Search Rescue Pack-Master Pack List

Wilderness search and rescue incidents combine large numbers of personnel and multiple deployable teams.

Communications, land navigation skills and search planning based on the Lost Person Behavior statistical modeling system contribute to the Incident Management Team.

The effectiveness of wilderness rescue relies on the ability of all team members to be self-reliant in the wilderness for operational periods of up to 24 hours in potentially isolated areas with rough terrain and severe weather.

Below is a compilation from multiple sources with my own added opinions. This list is not an “all inclusive” list (how much can you fit into a backpack anyway?), but It will get you thru the next 24 hours in most cases.

Rescue Backpack - Must Haves

  • KASK Helmet.
  • Back pack, approximately 2000 cubic inches / 35-45 liters and Pack cover
    I prefer 65-90 liters. Yes, it's big, but everything fits.
  • Go Bag (Duffel to keep clothing and extra items in between missions).
  • Headlamp with extra batteries (Your PRIMARY light!)
    Consider using the SAME battery type as your backup lights.
  • Back up light source (Handheld) with extra batteries
    Personally, I carry a Headlamp and minimum of TWO handheld lights. Even if the second handheld light is a small EDC.
  • Shell, Goretex Jacket.
  • External Waterproof Shell (Goretex).
  • External Waterproof Pants/Shell.
  • Survival Sleep Mat.
  • Survival Kit.
  • GPS
  • Water Filtration / Purifier System.
  • Fire Sarter / Metal Match / Waterproof Matches / Butane Lighter / Tinder, Cotton Balls / Fire Starter Sticks.
  • Emergency Candle.
  • Duck Tape - 10 Feet.
  • Tarp / Poncho - Heavy Duty.
  • Space Blanket.
  • 550 Cord (Parachute Cord), 50ft.
  • Trash Bag, 42 Gallon, at least 3 mil thick.
  • One Gallon Zip Lock bags, Two.
  • Sunscreen, SPF 30 Min.
  • Lip Balm, SPF 30 Min.
  • Signal Mirror (may be part of compass).
  • Prusik Cords, Various lengths, 4-6mm diameter.
  • Knife (small and light).
    Note: You will find a "Leatherman" type device on this list. They generally will include a knife. I prefer a quality 6" FULL TANG" knife with a serrated back. Not exactly small and light, but two small blades is redundant and useless when you need something a bit larger. Also, full tang blades are far more reliable than foldable blades that have the added failure point at the hinge.
  • Hand Saw - 6"-8" Knife with good serrated spine cutting edge may substitute.
  • Multi-Tool (Leatherman Type).
  • Whistle - Plastic, Pealess .
  • First Aid Kit.
  • Tourniquet.
  • 4x7 Dressing, Four.
  • Two, Triangular Bandages.
  • Kling Roll Bandages, Two (2 or 3 inches wide).
  • Moleskin, large piece.
  • Waterproof Tape, Roll.
  • Bandaids (assorted).
  • EMT Shears.
  • Latex Gloves.
  • Tweezers.
  • SAM Splint.
  • Tongue Depressors, Two.
  • Large Saftey Pins, Four.
  • CPR Mask / Micro Shield.
  • Bio-Hazard Bag.
  • Advil / Tylenol / Asprin.
  • Flagging Tape, bright color.
  • Waterproof Note Pad & Pen/Pencil.
  • Radio Harness.
  • High Energy Food (2000+ calories). Quick to get, eat, no cooking required.
  • Water bags / Water Bottles / Thermos (for hot drinks).
  • Base Layer, Top / Bottom (wicking, synthetic NON_COTTON underwear, appropriate for the season).
  • Middle Layer (Fleece, Wool, or Synthetic Loft insulating jacket.
  • Fleece or Wind stopper hat / Balaclava.
  • EXTRA Hat (winter only).
  • Working Gloves (appropriate for season).
  • Extra Insulating Gloves (appropriate for season).
  • Chemical Hand Warmers (2-3 sets).
  • Gaiters.
  • Boots (may be leather, but should be waterproofed and stiffer soles better.
  • Synthetic Mountaineering Socks (2 pair Min.).
  • Synthetic Sock Liners (two pair).
  • Eye Protection (Ski goggles if winter)
  • Shoe Traction Device (Ice Spikes)
  • YOUR medicine (that you may need over next 24 hours)
  • Ropes Gear
  • Aluminum Locking Carabiners (Six)
  • ATC Belay device, ONE (Guide type recommended)
  • Cordellette (Green, 30Ft or 8mm cord)
  • Climbing Harness
  • Trekking Poles
  • Tubular Webbing, 1" (Black 25ft)

Recommended Items

  • Ascending System - (Ascenders / Purcells).
  • Small fuel stove (like a Jetboil). Make sure you know how to use it.
  • Metal Pot to boil water / Melt Snow (if not a Jet boil).
  • Solar charger for your electronic devices (phone, GPS).

GO Bag

  • Quick Deploy Shelter (small tent, bivy, boffe bag)
  • Sleep System (compact sleeping bag, pack quilt, etc)
  • Food (trail food and hot meals)
  • Stove and Fuel
  • Extra clothes (non-cotton)
  • Bothy Bag Ready Heat

I hope you found this article helpful. If you pack some tried and true items that did not make my list, please comment and include a description and use of the items.

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