Recommended Chaser Equipment List

Jun 2, 2010
69
4
11
Napoleon Ohio
Good list guys. I would also recommend carrying extra fluids (oil, transmission fluid, coolant, etc.). This is a good thing to do just for general day to day stuff too. Know how to check all your fluids and how to add more if needed.

Along with the flares, star clusters (I think they're called parachute rocket flares or something in the civilian world) are good if you get lost and are stranded. At the very least it will draw attention that can get you the help you need. They can be seen from the air or ground for miles. If you have a truck and have somewhere to mount it, a hard mount winch is also a good thing to have. Not only for pulling debris from the road, but for pulling other chasers out of the ditch if they get stuck.
Something we carry in our EMA truck are electrical LED emergency road markers

http://www.edisastersystems.com/store/3A-Orange-LED-Roard-Flare-Kit.html?gclid=CjwKEAjw0LmoBRDHuo7UkaKXhn8SJADmDTG0s0HqDMSVT-hKaE5GhBhtqTf9h9C4P1h48D6h0gZm-hoCfvXw_wcB
 
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Feb 22, 2015
34
17
11
Milton, Ontario, Canada
It seems that some of the more experienced chasers have their ham radio certification & radio in their vehicle. I know there are chasers, such as Daniel Shaw, who are great about regularly calling in spotter reports to NWS via ham radio, but how helpful/necessary is having a ham radio for communication between chasers?

p.s. Would it be a good idea to bring along an extra-powerful flashlight for assisting with search & rescue, repairs, etc.?
 
Feb 22, 2015
34
17
11
Milton, Ontario, Canada
Tons of great suggestions folks...almost literally! I'm going to have to switch to chasing in a moving van to carry all this stuff! LOL! :D Well, at least I'd have room in the back for a portable generator to power everything! ;)
 
Derek,

As far as car to car comms are concerned, it's convenient if everyone in a convoy has a ham, but for that purpose, a set of 2 way radios will suffice. It might actually be easier to use store bought 2 ways unless everyone has dual band radios. I could see that get annoying very quickly trying to switch freqs between what the convoy is on and whatever freq the local SKYWARN happens to be on. That's just speculation on my part though, as the only time I've ever convoyed with anyone, it was just me and one other and we had each other's cellular number. Aside from that, I've never had to deal with communicating with other chasers while on a chase.

As far as the flashlight goes, I would consider that to be a necessary part of any survival kit that you would keep in a car anyway. There are certain items that I would always keep in my car even if I weren't a chaser, and flashlight most certainly falls into that category.

Hope that helps!
 
Mar 30, 2008
1,186
893
21
Norman, OK
www.benholcomb.com
I love having my ham radio in my car for either communication with other chasers or just the built in weather radio alert feature of the Kenwood D710A I have. It's also helpful to have in case of failed comms, although these days that is becoming quite rare. I can only think of 1 or 2 times recently where I had no data and had to actually call, and can't think of any time since 2013 where we've had to call something in by the radio.
 
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chad albee

Enthusiast
May 29, 2016
7
2
1
midwest city, ok
I have a few spare parts (belt, fuses, other electrical repair stuff), tow straps, tools, mini air compressor, tire plugs, spare bulbs, hand held police radio, davis vantage pro 2, davis weather wizard 3 (my back up system), camera and mount, first aid kit, chainsaw, delorome maps, mobile wifi hot spot, lap top, led flashers, lightbar, duct tape, safety wire, shovel, cb radio, color tv, pa/siren, wx worx (just got it but not online yet), 2005 chevy Tahoe, 400 watt inverter with surge protector strip. Luckily the largest hail I've been in so far with this truck is a little larger than golf ball. My second to last truck wasn't so lucky.
 
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Apr 16, 2004
1,613
12
11
Austin, Tx
www.TornadoXtreme.com
I definitely agree with adding fuses to the list. Guess I left that off. I've had a time or two when the fuse that powers the inverter which powers everything else goes out, and suddenly no radar, map, gps, dashcam power, etc! Might want to carry an extra inverter also. I've had those go out on chases as well.
 

Peter Potvin

Staff member
May 20, 2018
106
39
6
Pembroke, ON, Canada

Emergency lights / Lightbars
- I don't really believe in it, but some chasers / spotters fully
believe in the need for all the lights so others can avoid them when driving in low visibility
conditions. Also fog lights, etc. This is a debate in the chaser community.
Isn't it illegal in some areas to use these unless you're part of an Emergency Services team? I know in Ontario, Canada you are prohibited from using emergency light bars and lights unless you're part of a government department or emergency management/response organization (police and fire departments, Highway Maintenance, Ministry of Transportation, St. John Ambulance, etc.) and are responding to an incident or are on the scene of an incident. Same as radar detectors - they are banned in most of Canada, and you can't have one in your possession or else you could be punished either financially (with a fine) or criminally (with jail time or a prison sentence).
 
Mar 9, 2016
77
18
11
Plattsmouth, Nebraska
Isn't it illegal in some areas to use these unless you're part of an Emergency Services team? I know in Ontario, Canada you are prohibited from using emergency light bars and lights unless you're part of a government department or emergency management/response organization (police and fire departments, Highway Maintenance, Ministry of Transportation, St. John Ambulance, etc.) and are responding to an incident or are on the scene of an incident. Same as radar detectors - they are banned in most of Canada, and you can't have one in your possession or else you could be punished either financially (with a fine) or criminally (with jail time or a prison sentence).
Depends on the state I'm pretty sure. Some allow them while others don't, however I believe most allow amber lights.
 
Oct 6, 2010
41
53
11
Centennial CO.
What does everyone think about my chase equipment lists? I'm still updating them as I find more equipment.

https://www.bnh.com/wish/10198C932E8/

http://a.co/560o4fD
Hi Peter,

I've looked through your amazon list and I have some comments/thoughts for you. Keep in mind that I'm not trying to pick apart your list, more that I might be able to save you some cash.

  • Lightning detector - If you plan on chasing severe weather, there's almost definitely going to be lightning. Do you need a device to tell you this? I personally wouldn't buy one. Maybe I'm missing the point of it.
  • Collapsible warning triangles - I'd get something like this (but cheaper if I could find it) just to cone off my vehicle if I was broken down in a high traffic area. I'd never attempt to put them out in a way to warn others of any other danger other than "hey, don't hit my car please for both of our sakes!"
  • Weather radio - Might be nice for home, and definitely something I'd recommend a family member buy if they live in areas prone to tornadoes. But you have a scanner further down in your list (two, in fact), and most likely one or both of them will have weather radio capability. Might save some cash by skipping it.
  • Portable emergency jump starter/battery charger - If you have the room, this would be a nice thing to have in general. When I chase, I do not turn off the car unless I'm done for the day or I have to (getting gas). It's probably not something I'd put in my "need" list for chasing though.
  • 3 ton floor jack - So...I don't know what type of chase vehicle you have, but this is probably a bit overkill. If you're chasing in a truck, I guess you could get one and throw it in, but if you really want one you might look somewhere like Harbor Freight (do they have Harbor Freight in Canada...is Canadian Tire similar?). I bought a jack much like this for about $85 on sale. But it's for home, not chasing. You'd almost have to bring something to put under it to use it in the field, and the cost involved might make simply bringing a full size spare tire more cost effective.
  • Tire repair kit - see cost effective note on last item. The last thing I wanna do on a chase is vehicle maintenance. I want to fix the problem and get moving again. You may feel differently.
  • Surge Suppressors - A good buy! Useful for hotel rooms with few outlets. I have one with a ten foot cord on it, in case I need to stretch that sucker across the room.
  • Flashlights - Having two is good.
  • Inverter/DC extensions/plug socket w/ eyelets/fuse block/battery isolater - Having an inverter is nice, and is something I need to buy a better version of. I won't speak to the rest of the equipment since I'm not sure what you're intending to build/power.
  • Garmin GPS - I have a tablet and a smartphone with me. So far, they're doing well for me for GPS (check out Maps.Me app for offline maps, it's not bad and it's free). You might put this item on the backburner if you really want it.
  • Base scanner/handheld scanner - Do you need both? Maybe get one of them and look into amateur radio instead? It's more useful and about the same costs involved. Someone else here will need to speak to this one as I've been lazy and haven't gotten my HAM license yet.
  • Samsung memory card/Eborn dash cam - Dash cams are great for chasing, and for when people are crazy drivers. Solid purchase. Make sure that dashcam can handle a 128GB card though!
  • Samsung SSD - External hard drive for media backups are great. If it's simply for backups though you could probably get more space and less price with a normal spindle HDD. Wouldn't be as fast, but...it's for backups!
  • Tow straps - Not sure what kind of vehicle you have. I have a Hyundai Sonata. I will not be rescuing anyone in that thing unless they were driving a golf cart. Made of foam.
  • Cell phone booster - I want one of these soooo bad. I'd get some chaser feedback before you buy though. I hear wildly varying success stories from model to model.
  • Safety vest - Safety is good.
  • Helmet - Unless you're purposely planning on running around in a hailstorm, you might be able to skip this or find something cheaper. A construction hardhat might serve just as well. With that, I'll defer to anyone with more experience in the matter.
  • Safety goggles - Safety is good. I have some in my car. Unfortunately I have a sneaking suspicion that once the times comes for me really needing them, the event that caused it will have already happened. I still bring 'em. I bring eye drops too and I love them. After all we're chasing mostly wind and it blows stuff into your eyes.
  • Tire compressor safety kit - See comment regarding full size spare. You're looking at over $400 already in tire maintenance gear.
  • First aid kit - As long as you keep in mind that this kit is mainly for you and other car occupants for minor injuries, it's a good thing. To help anyone else (especially in the event of a tornado) requires equipment and knowledge that exceeds pretty much any standard car first aid kit.
  • Safety hammer - Useful I suppose. $18 makes me want to find it cheaper, but I guess I'm a cheapskate. After all it's an item you only really need to buy once.
  • Winter Roadside assistance kit - I don't chase winter weather, but that looks useful. If I had to guess, the "Top Gear" logo is probably adding at least $25 to the cost of it though.
  • Multitool - Looks useful. If you're chasing with a truck or or a larger vehicle though you might think about buying a few full size tools instead. I find multitools a little frustrating sometimes, as it seems like it's the spork version of every tool that would work better if you just had it handy.
  • Work gloves - I have no comment here other than the picture of the guy looking like he's going to cut into his hand to demonstrate THE ULTIMATE POWER OF THE GLOVES made me laugh.
I hope this feedback helps. If you want, I can look at the other list, or maybe I've already said too much...

EDIT: Fixing spelling, grammar, etc...
 
Last edited:

Peter Potvin

Staff member
May 20, 2018
106
39
6
Pembroke, ON, Canada
  • Lightning detector - If you plan on chasing severe weather, there's almost definitely going to be lightning. Do you need a device to tell you this? I personally wouldn't buy one. Maybe I'm missing the point of it.
This will be used to approximate the distance of the lightning.

  • Collapsible warning triangles - I'd get something like this (but cheaper if I could find it) just to cone off my vehicle if I was broken down in a high traffic area. I'd never attempt to put them out in a way to warn others of any other danger other than "hey, don't hit my car please for both of our sakes!"
That's the main reason they're on my list.

  • 3 ton floor jack - So...I don't know what type of chase vehicle you have, but this is probably a bit overkill. If you're chasing in a truck, I guess you could get one and throw it in, but if you really want one you might look somewhere like Harbor Freight (do they have Harbor Freight in Canada...is Canadian Tire similar?). I bought a jack much like this for about $85 on sale. But it's for home, not chasing. You'd almost have to bring something to put under it to use it in the field, and the cost involved might make simply bringing a full size spare tire more cost effective.
The vehicle I'm purchasing is a Chevrolet Suburban. I'm having it armored by INKAS Armored Vehicle Manufacturing (a vehicle armoring and fabrication company located in Toronto, Ontario) to protect against damage from debris and hail. It is expensive, though, with a cost of $100k+ CAD$.

  • Base scanner/handheld scanner - Do you need both? Maybe get one of them and look into amateur radio instead? It's more useful and about the same costs involved. Someone else here will need to speak to this one as I've been lazy and haven't gotten my HAM license yet.
I have been planning on purchasing an amateur radio, but am waiting until I get my ham license to add one to my list.

  • Samsung memory card/Eborn dash cam - Dash cams are great for chasing, and for when people are crazy drivers. Solid purchase. Make sure that dashcam can handle a 128GB card though!
The capacity of the card is the max the camera can handle.

  • Samsung SSD - External hard drive for media backups are great. If it's simply for backups though you could probably get more space and less price with a normal spindle HDD. Wouldn't be as fast, but...it's for backups!
This drive would be used for in-the-field backups, until we can upload the files to our cloud storage provider when we get to our base.

  • Tow straps - Not sure what kind of vehicle you have. I have a Hyundai Sonata. I will not be rescuing anyone in that thing unless they were driving a golf cart. Made of foam.
See my comment about the floor jack.

  • Cell phone booster - I want one of these soooo bad. I'd get some chaser feedback before you buy though. I hear wildly varying success stories from model to model.
I have heard from multiple people that these come in handy when there's barely any service without one.

  • First aid kit - As long as you keep in mind that this kit is mainly for you and other car occupants for minor injuries, it's a good thing. To help anyone else (especially in the event of a tornado) requires equipment and knowledge that exceeds pretty much any standard car first aid kit.
I am a Medical First Responder with my local St. John Ambulance branch, so I would be purchasing a more advanced Trauma and O2 Kit to carry in my chase vehicle.
 

Todd Lemery

Supporter
Jun 2, 2014
475
457
21
54
Menominee, MI
I use shooting glasses for eye protection. The thing I like the most about them is they really reduce glare and give me more clarity when looking at cloud formations. Once I’m actively chasing, I take off the sunglasses and slip on the shooting glasses. They don’t offer as much protection as goggles, but they let you see better and they don’t fog up.
 
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Apr 25, 2009
64
25
11
Scottsdale, AZ
Has anyone seen an alternative to Delorme Street Maps? Garmin bought Delorme and the product is now dead as far as I know, with the latest update the 2014 version.

I used it for decades, because it is excellent for displaying maps. I use Google Maps around home for navigation, but frankly, it's road display is horrible - very low contrast for all but major streets. And, if you don't have good cell coverage, you had better have downloaded the maps for offline usage, through their tedious (really bad design) user interface.

ALSO... Signal boosters/amplifiers for cell phones. Yes - these are a good idea. I have used the Wilson series for years - these day, the Wilson Sleek. It not only increases the power of your signal, but also moves things to an antenna on the roof, which is an optimum point for best reception.
 
Mar 8, 2016
176
256
11
Bloomington, IL
I do want to add that Google Maps' offline maps function is fantastic. Saved me from a headache on 12/1/18 in Western IL when I had no service(that area is a Verizon black hole).
 
In reference to the winches, off-road/4×4 publications [back when I read them], would recommend carrying danforth style anchors to use if you were bogged down in sand or mud, and couldn't find a suitable anchor point. Also, when I was on the VFD, we carried snatch blocks [useful for changing the direction of the pull], rated above the winch's capacity, on the trucks equipped with them.
 

John Wetter

SN President
Staff member
Dec 11, 2005
851
45
11
Maple Grove, MN
www.WxChaser.com
I'm likely getting a new vehicle this fall and am wondering if I am going to install my ham radio in the new car. I can't think of a time I've used it for anything besides listening to NOAA Weather Radio in the past 2-3 years. There are fewer and fewer chasers out there who seem to use it so the utility is falling from my perspective. So, I'm very close to dropping ham radio from the "chaser equipment list" personally.
 

Bill Hark

EF5
Jan 13, 2004
1,258
175
11
52
Richmond Virginia
www.harkphoto.com
I still use amateur radio to communicate with chaser friends either in a caravan or nearby. It's very useful. Even when not in a group, it's useful for communicating with other chasers and finding out about hazards or what the storm is doing from a different viewpoint. The radios are inexpensive and licensing is very easy.
 
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Reactions: Jason Boggs
Oct 31, 2013
401
303
21
Eastern TX Panhandle
John, I look at at this way. You already have a ham radio, so why not add an extra piece of communication equipment to your chase ride for a "just in case" purpose? What if your cell phone stopped working for whatever reason? To me, it's a very important piece of equipment , but that's just my opinion.