"Leave Nothing but Footprints, Take Nothing but Pictures, Kill Nothing but Time."

Caving Equipment & Outdoor Gear

If you have a good amount of money and intend to go caving a lot, you can purchase good equipment in Cookeville at Cumberland Mountain Outfitters (on the square) which has knowledgeable sales people with caving, climbing, and backpacking experience. If you have a tight budget, or feel you will only be using your gear a few times, you can either borrow gear from the Upper Cumberland Grotto ($5 deposit plus a small donation, if you are a member) or you can buy cheap gear at Wal-Mart and many of the local hardware stores. Cheaper gear will not last through too many trips normally, but it is just fine if you want to try caving and are not sure yet whether you'll stick with it.

Serviceable helmets can be found at Potter's Ace Hardware off Willow Avenue in Cookeville, but you will probably have to add a chin strap (make some with some spare webbing and a buckle). These are UIAA-approved construction helmets. Although they lack the 4-point suspension that prevents your helmet from coming off if you fall from a height, they will work just fine for your first few trips and usually cost around $7. However, if you stay with caving, you should obtain a caving helmet designed for maximum safety as soon as possible.

You can also usually find pretty good, moderately-priced boots at French's Boots on Interstate Drive or in Crossville. Occasionally, you can still find a really good deal at French's. Phillips Shoes in Monterey (east on I-40) also has a good boot selection in the fall and winter months which won't stretch your wallet too much.

White Oak Outfitters off the square in Crossville also has very high-quality outdoor gear, but usually with a price tag to match (very high). But, if you have the cash to spend, you can get many top-name-brand items there.

If none of these options work for you, contact a member of the local grotto -- we always have names and address of high-quality, but economical, cave equipment vendors and we'd be happy to help you locate the gear that's right for your needs.

Required Equipment:

* Helmet (UIAA approved)
* Primary light source mounted on helmet
* Three backup lights
* Pack with food, water, first aid supplies, trashbag or space blanket, and spare parts and power sources for both primary and backup lights
* Boots that provide ankle support and good traction
* Rugged clothing that you won't mind getting dirty and torn.

Other Useful Items:

After a couple of trips, you may appreciate the following optional items a little more:

* Gloves
* Knee pads (cheap ones at Wal-Mart do just fine)
* Elbow pads (kid-sized knee pads work well for this)
* Polypropylene underwear
* Canvas or cordura coveralls/overalls
* Good quality leather (waterproof) boots
* Reliable cave map
* Extra lengths of webbing or cord for repairing vertical gear or fashioning handlines
* Carbide repair kits (if you are using a carbide lamp)
* Candles and waterproof matches

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We welcome your comments or bug reports
via email to your friendly, neighborhood speleoweb hostess,
April Hannah, NSS #35012.

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(C) Copyright 2002, April Hannah for the Upper Cumberland Grotto of the NSS. All Rights Reserved. Photos available on this web site are the property of individual members of the Upper Cumberland Grotto. Failure to request permission before saving these images to disk for your own use is a violation of the U.S. Copyright Law.