Your Radio “Go Bag”

June 2018
David Golden
Culver City ARES

What should I have in my Radio Go bag?

We live in a rapidly changing environment in Southern California where we can see our neighborhoods turn from quiet and bucolic to environmental or weather-induced chaos. Because you are here reading this article, you probably have taken a CERT class and have a basic idea of how to help your neighbors in a disaster scenario and would like to expand your talents and skills by adding radio communications to your resume. Being prepared, equipped and ready to deploy gives your ARES & CERT groups the ability for rapid deployment.

So, you have taken your ham technician test, passed and want to put together a “Radio Go Bag” so you are ready to roll in an emergency.

OK, where do I start? What should I have in my radio go bag?

Start with the basics and you can build your Radio Go Bag out as needed, The main building block of your Radio Go Bag is your radio. A basic HT Hand Talkie is essential if you are interested in CCARES radio communications. We are assuming you have an HT radio at this point programmed with your local frequencies in int’s memory bank. If you don’t, see our article HT’s Which One Is Right For Me? So you have your radio and a general understanding of how your radio works. From this point, you will need to make sure your radio has extra batteries, a hand mic, a backup antenna, A/C charger with A/C/ plug as well as a DC option to recharge used batteries as well.

Now you need something to carry your radio and additional components.

A comfortable bag that can hold all of your “Radio Go KIt.” I started with a sturdy, water-resistant bag that can carry all of the equipment you need. I chose an LAPG Tactical Bail Out Gear Bag which you can find for around $25.00 at Which bag you ultimately decide to use should hold, at a minimum, your basic radio gear as listed below…

Radio Go Bag Basic Equipment List

  • HT Radio
  • HT Hand Mic
  • Extra Batteries for HT
  • HT Charger & A/C cord
  • D/C Solution to Charge HT – Cigarette lighter adaptor charger
  • Radio Pouch or Belt holder
  • Sturdy Shoulder Bag
  • HT Manual and a “Cheat Sheet” for your specific radio
  • Ziplock plastic Sandwich Bag to Weatherproof your radio in inclement weather.
  • Local Repeater Guide
  • Flashlight
  • Notebook & Lots of Pens Sharpies
  • Cell Phone and charger & Charger Cables
  • Multitool – Leather Man or Gerber
  • Compass
  • Food Bars or Power Bars
  • Water Bottle
  • Portable Power Bank For your cell phone
  • ARES/CERT Day Glo Vest
  • List of phone numbers and e-mail contacts for ARES/CERT Group

These are basic items that I suggest you need to have with you when you are called out
for ARES or CERT drills or community action. You will also need to have basic ID to work on call outs or in City Fire Stations or buildings as ARES/CERT members. So please include your…

  • Ham License Drivers License ARES/CERT ID

There are some additional items you should consider carrying with you when called to deploy and I suggest that you keep them in your radio bag.

  • Whistle
  • Head Lamp – Hands-Free Operation and lighting
  • A large hat that covers neck and ears
  • Sunglasses
  • Reading Glasses – if necessary
  • Lightweight Emergency Poncho
  • Light Weight Space Blanket
  • Extra Batteries for Flashlight and Headlamp
  • 4 Glo Sticks Chemical lights
  • Velcro Ties & Zip Ties
  • Emergency money in small bills
  • CASH $100.00 in Small Bills
  • Extra Antenna for your HT original rubber duck is ok Antenna jumper to SO-239 for
  • JPole antenna
  • Roll up J-Pole antenna
  • Leather Gloves

Additional Items that will be useful in a deployment that you might consider useful to have in an additional bag or your vehicle are…

  • Appropriate clothing for season and additional socks
  • Small Portable Mag Mount antenna for your car for use with HT AM/FM Portable
  • Radio
  • Mini 1st Aid Kit
  • Solar Light Like a Luci Light or Streamlight Mini Lantern
  • Spare Fuses for Car Charger

Will Increase your range

  • 10’ of Duct Tape
  • Water Bottle 4 Bottles of Water
  • Laptop or Tablet
  • Goggles
  • Face Mask for Smoke & Wind Bandana
  • 100’ of paracord

You probably would like to have your own portable power options to keep your radios running for a few days……

Some Power option Ideas………