A good backpack is a staple to most outdoor activities and caving, or spelunking, is no exception. As with other activities, the size and functionality of the backpack varies greatly depending on what you are doing. Hiking and backpacking packs can be rather huge, biking backpacks are usually pretty small. A climbing and caving backpack are also going to be on the small side in most cases.
On the way to the cave itself you may have a larger backpack that you carry all of your gear in like your rope, harness, ladder, etc. However, once you are in the cave you will want a lightweight pack. Especially if you are squeezing through small openings and crawling on your stomach. You will need something easy to manage.
Having said that, it all really depends on the cave and the person. If you are going to be in the cave for many hours you will need plenty of water and food as well as lights and other gear, in which case you may need a larger pack. If you are planning on some photography you will have all of your camera gear like lenses and a tripod.. there is so much you could bring.
In the end it’s a personal choice, but I’ll leave you with 3 good, possibly unconventional options to consider as lightweight caving or even rock climbing backpacks.
1. Earth Pak -Waterproof Dry Bag – Budget Pick
This dry bag by EarthPak is the simplest solution I can think of to take caving with you and keep all of your gear safe and dry, and it comes with a free phone pouch to keep your smart phone extra safe. It comes in sizes ranging from 10 liter all the way up to 55 liter and a variety of colors.
It is probably not meant to be used as a caving pack and is certainly not sold as one. For short ventures into caves or even guided tours like to Mammoth Cave I think it works perfect. It’s lightweight, inexpensive and can be used for a variety of other purposes. In my opinion this heavy-duty and rugged little one strapped dry bag is a perfect choice for a number of excursions.
2. Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack – Most Lightweight Pick
First of let me say that I love Osprey packs, I own several myself. The quality is second to none and they have a great warranty. This lightweight backpack by osprey comes in at a whopping 3.04 ounces, although one reviewer weighed the pack on his food scale and it came in at closer to 4oz. It is water resistant (not waterproof), but long as you aren’t taking it under waterfalls or dropping it into pools of water it should keep all of your belongings nice and dry.
This collapsible ultralight pack is not classified as rugged, it is not puncture proof. The material is strong and good for light use, however if you will be doing any serious caving that requires you to slide around on the ground you may want to look at a more heavy duty option.
If you want something a more durable then this lightweight pack from Venture Pal is a bit more rugged option that you may want to consider and is very popular on Amazon.
3. Deuter Speed Lite 20 Athletic Daypack – #1 Pick
Deuter is another great brand that produces only quality products. Like Osprey, they have a great lifetime warranty on their backpacks. This daypack is also water resistant and probably a bit more durable than the Osprey pack above weight in at just over a pound compared to the Osprey at only 3 oz.
Like the Osprey it may be a bit pricey for such a lightweight bag, but you are really paying for the quality of something that is going to last. Just keep in mind that these packs are for light use and not intended for anything to crazy. I will leave you with one more bonus option below that is inexpensive, durable, and highly rated on Amazon but from a lesser known brand.
4. Hikepro 20L Daypack – Bonus Budget Pick
The Hikepro is very lightweight coming in at 7.5oz which is right in between the Deuter and the Osprey. It is water resistant, tear resistant, and collapses into a small pocket for easy stowing.
I can’t find much in the way of a warranty on the Hikepro, but I can venture to guess at this point there is no lifetime warranty like the Deuter and the Osprey. However, at under $20 you wouldn’t really expect an above and beyond type of warranty.
There are over 4k reviews for this little pack on Amazon right now and it has 4.7 stars. I would say that’s a pretty good indication that almost everyone is happy with their purchase.
Check Price on Amazon