Caving kit requirements are a bit different to standing camps! Here is all the information on the kit you are likely to need- please read all the notes as well.
On cave camp we stay in a ‘hut’, which is a building with shared bunkrooms, a kitchen, toilets/showers/changing facilities and outdoor space for campfires. Depending on the location, we may all sleep indoors on bunks or some campers may need to bring a tent- the pre-camp circular will let you know.
All technical equipment such as helmets, belts and lights are supplied by FSC. We also have spare boiler suits and oversuits in various sizes, but campers may prefer to bring their own if they have one (see notes below).
If there is any part of the packing list which gives cause for anxiety or you have trouble procuring, please let us know on the Camper Information Form (or via the organiser if you need something caving-specific and can’t find it on the form)- FSC is able to loan out spares for the most essential bits of kit.
For going underground:
IMPORTANT: Everything you take underground is likely to come out a bit muddy, so please don’t take anything which you mind coming back a different colour!
- Caving Wellies (see note 1)
- Boiler Suit or old waterproofs (see note 2)
- At least two sets of caving clothes (see note 3) to wear under your boiler suit or oversuit- this might be:
- Thermal Underwear (or woolly tights)
- Fleeces or Woolly Jumpers
- Fleecy trousers or leggings/jogging bottoms that ARE NOT made of cotton.
- Socks for caving (long ones are good for not slipping down inside wellies)
- Warm hat that will fit in a pocket or under a caving hat(see note 4)
- Tupperware box for taking lunch with you
- Optional: Thermos for hot drinks
- Inside shoes (eg Crocs or sliders) or slippers
- Comfy clothes for the hut
- Extra socks and underwear as the socks and pants you wear down caves will likely get wet and muddy
- Sleeping bag(see note 5)
- Wash kit including toothbrush and toothpaste and things for showering with.
- Towel (or 2! One for drying off after caving and a clean one for after your shower)
- One set of outdoor clothes for going on walks/any evening activities
- Warm hat (separate to your warm hat for caving) and gloves
- Two warm jumpers
- Waterproofs – Sturdy waterproof top and trousers suitable for walking for long periods in the rain.
- Walking boots
- Rucksack suitable for a day walk
- Torch for nighttime activities
- Hot water bottle
- Hand cream (the caving mud will make them dry!)
- Sleeping mask/earplugs
- Books, instruments, knitting, songbooks etc for hut based entertainment (see note 6)
Note 1: Wellies
Wellies are essential, reasonably well fitting with good tread. Cheaper types made of rougher material grip the cave mud better! You cannot cave in walking boots with lace hooks which could get caught in a caving ladder.
Note 2: Boilersuit
We have spares in a selection of sizes, but if you have one already you may like to bring it, as we don’t always have a perfect fit for everyone (particularly if you’re very large or very tall). A good boiler suit for caving should be made of tough fabric, you should be able to bend and stretch in it without it feeling tight, and you should be happy for it to come back mud-coloured and potentially with holes in! An alternative is an old waterproof jacket and trousers which you don’t mind getting trashed. Oversuits are specialist caving gear, good for wet caves, but very expensive- so we don’t recommend buying your own unless yo get seriously into caving! We have plenty to loan out.
Note 3: Good caving clothes
A selection of thick and thin clothing made largely of manmade fleecy materials. Wool and silk are OK too! These dry quickly and tend to keep you warm even when they’re damp, unlike cotton which just becomes heavy and sucks away your body heat. Charity shops are the best source for fleeces that you are going to take caving. Fleece trousers (often sold as pyjama bottoms) are great too if you have them. Thermal tops, long johns and woolly tights are also good. Tracksuit bottoms and leggings are usually OK too if not made of cotton. Terrible caving clothes are JEANS and cotton HOODIES. Putting on wet clothes is miserable so bring at least two sets of good caving clothes.
Note 4: Caving hat
A woolly or fleece hat or best of all balaclava. This is to take underground as an emergency warming item, so needs to be able to fit under a caving hat, but also slip into a pocket- so no chunky hats with big bobbles!
Note 5: Sleeping bag
The caving hut bunks have mats on them but no other bedding, so everyone needs to bring a sleeping bag. If you are bringing a tent, you will also need a sleeping mat.
Note 6: Hut based entertainment
We tend to have quite a lot of free time around the hut, after caving but before supper, for example (as trip times vary), so please bring along books, cards, games, musical instruments, knitting, song books or any other equipment which helps pass time pleasantly! As with all other FSC camps we emphasise leaving technology behind to focus on our community so any diversions you bring should be analogue– no mobile phones, gaming devices etc. E-readers such as Kindles are OK as long as they don’t have any other apps or a mobile internet connection.