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.

Personal equipment for searches

  • The following list assumes 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.
  • All major items should also 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.

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

Do not plan to share a tent with a friend. You may be split into separate groups.
Sleeping mat, closed cell foamSelf-inflating mats may puncture during casualty management, evacuation or emergency bivvy. Take both if desired.
Sleeping bagLightweight, pack in dry bag.
Large day packMinimum 40 litres recommended. Many day packs are too small for searching. An alternative is to use a weekend size pack for day searching.
Safety glasses.Provide eye protection when scrub bashing. BSAR has a supply of safety glasses.
Towel & soap
Stove, billy, fuel & matchesEnsure adequate fuel for three days cooking.
Eating utensilsBowl, spoon, mug
WaterMinimum two litres in sturdy container(s). Fill at home.
Food for three daysEasily prepared, nutritious and durable. Refer to separate list of suggestions later in this chapter.
First aid kit & medicationRefer to First Aid
Sun protectionSunscreen, sunglasses, hat
Weatherproof clothingGoretex® or equivalent material hooded jacket and overtrousers.
Safety clothingBSAR issued safety clothing: cap, shirt, beanie, softshell jacket
GaitersHeavy duty
Head torchPowerful water resistant head torch with spare batteries.
Heavy duty pantsRequired for prolonged periods of thick scrub bashing.  Shorts are NOT suitable for searching.
GlovesLeather garden gloves or leather riggers gloves. Required for scrub bashing. BSAR has a supply of gloves.
Cord 10m of venetian blind cord or 5mm sisal recommended. Useful for constructing bush stretchers.
Large plastic bags (2)Wheelie bin liners are ideal. Used for hypothermia treatment, bivvy bag.
Storage bag or large sports bagFor storage of personal items at base. Ensure name is clearly visible. Should be waterproof, as shelter at base is not guaranteed.
Compass, whistle & map caseWhistle should be pea-less and loud.
Note pad and penStore in waterproof plastic bag.
Equipment for searching

The following items are optional for searching:

Mobile phone and power bankRecommended for backup comms if needed.
Walking polesUseful for steep terrain. Folding models are easy to stow when not in use.
Map of area (if known)In most cases, photocopies of areas to be searched will be issued at base. Personal maps in colour, can aid navigation.
Spare clothesDry clothes and footwear can make the trip home more comfortable. These can be left at search base in your gear bag.
Folding pruning sawFor fabricating a bush stretcher, clearing evacuation path or preparing an emergency shelter. Ensure the cutting edge is suitably guarded.
GPSConfirm grid datum in use before leaving base (AGD for maps printed pre 2000, GDA for maps printed post 2000).
UHF CB Radio80 Channel UHF CB radios are used while line searching.
Skis and ski polesFor winter. Experienced skiers can bring AT or Tele skis. Metal edges and safety straps are essential.
Ski bootsFor winter. If your ski boots are not suitable for walking long distances bring walking boots also.
Ski skinsFor winter. For skis that don’t have a waxless base
Snow shoesFor winter. BSAR has a supply of snow shoes and poles.
Optional equipment for searching

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 BSAR safety clothing, clothing should be brightly coloured if possible to aid recognition in the bush. A bright panel or pack cover can also 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, safety glasses, tough long pants and gaiters.

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

Snow conditions require snowshoes or skis . Skis must be fitted with reliable safety straps.

Some alpine searches require 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 Equipment .

Bringing extra equipment “just in case” is not normal practice for weight-conscious bushwalkers or ski tourers. However, unlike on a normal trip, any surplus gear can be left at search base. Time is always allowed for this purpose. “When in doubt, bring it” is appropriate for search packing.

See also

Updated 13 Nov 2020

Last Updated on February 17, 2021