Every now and then, 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 grotto member, Corey Ellis.
- NSS #: 70277
- Years caving: 3 years
- Why do you cave? The pursuit of exploration, for sport, community, and most of all for fun.
- How did you get into caving? I moved to Tennessee in 2016 and became very interested in hiking and exploring. I happened across a few caves on my own doing research but didn’t get very far until joining the Nashville Grotto in 2019. I haven’t looked back since.
What's in Your Cave Pack?
- Preferred light sources: I use two zebralights: one spotlight (H600c) and one floodlight (H604c). I mount them both to a single elastic band and use two zipties to keep them from sliding apart. I prefer the “c” models which have more of an orange tint to them (4000K, high CRI) which I think makes for better pictures. I have experienced some flicker with my zebralights and the button-top 18650 batteries seem to fix this issue. Be sure to keep your batteries clean and dry by storing them in a case!
- Favorite Helmet: I have only ever used one, a Petzl Boreo
- The snack/food situation: Currently I am back on a keto/zero carb diet, so it’s pretty much beef sticks and sausage patties from Mcdonalds.
- How you handle water: I generally try to consume at minimum 1 liter of water prior to entering the cave to avoid having to carry as much inside. For an 8-hour trip, packing 1 liter is usually sufficient. For longer trips, I carry a 60oz bottle. I wrap duct tape around the water bottle in case it might come in handy. Most of the time I will carry a sawyer squeeze water filter as well. If space permits, it is helpful to have some kind of cup to fill up the filter bag as it can be difficult to fill up the bag effectively if filtering from a shallow stream.
- Your preferred pack: I use a Landjoff Speleo 33L Heavy. This pack offers plenty of room for bigger project trips and works well with daren drums which help safely stow away various loose items.
- Footwear: 5.11 Tactical Evo Side Zip Boots. I apply 3 coats of shoe goo to all the seams and on the front/toe for longevity after breaking them in.
- How you stay warm or get cool - For hot/dry cave trips, I wear light/synthetic outdoor pants. For wet/muddy trips or for survey trips, I wear AV Cordura Pants. For very wet trips, I have a 3mm wetsuit vest, a 2mm shorty wetsuit and a 5mm full wetsuit as options. In a drybag, I always carry 1-2 extra upper layers, extra gloves, and extra elbow pads. I also carry an emergency mylar thermal blanket and hand warmers.
- I always carry: My cell phone for taking pictures, a 1040 pelican case for snacks which also sometimes serves as a clip-on waterproof case for my phone, whiteout, a handline, an extra carabiner, some cord, a few plastic bags, a wagbag with extra wet wipes, a minimum of 6 extra batteries, a pocket knife, a laminated copy of the cave map unless it is a cave I have visited several times, and a small medicine bottle (wrapped in flagging tape) with ibuprofen, antacid, and caffeine pills.
My 3.5L Darren Drum and its typical contents (from left to right)
My Pack with the other loose items typically within it (and my cave helmet setup)
- 1040 Pelican Case (with carabiner) filled with snacks
- Laminated Cave Map
- 1-Liter Nalgene with Duct Tape