SAR Equipment (SAR Class Only)

December 15, 2010  //  

SAR Equipment

Field Team Member Equipment

Field Team Leader Equipment

Field Team Signcutter Equipment

Where to find inexpensive gear

Field Team Member Equipment List


Do not purchase any gear until after the first weekend’s classes where you will learn more about personal equipment and what to look for in gear.  It is not necessary to go out and buy all new gear for this course.  There are many alternatives you will learn about.  However, the following list is required for a Field Team Member to be operational in all types of weather.

Clothing – winter exercises

  • Waterproof (windproof) jacket
  • Waterproof (windproof) pants (these don’t have to be expensive, just functional)
  • Wool or synthetic shirts or sweaters.
  • Wool or synthetic pants, or BDU’s with appropriate thermal underwear.  NO JEANS. 
  • Long underwear made of wool, silk, or other synthetic material – Cotton thermal underwear is not acceptable.
  • Gloves for cold weather with either leather palms, or a leather outer glove layer.
  • Stocking Cap or Balaclava
  • Boots with a good lug sole recommended.
  • Wool or synthetic socks with a good nylon liner.

Clothing – summer exercises

  • Waterproof (windproof) jacket and pants.
  • Long pants – preferably rip stop material.  NO SHORTS
  • Lightweight shirt – preferably of breathable material.
  • Hat
  • Gloves with minimum of a leather palm.
  • Boots with a good lug sole recommended.
  • Socks with a good nylon liner.

Gear essentials:

  • Backpack large enough for daypack use
  • One quart minimum canteen or water bottle
  • One day supply of quick energy food
  • Whistle
  • Compass (Silva or Brunton preferred)
  • Headlamp with a set of spare batteries and bulb.
  • One other alternate source of light with spare batteries & bulb
  • Personal First Aid Kit
  • At least one 30-gallon leaf bag
  • Waterproof matches or disposable lighter
  • Storm Shelter (can be items already in pack such as garbage bag)

Navigational tools kit

  • Map Case / 1gl Zip-Lock bag
  • Compass
  • Pace Beads
  • Grid Tool
  • Protractor
  • 6” Ruler (Clear Acrylic)
  • Pencil & Eraser
  • Colored Pencils (blue / red / green)
  • Highlighter (chisel point)

Additional personal items (optional)

  • Handheld radio
  • Toilet paper
  • Zip-lock bags
  • Moleskin
  • Gaitors
  • Sunscreen
  • Signal mirror
  • Parachute cord
  • Small notebook & pen
  • Insect repellant
  • Water purification tablets or filter system
  • GPS Unit – Know how to use this and have it set up properly before putting it in your pack. 

Field Team Leader Equipment List

All required equipment from the Field Team Member Equipment List (see above), PLUS:

  • 25 feet of one-inch nylon tubular webbing
  • Two (2) Locking-D aluminum alloy carabiners
  • UIAA approved climbing helmet (or hardhat with chin strap)
  • Electric Headlamp w/ extra batteries and bulb

As a candidate for the Field Team Leader Class, we expect that you already own all required equipment from the Field Team Member list.

Field Team Signcutter Equipment List

In addition to the basic field pack of the Field Team Member, the signcutting student is expected to bring the following equipment to the first weekend of class:

Mandatory equipment:

  • One large flashlight with spare batteries
  • One small flashlight (AA mini-mag type) with spare batteries 
  • 12-foot tape measure – ¾” wide minimum
  • 30 popsicle sticks
  • Pocket sized notebook (waterproof paper recommended) and pencils
  • Tweezers
  • Flagging tape

Suggested equipment:

  • Knee pads
  • Magnifying glass
  • Camera
  • 50 feet of kite string or other light string
  • Tracking stick (3 feet long and no more than 1/2” diameter)

where to findThe classic mystery: where to find inexpensive gear

Students must have weather appropriate gear to operate in the field exercises.  You do not need to go out and spend a fortune to get new and expensive gear.  You just have to be a little creative.  The following are some suggestions handed down from SAR people on where they found field worthy items of gear.  In addition, it is important to remember to improvise and use one item for more than one use (i.e.: an emergency blanket can also serve as a shelter if necessary)


  • GOODWILL: Check out the men’s section for wool shirts, pants and sweaters as well as fleece.
  • THRIFT SHOP: Also good places for wool and synthetic clothing.
  • YARD SALES: Check out the sales of neighborhood located around state parks, hiking trails, or wilderness areas.  You can often find good quality outdoor clothing.
  • ARMY SURPLUS: All types of clothing including underwear, raingear, BDU’s, and Gortex.
  • ONLINE: Do some shopping; everything can be found online.  Clothing can be easily purchased on line.
  • SECONDS Check out the catalogs like Sierra Trading Post that carries many seconds and discontinued items for great prices.
  • LOCAL STORES: The local wilderness stores can be expensive, however quality is usually good and many offer discounts to local SAR groups.  Always remember to ask if they give a discount. 
  • WALMART: Check out the sales right after Christmas.  Great time to purchase synthetic underwear. 
  • HUNTING/FISHING: Check out the stores at the end of the season.  Good discounts are offered.
  • WILDERNESS STORE: Great gear, but can be expensive.  Make sure you ask about group discounts.


  • WALMART: They also carry a wilderness survival pack with a lot of the miscellaneous items, but the compass will have to be replaced in the pack (it is too cheap and inaccurate).  Compasses can be found there, but make sure it is the Silva (stay away from the Ozark Trails brand).
  • LOWES: Great place to find a headlamp.  They carry a RAYOVAC with three settings, LED, halogen and red for under $10.  It works great in the field.
  • ARMY SURPLUS: Most of the gear on the list can be purchased at the surplus for low prices.
  • INTERNET: Shop on line for the best prices.  However, it is important to know the history behind your gear.  Be careful purchasing used gear on line that you do not know its background.  Sierra Trading Post is a great source of seconds and discontinued items.
  • HUNTING/FISHING: Check out the hunting and fishing stores at the end of the season.  They have great sales and offer good discounts.  Don’t be afraid to haggle. 
  • YARDSALES: You can find good deals in yard sales located in neighborhoods near or around wilderness areas and parks.  Again, be careful when purchasing used gear that you may not know the history about.
  • WILDERNESS STORE: Great quality gear, but often expensive.  Make sure you ask their policy regarding group discounts.  Many give 10% or more to members of local SAR groups.


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Virginia Disaster Relief Fund