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Assembling Your Go Kit

by Marty Woll N6VI

Being ready for deployment means having key supplies and equipment assembled, packed and ready to take with you on short notice.  There are many sources for what an emergency communicator should have in his or her “Grab-and-Go Kit”, or “Go-Kit”, and many opinions as to what should or should not be in such a kit.  In truth, everyone’s kit will be a little – or even a lot – different.  Your own kit will evolve over time, and the contents will vary with the nature and duration of your assignment, the location and climactic conditions, and whether you will have your own vehicle available or be dependent on your legs and back.

You will see quite a variety of ideas in the links below, and you may take some good ideas from each of them.  Your goal should be to end up with the resources (equipment, information and supplies) needed to do your job of communicating; personal gear to keep you safe and reasonably comfortable; and enough water, food and basic shelter to minimize the load you might place on the organization for which you are providing services.  You may have heard that one should be completely self-sufficient for an extended period of time.  That goal, however desirable, may be elusive for all but the experienced wilderness camper.  So start with the basics, know your limitations and look for assignments that are within your range of capability.  As you add experience and equipment, you may be able to expand that range to cover a wider variety of situations.  Here are some basics to start.

Radio Equipment

  • Handheld radio(s) for band(s) likely to be used, with one or more back-up power sources
  • Higher-power transceiver for mobile or fixed operation (add HF if needed and so licensed)
  • Gain antennas (roll-up J-poles, portable beams, mobile whips, mast-mounted verticals) & dipoles
  • Speaker-mic and/or headset / boom mic for noisy environments
  • Coax cable, connectors and adapters, cord or rope, portable mast / tripod
  • Radio manuals or programming instructions, fuses, spare batteries, 12vdc distribution box

Information and Supplies

  • Important frequencies / comm plans, names, locations and contact numbers; repeater directory
  • Radio license copy, ARES & agency credentials, driver’s license
  • Pens, pencils, paper, marker(s), highlighters, clipboard, tape
  • Radiogram and/or ICS-213 message forms
  • Local maps, compass and (optional) GPS receiver; watch or clock
  • Flashlights, headlamps, light sticks
  • Reading glasses and spare prescription glasses, if needed
  • Small hand tools (pliers, adjustable wrench, screwdrivers); electrical tape; boundary marking tape


  • Drinking water (about one gallon per day; consider long-shelf-life packets or boxes)
  • Start with basic survival bars (1200+ calories/day) and add on (trail mix, cereal, fruit, canned meat)
  • Mess kit, matches, camp stove, can opener (if you bring food that needs heating or cooking)

Personal Protective Equipment

  • Gloves – leather (for heavy work), latex or nitryl (for bio-safety) and thermal (for cold weather)
  • Dust masks (N-95 rating) or, in certain cases, a respirator
  • Safety glasses or goggles; earplugs
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, insect repellent, chapstick
  • Sturdy, comfortable shoes or boots
  • Long-sleeved shirt, long pants, shade hat, thermal hat and jacket (in cold weather); poncho
  • Whistle, signaling mirror, pocket knife, distress flare or light, reflective high-visibility vest
  • Hygiene
  • Overnight kit (toothbrush & paste, soap and towel, packet of tissues)
  • Toilet tissue and zip-lock bags; garbage bags
  • Packaged moist towelettes or wipes
  • Prescription and over-the counter medications, if needed
  • Change of clothing


  • Antiseptic wipes, swabs or pads; antibacterial ointment
  • Sterile gauze pads, gauze roll and medical adhesive tape, assortment of Band-Aids
  • Elastic compression bandage; large triangular bandages
  • Aspirin and non-aspirin pain relievers
  • Sterile eye wash
  • First-Aid reference manual or card


  • Tent, sleeping bag or blanket, pad or cot, tarp, space blanket
  • Folding shovel or trowel, small saw
  • Lantern, candle or hanging light
  • Folding chair and small table


  • Cash and coins (for buying fuel, food & supplies and for using pay phones / vending machines)
  • Cellular phone (hey . . . it might work enroute)
  • Compact binoculars or monocular
  • Scanner (for public-service), crank-up broadcast receiver, FRS / GMRS radios, CB


  • Spare fluids, belts and hoses
  • Tools to replace above parts
  • Sturdy jack and base plate; properly inflated spare tire; jumper cables
  • Roadside flares or flashers
  • Extra fuel, if it can be transported safely (outside the passenger compartment) in proper container
Remember to MARK YOUR GEAR with your name / callsign!


Other Sites of Interest's list

Salvation Army affiliate's list

Nifty portable station project

Comprehensive list (pdf format)