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What You'll Need to Go Cave Diving

June 11th, 2013 Seasonal

If biking, running or hiking doesn't hold the sort of thrill you're looking for, consider going cave diving! Also known as spelunking, this unique sport requires preparation and the proper gear. Read more to find out what you need for cave exploration. 

Why spelunking? 
Spelunking, more commonly known as "caving," is an uncommon activity to do while on vacation and a fun way to get you, your family or your friends to go outside. Given the amount of cave paintings and artifacts that are found in caves, it's a perfect expedition for any history buff. And between calcium deposits, wildlife and speleothems it's an exciting adventure for anyone interested in natural science or preservation. 

Choose a cave
The most important part of choosing a cave is determining the level of difficulty that you're capable of. Caving expeditions vary widely, making it perfect for anyone who wants to give it a try. Consider the following things: Is this a family activity? How young are your children? Have you gone spelunking before? Is this a nearby cave or a vacation adventure? While caving might seem too dangerous for kids, children ages 8 and up will enjoy the experience. There are plenty of very safe guided tours that follow paths and can be used as an educational experience. If you're going on your own, it's recommended to find a guided tour for beginners. Smaller groups are best (four to six people), and caving by yourself allows you to go cave diving in the region of your choice. Your second or third time spelunking could be on a self tour. Self tours are led by man made paths and signs, and are usually safer than tours. Tours range in price and length, from one-hour adventures to expeditions that last for days. 

You should do plenty of research to determine whether your chosen cave is historical, advanced or underwater. You can look on the National Speleological Society website or on the National Caves Association site for more information on specific caves.

Get your equipment
In order to cave dive safely, it's important to gather the proper equipment beforehand and to make sure that it's up to code. You ought to bring three working lamps, one of which should be a head lamp. It's not a bad idea to bring a backup, or at least extra light bulbs and the compatible batteries. The helmet that you use should be up to the standards outlined on the National Caves Association website. Be sure that your helmet fits properly and will stay on while in motion. 

Two more essential pieces of equipment are rope and a compatible harness. Avoid ordering equipment online, as input from salespeople is vital, and you should try on the gear before purchasing it.   

Depending on what cave and tour you've chosen, you may need waterproof clothing, food or scuba gear. Never go spelunking in an underwater cave without the appropriate training. Find out what climate the cave is in, taking note of the season and the fact that you won't be getting much sun. All caves are damp, so keep this in mind when choosing clothing. Regardless of what trip you've chosen, you should always bring plenty of water and a waterproof and uncrushable pack for valuables and food. Since caves are such a unique environment, you should consider bringing a disposable and waterproof camera. 

For further caving
Both of the aforementioned websites have information on more advanced spelunking. If you feel as though you've mastered the basics of caving, try getting certified for underwater spelunking.