Expo Personal Gear List
First time on Expo: What should I take? Read on... No apologies are made for
the simplistic approach, and no responsibility is accepted for errors or
omissions ;-) Make sure you have at least the Essentials; consider taking the
Extras for a more pleasant time, but don't fret if you can't get them. The
Excessive sections are for the gearists...
It's a good idea (for caving generally, but particularly for Expo) to settle
on a particular combination of colours of electrical insulation tape, and label
absolutely everything you own with the stuff. To see which combinations are
available, have a look here. Tape
everything, not just your caving gear; while one karabiner looks much
like another, it's equally true that one karrimat looks much like
another. (And your phone/chargers/laptop/mug/plate/cutlery -
essentially anything you want to be reasonably sure to get back)
Lightweight stuff is good so as it makes carrying all your caving and camping
gear to top camp significantly less epic/tedious. Two of everything
(pit, karrimat, utensils, clothes) reduces the amount of stuff you have
to keep carrying up and down the mountain.
Expo can be hot, cold, wet or dry, or (more usually) all of
these in rapid succession and combination! It can be really chilly
(snowing!) in the bivi.
- Sunshades, sun cream, sunhat - do not underestimate the power of the
sun when wandering across the plateau!
- Warm hat, gloves.
- Raincoat, fleece, shirts, shorts, trousers. Fast-drying gear
is good. Versatile layers is good.
- Socks - lots of them! They will get wet.
- Boots - waterproof walking boots are better than non-waterproof
ones. Make sure you get ones with good ankle support, for
boulder-hopping (have a look at some of the photos of the plateau on this
website and you'll see what I mean).
- Trainers or other such footwear for wearing on the journey, into Bad
Aussee or when you've had enough of clumping round in boots.
- Waterproof over-trousers - highly recommended.
- Gaiters - keeps the snow and/or water out of your socks.
- Swimming trunks/cossie for swimming in the river at base camp.
- Crocs or other lightweight footwear for moving around the bivi.
(Open-toed sandals best avoided due to pointy limestone).
- Sleeping bag - make sure it's warm, 3 season at least; it can be
- Something to sleep on at top camp. Minimum is Karrimat. Air beds
and camp beds also popular. Sharp
floor put thermarests and airbeds at risk of deflation
- Head torch.
- Mug, spoon, mess tin for bivi
- Batteries and/or charger for above.
- Bivi Bag - the bivi can be quite drippy (and cold).
- Second (rather lower-spec) sleeping bag, for using at base camp. This
means you don't have to carry your sleeping bag across the plateau every
- Camp bed provides fewest punctures.
- Second karrimat, for the same reason.
- Knife, fork, spoon, mug for basecamp (you may be able to get by on
- Second/spare camp light/clothes/hat (anything you want to leave at bivi but might
need at base too).
- Penknife - some people would regard this as essential.
- Base camp tent - more or less any waterproof one will do. See if you can share...
- Excessive (this section could go on and on...)
- Oversuit, (warm) undersuit, wetsocks/woolly socks, kneepads, wellies, helmet, gloves.
- Balaclava - it's 1C underground.
- Light - preferably long-duration LED. Bring enough batteries for 30-40 hours
caving. There is 12V recharging at the bivi but capacity is limited and sun-based.
- Backup light.
- SRT kit. Absolutely imperative that you gear tape up the bits.
- Karabiners - the more the merrier! Have you ever seen someone with too
- Emergency whistle.
- 13mm spanner (open ended) for bolting. Preferably half-length.
Attached with snoopy/krab and
elastic/gear string to arm, wrist or harness.
- Dangly bag, large enough for:
- Spare batteries.
- Flapjack, fudge, chocolate bars, tube of condensed milk, etc.
- Water bottle.
- Survival bag (this could live in a pocket.)
- Small first aid kit
- Maybe your entire SRT kit too, if you're going through a tight
section or have a long way to go before you get to the pitches.
- Thermal vest and leggings - could be essential. The caves are cold and
there will be periods of waiting around and slow survey work.
- Extra gear attachment points on harness - e.g. Beast D-ring.
- Emergency knife (in case you are involved in a mid-rope rescue - but make
sure you know what you're doing before you start slashing around!)
- Pulley. Indispensable if you ever have to haul people, and a great help
even for tackle sacks.
- Spare gloves - you are very likely to trash a pair (or two) on expo
- gimp (cheapo plastic mac) - makes waiting around at pitchheads much less grim
- Euro adaptor for charger/gadgets
- 12V charger (car cigarette-lighter plug) or 5V USB-based charger for the bivi
- Ice gear - ice axe, crampons, ice boots, ice screws, etc - essential
if you're tackling the icy areas of Eishöhle.
- Skyhooks - pair of, for clawing your way across blank walls when
- Camera, packaged in a waterproof, highly visible, indestructible,
tiny, zero-mass box...
- Bolting kit
- Rucksack or pack frame. Make this a BIG one; don't make the same mistake as Aled by bringing a little 35 litre. 65 litres or more.
- Water bottle/bladder.
- Toiletries - toothbrush, toothpaste, soap etc.
- Flannel & towel.
- Glasses & spares if you need them.
- Contact lenses - get enough daily use-once ones. The upper caves are very dusty.
- Bivvy bag - emergency shelter anywhere. The plateau can become
unfriendly very quickly. Erin and Earl had to resort to bivvy bags when
caught by a storm on the Hinter in 1999. You could use the one from
your caving gear, or get a proper camping one too. (Warning - fancy ones can be
- Plastic bags/dry-bags - the secret to dry clothes/pit/gear is bags in bags, with spare
bags to hand...
- Reserve supply of gear tape, in case you need to relabel anything.
- Money - although if you're a mean, awkward, skinflint you could get
through Expo without spending anything, you will probably want to spend money
on postcards, personal 'nice food' and tourist stuff on days off. Most people
pay for the Expo shopping at some time; this will count as credit towards your
Expo bill. There are cash dispensers in Bad Aussee.
- EHIC (European health insurance card).
- Food for the journey out.
- PVC oversuit owners: appropriate patching kit.
- GPS - or good GPS app on your phone. For surface surveying and finding entrances.
- Walking pole(s) for walking across the plateau. Useful for
balance when stepping across big holes. Most people seem to just use
one as two get in the way on the scrambly bits.
- Cash for the journey (in Euros).
- Book to read at base camp when it rains.
- Tablet/netbook/laptop - can be used for data entry/prospecting guide info.
- Spare stuff - suppose you break (eek!) your jammer? There is a climbing
shop in the next town.
Original by Earl Merson (1999); edited and updated David
Loeffler (2003), Edvin, Duncan, OllyM (2008) and Wookey (2014)