water features, think about how you will work in that environment. I bought my own inflatable life jacket (Cabelas 3500) for working on our dive boat, and added a kayak type float vest after working a river rescue. My Kit Bag works with either, but is not as svelte as it is without a float vest under it. I have not yet figured out what the ideal solution is for this niche use.
 
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HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsGeneralGeneralGear Recommendations for SARGear Recommendations for SAR