All our club headtorches run on AA batteries, and generally take 4 of them. It is your responsibility to supply batteries for them. Bring 4xAA batteries for a daytrip, and then bring an extra 4 AA batteries for each following day of caving. So, if you’re going out for a trip with 4 days of caving, you’ll need 16 AA batteries. Yes you might have spares, but that’s better than running out…
The trip leader will specify what the cost of the trip is. We try to keep our trips as cheap as possible, so it’s not negotiable. Usually it will consist of transport+park access+camping+equipment maintenance, with park access only applying in some caving area, and camping only relevant on some overnight trips. Our equipment maintenance fee is a flat $5 rate for all members on all trips so that we can replace club kit as it expires. There may be extras, like dinner in the pub one night, and the trip leader will generally state what they are, and if they’re optional, so that you have a good idea how much the trip will cost you. Cash is much preferred for trip fees, but we can take bank transfers too.
Some cavers actually have nice cars, and don’t like getting them dirty. When caving, there is a very high probability that you will get dusty, dirty, muddy, wet, sandy, sweaty, or grotty, or a combination of all of the above. So bring a clean change of whatever civvies you normally wear for the trip home, and to wear at camp at night on multi-day trips.
Caves are generally hard on whatever you bring into them. That’s why we have a lot of gear, so that they’re not hard on you.
The cheapest cotton overalls with the thickest fabric possible that you can get your hands on, preferably from an Op Shop. Note when we say overalls, we mean what many think to as coveralls, so full body protection, not those dinky things held up by straps. Op Shop efforts can be hard to find in Canberra (too many stingy Canberrans), but I’ve had excellent luck in country towns, and especially those with a bit of a manufacturing base. Anything below $20 is good value, so long as the overalls are in good condition and are decent quality (thick and robust). Make sure they’re clean and don’t have any grease/oil/lubricant stains on them that won’t wash out. When you try them on, make sure you try crawling and climbing too… If you go down the cotton overalls route, expect to be binning a set of trashed overalls after 10 months of regular (a trip every 2-4 weeks) caving.
The next step up from overalls is a cavesuit. This is a custom-made set of overalls designed with caving in mind. These are FAR superior to cotton overalls. Generally, they’re made from cordura, but kevlar versions are available too. Cordura is more waterproof, warmer, and more resistant to tearing than cotton, and has far better thermal properties when wet and exposed to water. There are a lot of purveyors of these, but most are located in Europe. Sadly, there are no local companies that produce cavesuits, with the closest best option being Aspiring in NZ, which are the general choice of Aussie cavers. MTDE cavesuits are available from another Kiwi outfit (Access Gear), but (appear to) have less flexibility with sizing than Aspiring. Cavesuits last much longer, but are also much more of an investment than cotton overalls, so don’t bother looking at getting them unless you’ve decided that caving is the thing for you, or have an overseas trip with serious caving planned.
Caving is often an awkward balance between staying hydrated, and having to pee in the cave (doable, but unpleasant, and wastes a good waterbottle). Generally, unless you’re staying underground for a long period of time, 750mL-1L of water is the most you’ll want to carry. Have a good drink before you go underground and when you get out (mind you, don’t overdo it before you go underground). Most water in caves in Australia is ok to drink, especially if it’s in a national park and there’s not many entries to the system. But you do have to be cautious if there’s human habitation in the catchment of a cave, or many ways dead animals could be flushed into the catchment.
Whatever you take to eat underground has to be portable,