- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 25, 2002

Other than an interest in adventure, some basic equipment is required for caving. Caving schools supply helmets, headlamps and flashlights as part of the fee. You should wear a pair of boots (preferably waterproof) or sneakers with good traction. Avoid stiff boots that won't flex through tight passages. Also wear hiking socks that wick away moisture. Since you'll end up covered in mud, wear noncotton clothes that don't absorb water and that you may never be able to get clean again cheap polyester or poly blend coveralls are best.
Beneath your clothes wear a layer of noncotton, light- or midweight, wicking long underwear to keep you warm and relatively dry. Even though cave temperatures range from 52 to 55 degrees and are damp and wet, cavers remain comfortable because of the absence of wind and the heat generated from physical exertion. In addition, bring along a pair of gloves (leather work gloves will do) and perhaps a pair of kneepads.
To keep your energy up, pack a light lunch or some energy bars and something to drink in a canteen or water bottle but be careful not to eat or drink too much either before or while caving. Everything that goes into a cave must come out of a cave. Unless you're an experienced caver, you don't want to carry out any human byproducts. Since most beginning wild cave tours only last three to four hours, this shouldn't be a problem.
Matthew Graham


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