Cave hiking is considered to be an extreme sport in some circles. However, extreme sport tends to mean that the people who participate have little regard for safety and that is not true with cave hiking. Cave hiking is a recreational sport that is quite challenging and requires skills of varying levels depending on the type of cave you're exploring.
When you go cave hiking, you need equipment to help you navigate the cave. The sport is physically demanding but fun and rewarding. It is similar to mountain climbing and diving in terms of the physical demand required and the rush you get from accomplishing it. Throughout the world there are many caves that you can explore, especially in the larger countries like the United States.
While cave hiking is not extremely popular, the athletes that do participate in the sport find it quite exciting and different from other sports. There are thousands of caves that can be explored and there are still many that have not yet been explored. If you are new to cave hiking, you should hire a guide to go with you to make sure that you have a safe trip that is enjoyable - the trip stops being fun when you are trapped in a cave and you don't have the right equipment.
Safety is paramount in cave hiking and there is equipment you need:
LED lights: When you are cave hiking, you should have a few different light sources to help you see in the dark caves. Ideally, you will have a LED headlamp, which is a popular choice of equipment with cave hikers. LED headlamps offer you a light source without needing to use your hands. It points in the direction your head is pointed, which is usually where you are headed and need light the most. You will also want to have a LED flashlight with you to shine into other spaces, tight spaces or into a different direction. LED lanterns offer a lot of light and are great for lighting up an entire cave. You will want to use LED lights because they offer you a longer battery life and longer bulb life. LED lights are the most recommended lights for caving. Always have two light sources with you when cave hiking for extra safety.
Knife: You will need to carry some type of survival knife with you as well while you are cave hiking, such as a Swiss Army knife or hunting knife. A survival knife is paramount in case you need to cut ropes or vines, etc. while in the cave. It also may be needed if you have to mark your direction in the ground or rock.
Other equipment: Items like ropes, helmets, carabineers, hiking boots, water and food are additional items you will want to carry with you when cave hiking. It is best to check with a guide or take a course with a guide on what is the appropriate equipment and attire for the particular area you will be hiking. Don't cave hike on your own until you have done so with a proper guide.
Always remember - safety first. Tell someone that you are going hiking, when you are entering the cave, where it is located and when you expect to return. This is to ensure that if something goes wrong and you don't return on time, someone knows where to begin the search. Always ensure that if you are new to the area or new to the cave that you take a guide with you who is experienced in that area and cave. This will ensure that you are safe throughout the hike and that you have fun.
~Ben Anton, 2007
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