Once a month we ask one of our members, What is in your cave pack? The idea is to help those just starting out to better prepare for your first trip underground and to present some tips, tricks, tools, gear, or whatever that our members use to help make the trip underground safer, more comfortable, and enjoyable! This month comes from Nashville Grotto member, Chris Durai.
- NSS #: 69930
- Years caving: Hard to say. Going strong the past 2 years. Caught the bug at Mammoth when I was 10.
- Why do you cave? I love project caving, mapping, learning about the history of a place, how it interacts with the overall environment, but I also just love being underground. If you're even reading this, you know what I'm talking about.
What's in Your Cave Pack?
- Swaygo Pit Pack. (I wish I had gotten the larger Sink pack.) I refitted the chintzy carabiners that it ships with with actual load bearing 22KN rated biners.
- A garbage bag always lives in my pack. It can keep you warm, save your life and takes up no space at all.
- Extra batteries for every light I carry and an extra Zebra Light (the H604c -not the one pictured here) in a Pelican 1010 case. (I may rethink the case because it's a bit bulky)
- Hot Hands. Takes up very little space.
- Folded over SamSplint. Foam coated lightweight aluminum. I actually only use this for long caves. In a short cave, you'll usually have access to tree branches that could be used as a splint.
- 1" webbing. Some amount. Makes hand lines. Depending on the cave I'll use it as a shoulder strap to clip my water bottle to. Or I'll have a 30 foot lobster-tail of it taking up all the space in the bottom of my pack. Plan accordingly.
- Nuts & Seeds Cliff Bar. The only one I like. Also I'll usually take a little baggie of pecans, baby carrots and pitted dates. If it's a long trip I'll try to pack one chocolate coated caramel for each member of the trip. It's a real morale booster.
- First Aid / Repair Kit. (I basically copied this from Derek Bristol. You can see a whole video about it on his site.)
- At least 1 pair of Atlas 300 gloves An extra pair for long wet trips.
- Nalgene Water bottle with appropriate climbing or caving stickers on it.
On my person I wear:
- Synthetic fiber pants. I got all fancy with some Triple Aught Design pants, but you can get your entire caving outfit at the thrift store for cheap. I've heard of guys who cave in polyester dress pants. Cotton can make you soggy, cold and miserable. All the cool kids have proper full body "caving suits." I'll probably be looking into investing in that soon, but you totally don't NEED it.
- Synthetic fiber shorts. To protect the seat of my overpriced tacti-cool pants.
- Synthetic fiber T Shirt over long shirt.
- Wool socks with wool liners.
- Neck gaiter if I get cold.
- Cotton bandana to soak up sweat under my helmet.
- Petzl Alveo Vent helmet. I wish it was less bulky but it's comfortable. It's fitted with a Manley 20 light (this is overkill for most folks) and a ZebraLight H600c MK IV secondary. This particular Zebralight is a spotlight and has a very impressive throw. It makes me popular in large rooms. (A great light setup would be the two Zebralights mentioned here, used in tandem on a helmet, one for spot, one for flood.)
- Dirty Dave's long knee pads.
- Honeywell Servus non-steel toed boots.
- Cellphone. I'm a risk taker so I carry my iPhone 11 Pro. Great low light pictures and all my TCS data and downloaded maps!