What to Bring on a Caving Trip

If you want to go on one of our caving trips here’s what you need:

Equipment and Supplies

  • two working flashlights or headlamps of your own (that is, two spares in addition to the light on your helmet.)
  • batteries for your main light and your backup lights, plus one set of spare batteries (The MIT Caving Club lamps take 4 AA’s.)
  • at least one liter of water
  • snack food: about 1 qt., in a waterproof container. Food that can be eaten without leaving crumbs around is preferable.
  • trash bag or plastic bin to transport your muddy cave clothes home
  • a pocket knife (preferably lock-blade) if you have one, just because pocket knives are hard-core
  • two working flashlights or headlamps of your own
  • empty Ziploc freezer bag for spent carbide if you plan to use a carbide lamp
  • optional: a skanky nalgene to pee into, in case you need to do so in the cave

Equipment and Supplies Provided by the Caving Club

  • caving helmet
  • electric headlamp
  • optional: carbide headlamp
  • conveniently shaped caving backpack
  • webbing in case we need it as a handline, or for emergencies
  • mylar emergency blanket;
  • for vertical trips: frog ascending system

Cave Clothing

  • long underwear, preferably polypropylene or something else that isn’t cotton
  • shirt & pants, preferably wool or synthetic
  • wool or synthetic sweater
  • socks, preferably 1 pair of polypropylene or other synthetic fiber and 1 pair of wool
  • other outer layer (both top and bottom) that you don’t care about (this layer _may_ be cotton, but synthetics are better for the cave.)
  • caving shoes, preferably old hiking boots, preferably without hooks for the laces
  • gloves: optional. can get in the way but can keep your hands warm and cut-free
  • knee pads: optional, can get in the way but can make you more comfortable)

Notes on fabrics:

  • Cotton will not keep you warm.
  • Synthetic fabrics are better for the cave than natural fabrics, because stray synthetic threads will not affect the cave ecosystem. In theory, stray bits of natural fiber could imbalance the cave.
  • Fleece gets heavy to carry when it is wet, but it does keep you warm.

Non-Cave Clothing

  • towel
  • change of clothes for afterward
  • dry pair of shoes or sandals


  • If you have leather boots and want to use your boots more than five or six more times, we recommend rubbing into them saddle-soap, mink oil, or both, after they dry out after caving.
  • Don’t forget to dress warmly and bring two extra sources of light.

Caves are wet, cold and dark.

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