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WanakaSAR sub-alpine team coordinator John Burke

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December 2018 Issue

WanakaSAR sub-alpine team coordinator John Burke has been volunteering for one of the busiest SAR teams in the country for 10 years. This is what he packs on a typical callout.

My pack is a Fairydown Phoenix, which is still my favourite. It’s a little heavier than some packs, but it’s still in great shape after many years. I also carry a 3-litre Platypus water bladder.

I use an MSR Hubba Hubba tent – it’s light and comfortable for one, but easily fits two people. I also have a three-quarter length Therm-a-Rest mattress, which doubles as a splint and flotation device. I use a Macpac Solstice 700 sleeping bag, which I keep in a dry bag with a set of long thermals, socks, hat and gloves.

I take Gore-Tex rain pants, a shell jacket and a down jacket. Spare clothing is a pair of wool socks and two Icebreaker t-shirts.

Handy things
I also carry 50m of builder string which has a 50kg break strain and is very light. It’s good for making stretchers and shelters. I also have an orange pack liner that doubles as a shelter, replacement pack, floatation device, clean surface to work on or an aerial location marker.

Navigation includes iPhone with Map Toaster app, a battery bank, a compass and topo map. I mark the topo with my GPS location once in the field so I have a paper map backup.

My first aid kit includes pain medication, a blister kit, a puncture wound kit, a big bleed kit, two emergency blankets, nitrile gloves, a squirt of sunscreen in a ziplock bag, insect repellent, a whistle, a knife, a lighter and a satellite phone, which has a beacon function. I always carry a Petzl headlamp and Ledlenser torch.

The MSR Whisperlite is great because it runs on almost any fuel. I carry a titanium pot with a lid, which can be heated over a fire if dry wood is available. My firestarter kit consists of a few old birthday candles and a lighter in a waterproof container with an old bike tube as another firestarter.