Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

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Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby BrianFrank » Oct 29, 2012 11:47 am

Cavers should always carry 3 lights, one main and two backups....everyone understands that as a basic safety standard.

COUPLE QUESTIONS....Is it incorrect to have all 3 of those lights on the helmet? Or should one or two of those be in your pack or attached to you in some manner? Has anyone actually lost their helmet in a cave?

Love to hear your comments.

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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby graveleye » Oct 29, 2012 12:29 pm

I've kept a maglite on the side of my helmet for many years now, as a backup to my main light. Last week I took it off and am going to just have one light on my helmet and keep the others in my pack.

For one, my helmet was always lopsided on my head, and for two, I never used it. For three, in a tight squeeze or awkward position, the maglite was snagged and got in the way a few times.

I'm just keeping one light on my helmet from here on.
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby Scott McCrea » Oct 29, 2012 12:33 pm

I have seen helmets lost in cave twice. Both times we got them back, but it took a good bit of work. One we had to dig thru some breakdown to get it. One we had to chimney to the bottom of a tight, slot canyon. I believe there should always be two sources of light on a helmet. My second is in the front, under my main. Three is fine, but over kill, I think. My third is in my pack. I can safely travel thru a cave with any of them. And, the all use the same size batteries.

Also, I can't stand having lights on the side of my helmet. I always get them caught on stuff.
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby BrianFrank » Oct 29, 2012 12:49 pm

Scott McCrea wrote:I have seen helmets lost in cave twice. Both times we got them back, but it took a good bit of work. One we had to dig thru some breakdown to get it. One we had to chimney to the bottom of a tight, slot canyon. I believe there should always be two sources of light on a helmet. My second is in the front, under my main. Three is fine, but over kill, I think. My third is in my pack. I can safely travel thru a cave with any of them. And, the all use the same size batteries.
Also, I can't stand having lights on the side of my helmet. I always get them caught on stuff.


I like the idea of having all your lights use the same type batteries. I'm always carrying AA and AAA's for my lights.
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby NZcaver » Oct 29, 2012 3:05 pm

I wouldn't say it's bad practice... but perhaps having one light in a pack or pocket in addition to helmet-mounted lights would help to cover all bases. I've never been on a trip where somebody has lost a helmet, but they do get removed sometimes in tight crawlways etc so it could happen.

I usually carry a primary and secondary mounted to my helmet, and a third and spare batteries in my pack. Like Scott I also choose lights which all use the same batteries (AA), and I dislike having flashlights or other protrusions mounted to the side of my helmet.
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby wyandottecaver » Oct 29, 2012 4:27 pm

I also have 2 on helmet and 1-2 in a pack. 2 on helmet means if 1 fails I am not fumbling in the dark..especially on rope.

I have lost my own helmet temporaily twice. One time negotiating a tight canyon where it fell just out of reach. fortunately I had a orangutan-armed companion who could reach it. The other time I had removed the helmet to shine the light in a partially air-filled lead at water level when the current snatched it and I had to chase it downstream a bit to the laughter of my companions.

*edit* notice that in both cases I could have exited on the light/s in my pack but there is a reason caving alone is a bad idea :tonguecheek:
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby GroundquestMSA » Oct 29, 2012 4:41 pm

I normally use only two lights. I don't carry a pack, so there's no good place for a third light anyway. Where I put my lights depends on the cave and the company. When I'm in a big walking cave I keep them both on the helmet. If there are squeezes I keep one on the helmet and one aound my neck under my clothes. I can then take my helmet off and use that light while squeezing. If I'm surveying, I don't bring my helmet at all and I keep one light around my neck or in my pocket. The same applies to most of my solo caving or local trips with my brother. Helmets cause more problems than they're worth if you are caving in Ohio.
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby VRcaver » Oct 29, 2012 4:42 pm

I have caved for a long time with only one light on my helmet and the spares in my pack or pockets. I never felt the need to have extras on my helmet and figured they would get in my way or were not worth the weight.

I have been the one to recover someone else's dropped helmet and light a number of years ago and it was in one of the most difficult places to access that I have ever tried to get to. The helmet was removed to fit through a squeeze then dropped down a tight hole, landing about 25 feet away and going out. The battery case had popped open and I was only able to reach 3/4 of the batteries. The squeeze and climb recovery took more than 30 minutes.

For another consideration on carrying your spares, last summer I saw a number of the Croatians using just one light on their helmet and a backup headlamp hanging around their neck by the elastic headband. They felt this would be better if you were on rope and a rock hit your helmet damaging the lights attached there. The light around your neck was easily accessible to quickly replace the ones now broken on your helmet. I have no idea whether this has ever happened, but I have tried caving with a headlamp around my neck and it works well, assuming you are wearing a cave suit with a collar to cut down on chafing. And my neck has never been the tight spot for me on a squeeze! :grin:
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby GroundquestMSA » Oct 29, 2012 4:47 pm

VRcaver wrote:The light around your neck was easily accessible to quickly replace the ones now broken on your helmet. I have no idea whether this has ever happened, but I have tried caving with a headlamp around my neck and it works well, assuming you are wearing a cave suit with a collar to cut down on chafing. And my neck has never been the tight spot for me on a squeeze!


Exactly.
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby Anonymous_Coward » Oct 29, 2012 5:46 pm

YES.
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby nathanroser » Oct 29, 2012 10:35 pm

I usually have two on the helmet and one around my neck. Though does anyone here know if the extra heat give off by a carbide lamp bottom from the water-CaC reaction is enough to damage a light to the point of non-functionality?

For the record I usually slather myself in bioluminescent bacteria so I actually carry trillions of light sources on me.
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby NZcaver » Oct 30, 2012 12:09 am

GroundquestMSA wrote:If I'm surveying, I don't bring my helmet at all and I keep one light around my neck or in my pocket. The same applies to most of my solo caving or local trips with my brother. Helmets cause more problems than they're worth if you are caving in Ohio.

No rock to smack your head against in Ohio caves?
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby kevinm » Oct 30, 2012 1:46 am

I second the 2-on-the-helmet, 1-on-the-neck plan. If you are on rope and your light goes out (dead batteries, hit by a rock, cable damage, etc), the one in you pack might cause you some hardship and might kill the guy below you when you drop stuff getting the spare in the dark. The second on your helmet prevents that. I've also bumped the switch in a really tight crawl and turned my light off when my arms were pinned. Not a happy moment. If you have a second on your helmet (and turned on) in the tight crawl, it's a bit less likely.

I've been through some stuff that was helmet off tight. In one of those, my helmet slid into a hole, and I was head down with no helmet in the dark. The light on my neck made it pretty easy to find the helmet. A light on your neck might bruise your sternum in a tight crawl (well...did), but I think it's worth it. A neck light makes changing batteries in your helmet and surveying much easier, too.
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby GroundquestMSA » Oct 30, 2012 6:15 am

NZcaver wrote:
GroundquestMSA wrote:If I'm surveying, I don't bring my helmet at all and I keep one light around my neck or in my pocket. The same applies to most of my solo caving or local trips with my brother. Helmets cause more problems than they're worth if you are caving in Ohio.

No rock to smack your head against in Ohio caves?


I'm really not trying to be subversive, I just don't feel that helmets need to protect us from bumping our heads. It isn't that hard to watch where you are going. I wear one when on rope, or when in the company of those who would be otherwise irritated. Ohio caves are indeed made of rocks. They are also mostly crawls. Helmets are a pain in crawls, and how much damage can I do to my own head while crawling? Even if I did have the tendency to whack my head on the rocks, I'd rather have some bumps and scrapes and gashes than always have to mess with a helmet.
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Re: Bad practice to have all 3 lights on helmet?

Postby Scott McCrea » Oct 30, 2012 6:44 am

GroundquestMSA wrote:Even if I did have the tendency to whack my head on the rocks, I'd rather have some bumps and scrapes and gashes than always have to mess with a helmet.

You should laminate this quote on a card that you can hand to the rescuer that hauls you out.
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