New TN Caver, still buying gear & need direction

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New TN Caver, still buying gear & need direction

Postby nashscan » Feb 8, 2013 4:26 am

Hi everyone. I did some horizontal caving back in the 90's when I was in high school. I decided after a trip to Carlsbad Caverns that I would like to get back into it. I made the decision to purchase some decent equipment to get started. I bought a Princeton Apex 200 lumens headlamp, and two LED headlamps that aren't as nice for backups. I am still in the market for helmets. I value my head, but I don't want to overspend if I don't have to. I've got some big black boots I call my waffle stompers that I think will work for caving.

My biggest area of non-expertise is clothing. I have barely enough fashion sense to dress myself for everyday life, so I am a little lost as for what to wear underground. I know cotton is not a good idea, but what about jeans? Should I get polypropylene sock liners and wear wool socks over them? What about boxers and undershirts? If walmart has decent options, I'd rather go there or a website than overspend at an outdoor retail specialty store.

What do most cavers use to carry their extra gear? I've seen videos of cavers moving neck deep in water, and I wonder what happens to their extra gear. Should I purchase some little waterproof pouches that would go inside my backpack?

Look forward to meeting y'all.
Preston from Nashville
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Re: New TN Caver, still buying gear & need direction

Postby GroundquestMSA » Feb 8, 2013 11:24 am

I'm a poor boy, and I just had a lot of success buying clothes at T.J.Maxx and Marshalls. I don't know if they exist in your area. Polyester/spandex baselayers come in different thicknesses and styles to suit different tempuratures. I got several shirts for $7, rather than the $39 - $69 they cost across the street at the sporting goods store.

I also just got another helmet at pawn shop, of all places. Such a purchase is probably highly frowned on by many cavers, so you should listen to their thoughts before you buy a used helmet. This one was a Petzl Vertex in very nice condition: $8. That's likely not going to happen often, but if you keep your eyes open and poke around a lot of "low-class" stores, you'll find good deals.
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Re: New TN Caver, still buying gear & need direction

Postby wyandottecaver » Feb 8, 2013 2:08 pm

Used helmets don't phase me, especially a vertex for $8 Sweet. Used ropes...bad. Used vertical hardware...risky but probably O.K. Used polypro from goodwill........
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Re: New TN Caver, still buying gear & need direction

Postby Caving Guru » Feb 8, 2013 3:49 pm

In general, I would say that most cavers that have gotten into caving own caving suits rather than jeans so you might want to look into getting one. One benefit to a caving suit is that it has a handy velcro chest pocket for carrying things such as a camera to take pictures with. Under the caving suit I personally wear polypropylene when I go caving which keeps me warm. For gloves I would recommend thick work or garden gloves with loose wrist openings that you can easily slip on and off so you do not have to get your hands muddy. One place I would suggest looking for cave attire is at the regional caving events. For example, the regional SERA Cave Carnival is from May 4th to 6th in Estill Fork, AL about 2 hours away from your area where there will be several vendors selling caving gear. The regional caving events are also a great opportunity to go caving. Often at regional caving events one can access a wide variety of caves that normally would be inaccessible to the public for example caves that are gated and need a key. Another great place to look for caving gear is Karst Sports online. This website specializes in caving and has just about everything you could ever need for caving. One downside though is that the website's products are not cheap.
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Re: New TN Caver, still buying gear & need direction

Postby BenS » Feb 8, 2013 4:05 pm

I think Graveleye recently suggested polypro top and bottom with tough shorts on over them. You can pick them up for $15 each new. As far as helmets go you could get a new petzl elios or a black diamond half-dome for around $60. If you want to try to find one used, look for a petzl ecrin roc or something similar with very little wear. Cavers typically carry their extra gear in a cave pack. Lost Creek, On Rope 1, Swaygo, and many other companies make these.

You really don't need a cavesuit, especially starting out, unless you have too much money laying around. I've seen someone mention wearing softball pants on this forum. As far as underwear... I personally wear underarmour compression shorts... just nothing cotton unless you want to make things very uncomfortable. For socks I bought some neoprene socks, but wool is fine too. Keep your spare batteries in a waterproof container. I'm using an otterbox 8000 for my spare batteries and other stuff I don't want to get wet. You should really invest in some sanyo eneloop batteries so you don't waste too much money on batteries every trip.

If you need links for stuff PM me and I'll send them to you.
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Re: New TN Caver, still buying gear & need direction

Postby nashscan » Feb 9, 2013 2:50 am

Thanks guys very much for responding. I happened to find my old Petzl caving helmet Circa 1996 in my parent's storage. Just saved myself $70 bucks or so. I think I will go get some polyproplene undies & socks & maybe some surplus army stuff for outer layers until I come across some nicer caving suits. Oh, and I'll be looking into that otterbox.
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Re: New TN Caver, still buying gear & need direction

Postby mgmills » Feb 13, 2013 9:36 pm

nashscan wrote:Thanks guys very much for responding. I happened to find my old Petzl caving helmet Circa 1996 in my parent's storage. Just saved myself $70 bucks or so. I think I will go get some polyproplene undies & socks & maybe some surplus army stuff for outer layers until I come across some nicer caving suits. Oh, and I'll be looking into that otterbox.


I've been away from the internet for a few days so pardon the late response. In Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia there are many caves where a cavesuit is too hot for comfort. A light weight wet suit in water and polypro with shorts over the top is about all you will need. Everybody has their own comfort level though and you may find you need more. Good luck and have fun.
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Re: New TN Caver, still buying gear & need direction

Postby UnderGroundEarth » Feb 14, 2013 11:35 am

Greg Jones wrote: For example, the regional SERA Cave Carnival is from May 4th to 6th in Estill Fork, AL about 2 hours away from your area where there will be several vendors selling caving gear.


Just a note of correction, the SERA Web Site is outdated. The 2013 SERA Summer Cave Carnivial will be hosted by the Central Alabama Grotto at CUMBERLAND CAVERNS. Dates are June 14-16.They will be making the official announcement this weekend at the SERA Winter Business Meeting (which will be inside Cumberland Caverns).
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Re: New TN Caver, still buying gear & need direction

Postby nashscan » Feb 16, 2013 4:58 am

I just got my three headlights in the mail. The Princeton Apex is nice and bright. Didn't come with any clips for my helmet. I assume the helmets come with the clips, not the lights. The little Petzl headlight LED will be fine as a backup. I also ordered some POS LED headlight from China or Japan that I'm sure would be adequate if I was about to die and wanted some light to arrange my bones in a proper burial fashion. I still haven't bought any poly propelnothing. I really don't want to spend 20 bucks on some boxers.
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