There are over 17,00 caves and caverns in the US, just waiting to be explored! The subterranean world of caves is unlike anywhere else, making the thrill of caving a popular hobby for many people. However, caves aren’t without risk, so you always need to wear the appropriate caving gear to stay safe.
This will protect you from hypothermia, injury, and accidents, which can happen if you’re not prepared. If you’re new to caving and ready to get started, keep reading to learn more about what to bring.
To stay safe and warm, clothing is some of the most essential safety gear. You’ll need to dress for the conditions, so your clothing requirements may vary, based on the climate, the type of cave you’ll be exploring, and whether or not you’ll need to traverse through the water.
However, as a general starting point, here are some of the most common clothing gear.
Think of an undersuit as your base layer, designed to keep you snug and warm while exploring. An undersuit is often made of fleece or wool, which will keep you dry.
Or, they can often be made of synthetic materials, designed to wick away sweat or moisture from the body.
You’ll put the oversuit on top of your undersuit. This is generally a one-piece item of clothing, like a jumpsuit, that will cover your arms, legs, and torso.
It’s made from a durable and abrasive-proof material, so it won’t rip or get caught on anything sharp while you’re moving through the cave. A bright-colored oversuit is a good idea, as it will make you more visible to your fellow cave explorers.
If you’ll have to get wet in the cave or walk through deep water, a wetsuit is useful, as it will keep you warmer. However, if you’re only going to be in or near water briefly, your normal cave clothing should be sufficient.
Waterproof gloves, with a solid grip, are another important part of your caving equipment. They’ll not only keep you warm but will protect your hands and fingers from cuts and scratches as you move through the cave.
Closed-toe footwear is mandatory when caving. You’ll want durable, waterproof boots with a grippy sole so that you’re less likely to fall or slip.
Pair them with wool socks for extra warmth. Or, if you plan on getting wet, neoprene socks can be a better option.
Never enter a cave without a helmet. Even in caves that you trust to be safe, falling rocks can occur at any time, putting your safety at risk.
Caves can also be slippery and uneven, making falls common. A helmet will also protect your head if you slip and fall in the cave.
Make sure the helmet is secure and tight on your head so that it will stay in place if you fall. However, you also don’t want it to be too tight, as it can become uncomfortable.
A specialty shop should be able to help you measure your head and find the right-sized helmet.
Once you enter a cave, sunlight quickly vanishes–leaving you in pitch-black darkness. This is why cavers need a headlamp to light the way as they explore.
The best headlamp for caving should be secure, bright, and comfortable to wear–most will attach to your helmet.
It’s smart to bring along a spare headlamp too, in case yours stop working, plus a handheld flashlight. Your flashlight can attach to a waist belt so that it’s always convenient to access.
Serious cave explorers will probably use harnesses and ropes, as this makes it safer and easier to travel through the cave. You’ll want to use harnesses specifically built for caving, as regular climbing equipment isn’t designed for this purpose.
For vertical caves, a harness can often be the only way to enter and exit a vertical cave, so it does help you explore more of a cave.
Make sure you and your caving partners know how to use the equipment inside and out and never try to travel through a cave that’s beyond your ability level—it can result in serious injury.
A backpack, or dry bag, if you’re going to be in the water, is needed to carry any accessories, your phone, drinking water, and snacks. Of course, you want to carry as little as you can, to avoid adding weight to your bag.
You might want to include some basic first-aid supplies too, as accidents can happen anytime. Remember that whatever you take into the cave with you will also need to be taken out—leave no trace and keep the caves pristine for future explorers.
With This Caving Gear, You Can Safely Start Exploring Caves
Safety should always be your number one priority when caving, so always wear the caving gear mentioned above when entering a cave. That way, you’ll avoid injury and stay safe.
It might seem like purchasing all of the equipment above can be expensive, but the good news is that you can also rent some of your gear. This can be more cost-effective, especially if you’re just starting out and aren’t sure how often you’ll be caving.
Once you come to love the hobby, which we’re sure you will, you can then invest in your own gear. Get started today and enjoy the wonderful world of caving!
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