Ask Cavers: What is the Best Footwear for Dry Caving?

June 12, 2013
Muddy Boots.

Muddy Boots. Photo by Craig Sunter/flickr

Caving seems to destroy footwear, with the mud and crawling acting like acid to dissolve away even toughest of boots.

After ruining yet another pair of hiking boots while caving recently, this week’s Ask Cavers question had to ask what the best footwear is for caving?

This question is gears specifically to dry caves as there already seems to be a strong consensus that wellies (rubber boots) are the only way to go in wet caves.

Share your thoughts and comments in the discussion below.

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Comments (5)

  1. Clinton Barber
    June 13, 2013 at 8:11 am

    I have found that it is more important to have a source of cheap boots rather than a perfect boot. Where I live there is a second hand/referbished shoe store where boots can be bought for as low as $20/pair. I chose to go with a waterproof, side-zipper boot (great for on/off ease) called the Rocky Alpha Force. They are super light, super warm, and have EXCELLENT traction. Normally they run $90 or so but i’ve been buying them for $25 and they work great! Despite the apparent “consensus” on wellies being the best for wet caves I’m going to disagree. Muck boots, while pricey, are the best boot for wet caving. They do have downsides like being heavy, and the traction isnt the best, but they are bouyant and there is no comparison to the warmth and comfort they provide. add a layer of plasti-dip to the neoprene and you have yourself one tough boot. been using mine for 3 solid years now and they are still in great shape because there are no seems to bust through

  2. Herman Miller
    June 13, 2013 at 8:27 am

    I have to also agree cheaper is almost always better then best in terms of caving. Thankfully I have been exhausting the numerous pairs of boots I was given in the military. Throw away is best when it comes to caving.

  3. Dianne
    June 13, 2013 at 9:36 am

    Etche’s French Caving boot, a.k.a in the US as the “Joop” boot. I think they are awesome in both wet and dry caves. The boot is made from natural rubber. The sole has a thick lug, great for muddy caves. I also like the boots for dry caves, because of the sticky traction they offer. Some have said they will leave marks on the lighter colored rock, however the only time I had a skid mark I simply wiped it away. I am not sure anyone is importing them into the US any longer… but they are awesome if you can get your feet into them.

  4. Charles Sifers
    June 13, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Caves aren’t any different from what i work in every day. If you wear leather boots, treat them with Sno-Seal, then clean them up when you’re done.

  5. July 18, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    The cheapest ones…..

    Thank you
    Giannis Zavitsanakis – Greece

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