Clothing and Equipment Checklist


  • A pair of gloves (Leather or heavy gardening gloves OK for starters).
  • Hiking boots with good traction soles & high tops (ankle support) suggested.
  • Sturdy clothes that allow full freedom of motion, and can get torn or dirty. Dress in layers in case of temperature changes. If the cave will be cold and wet, wear wool or polypro type underwear.
  • Helmet with mounted light and chin strap, preferably climbing type.
  • Two extra sources of light (Small flashlights are fine). They should be easily accessible on you body,and small enough to hold in your mouth.
  • Extra batteries for all your lamps.
  • Water: Bring at least one quart in an unbreakable container.
  • Caving food: High energy/low bulk snacks (Power Bars, Payday candy bars, raisins, jerky, etc.)
  • A good tough day pack or large fanny pack (Army surplus pack is good). This will usually get beat up in the cave.
  • Extra set of clothing for after caving!


  • Coveralls…. These catch less on walls and don’t separate in squeezes. Sewing the back pockets closed keeps them from catching on rocks.
  • Wristwatch (Use a cheap one … They take a lot of abuse!).
  • Lunch: (Bring something that will be edible after being smashed).
  • Knee pads: Soft knee pads work best.
  • Elbow pads: Same reason as kneepads,but not as essential.
  • Trash bags: For dirty clothes; to use as an emergency raincoat or shelter; to haul out garbage.
  • Pocket knife.
  • For long trips: Urine bottle, toilet paper, and baggies for solid waste.
  • 50 feet of handline or webbing.
  • Money for after caving dinner!

Basic vertical gear components

  • All ropes are static unless otherwise mentioned.
  • A caving waist harness with a low attachment point (this is a must for a frog system).
  • “D” shape steel mallion to attach everything to your harness.
  • Petzl Croll ascender on the mallion is the lower ascender
  • Chest harness to hold the prior mentioned ascender up and close to the body for efficient ascending.

    (There are many options here, see “On Rope”.)

  • A handled ascender with foot-loop(s) and a safety tether from the ascender to the mallion.
  • Quick-attachment safety (QAS) made up of a handled ascender and a short line with a prussik, or a cow’s tail (short length of dynamic rope with
  • carabiner at both ends) with ascender for passing lips, knots and hooking into safety lines when approaching a drop.  It also serves as a backup if another ascender fails.
  • For descending: Either a Petrel stop, mini-rack, regular rack, or even a figure 8 (least preferred).
  • A short tether to hang your pack below you in tight vertical work.
  • Enough carabiners to connect/disconnect things while on rope. (A spare or two for forgetful friends, or rigging is helpful.)

This is a short list. Please see “On Rope” or your nearest vertical trip leader for much more in-depth discussion of your needs and safety while doing vertical work.