So you want to check out caving.... Great!
It can be tough to give advice that covers all situations because different caves can require very different gear. When you come caving with us for the first time we will let you know what specific gear to bring. We want you to be prepared; we will not let you be a danger to yourself or others.
A "wild" cave is a non-commercial cave - a cave with no sidewalks, handrails or lights. For those of you who have never been in a wild cave, you generally need the following:
General 1st time caving gear:
Durable shoes with good traction
Helmet with a chin strap
Three sources of lights, two of which should be helmet-mounted
Extra batteries for those lights
Gardening style gloves (not cotton)
Multiple layers of clothing with a non-cotton base layer
You should know:
Caving will destroy your clothes
Caves in Missouri are around 58°F (14°C) year round. Cave temperatures generally stay the same.
Cave water you encounter will be as cold as spring water. It is cold.
You will likely get muddy and/or wet though it depends on the cave.
You will likely experience tight, cramped spaces or places where falling is a hazard.
Only take in devices that you don't mind destroying (phones/cameras/etc)
Beyond that... Derek Bristol is an excellent source for all things caving. He's online at his own website and on youtube. Here is a four part series that is a top-notch guide to beginners caving:
Part 1: An Introduction to Caves
Part 2: An Overview of Caving
Part 3: Your First Caving Trip
Part 4: Introduction to Project Caving