As a wildland firefighter, you’ll face some unique challenges in the field. You don’t want to find yourself in the middle of a blazing forest or meadow without any gear. To ensure that you stay safe and practical out there, you need to know which essentials to bring. Be careful not to bog yourself down, either. Since you’ll be in the field carrying your pack for long hours at a time, you don’t want to strain yourself.
To help you out, we’ve prepared a guide for the gear a wildland firefighter needs. Take a look and set yourself up for success!
Carry No More Than Two Bags
As we mentioned, you don’t want to carry too much weight. Most wildland firefighters have a max of two bags: a fire line backpack and a travel bag, or red bag. Your backpack should weigh around 20 pounds, and definitely no more than that. The optimal weight for a backpack is 10 to 15 pounds, with 20 being the absolute maximum. The lighter you can go your backpack, the easier it will be on your back and neck during the day.
For your travel bag, try to get it under 45 pounds. Exceeding 45 pounds will put severe strain on you during the day. As with the backpack, try to keep the bag as light as possible without missing anything essential.
Line Backpack Gear
Your backpack should contain supplies to last for a few days’ worth of firefighting. It’s also a good idea to pack some personal items for downtime during the day. Feel free to include snacks or a book if they don’t weigh you down too much. Here’s what your backpack should contain:
- A fire shelter to protect you from wildfires
- Fire gloves to protect your hands
- Canteens and holsters for hydration
- A first aid kit for safety
- A GPS for navigation with a compass as a backup
- Flashlights and a headlamp
- Brightly colored flagging
In addition, make sure that you have proper wildfire fighting PPE (personal protective equipment). Without it, major harm could come to you. As long as you have all these essentials and your PPE, you’ll be good to go.
Travel Bag (Red Bag)
For longer assignments, you’ll need a travel bag. Remember to keep it around 45 pounds. Here’s what you should have packed inside:
- A sleeping bag with a compression device so that it takes up minimal space
- An inflatable sleeping pad for more support and comfort at night (optional)
- Extra clothes
Remember, even if you have a travel bag, you still need the essentials in your line backpack.
There’s your look at the gear a wildland firefighter needs. Protect yourself and your team, and always double-check that you’ve packed this gear!