Cave Suits/Coveralls

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Cave Suits/Coveralls

Postby HitekHomeless » Sep 18, 2008 3:01 am

Hi All,
Show me your duds. I am in the market for my first cave suit, and I was curious what everyone else has. Please post a pic of your cave suit, where you got it, a general idea of how much it cost, and how you feel about it. I am sick of being the only one who is muddy at the end of a cave trip and need some ideas. I can't seem find any retail (tractor supply) coveralls that fit a girl. Thanks in advance!

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Re: Cave Suits/Coveralls

Postby incavenow » Sep 18, 2008 7:12 am

Jenn- I find I have a lot more mobility and freedom of movement wearing just polypro with some cutoffs(and kneepads of course).
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Re: Cave Suits/Coveralls

Postby Jeff Bartlett » Sep 18, 2008 7:49 am

well, no offense, but i can't think of a less informative response to a post requesting coverall information than to say "i don't wear coveralls." there seems to be a lot of that on this board... every time someone asks about a particular LED headlamp someone will say "just use carbide," every time someone asks about a particular descending device there's at least one post saying "[insert descending device] is a total death trap piece of junk, you should just use [insert alternate descending device]"

NOT HELPFUL. let's help each other, people. incavenow, don't mean to single you out here, i've done it too.

back on topic, Jenn, right now by far the most common coveralls people are wearing are made by Lost Creek and Meander. Inner Mountain Outfitters stocks both, here and here. as you can tell, nylon coveralls are rather pricey, $140-$160 these days, but last most of us years, even in the nastiest/toughest places. i personally have a pair of Meanders (as well as an older pair from another manufacturer), but others will vouch for the Lost Creek. They are slightly different material and you fill find different reasons for preferring one or the other.

I just bought the Meander because that's what most people had, and I've been pleased with it. Have probably worn it caving 40 times in the past year. Here's a photo (that's me in the yellow).
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Re: Cave Suits/Coveralls

Postby Squirrel Girl » Sep 18, 2008 8:05 am

Another option is B&C Wunderalls or Wunderwear or whatever it's called. I ordered a new pair of overalls and shorts.

People give Cecile kudos and criticisms. My first suit wasn't right and she re did it. A lot of time it doesn't look so pretty. The stitching isn't quite like "store bought." What do we care? It's for caving. It'll get icky on its first trip, depending on where you go.

But I can't find a suit to fit with IMO, so I am having a new suit made by Cecile. You can get whatever color you like. I'm going lime green for the suit and hot pink for the shorts.
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Re: Cave Suits/Coveralls

Postby Jeff Bartlett » Sep 18, 2008 8:30 am

Squirrel Girl wrote:I'm going lime green for the suit and hot pink for the shorts.


lime green and hot pink! you're going to look like a container of rainbow sherbet! :banana_yay:
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Re: Cave Suits/Coveralls

Postby barcelonacvr » Sep 18, 2008 8:41 am

I have a set of coveralls made by Martin Davis ,a rather prolific caver and karst manager on Vancouver Island. Custom for for $200 Canadian and I cannot recommend his suits enough.I had a Lost Creek and it was well built but unless your one of the few that fits off the rack,I cannot convey how much nicer a custom fit is.

I posted about his suits before so you should find it by searching for Martin Davis.The material he uses is very comfortable but has a perfect texture for chimneying friction etc.

I noticed in a past thread that someone asked if Martin was still making suits,yes indeed ;as we just bought a pair as a wedding present for some fellow cavers.
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Re: Cave Suits/Coveralls

Postby mgmills » Sep 18, 2008 8:58 am

Squirrel Girl wrote:Another option is B&C Wunderalls or Wunderwear or whatever it's called. I ordered a new pair of overalls and shorts.

People give Cecile kudos and criticisms. My first suit wasn't right and she re did it. A lot of time it doesn't look so pretty. The stitching isn't quite like "store bought." What do we care? It's for caving. It'll get icky on its first trip, depending on where you go.

But I can't find a suit to fit with IMO, so I am having a new suit made by Cecile. You can get whatever color you like. I'm going lime green for the suit and hot pink for the shorts.



I like the colors lime green and hot pink. My caving pants are light blue and dark blue. (My first pair was red and blue).

I agree with Barbara. Cecile's stuff isn't cheap (or "polished") but it does the job. Being a TAG area caver I find long sleeve suits are just too hot for me. She will make just pants or a "bib" style overall.

I think that fit of "off the rack" coveralls is more problamatic for lots of people. . . not all of us are ideally proportioned.

She also will do repairs and adjustments. My first pair of caving pants had the rear end reinforced several times (I'm known for my "butt caving" style of negotiating steep slopes and traveses) before I fianlly retired them. They still have milage in them but I gained a few pounds and they are no longer comfortable.

Last time I checked Cecile didn't have a website but she is an NSS member and is listed in the Members Manual as Cecile James. If you plan to attend the upcoming TAG Fall Cave-In you can see her wares. She also attends lots of other events.
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Re: Cave Suits/Coveralls

Postby mgmills » Sep 18, 2008 9:05 am

xcathodex wrote:
Squirrel Girl wrote:I'm going lime green for the suit and hot pink for the shorts.


lime green and hot pink! you're going to look like a container of rainbow sherbet! :banana_yay:



I like rainbow sherbert :bananabat:
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Re: Cave Suits/Coveralls

Postby John Lovaas » Sep 18, 2008 10:29 am

xcathodex wrote:well, no offense, but i can't think of a less informative response to a post requesting coverall information than to say "i don't wear coveralls." there seems to be a lot of that on this board... every time someone asks about a particular LED headlamp someone will say "just use carbide," every time someone asks about a particular descending device there's at least one post saying "[insert descending device] is a total death trap piece of junk, you should just use [insert alternate descending device]"


Hi Jeff-

I don't mean to poke or prod or be a nuisance, but I think I sold you my orange and black B&C Wunderalls because, for the most part, I don't wear coveralls. That is to say, unless the ambient temperature is under 50F or so. If the cave is warmer, and there's a lot of water, I can dig out a thin farmer john or shorty.

And unless Jeff H. edited his post, he didn't say anything about not wearing coveralls. He pointed out his personal choice for gear, which is entirely suitable for a lot of TAG caving. If I'm in TAG, Ozarkistan, or Mammoth, and I'm not swimming, I've got a pair of long johns with shorts to protect my butt, and short sleeve T shirt. If I stop to survey, I put on a balaclava and a long sleeve poly top and I'm toasty- but that's me and my metabolism.

If I may be a bit tongue in cheek at the moment, Jenn- if you are concerned about not getting muddy, resistance is futile- the mud will find you! For abrasion resistance and warmth, I'd would look at how you tolerate cold and/or wet conditions relative to other cavers, and then balance your gear choice accordingly. Tuning your gear is like tuning a carburator- it'll take some time, and you'll probably burn yourself once or twice ;-)

The best bet is to visit vendors and try things on for size. Styles and designs change over time. I can speak to my current Lost Creek overalls, which I wear in 45F caves. A few years ago, the cut of the Lost Creek suit would have made me look like Maggie Simpson bundled up for a winter outing- the current design fits me great!

When I started caving, I was universally told that you must wear coveralls when caving, whether in Iowa or Kentucky. As a result, caving totally sucked for me; sweat poured down my face in buckets. At some point I realized I was a competent adult in my early 30's and could dress myself, based on my observation of the conditions I would encounter- and caving became fun!
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Re: Cave Suits/Coveralls

Postby CaverScott » Sep 18, 2008 11:28 am

Jenn - What part of the country (or world) would you be using these coveralls in?
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Re: Cave Suits/Coveralls

Postby Jeff Bartlett » Sep 18, 2008 11:32 am

John Lovaas wrote:orange and black B&C Wunderalls


by the way, those are great. they don't make 'em like they used to!
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Re: Cave Suits/Coveralls

Postby incavenow » Sep 18, 2008 3:18 pm

John Lovaas wrote:
xcathodex wrote:well, no offense, but i can't think of a less informative response to a post requesting coverall information than to say "i don't wear coveralls." there seems to be a lot of that on this board... every time someone asks about a particular LED headlamp someone will say "just use carbide," every time someone asks about a particular descending device there's at least one post saying "[insert descending device] is a total death trap piece of junk, you should just use [insert alternate descending device]"


Hi Jeff-

I don't mean to poke or prod or be a nuisance, but I think I sold you my orange and black B&C Wunderalls because, for the most part, I don't wear coveralls. That is to say, unless the ambient temperature is under 50F or so. If the cave is warmer, and there's a lot of water, I can dig out a thin farmer john or shorty.

And unless Jeff H. edited his post, he didn't say anything about not wearing coveralls. He pointed out his personal choice for gear, which is entirely suitable for a lot of TAG caving.


No offense taken. :boxing: I'm not one of those types who go ballistic over constructive criticism. :argue: After all this a discussion forum. Let me expand on my statement. Whatever each of us decide to wear caving is a matter of personal choice. I did start out wearing coveralls; lightweight, short sleeve, off the shelf Dickies. My avatar shows me in them. I didn't like them. They were too hot, soaked up water, didn't breath and were very restrictive of movement. And I still got muddy.(Just part of the cave invironment). After looking around at what some of my grotto members wore on caving trips, I noticed two distinct choices of cave wear. Some favored coveralls, and some went for a more lightweight attire. Mostly the older cavers(like me), found it hard enough to crawl and climb and the poly outfit helped a lot. I found they allowed me much more freedom of movement, they dried quickly while wearing, and wicked away sweat. Not to mention being cooler to wear, and at the same time keeping me warm enough in a cave. I have caving friends who love their hard shells, but I have noticed they tend to overheat more then I do. I also have an easier time in tight spaces then they do. They do tend to stay cleaner then I do and suffer less scrapes and gouges than I do. Also my poly shreds a lot quicker then their outfits, but poly is fairly cheap.
If you feel that caving coveralls are the right thing for you, then by all means, find a good set and enjoy them. I was simply trying to offer an alternative. The more choices you have, the better you can make a decision.
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Re: Cave Suits/Coveralls

Postby Lava tuber » Sep 18, 2008 3:37 pm

What would be a good pair of coveralls for a cold cave what else would you wear under it ? :cold: :cold:
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Re: Cave Suits/Coveralls

Postby wyandottecaver » Sep 18, 2008 5:15 pm

How cold and is it wet? PVC suits are great for cold and wet caves but are quite hot for "normal" caving here in Indiana where nylon is preferred. As for underneath, thats dictated by preference and cave conditions. Only you and your cave will be able to give the *right* answer.

I tend to like being cool, so for a 6-8 hr trip in knee-waist deep water where I will be moving a lot I would wear coveralls, a light-polypro top and medium bottom and a dry medium polypro top in my pack in case i stayed longer or moved slower than i hoped :yikes: . If I was tedious surveying or it was a very slow group I would wear a fleece unionsuit under the coveralls.

The main considerations are desert (~80deg) temperate (~52deg) or alpine (~32 deg), dry or wet, and moving fast or slow. For a wet, slow moving alpine cave *I* would stay home :big grin: For a dry temperate cave moving fast I might have super thin polypro under jeans and t shirt!
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Re: Cave Suits/Coveralls

Postby caveflower » Sep 18, 2008 5:35 pm

Hey! Jenn, Hows the homelessness going? You seen my neon pink Lost Creek cave suit at Wormfest. In blue river run cave. I love mine but I had it special made to fit me. I have short legs and a short torso. All the other suits I have owned were all to long in the crouch and hung down to my knees. They were always getting caught on things at the worst times. I tend to be cold natured so I like the extra warmth. If its a dry cave I wear light ploypros if its wet and muddy I go heavy ploypros if I'm swimming my 3mm wetsuit. You'll love how easy it is to clean just hose it off and let air dry and your done. In your situation that would be a big help.
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