Chapter 7 - Equipment and Food

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Members are expected to be fully self-sufficient for three days even though the attendance requirement is for two days. The full list of bushwalking equipment shown below and three days food should be brought for all call-outs.

Equipment Lists and Details 

The following lists assume the member is an experienced overnight walker capable of operating in all conditions, including snow. Each member must bring the normal gear for a three-day walk. Excess equipment may be left at search base in a labelled bag showing name, club, home address and telephone number. Likewise, all major items should be labelled with your name and club.

Do not leave items out assuming somebody else will have them. Your equipment must be kept in a good state of repair.

A break for lunch, Baw Baw National Park practice 1999

A break for lunch, Baw Baw National Park practice 1999


In addition to normal bushwalking or ski-touring gear, the following is required.  All items mandatory unless stated otherwise.

Personal Search Equipment
Item Comments
Tent Do not plan to share a tent with a friend. You may be split into separate groups.
Sleeping mat, closed cell foam Self-inflating mats may puncture during casualty management, evacuation or emergency bivvy. Take both if desired.
Sleeping bag Lightweight
Spare clothes Can keep in a waterproof stuff sack
Towel & soap Optional. Useful where base accommodation is provided.
Stove, billy, fuel & matches Ensure adequate fuel for three days cooking.
Eating utensils  
Water Minimum two litres in sturdy container(s). Fill at home.
Food for three days Easily prepared, nutritious and durable. Refer to separate list of suggestions later in this chapter.
First aid kit & medication Refer to Chapter 11.
Sunscreen, sunglasses, hat  
Weatherproof clothing Goretex® or equivalent material hooded jacket and overtrousers.
Gaiters Heavy duty
Torch, powerful Powerful head torch recommended with spare batteries.
Long trousers, heavy duty Required for prolonged periods of thick scrub bashing.  Shorts are NOT suitable for searching.
Gloves, leather Leather garden gloves or leather riggers gloves. Required for scrub bashing.
Cordage, 10- 12 metres Venetian blind cord or 5mm sisal recommended. Required for bush stretchers.
Cutting implement (e.g. folding garden saw) For fabricating a bush stretcher, clearing evacuation path or preparing an emergency shelter. Ensure the cutting edge is suitably guarded.
Large plastic bags (2) Wheelie bin liners ideal. Used for hypothermia treatment, bivvy bag.
Storage bag or large sports bag For storage of personal items at base. Ensure name and club is clearly visible. Must be waterproof, as shelter at base is not guaranteed.
Compass, whistle & map case Whistle should be pea-less and rated at over 100 decibels
Note pad and pen Store in waterproof plastic bag.
Map of area (if known) Optional. In most cases, photocopies of areas to be searched will be issued at base. Personal maps in colour, can aid navigation.
GPS Optional. Confirm grid datum in use before leaving base (AGD for maps printed pre 2000, GDA for maps printed post 2000).
Large felt-tlipped pen (waterproof) Optional. Marking the group number on search boundary markers (toilet paper).
Rope, 30 metres 8 mm kernmantle climbing rope. Optional. Personal support on steep terrain or negotiating small cliffs. Assisting with stretcher escort in steep terrain.
Carabiners, screw gate Optional. Stretcher escort personal support, pack hauling.
Large day pack Optional. Minimum 40 litres. Many day packs are too small for searching. An alternative is to use your weekend size pack for day searching.
Cross country skis and ski poles

Required only of ski skilled members and if appropriate to the search conditions. Only bring a type suitable for back country skiing with heavy loads. Metal edges and safety straps are essential.  

Skins might be useful. Bundle your skis and stocks together for transport.

Snow shoes Optional.
Mobile telephone Optional.

 Table 7.1 Personal equipment to take on a search

A large day pack of sufficient capacity to carry the items listed for day searching, including a sleeping bag, is essential as well as the normal pack. As an alternative, the normal pack may be used in place of the day pack, provided a sturdy bag which can be easily carried is brought for the balance of your equipment, e.g. sturdy sports bag.

For members not yet issued with uniforms, clothing should be brightly coloured, if possible, to aid recognition in the bush, or a bright panel or pack cover could be used with day pack or weekend size pack. High visibility BSAR vests will also be issued at search base.

Remember that searching is often done in much rougher terrain and scrub than would normally be experienced on bushwalking trips, hence the need for such items as scrub gloves, tough long pants and gaiters.

Maps are usually supplied by the Police. However, members should bring their own maps if possible.


Packing group and personal gear

Packing group and personal gear


Snow conditions require cross-country skis or snow—shoes. Skis must be fitted with reliable safety straps.

Some searches require more specialised equipment such as ropes, ice axes or crampons. If you have completed BSAR alpine training, bring this equipment on winter searches as it may be used.   For more information see Alpine Search and Rescue.

Bringing extra equipment “just in case” may seem like heresy to the weight-conscious walker or ski tourer. However, unlike on a normal trip, surplus gear can be left at the search base when the search terrain and conditions are known. Time is always allowed for this purpose. A policy of “when in doubt, bring it” is appropriate for search packing.

Updated 9 September 2013