Most important piece of equipment on a chase

Jun 9, 2005
Looks like I'm deciding on Oklahoma for this spring instead of West Texas, since I can get there 3 hours quicker! I think for me, since I've never been to Oklahoma, a road atlas will be very valuable to me LOL. I was just wondering what most of you consider the most important piece of equipment; radar to see approaching storms, video and digital cameras to prove to your buddies you actually were on that F-5 they saw on t.v. or what?
I'd have to say a type of mapping software / GPS is the most important tool TO chase, and obviously, you'd need to have a camera or two around as well (I shoot both video and digital stills) so you can document the storm. Wx-Worx (XM radar service) is a valuable tool as well, but it'll cost you around a grand for the unit (but you can make monthly payments).
I'm gonna have to top everyone and say a vehicle... Without it, people like Nick Grillo would have to start walking now to make it to the Plains by May :lol:

Other than that, I would have to say maps and an internet connection. Maybe I'm just used to MI setups where you can't see the storms except for on radar. I guess a video / camera is important to alot of people to, but it's more about the experience for me. I could care less if Billy Bob Thornton doesn't believe that I seen a 5 mile wide wedge :lol:
Your eyes :)

While I agree that they are the MOST important, trying to decide what one thing besides your eyes is a very hard decision.
Vehicles, maps, data acquisition and a good knowledge of storm structure are what most chasers would consider the basics.
While we all have our favorite gadget to take on a chase, almost all carry the same stuff (different brands and price obviously).
The digital/video cameras are what enable us to share our experiences with other chasers and friends.
So for me, cameras are the most important thing to take on a chase even though it isn't necessary to have to enjoy what Mother Nature shares with us.
Besides the essentials for chasing, like a car and complete person, I would have to say a map. When I first when chasing it was the first thing I brought, today a good map will find you routes you didn't know of, and can guide you to a storm you thought you couldn't get to.
Out east here where its more hazy, one glimpse at a radar screen after initiation can make the chase. There are a variety of ways to get it: wxworx, cell phones, wifi, or TV. When you can't see the towers going up, its practically a must.


No seriously, I won't chase without a co-pilot, or two, or 6.

Everything else then falls into line of what is important.

So my #2 pick is map setup.
Which for me is SA9 and SA2006 with eTrex GPS. And a few paper atlases.
Think everyone is right.

Must haves would be:

Internet Connection
Photo/Video Camera
Scanner (really nice if your internet goes down)

I currently chase without the internet connection or a good camera, unfortunately. Takes time to buy all the pricey toys. Everything else on top of that is a bonus

Anemometer/Weather equipment (nice to know actual wind speeds)
XM Radar
HAM radio (I consider this important for Oklahoma, as we have a statewide Skywarn network that can make not having all the equipment you need easier since you can talk to the NWS directly (or local EOCs with radar).
MOST of the time, I'd say that a GPS is the most important thing to have on a chase FOR ME. It's helped to easily navigate many backroads, and comes in particularly handy during fast-moving-storms days or days in which you chase in areas with complex (non-gridded, etc) or sketchy roads. Other days, however, it's been my ham radio that has saved the chase (spotter nets, weather radio, etc).

Camera and camcorder are important, but I'd still chase even if I didn't have either of those... I chase because I love the feeling of it and love witnessing the raw power, so being able to document it, while nice, isn't an absolute necessity. After all, I have my memory...

Data access is nice, but again, not a necessity IMO. Ppl were chasing long before widespread cell data or WxWorx and seemed to score just fine... Yes, data is very nice to have while on the road, but not a necessity.

Ah yes, and for those times you begin to hydroplane, or realize that your staring down a 8"-deep mud road, good tires are quite comforting!
As I always say, your vehicle is the very most important piece of chasing equipment that a chaser can have. PERIOD!!!
My top 3 important pieces of equipment:

#1 Maps-The last situation I wanna be in is the one where I'm trying to bumblef**k my way around near a tornadic storm. One can never have too many maps, always know where you're headed, and most of all-always plan out your escape routes, just in case.

#2-Radar-It's always important for me to know which direction a storm is headed, and what it's doing, so this is definetly a good tool to have.

#3-NOAA Weather Radio and Police Scanners-I like keeping up on the latest watch/warning info as well as spotter reports, so I consider those very important pieces of equipment.
1. Wifi enabled laptop - If you have no way of checking data on road trips, you're screwed. Library computers are always a possibility, but in my experience, you frequently have to wait in line to use the computer and finding the towns public library is very time consuming. The libraries are usually closed on Sundays also. I learned this a few years ago after driving up to NE Kansas for a chase(ouch!).

2. Delorme Street Atlas with GPS - I used maps for several years before switching over to Steet Atlas on my computer and it makes navigating much faster and easier.

3. XM Threatnet - It is comforting to know what is going on around you at all times. With this and the Street Atlas you should have no problem staying on a storm.
Aside from a mode of transportation, I want my camera. Memories fade but digital images will not. Be sure to take a lot of pics. Some of my favorites over the last few years were random shots without a tube in the middle. Beyond that obvious one I would want some sort of communication device to report any sig severe. I love maps and always bring them but have enough intuition with the road network in my area that I could make do without.
I don't consider things like "your eyes" and "a vehicle" to be chase tools, because the majority of people have those anyway; everyday items aren't "chase tools" IMO. That said, the most important piece of equipment that is especially designated for chasing IMO would be a video camera. Memories fade, regardless of the event. I want to be able to document my chases so I can pull them out and watch them in 50 years, even if I no longer know it's my video.