Caving Checklist: All of the Caving Equipment That You Need

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Beware: You should never explore wild caves alone or without proper gear. Consider getting in touch with a Grotto of the National Speleological Society at or a qualified cave club. These groups are skilled and will train you. Without sufficient knowledge, preparation, and equipment, cave exploring can lead to serious injury or death.

If you don’t have the essential caving equipment, you can’t enjoy the underground experience to the max. Here is our list of caving gear that is absolutely necessary for caving safely.

Caving Suit

Caving suits are often warm and allow you to move quickly and efficiently on the rough surfaces of the cave. They are mostly the combination of polyester and cotton as these two materials are machine washable and provide superior comfort fit; they also accommodate a full range of motion and assist in the tight spots.

We highly recommend two brands for caving suit – Dickies & FROGG TOGGS

They are both amazing suits for caving adventures. The professional designers introduced special features in them for outdoor exploration, like an adjustable & removable hood, open-waist design, zippered chest, and back pocket. You can see an example of a Dickies caving suit below.

Our Pick
Dickies Men's Deluxe Twill Long Sleeve Coverall
9.2/10Our Score

Dickies Men's Deluxe Twill Long Sleeve Coverall

A good coverall will feature a generous, roomy fit in the chest & shoulders, accommodate full range of motion, and fit securely. These Dickies Men's Deluxe Twill Coveralls do just that, and are made of 97% cotton for good breathability too.

Check out our cave suit buying guide here.


When it comes to buying caving boots, the focus should be on preparing for wet, muddy caving. Since most caves have cold temperatures and wet surfaces. The caving boots are specifically designed with a slip-resistant sole so that you can have a firm grip on the surface and they are flexible enough for prolonged periods of wear too.

These boots use premium Nubuck leather, GORE-TEX protection and a higher cut rubber sole for long-lasting comfort. The bottom sole is incredible; it is aggressive and clings to both rocks and slippery surfaces well.

Salomon Men's Quest Element Gore-TEX Hiking Boots
9.2/10Our Score

Salomon Men's Quest Element Gore-TEX Hiking Boots

This is a backpacking shoe that draws on the lightness and flexibility of Salomon's QUEST model. The patented ADV-C chassis keeps you stable on uneven terrain.


The best-caving boots for women are from the Hi-Tec Store & Manfen. For men, we recommend these durable, waterproof boots from Columbia or Salomon.

Manfen Women's Thermator Hiking Boots
9.3/10Our Score

Manfen Women's Thermator Hiking Boots

These women's hiking boots provide protection for the casual hiking enthusiast. However, they are sturdy in caving environments as well, keeping your feet dry and comfortable in almost any weather. 

Check out our official caving boots review here.

Flashlight (Backup Light Source)

The primary purpose of the flashlight in the cave is to provide you light in the tight pockets where it is tough to use the headlamps. We know most cavers prefer headlamps or head-mountable lights for the exploration of the cave, but having a small flashlight as a backup can hand you many benefits and even save your life in critical conditions. This is one piece of caving equipment that you may not use nearly as often as your headlamp, but will be happy to have.

Consider small flashlights like the one from Nitecore below. They are powerful, ultra-bright, and small enough to hide in your caving suit pockets. These lights lit a small space easily and last quite two hours with moderate use. In addition, the military-grade advanced design makes them waterproof, drop-resistant, and anti-abrasive.

However, flashlights are meant to be your backup light. When you’re inside and worrying about your surroundings, you want your hands to be free as much as possible. Consider your headlamp as your primary light source, and a flashlight or light stick secondary.

When shopping for a headlamp, use our headlamp buying guide to cover all your bases. If you are interested in trying a light stick as a backup light source, check out our light stick guide here.

Our Pick
Nitecore MH12 Pro Tactical Flashlight
9.5/10Our Score

Nitecore MH12 Pro Tactical Flashlight

The Nitecore MH12 Pro rechargeable flashlight is incredibly bright yet still compact enough to serve as a duty light to carry every day. A 3300 lumen output and a 552 yard throw will provide lighting over 1200 feet (360 meters) away.

Knee Pads

Padding is highly important for uneven and vertical caves, packed with rocks. Even if you are extra careful and enjoying your caving trip on a horizontal surface, your knees will be beautifully color covered and get some scratches without them. Furthermore, the padding minimizes the impact on your knees and don’t make you feel tired if you are on a 4-5 hours long trip.

One of the best knee pads is made by the company NoCry.

It is a combination of polyester and rubber, and it is also Latex-free. The thing we love the most about these NoCry Kneepads is the heavy duty protection and ease of mind that goes with it. There’s nothing like banging your knee against something unexpected in the dimly lit caving environment that makes you wish you bought those knee pads you were thinking about. Don’t try it!

Our Pick
NoCry Professional Construction Knee Pads
9.8/10Our Score

NoCry Professional Construction Knee Pads

These knee pads for designed for construction workers, but work great for outdoors adventurers as well. The extra stability and comfort they provide, while reducing stress on your joints during extended kneeling sessions, is perfect for cavers.

Some crawlspaces will require you to be on your hands and knees for a formidable distance, which is when these knee pads really shine. 

To learn more about how to pick the right knee pads for your caving adventure, check our Knee Pads Complete Beginner’s Guide.

Optional: Caving Gloves

Caving gloves are not essential for some cavers. In show caves or tours, you will likely not need any gear whatsoever, and most safe horizontal caves can be traversed without them. But if you plan to do any research, climbing, or taking on a wild cave, you should strongly consider caving gloves. Check out our Caving Gloves Official Guide to learn more about what to consider when choosing a pair.

Plastic Jar

Ever wondered what it’s like to be exhausted, deep inside a cave, and having to go to the bathroom? Get a plastic jar with a lid.

It is very useful in case you are going with kids and don’t have a bathroom near a cave. You don’t need to buy a new plastic jar; any old peanut butter jar is fine. Just make sure it is clean, lightweight, and easy to pack in the bag.

Expert cavers often use plastic jars for bathroom needs, as they understand that contaminating a cave can be dangerous for the environment. Cave bats in particular may pick up a bacterial infection or disease and spread it.

If you don’t want to eat a jar of peanut butter in preparation for a caving adventure, a simple plastic jar with a lid like DilaBee is fine. It should be made out of good material and have enough space for your bathroom related needs. Be sure it is adequate for storing liquid content as well.

Our Pick
DilaBee 80 Ounce Empty Plastic Jars
9.5/10Our Score

DilaBee 80 Ounce Empty Plastic Jars

Made out of quality food-grade PET material, these high-quality plastic containers will resist wear and tear while meeting all storage & organization needs. Each jar measures 10x4.3 inches height by diameter



People on medications should be immensely careful with any outdoors adventures like spelunking. They should pack everything they require for the next 48 hours at least. Multiple dosages can help you in an emergency situation. Don’t forget to put the instructions on a paper so that people can comprehend which dosage or tablet you require if you are unconscious.

You can put the medication in your personal first aid kit.

The first aid kit has some other items as well, such as band-aids, disinfectants, pain-killers, and water purifier tablets. It is a life-saving box that should be included also in your caving checklist.

Best Seller
First Aid Only 442 All-Purpose Emergency First Aid Kit
10/10Our Score

First Aid Only 442 All-Purpose Emergency First Aid Kit

This extensive First Aid Kit contains adhesive fabric and plastic bandages, antibiotic ointments, BZK antiseptic towelettes, burn cream packets, aspirin, ibuprofen, gauze roll and pads, wound closures, cold pack, and other multi-use first aid items.

You will be prepared for just about anything with one of these. Don't go to any wild caves without it.

Loud Whistle

Did you know a loud whistle can save your life? If you are caving with a small group in an unknown place, a whistle does several things better than your voice can.

First, it communicates more than just saying stop. Guides can track you in case you are lost inside a cave and your voice isn’t carrying enough. You can get their attention and receive help quickly. Apart from this, with a loud whistle, alerting your group members can be easy if you face any life-threatening situation, like falling rocks. It simply forces everyone to stop what they are doing and consider their surroundings for a moment.

Crown Sporting Goods Store & LuxoGear offer some great whistles.

Their products are super loud and great for survival. Generating any high-pitched powerful noise gets everyone’s attention. Moreover, they are super durable and have completely waterproof and moisture-resistance features.

Top Rated
LuxoGear Emergency Whistles with Lanyard
9.6/10Our Score

LuxoGear Emergency Whistles with Lanyard

This is a very loud survival whistle. Dual sound chambers provide up to 120 decibel dB sound power, enough to be heard over a mile away. It cannot be overblown, and works great as signal whistle.

No moving parts means nothing can obstruct the sound, and nothing can jam, break or freeze. Simple and effective.

Cave Map

This is one that may not count as caving equipment and won’t be on amazon, but is a must-have nonetheless. Try to get the map of the cave you are planning to explore. A map can be used as a grip. We perceive that all caves don’t have maps but if it is possible to get a map of a cave, you should always get it. It is basically a showcase where the water flows from place to place. Also, it reveals all the small pockets and passages that can make it harder for you to escape the cave.

Mostly, the professional scientists create these maps.

It helps them to understand the entire formation of the cave. They can instantly see and get to the exact location of their work. For instance, a map facilitates them in seeing where the mud and clay or rocks of their interest can be found or how to reach the bones of the ancient animals.

A map of Slaughter Canyon Cave, at Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Let’s hope this cave doesn’t get its name from cavers who forget their map.

FRS Radio (Walkie Talkie)

You may not need an FRS Radio every time, but it’s still a good idea to make sure every member of the caving group has one. In the age of smart phones, we can easily reach each other with a quick phone call or text. But in the deeper, more remote caving locations, you will not have feel the luxury without a cell phone signal. For those situations, having an FRS Radio can aid immensely if someone gets separated from the group, or if you need to contact someone outside the cave for help or information.

To learn about FRS Radios more and see some options, check out this guide.

Rocky Talkie Mountain Radio
Rocky Talkie Mountain Radio
Rocky Talkie Mountain Radio
Our Score

The Rocky Talkie Mountain Radio is an award winning, license-free radio designed and tested in the Colorado Rockies. Created with climbers and skiers in mind, the compact radio is suited for any rugged adventure where communication is critical.

A specialized lithium-ion battery provides over 4 days of battery life, even in very cold conditions (-20°F). For enhanced durability, the radio has a shatterproof LED screen and thermoplastic protective covering. Unlike the fragile plastic clips of other radios, the Mountain Radio easily secures to backpacks and harnesses using an ultra-light carabiner and back-up leash.


The caving equipment you need will of course depend on where you cave. For instance, if you are opting for a vertical caving adventure, you have to include vertical caving gear in the checklist too, like ropes, foot ascenders, seat harnesses, rigging gear, and more. Is there any piece of essential caving equipment you like to take on your caving trips that we didn’t include here? Leave it in the comments below.

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