Caving Exploration Packing Checklist

Before heading out to explore a cave or lava tube, make sure you have all you’ll need at the car and with you for the trip. This packing list is for a day-trip that is not steep or technical (no ropes needed).

  • A light source and backup lights (headlamps are best to avoid head injuries)
  • Extra batteries for each light
  • Layers of clothes (wicking long undies, thermal mid layer, and durable outer layer)
  • Helmets
  • Boots or sturdy above ankle shoes
  • Wool or synthetic socks (no cotton)
  • Gloves
  • Shins protection (knee and elbow pads if you’ll be crawling)
  • Topo maps of the area
  • Compass
  • GPS unit (if needed for entrance and exit points)
  • Camera with good flash
  • Food, water, and snacks (bring too much of each)
  • Towel
  • First aid kit
  • Small backpack to carry everything

Put your phone on airplane mode and it can be an extra light (install an app if your phone doesn’t have a flashlight mode). Bring a large zip lock or multiple smaller zip lock bag for wallets, keys, phones, etc. Caves are wet in some cases so be prepared for that. Keep extra drinking water and a dry change of clothes and shoes in your car for when you return. Let people know where you are going just in case you don’t return by a predetermined “very late” time.

Caving can be fun, but be careful and prepared for mishaps. Don’t go alone – it’s best to explore caves with friends!