Required Equipment List:
Your selection of caving equipment is your responsibility and is a very personal decision. It is recommended that you seek further information and instruction prior to caving (see the below links for more information.) This list is generally considered to be the minimum requirements for safe caving, and cavers will not be permitted on grotto trips without this equipment.
– Helmet – UIAA or CE approved mountaineering style helmet with a three or four point suspension, and a non-elastic chinstrap. (Members can borrow a helmet from the grotto.)
– Head lamp – Extra batteries or carbide. (Members can borrow a headlamp from the Grotto, but bring your own fresh, new batteries.)
– Two backup light sources – Small headlamps work well. Bring extra batteries. All together, you should have THREE sources of light bright enought to exit the cave and TWO of the light sources need to be helmet mounted.
– Old rugged clothing – Sturdy synthetic clothing is strongly recommended for warmth when wet. Synthetic coveralls are preferred by many cavers as they don’t come untucked. Check with your trip leader regarding cave conditions so you can choose suitable clothing. Consider the outside conditions – will you be hiking 2 miles in 10 degree weather? Will you be scrambling up long hills in 95 degree weather?
– Thermal layering underwear – Synthetic or wool underlayers, fleece for cold caves or if you get cold easily. NO COTTON – it provides no warmth if you get wet, and wet cotton makes you very vulnerable to hypothermia – the saying is that “cotton kills!” Bring an extra synthetic or wool top – fleece perhaps – in case the trip is colder then you anticipated.
– Warm hat –One that fits under your helmet.
– Synthetic warm socks
– Sturdy boots – good fitting hiking boots with good treads are very suitable. Sturdy boots help prevent ankle sprains and good treads give you more secure footing. Boots are likely to get very wet and will wear quickly – many cavers use work boots from discount stores.
– Sturdy work gloves – leather work gloves are usually sufficient. Bring synthetic (polypro) glove liners if you get cold hands. Some people prefer rubberized work or neoprene divers gloves for wet caves.
– Small sturdy back pack
– Water – 2 liters of water or more.
– Food – High energy/non crushable snacks, energy bars, granola, trail mix. Bring extra in case the trip runs longer then planned.
– Plastic garbage bag – Can be used as a heat tent for an in-cave emergency, and holds your wet dirty caving gear after the trip.
– Change of clothes – Clean clothes to change into after the trip
– Small First Aid Kit – Be able to manage blisters, headaches, loose bowels, small cuts, dirt in your contact lenses, etc. Coordinate with your trip leader to ensure that the group has the resources necessary to handle larger problems.
– Group first aid kit (one needed per group) – be able to manage sprains, lacerations, simple fractures, etc. Tailor this kit to the trip – 5 experienced cavers camping in a cave for 3 days have different needs then a 1 hour trip with 20 boy scouts. Keep it small so you take it into the cave. The grotto has a kit for trip leaders to borrow.
– Knee and Elbow pads – highly recommended!
– 1″ climbers webbing – 30 feet or so – many possible uses in-cave
– Cave map and compass
– Watch (kept in a container inside your pack)
– Balaclava – these really keep you warm!
– Large first aid kit. A large kit in your car or by the cave entrance to handle more serious incidents. Send two experienced cavers out to call for help and to bring needed supplies to the incident scene.
DO NOT bring anything into a cave that you do not wish to get wet or mud covered. Cave mud is very difficult to remove and will not wash completely out of most fabrics. DO bring a garbage bag to hold your dirty caving clothes in for the ride home.
- Download the NSS “Guide to Responsible Caving” from the NSS Brochures Page.
- More information on safe caving from the NSS Safety Page
- For more information on techniques and equipment, read the NSS Techniques Page