Organizing and packing field radio accessories–three products I love!

As I was packing up my radio gear at the last activation I posted (click here for that field report), I paused to make a quick video and talk about my rucksack, my accessories pouches, and a winder I like to use with the MFJ-1984LP antenna.

Here are the products I mentioned:

GoRuck GR1 USA

This is one of my favorite rucksacks for SOTA activations. I like the fact that it’s low-profile, structured, and feels great on the back even during extended hiking sessions.

It’s also insanely rugged, weatherproof, and (frankly) over-engineered.

My GR1 was made in the USA by GoRuck. This company specializes in packs that are essentially designed to be used and abused.  They’re all backed by a lifetime warranty. You pay for this kind of quality, though.

I purchased mine perhaps 3 years ago during a closeout sale on this particular color variant. When combined with my educator’s discount I think I paid around $210-220 US for it.

I originally bought it because I’m a huge fan of one-bag travel (read an article where I mention this on the SWLing Post). I discovered that the GR1 meets most airline regulations as a “personal carry on.” This means even with discount airlines and regional “puddle jumper” aircraft, I know I can always take it on board and never need to check it. I can easily travel one or two weeks out of this pack.

The TX-500, clipboard, and my logging pads all tuck away nicely in the GR1’s slip-in rucking plate pocket.

But in the field, the GR1 has the perfect amount of capacity for any of my QRP transceivers along with antennas, ATU, cables, and other accessories.

Click here to check out this pack at GoRuck.

Large Tom Bihn Travel Tray

Being a one-bag traveller (and certified pack geek) I’m also a massive fan of US pack designer and manufacturer, Tom Bihn.

I have a number of their packs, pouches, and organizers.

Without a doubt, one of my favorite TB items is the Travel Tray. It’s a brilliant concept: take this with you on a trip, open it up as a tray in your hotel room, and place all of your valuables in it. By doing this, you don’t have to search your room for your watch, keys, wallet, glasses, phone, etc. When you leave the room, all of those easy-to-lose items will be in one place. If you’re in a rush to catch a flight, grab the whole pack by the drawstring, secure it, and throw it in your carry on! It’s a simple, genius little sack/tray!

I also use these to organize radio accessories in my field pack. For example, I have one now dedicated to the TX-500. In the Travel Tray, I store all of the TX-500 adapters and cords, the speaker mic, a set of CW Morse Pocket paddles, a PackTenna EFHW, some RG-316, and a 3 aH LiFePo4 battery. I even carry a spare Muji notepad in it in case I forget my logging pad. With this little bag and the TX-500, I have everything I need to hit the air!

Note that I much prefer the large TB Travel Tray. My wife has both a large and small travel tray, but I find that the small one is just a little too small for most everything I wish to put in it. The large one’s outer diameter is large enough that you can also store a short coil of RG-58 coaxial cable/feed line in it.

Click here to check out large Travel Trays at Tom Bihn.

I love these so much, I purchased two more this week: one in black and one in coyote.

Thingiverse Wire Winder

This particular winder is red because that’s the filament my daughters had loaded in the printer at the time!

Before we purchased a 3D printer (an Ender 3 Pro) I would make wire winders out of anything I could find.  With a 3D printer, however, it’s so easy to make a winder sized perfectly for your application.

You may have seen winders in various colors in my video field reports–they all come from a simple project file on Thingiverse.

This winder is super easy to print and to enlarge or shrink. If you don’t have a 3D printer, likely someone you know does! Ask them to print this for you. They’re incredible useful.

Click here to view on Thingiverse.


I made a very short video talking about all of these products post-activation:

Click here to view on YouTube.

7 thoughts on “Organizing and packing field radio accessories–three products I love!”

  1. The thing I like about the backpack is that the pack folds completely open at the front, ideal to put the radio in, fold the front back, even zip it a part and continue in the rain with the activation. Only a microphone or paddles will get wet. It is a good protection for the radio in use. It also looks great in that color and has a lot of padding to fix things to, great backpack, I’m a bit envious …. ..


    1. I agree, Frank! That clam shell opening makes it very easy to pack and deploy. Those zippers will never fail either–they’re incredibly rugged.

      I also like the Molle panel on the outside of the pack and also inside. Makes it easy to attach extra pouches (or even a telescopic mast) when needed.


  2. My GoRuck GR1 has been with me around the globe running terminal to terminal in airports like in Mumbai, in the woods, and back and forth from the office for years now – still looks great.

    It is a big spend, but well worth it in the long run.

    I alternate between that and my Recycled Firefighter Battalion 12hr -though slightly smaller in size compared to the GoRuck Bullet, it also has a clamshell design and has bright yellow on the inside. It makes things stand out when the pack is unzipped and I’m sorting through things.

    Keep the videos coming – I’ve begun (again) my journey into CW operations this year and your videos have prompted me to get out and do more with my radios. Perhaps I’ll see you on the air sometime.

    Much appreciated!

    1. I *really* like the look of that Recycled Firefighter 12hr. I love my Bullet ruck and use it for SOTA too (though I wish it had rain protection for the zipper).

      Oh dear. Now I’m going down the rabbit hole that is the Recycled Firefighter website.

      Thanks for the kind comments!

  3. Yet another awesome post Tom. When it comes to doing QRP gear field reports you and Julian OH8STN are my go to guys. Special thanks for the IC705 vs TX500 post. 72 n 73 de Ke2yk

    1. Oh golly! I’m flattered you’d put me in the same league with OH8STN! 🙂

      Thank you.

      1. Hey Tom, Yeah Julian does some amazing work. Been following Julian for a very long time because of the incredible detail he puts into his posts. While Julian focuses more on digital ops, I enjoy your style because more about the gear you evaluate and use to make CW POTA contacts. I’ve tried digital but IMHO, FT8 portable is too much like watching paint dry.
        I have been doing CW POTA activations for a few years now and get a big kick out of those short-lived mini-pileups! My POTA friend N3HAL is a phone op and I really enjoy his crazy on the air antics when he works POTA.
        Finally, I’d just say that if I lived near the blue ridge parkway I’d probably be divorced by now because I’d spend way too much of my free time there operating! 73 de KE2YK

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