Caving is an exhilarating, rewarding, and slightly addictive pastime enjoyed by many. It challenges the mind and body and leaves you with extraordinary memories and experiences. For someone not well-versed in the caving world, buying a gift for a caver can be difficult. After all, you want to buy them something they’ll like and use, but don’t know what that is.
To make your life a little easier – and your gift-giving less stressful – I’ve put together a list of some of the best gift ideas for cavers. Hopefully, they’ll help you make your decision and ensure you get a rockin’ gift.
If you’re buying a gift for a beginner caver, this is where you wanna start. If you’re buying a gift for an experienced caver, you might wanna skip past this section. They’ll already have all the gear they need, and will prefer picking out their own equipment.
As a rule of thumb, you should not go underground without a headlamp. Every caver needs a headlamp or head torch, along with several backups in case of failure. You do not want to get stuck underground in the dark without a source of light. It’s one of the worst things could happen to you when caving, so you’ve gotta make sure you’re prepared before you go.
Look for headlamps that mount on your helmet, rather than the ones that wrap around your head with elastic bands. They’re sturdier, and won’t break as easily.
The headlamp above is the Petzl DUO, which is the most widely used headlamp among cavers. It’s reliable, waterproof, resistant to impacts, and comes with tons of different lighting settings. This is a great budget headlamp, and I highly recommend it.
This ties into what I’ve mentioned above. You want to have multiple sources of light when caving. While I’d still recommend a mountable headlamp be your primary source of light, it never hurts to bring a flashlight with you.
Since it’s a backup light, it doesn’t need to be crazy expensive. Just get one that’s sturdy, bright, and long lasting. The one above is a great example. It’s water resistant, comes with multiple light modes, and is virtually indestructible.
3. Neoprene Socks
Many beginner cavers start out using wool socks – they keep your feet decently warm and are comfortable. If you’re looking to get serious about caving though, neoprene socks are a must.
They’re made from a thin wetsuit fabric, do a killer job of keeping your feet warm, and also protect your skin from debris and irritation better than any other sock material I’ve seen. Are they waterproof? No. But that’s kind of the point. Waterproof apparel isn’t practical in a cave.
It is impossible not to get wet when caving. Waterproof material is waterproof in both directions. That means even if you are blocking water from coming in, you’re blocking sweat from evaporating out. Instead of worrying about how waterproof my socks are, I focus on keeping my feet warm. And that is where neoprene socks shine.
Gloves are a necessity in any cavers pack. Caves are wet and cold. A good pair of gloves can provide extra traction, warmth, and protection, without limiting mobility.
You don’t need anything too fancy. Just make sure they’re made of quick-drying fabric, are durable, provide extra grip, and won’t fall off easily. These work just fine and are a great gift idea for those of you who aren’t looking to spend a whole lot of money.
5. Rubber Caving Boots
What is the best footwear for caving? That’s a debatable question, with an answer that changes depending on who you ask. Most cavers – professional and enthusiast alike – will say wellies. (aka rubber boots) And I couldn’t agree more. To qualify as good caving footwear, there are a few criteria that need to be met. They’ve gotta be:
- Easy to move in (walking, crawling, etc.)
- Stiff soled (to provide grip and protection)
- Easy to drain
- Easy to clean
- Must keep your feet warm
Wellies are all of this, and more. They’re calf-high rubber boots with high traction soles. They’ll keep you from slipping on wet terrain, will keep out low water, and are easy to drain once you emerge from high water – 10/10 would recommend.
6. Waist Belt
Fanny packs are a favorite of mine. Their size and placement make them perfect for carrying small items, and they help a lot with organization. Instead of having to search through your main pack for batteries or a quick snack, you can simply reach down and grab em out of your fanny pack.
They’re also multi-purpose and can be used for more than just caving. This is a great waterproof fanny pack with plenty of pockets and compartments.
7. Dry Bags
Every caver needs at least one dry bag. Combined with a nice canvas backpack, you’ve got a great set-up that’ll keep your items secure, and important items dry – items like batteries, electronics, and non laminated documents/maps. Make sure to get one made of strong PVC. (like this one)
8. Knee Pads
Knee pads are an important part of every cavers uniform and are essential due to the amount of crawling that goes on in caves. No one wants to end up with banged up knees. These are great pair, with neoprene straps and a heavy duty poly shield.
9. Beyond the Deep
The setting is the Huautla, a cave in Mexico that is notoriously treacherous. It’s the deepest cave in the Western Hemisphere, and possibly the world. Shafts there reach skyscraper-depths and sudden downpours can drown divers in an instant.
The book tells the story of William Stone, his 44-member team, and their 1994 expedition into the Huautla. Throughout their journey, they face extreme hardships and conditions, and risk everything to claim the record for the deepest cave dive in the Western Hemisphere. This gem has everything a caver would want – danger, adventure, life or death scenarios, and cave exploration, all while documenting the real-life story of extraordinary people.
10. Cave Geology
A must-read for cavers of all experience levels, and one that I’d recommend to anyone who wants to learn about cave geology.
It’s basically a textbook of all the things you see in caves, with helpful photos and illustrations throughout. It’s easy to understand, well written, and very informative. Also, it doesn’t just talk about geology – in addition, it covers chemistry, meteorology, hydraulics, mapping and more.
This book is worth the money, and will answer almost every question you could ever have about cave formations, and basic geology in general.
11. The Longest Cave
The Longest Cave tells the story of cave explorers Roger Brucker and Richard Watson, and their twenty-year effort to complete the geological connection between Flint Ridge and Mammoth Cave.
It’s an exciting book, written by two guys who love to explore caves, and is full of fascinating situations, people, and places. It teaches the reader about Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system in the world, and gives a unique perspective on the competitive nature of cave exploration.
12. Caverns Measureless to Man
This book focuses more on underwater caves. It’s the story of an extraordinary passionate man, who loved cave diving more than anything. A man who lived a life of adventure, danger, and true exploration.
His name was Sheck Exley, and he is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of cave diving. The book takes you through his trials and tribulations and shows the more dangerous aspects of caving.
Batteries are expensive as hell, and essential. They’re needed to power headlamps, flashlights, and pretty much every other source of light. This is one of the gifts I’d recommend the most. I don’t know a single caver that would say no to batteries.
If you’re interested, make sure to get them good ones – you don’t want to get cheap, short-lived batteries. Instead, get them lithium AA/AAA if they don’t like rechargeable batteries, and AA/AAA NiMH if they do.
14. Go Pro
If the caver you’re buying a gift for wants to document their underground experiences, consider getting them a GoPro. It’s a consumer favorite action camera with that was created specifically for conditions such as the one you’d find in a cave. It’s durable, waterproof, supports 4K video, and comes with built in stabilization. (which means no matter how much you shake the camera, your shot will turn out smooth)
It also straps right onto your helmet, supporting hand-free photography/videography.
15. Helmet Stickers
Depending on how well you know the recipient, these can make for a hilarious gift. It’s always fun to combine hobbies and interests, so if you know they love caving and hiking, get them a sticker to put on their helmet/cave gear that shows this.
This pack comes with 50 stickers and comes in 27 unique styles. (including travel, botany, vehicles, surfing, programming, and outdoor activities)
16. Gift Card
Some people don’t like gift cards, and that is okay. I, however, think they’re a sweet gift. By gifting someone a gift card, you’re acknowledging that they know what they want better than anyone else. That is 100% true, and there’s no shame in admitting that.
While some people consider them to be an insincere gift, I find them to be a thoughtful gift. For those of you who are considering getting a gift card, but aren’t sure what kind to get, try getting one catered to their interests and hobbies. For instance, if they like to cave, get them a gift card at a caving supply store. One of my favorites is Inner Mountain Outfitters.
You can create a gift certificate here at are Inner Mountain Outfitters official website.
I know it’s gimiky, but that doesn’t make it any less of a good gift. T-shirts are a staple in everyone’s wardrobe. Whether they’re for wearing outside or sleeping in, we all have them. Might as well have a fun one that reminds us of friends and family. And if they’re keen on hoodies, you can even find caving inspired versions of them.
18. Freeze-Dried Foods
I LOVE freeze-dried food. I take it with me when I go backpacking, when I go hiking, when I go caving, and really, when I go anywhere.
It’s easy to prepare, is packaged in a convenient pouch, comes in a wide variety of different cuisines and flavors, and most of all, is fun to eat.
When packing food for a caving trip, you wanna take items that are non perishable, somewhat durable, and are easy to carry and eat. Freeze-dried foods fit the bill. You can get anything from strawberries and ice cream sandwiches, to full-blown meals, such as lasagna and my favorite – chili mac.
Please note that this article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of them, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I 100% stand behind.
Hi, I’m Ash!
I’m a laid back traveler who loves experiencing new things and spontaneity. My favorite hobbies are hiking, gardening, skincare, and all things tea.
My biggest goal is to spread the word about sustainable travel and show everyone how easy it is to partake in. If you wanna learn more about that or get to know me better, feel free to click here.