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Basic Equipment List

The following is a copy of the list of equipment we expect participants to have before they go on an educational cave trip sponsored and led by RASS. We require each person to have all the items on this list. Every caver, novice or experienced, should carry at least this list of equipment on every trip they take. Of course, it should be modified to suit your particular lighting source needs (carbide, odd-sized lamps, etc.), but the basics stay the same.

DISCLAIMER: This list is not intended to substitute for proper training in caving techniques. Caving can be a dangerous sport if accepted safety rules and procedures are not followed. Always seek complete training from a competent source before heading underground on a caving trip.

for Novice and Educational Trips

Note: RASS provides UIAA-approved helmets and a helmet-mounted lighting system. These items are considered essential for safe caving. Any helmet should be an UIAA- or CE-approved climbing style helmet, with a four-point chinstrap. The suspension system should be in good condition, there should be no cracks or deep scratches, and the straps should adjust so that the helmet fits snugly on the head. The lighting system can be electric or carbide, and it should be checked to be sure it works properly before heading underground. Each participant should have a working knowledge of how their lighting system works, and should be able to affect minor repairs underground.

In order for you to have a safe and enjoyable trip, there is certain basic equipment that you must have with you on this adventure. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask the person conducting your orientation.

1. BATTERIES: You will need eight (8) NEW alkaline batteries for the helmet/head lamp you will be supplied (your leader will tell you whether you need "D" or "C" or "AA" cells). Eveready Energizers, Ray-O-Vac Alkalines, or Duracell Coppertops are suitable. This is an absolute requirement, even if you read no further and show up in your birthday suit! (This applies to RASS-supplied helmets and lighting systems.)

2. CLOTHING: Wear layers. Caves are cool (55) and damp (90-100% relative humidity). Long underwear, or sweat pants under sturdy trousers such as jeans are good. Wear a sweatshirt or flannel shirt to keep warm. An old pair of coveralls is ideal to wear over other layers for warmth and to keep your inner layers a little cleaner. Caving is a dirty sport, and the dirt may not wash completely out of your clothes.

3. FOOTWEAR: Ankle support and traction are important. Hiking or work boots are preferable. High-top tennis shoes (fully laced and tied) are o.k. Regular tennis shoes are barely acceptable, but should not be worn if you are prone to twisted ankles. Wear a pair of wool socks. They will keep your feet warm even if they get wet (which is likely). A pair of polypro, Thermax, or other synthetic liner socks are good to wear under the wool, but are not absolutely necessary.

4. Other clothing ACCOUTERMENTS: Gloves are a necessity. Standard cotton work gloves (about $1/pair at a discount store) are perfectly adequate. Knee pads will make your trip much more enjoyable. Most caves do not have long passages of walking passage. Elbow pads are also nice, though not really essential. A bandanna will help keep mud out of your hair and sweat out of your eyes.

5. A small fanny or day PACK will be needed to carry the following items:

  • a. Small. leakproof container of water. Up to a quart in size unless you're really a guzzler. Nalgene containers are best, and aluminum works well, too. NO GLASS OR CANS of soda!
  • b. Crushproof container of snacks. GORP, or trail mix (raisins, peanuts, M&M's, dried fruits, etc.) is a good choice. So are slices of hard cheese and summer sausage or beef jerky. Granola bars are another good choice. Candy is o.k. for a quick pick-me-up, but will not sustain you for very long.
  • c. Small flashlight with NEW batteries and a WORKING bulb for a spare light source. Minimags or their equivalent are good.

  • d. Large garbage bag. You can cover up with it if you get cold, then put your dirty caving clothes in it after you get out of the cave. It can also be used to carry trash that we'll invariably find in the cave.
  • e. Lighter, Bic, 1 each.
  • f. Whistle, in case you get separated from the group. DON'T GET SEPARATED FROM THE GROUP, but bring the whistle, anyway.
  • g. Small camera, if you wish. Pack it in a zip-loc bag. Plan on wiping the lens before you shoot (it will fog up), and stay within six feet of your subject (the flash won't be effective at longer distances).

6. Generally, unless told otherwise, it's nice to have a bag lunch to eat before heading underground.

7. A complete change of clothes to change into after exiting the cave. Bring a towel, too. (Ladies take note: you may wish to wear a bathing suit as the layer closest to your skin in order to preserve modesty while changing on the side of a road). Include underwear, socks and shoes. These will be left in the vehicles you travel in.

8. If you are planning to stop for dinner, (cavers know all the best places to eat in the middle of nowhere), bring money for dinner.

Here are some Basic Caving Techniques...
Back to Cave Exploring by Youth Groups...

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