Equipment Lists

What we provide

GSSD will provide the following items to Guests and Members at workouts and on missions:

  • Handheld Radio

  • Area Maps

  • Handheld GPS Device (Various Garmin Devices)**

  • Dog Tracking Device (Garmin Astro 430)**

  • Car Radio**

** Ready Searchers and high level Apprentices only, not available for Guests/Candidates


Guests are required to have some version of the 10 Essential Systems, plus a little extra for comfort during workouts. If you are missing gear, let us know in the New Member Survey or via email, and we may be able to let you borrow some stuff.

Older and/or more durable gear is ideal, your SAR gear will need to survive brambles (bad for rain gear), swamps, and other unpleasant situations.

DO NOT WEAR OR BRING COTTON CLOTHES. Cotton Kills. You will be sent home.


  • Day pack

  • Flashlight and extra batteries

  • Knife/multi-tool

  • First Aid Kit

  • 2L+ Water

  • Food

  • Compass

  • 10x12ft Tarp (ideally green or brown, but blue or silver will do)

  • Pad and any other nice to haves on the trainee gear list

  • Appropriate footwear for the elements

  • Any medications you need (including scheduled ones in case we run late)

  • Appropriate gear/clothing for the elements (NO COTTON)

  • Extra clothing


  • NW Forest or America the Beautiful Pass

  • Discover Pass

  • High clearance vehicle w/ 4X4 or AWD

  • GPS or smartphone GPS application

    • Required capabilities

      • Place markers/waypoints

      • Record tracks

      • Offline maps

      • Displays most NWFS Roads

      • (Ideally) Support UTM

    • Examples:

      • Garmin GPS unit

      • Gaia or Caltopo

      • Avenza

      • Peakbagger or onX

      • BAD: Google Maps

  • Power Bank for your phone


Guests are expected to have gear needed for an on-trail hike. Candidates need to start acquiring the gear they would need for off-trail and back-country outings that they would need on a real search.


  • 10 Essential Systems

  • Day Pack

  • Compass w/ declination set

  • 10x12ft Waterproof Tarp

  • Plastic bag for maps, pens, paper

  • Insulated Pad

  • 2L of Water

  • Synthetic or wool clothing


  • Emergency Whistle

  • Rain Gear

  • Sturdy, high-ankle Hiking Boots

  • High clearance vehicle w/ 4x4 or AWD

  • Dedicated GPS or Smartphone App

    • Power Bank for your phone


  • Redundant Essentials or Nice to Haves

    • Sun/Rain Hat

    • Insulated jacket/vest for layering

    • Insect Repellent

    • Secondary Fire Source

    • Extra Headlamp or Flashlight

  • Waterproof Backpacking Boots

    • High Ankle

    • All-Leather is more durable

  • Environmental Protection

    • Durable, knee-high Boot Gaiters

    • Leather Work Gloves

    • Clear Goggles or other eye protection

    • Pack liner or garbage bag for rain

    • Sealable plastic bags for extra clothes

  • Bathroom Kit

    • Hand Shovel

    • Pack out bags

    • Toilet Paper or Wipes

    • Hand Sanitizer


You are the one carrying your dog's gear. Search Dogs do not wear packs as it interferes with their job.

Keep in mind that we sometimes have missions or workouts in environments with ticks.


  • Leash

  • Collar and/or Harness w/ tags

  • High Visibility Vest or Bandana (hunting season)

  • Food for ~24hr

  • Water

  • Water Bowl

  • First Aid Supplies

  • Bathroom Bags

  • Wind Directional Powder or Mist Sprayer (to check wind direction)

  • Tick Repellent or Treatment (recommended for areas we train in)

  • Winter Gear

    1. Musher's Secret Wax (recommended for fluffy/sticky)

    2. Winter Jacket (recommended if dog lacks double coat)

    3. Winter Booties (depending on dog)

  • Summer Gear

    1. Reflective Shade Cloth

    2. Fans + Extra Batteries


  • SAR Vest

    • High Visibility

  • Nighttime Visibility:

  • Glow Sticks

  • Light Vest

  • Vest/Collar Lights

  • Reflective Patches/Collar


Gear is expensive and SAR work can be rough on certain pieces. Durability and Reliability are important. We recommend borrowing gear to try it out and then gradually buying your own instead of buying it all at once. When acquiring gear, check out out Thrift Stores, REI Garage Sales, Craigslist, or Costco.

Remember, you need to carry gear for you, your dog, and the subject(s) you are searching for.

This is still in progress, for now see the Pierce County ESAR Equipment List, but note that GSSD requirements are not identical.


We have no hard requirements for first aid kit contents. You can either build your own or purchase a pre-made kit. Pre-made kits are fine, but you may need to supplement what is included and will need to gradually replace expired things yearly. The following are suggestions:


  • Dog First Aid Training Course

  • Bootie or Sock for pad injuries

  • Vet Wrap

  • Tick Remover (can stay in car)

  • Muzzle

  • Styptic Pencil


Recommended seasonal items. Regardless of season NO COTTON CLOTHING.


  • Extra Water

  • Bandana/Buff

  • Sun Hat

  • Sun Screen

  • SPF Lip Balm

  • Water filter


  • Layering System

    • Insulated Jacket

    • Fleece vest/jacket

    • Synthetic Base Layer

  • Neck Gaiter or Balaclava

  • Foot/Hand/Body Warmers

  • Vaseline or wax for face

  • Map Bag

  • Microspikes

  • Snowshoes (depending on location)