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...
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.
Gear-tape - labelling
It is almost essential (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 those already used at recent gear tape colours.
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 especially your phone, phone cable, charger, charger-cable, laptop, mouse, mug/plate/cutlery - essentially anything you want to be reasonably sure to get back.
Expo can be hot, cold, wet or dry, or (more usually) all of these in rapid succession and combination! It can be really dank and cold (cold fog or 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/vital.
- 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 and scambling to the toilet grike. (Open-toed sandals can be a problem due to pointy limestone).
- Sleeping bag - make sure it's warm, 3 season at least; it can be damn cold/snowy/windy.
- Something to sleep on at top camp. Minimum is Karrimat. Air beds and camp beds also popular. We have a small stock of camp beds in the bivi. They are cheap and weigh only 3kg, but you do need an insulating layer as well as a sleeping bag. Sharp floor put thermarests and airbeds at risk of deflation if used directly on the 'floor'.
- Head torch.
- Mug, spoon, mess tin for bivi
- Batteries and/or charger for above.
- Bivi Bag - breathable - 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 time.
- 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 expo-communal ones).
- 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 4C 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 many?
- 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 (UK sockets available at base camp so no need for multiple ones)
- 12V charger (car cigarette-lighter plug) or 5V USB-based charger for the bivi
- Skyhooks - pair of, for clawing your way across blank walls when rigging.
- Camera, packaged in a waterproof, highly visible, indestructible, tiny, zero-mass box...
- Bolting kit
- Ice gear - ice axe, crampons, ice boots, ice screws, etc - essential if you're tackling the icy areas of Eishöhle.
- 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 (very lightweight, non-breathable) - 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 ludicrously expensive!)
- 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.
- Laptop/tablet - can be used for data entry/prospecting guide info/drawing up
- Camera/phone, plus your own USB charging cable.
- 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 on the journey. Base camp has a big box of books for when it rains there.
- Mending kit - glue, needle and thread or Speedy Stitcher.
- Spare stuff - check your jammers and descender and, if worn, bring a new one - lots of long, deep or muddy trips can quickly age your kit
Original by Earl Merson (1999); edited and updated David Loeffler (2003), Edvin, Duncan, OllyM (2008) and Wookey (2014) and Philip (2018)