What to Bring
Although the trip leader will take care of most of the necessary gear, there are still some things you will need to bring along.
- Sturdy Shoes
- On most trips lots of walking is involved.
- Appropriate Clothes
- Although it may be warm outside, the caves are quite cool.
- Clothes should be long sleeved/legged and brightly coloured for visibility.
- The clothes will get dirty; it is a good idea to have something to change into for the ride home.
- We recommend orange coveralls as they make it easy to clean up after a trip and they enhance visibility in the bush.
- Something to protect your head from the rock above it.
- Ideally it would have a chin strap.
- A head lamp is ideal as it keeps your hands free.
- A second backup light and extra batteries are recommended.
- Gloves are important to keep your hands dry and warm.
- Form fitting gloves dipped in PVC are recommended.
- Compass & Whistle
- Important in case you get lost or separated in the bush.
- Food & Water
- Easy snack foods are essential when eating in the bush or in a cave.
- A method to carry all your kit to the caves from the vehicle is essential.
- For splitting fuel costs, and because we often end up stopping for dinner.
- Knee & Elbow Pads
- They make it much easier to crawl around.
- Keep in mind that caves are wet, dirty and humid places that love to destroy electronics.
Members of the SSM have compiled this list of safety guidelines to which all members aim to adhere.
- Never go caving alone. The minimum recommended party size is three. This is the smallest group that are able to provide adequate care should a member become injured or incapacitated.
- All members of the party must be able to gain access to a vehicle in the event of an emergency.
- A SPOT or Personal Locator Beacon should be brought on all trips and every party member should know how to use it to call for help.
- Contact the local Natural Resource Officer of the trip and indicate your trip plans so they can assist in identifying any hazards or issues, such as fire danger.
- Check all equipment intended for use before every trip.
- Check the weather forecast before leaving home and be sure to keep an eye out for changing weather during the trip.
- Always leave information with someone about where you are going and your expected time of return, with instruction to initiate a search. Be sure to allow several hours for unexpected delays, and call if the expected time changes.
- Bring a first aid kit on all trips.
- Be aware of the symptoms of and remedies for hypothermia and heat stroke.
- At least one member of a party should be trained in first aid.
- Bear spray is to be carried when travelling in the back country except in the winter.
- Wear bright-coloured clothing, particularly during hunting season, to avoid being mistakenly shot by hunters.
- On all trips involving hiking in the back country a whistle and compass should be carried by every member in case of separation from the group.
- One person will always stay on surface.
- A harness and proper belay techniques must be used while negotiating a vertical drop of more than 3 metres. Most fatal caving accidents are falls from climbing ladders unbelayed.
- Wear a helmet, ideally with a chinstrap and primary light source attached.
- Use three points of contact on dangerous ground and on a ladder.
- Do not bring bear spray inside caves.
For further caving information check out these organizations.
- Caving Canada
- Canadian Cave Conservancy
- Alberta Speleological Society
- British Columbia Speleological Federation
- Caving Nova Scotia
- Caving New Brunswick
- Toronto Caving Group
- National Speleological Society
- Minnesota Speleological Survey
- The Paha Sapa Grotto (South Dakota)
Bats are an important part of caving, discover more about them in the following links.
- Bat Conservation International
- The Manitoba Bat Blitz
- The Manitoba Museum: Research on the Little Brown Bat in the Parklands Region of Manitoba
- The Manitoba Museum: Going Batty
- White Nose Syndrome
Other organizations in Manitoba