Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Personal Caving Equipment – Cave Exploring Elective for the Ranger Award – Cave Pack

One of the elements for the Caving Elective requires you to know what equipment you will need for caving.

There are some very basic pieces of equipment that every caver should have when entering a cave. This is equipment that must be in good working condition and every one must have their own without sharing. Each issue will discuss one or two items in more detail so you get an idea of why each item is important and where to find what you need cheap. I’ll later go into optional equipment that is a very good idea to have and WNS decontamination procedures for those who face that challenge.

Here’s you basic list:
Helmet
Helmet Mounted Light Source
Two sets of fresh batteries
Two additional Light Sources
Sturdy Boots
Sturdy Work Gloves
Old rugged Clothing
Thermal Layering Underwear
Synthetic Socks
Small pack w/
Water
Food
Small First Aid Kit
Whistle
Plastic Trash Bags

and
Change of Clothing


Cave Pack

If you’re going for an easy 2-hour caving trip you really don’t need much. But you never really know what can happen. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of when you put on your helmet that your cave pack is not far behind. But what do you really need to take with you?

Your cave pack does not have to be very big. Just the size to carry only what you need is the best bet. You will be carrying it with you through some tight passages. It will not always be on your back. It may be easier from time to time to move it to your side or front. There will be time when it’s easier to take if off and push it ahead of you and just carry it in your have.
Water is very important with any strenuous activity. As you breathe heavier, water vapor will be lost through the lungs. You will sweet more and lose water through your skin. You should keep yourself hydrated enough to avoid dehydration even though while caving you may want to avoid having to urinate often. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dehydration#Avoiding_dehydration One or two liters should be enough for a few hours of cave exploration.
Strenuous caving will burn off about 400 to 500 calories an hour depending on what you are doing. Food and nutrition are very important. As you burn off calories you should slowly replace them. If you don’t you’ll find yourself slowing down physically and mentally. With insufficient calories you may also find your body will have difficulty keeping warm. High-energy foods (Power bars, Cliff Bars, etc) are important to keeping your physical and mental performance up to a safe level.
A small personal first aid kit is important to have. Not just for major accidents, but for minor scrapes and cuts. In addition to a few Band-Aids, disinfectant wipes, and such, some people like to carry some minor over the counter medications to treat diarrhea and upset stomach. A personal first aid kit is a good place to store an epi-pen, rescue inhaler, or other personal medication you may need while in, entering, or exiting a cave.
A whistle can be used in the event you have a problem and need to attract attention. Three blasts on a whistle in an international signal for help.
A plastic trash bag is one of those items that has multiple uses while caving. Yes, it can be used for hauling trash out of a cave and it’s surroundings. It can also be use as a vapor block. If you wrap the bag around you it will help hold heat close to your body if your unexpectedly delayed in the cave for any reason. It is also a good place to store all your dirty cave cloths and equipment once you’re done and changing into clean cloths.
You cave pack is an ideal place to store your extra batteries and extra sources of light. Some cavers carry other emergency items like hand warmers, emergency kits, webbing, and carbines. While you will probably have to take your cave pack off to fit through some tight passages, it’s a good idea to not leave it behind anywhere thinking you’ll pick it up on your way back unless you are positive you will be needing anything from your pack at all.

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