Dudley Caving Club

(Formerly Dudley Cave Rescue Team)

Website designed, created and maintained by Keith Edwards.  Copyright Dudley Caving Club 1997 - 2017

Caving and mine exploration are activities with a risk of personal injury or death. Participants in such activities should be aware and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions and involvement. Through its association with the BCA Dudley Caving Club recognises that correct training is one way of minimising such risks and provides opportunities for training.

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What to Wear

The Body

Clothing worn for caving is required to assist the body to maintain its correct temperature for the proper functioning of all its organs. As caves tend to be wet and often draughty places cave clothing must provide insulation when either dry or wet, together with a degree of wind and or waterproofing.

A reasonable level of insulation may be ensured by wearing clothing which, when dry, will trap a layer of air, or, when wet, a layer of water in a cellular material against the body surface. This will be warmed by the body and due to it cellular structure will tend to retain the heat and provide insulation. A layer synthetic fibre pile/fleece will perform this function. It is important that the effect of this warmed insulating layer is not lost. This can happen due to the drying out of wet cave clothing, the evaporation having the effect of reducing the temperature of the surface of the body. It will also happen as a result of the replacement of warmed air/water with colder. A waterproof layer will reduce these effects.

Additionally, a degree of protection is required to avoid minor bumps and abrasions. Bulky, baggy clothing should, however, be avoided as far as possible.

Today cavers often where undersuits of fibre pile or fleece with heavy duty PVC or proofed nylon one piece oversuits.  A wet suit is the traditional alternative especially in wet caves.

The feet

The purpose of cave footwear is to give good grip on varying surfaces including wet rock and mud and to provide protection to the foot and support the ankle.

The following will perform these functions and should be worn with wool or wool mix socks or wetsuit socks.

Close fitting wellingtons with a heavily cleated sole or rubber/leather lace up ankle boots with a heavily cleated sole. Walking boots are not a good choice, they will get damaged and the hook fasteners can get tangled on ladders and are therefore dangerous.

The hands

Gloves of heavy-duty rubber or, less ideally, household rubber or other types may be worn to protect the hands. Woollen gloves generally only last for a few trips.

The head:

The purpose of a caving helmet is to protect the head from knocks against a cave roof and walls, to protect the head from rocks and stones dislodged by others and to give protection in the event of a fall. The Helmet also is used to mount the caving lamp and occasionally to carry emergency gear.  The belt also helps to hold all your clothing together at the waist.

General

As you will get wet, a complete change of clothing and footwear will be required, as will a towel. A large polythene bag is required in which to place wet clothing.

NOTE: Any clothing worn for caving will probably get damaged.