went caving... argo did great... so did lots of other lights...

mdocod

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So I went on my first "serious" caving trip yesterday. Today I feel like total crap. every muscle hurts, minor bruising and scrapes all over. It was FUN!!

It was really great because there were several guides and lots of experienced caver's with us. A few geology buffs too. spent about 5 hours in there. got to do a little of everything in this cave. Some vertical chimneys, ladders, ropes-up-a-wall, mud, rocks, tight crawls, exploratory digging. Learned some geology along the way. The experience was totally awesome... on to the "important" stuff.. the LIGHTS!...

Ok.. so I mentioned awhile back in another thread that I picked out the Streamlight argo HP to use on this trip (and future trips if I decide to do that)...
I used the regular adjustable straps to mount it to my new shiny helmet, the standard Petzl Ecrin-Roc. It's a good thing I bought a good helmet, cuz dang. I bumped my head a LOT... also, bumped the headlamp against the roof a lot as well... Nothing I used is shiny anymore. It's all mud covered and scuffed and scratched, lol.

I found that about 75% of the time, the low setting is plenty in a cave for total comfort and visibility, I used this setting a lot. jumping to high when in larger rooms that swallow up the light, when trying to pick a line down or up a muddy rocky slope in a large room... or when clambering from rock to rock. The one set of batteries it came with lasted the entire trip without any noticeable dimming on either setting.

Most of the guys who were in there had pretty good stuff, at least one of them had an apex, a lot of black diamond stuff. Most of them seemed to like AA configurations. some packing lithium AAs... All but 1 running modern LED stuff.

A buddy of mine, in the process of trying to mod his older petzl 1W LED(i think it's a yukon) the day before the trip, somehow broke it or something, so he didn't have his primary light... I lent him my garrity (this one https://www.candlepowerforums.com/threads/127394&highlight=garrity ) and it actually did very well. On 1 set of partially used alkalines he made it through the whole trip without any noticeable dimming, even though it isn't regulated. He used the low-leds a lot (trying to make more of a challenge i think, lol) Also played with the red LEDs. He didn't have much problem with the lousy switches, I hate them personally, but he got used to them pretty fast. I'm just happy it survived the trip so he could have fun along the way as well. Bringing extra gear was a good idea.

Being in the presence of caver's with half my flashlight collection and spare batteries crammed into a fanny pack is great, they appreciate that kind of enthusiasm for lighting equipment, unlike the majority of the public, that would look at the collection and think I am nuts. I think all in all, I brought 18 sources of light.
pair of maglights with NIMH loaded(a 2C and 2D) (with a reload of NIMH in the backpack for each)
1 2C 3W taskforce from lowes with NIMH Cs (with 1 reload of NIMH in the pack)
2 maxfires, 1 with a 18650 and a LF HO-4(with spare 18650 and 3 spare 17670s), 1 with the HO-9 and a pair of RCR123s,
a Nuwai ALX-253L with a pair of 17500s (and 2 spare 17500s),
1 ultrafire 4 cell with 2x17670s and a SF P91,
a coast 1AA 3LED thing(V3?),
a 1AA 12LED light from QCG,
2 dorcy 1AAA LEDs
1 PT tec 40 with a radioshack HPR50 halogen bulb and 4 NIMH AAs.
1 riverrock 2AA 1.5W
1 energizer "waterproof" 2xAA incan
1 garrity headlamp mentioned before
1 streamlight argo HP
1 brinkman 3xAAA 1W headlamp (3xAAA carrier loaded, could use spare 17500s mentioned above with aluminum foil wad to complete circuit)
1 energizer 3xAAA 2 white LED(w/1 red) headlamp

also brought 16 spare AA NIMH and 6 AAA NIMH for use in various lights.
also brought about 7 spare PR bulbs for various lights, and 2 replacement lamps for the 9V tactical lights (a G90 and pathfinder P90 for replacement into the ultrafire and maxfire if needed)

A lot of it I left in a larger pack back at the entrance, in case anyone wanted to borrow a light, but brought along the smaller stuff in the fanny pack.

The powerful incans were great for lighting up some of the big rooms. I used the maxfire with the 18650 and HO-4 a LOT in there along with the headlamp.. mostly through tight crawls because the incan light has a powerful soothing effect for me, takes away the gloomy eery feeling I develop in tight places. (I have minor claustrophobia). For anyone planning to enter a cave like this that hasn't done this before, I highly recommend a source of decently bright incandecent light, it will make the tight spaces feel more relaxed.

not all the equipment got used, but of the stuff that did, nothing broke, so I'm pretty happy with it. The maxfires and Tec-40 make great compact reasonably priced incans for a trip like this.
 

cy

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better too many, than not enough. but there's safety in numbers... as number of folks along who also have backup lights.

in other words.... ya went overboard :D
 

jar3ds

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thanks for the report... glad that your headlamp worked well! Thanks for sharing! Next time ya got'a take pics!!! ;)
 

jtice

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Congrats :D
Seems you had a good time, and you werent going to be left in the dark.
Guess theres no need to tell you the "at least three sources of light" rule ;)

~John
 

mdocod

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well... after hearing some stories from people about the "3 sources" rule, I decided that 3 sources is really not enough to make me feel safe... One of the guys I was with said he was on his way out of a cave on his 5th! source of light one time. another story about 2 guys who were on their way out on their last candle after all their electronic light sources failed in some way or another.

overboard? YES! If I used all the cells I brought along in the most efficient places, there would be nearly a month of light...
 

TMorita

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I would recommend not stashing all your lights into the fanny pack.

Just imagine dropping your fanny pack down into some deep crevice...oops...all your backups are gone.

I'd store some in other places just so this scenario won't happen.

Toshi
 

mdocod

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that's a good point, hadn't thought of that, lol.... though, in this cave, all the low places would be semi-accessible for a recovery with some crawling and climbing.

some got transfered to cargo pockets with zippers along the way.. for easier access, so I think I would have been ok, lol.
 

cave dave

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I never bring handhelds anymore. I have three sources of light on my helmet alone. Then two more good headlamps in the pack. My 1st backup is a PT APEX.
 

uk_caver

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On the three sources issue, I'd rather have a couple of really solid lights underground than any number of less reliable ones, and I'd generally count the need to use even the second light as something to be concerned about. However, I guess my main light is effectively two lights sharing a case and battery, so with another light, I'm close to having three.

I can understand the three sources rule in an incandescent context - bulbs can have a fairly high failure rate. However, with LEDs, surely two decent LED lights are more reliable than three incandescents?

That said, I can see that if carrying many spare batteries, if there are reasonable cheap torches around then it can make sense to use the torches as functional battery carriers.
 

JanCPF

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mdocod, Thanks for sharing.

OT: Are there any good caving stories on the net (other than jtice' which of course are good, but I've read them already) preferably suspense packed? :naughty:

Thanks
Jan
 

PeLu

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mdocod said:
well... after hearing some stories from people about the "3 sources" rule, I decided that 3 sources is really not enough to make me feel safe...
I have not needed a backup light the last ~ 8 years. This in five weeks caving expeditions plus several day trips per year. So I carry only one small backup light.
 

uk_caver

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I can't remember if I have ever used my backup light, apart from lending it to other people, and that's in >20 years caving. For at least the last ~12 years, I had a 2AA Maglight in my bag, and never had to bodge it onto my helmet, so I guess I can't have used it over that time. I only got round to mounting it recently when I did a homebuild LED conversion and wanted to play with it.

Before I went LED, I had a regularly maintained Petzl carbide/electric setup which hardly ever let me down apart from very occasionally running out of fuel and two generator breaks. If the electric ever did fail, it wasn't at the same time as a carbide problem.
 

uk_caver

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To clarify, I'm not recommending *not* taking spare lights.

However, If I ended up relying on a 3rd light, let alone a 4th or 5th one, I suspect I'd be thinking "What the **** went wrong with all the lights that broke?" rather than "Good job I had loads of spares!".
 

cave dave

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PeLu said:
I have not needed a backup light the last ~ 8 years. This in five weeks caving expeditions plus several day trips per year. So I carry only one small backup light.


Who wants to place bets on PeLu's primary going out in the next month?

Thats what always happens to me when I say I haven't got a flat tire on my bike in ages.
 

PeLu

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cave dave said:
Who wants to place bets on PeLu's primary going out in the next month?
Bets welcome .-)
In the time before (I'm expedition caving since the late 70ies), especially with carbide, I've had several cases when I needed the the other light (of the two helmet mounted ones).
I'm now carrying the Petzl e+lite in a pocket and will mount it on the helmet when necessary.
In 1999 I got the HDS Actionlight (single unit version) which was the most relyable light I've ever used. It almost never needed any maintainance.
The newer lights need charging and I'm checking contacts etc.

I've seen several people carrying more than than three lights who just were unsure in theirselfes (no, I do not say that all or even most of these people are).
And I've also seen people who do not care enough about their lights because they have plenty of them (unlikely for flashaholics).
Just my observations.

Beside that, I'm looking for a simple and small (short!) single CR123 torch, maybe DD with a P4 and two levels. Very much like an Orb Raw, but waterproof and not necessarly metal.
It should be mounted permanently on the helmet.

BTW, I had several backup lights failing over the years. The just didn't survive the carrying around etc.
As I've mentioned, one of the worst were the ArcAAA. Most of them failed for different reasons as several were used in our caving community.
It seems that I got my share of bad luck in them.
 
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TorchBoy

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mdocod said:
well... after hearing some stories from people about the "3 sources" rule, I decided that 3 sources is really not enough to make me feel safe... One of the guys I was with said he was on his way out of a cave on his 5th! source of light one time. another story about 2 guys who were on their way out on their last candle after all their electronic light sources failed in some way or another.
Ah yes, you remind me of the time... (and since JanCPF asked for it)

For some weird reason I and three friends decided one evening many years ago to go caving and due to work or education schedules we left quite late in the day.

So at 9pm we set off with (we thought) plenty of light - 6 torches between the four of us.

We arrived at the caving location at 11pm and found that I had managed to leave my main light at home. Darn - it was the brightest one, too. 5 torches between the four of us.

We spent the next hour scouring the hillsides looking for a new cave that we hadn't visited before. We failed to find it, but in the process I managed to blow the bulb on my backup light, a mini Maglite I had borrowed. I can't remember if it was a blow on startup or if I dropped it, but when I checked the spare bulb I found it too dead. At least we could use the batteries. 4 torches between the four of us.

At midnight we gave up on finding the "other" cave and entered one we knew about. I don't think we were particularly worried at not having spare light since they were all going strong at that stage. Little did we know. At almost the deepest point in the cave we questioned the guy in our party who kept turning his light off, then on for short periods. He had rechargeable batteries (low capacity NiCd in those days) and they were next to completely flat. Of course it wasn't long before they were completely flat, and he hadn't thought to bring spares. 3 torches between the four of us.

I don't recall how the next two died. Mud or water claimed one of them I think. Yes, 2 torches between the four of us.

By then, of course, we were well on our way back, but not in time to suffer another loss, probably thanks to using heavy duty (carbon zinc) batteries instead of alkaline, with no spares. There's a lot to be said for the boy scouts' motto. 1 torch between the four of us.

Unfortunately by chance it happened to be the most feeble light producer of the torches we had taken, and it wasn't quite up to the long climb up through a rockfall to exit. By the time we were half way up it would only work if held a certain way, with pressure applied just right. Every time we passed it between us it went out - not very reassuring for the odd fall-into-nothing holes we had to climb over. 1/2 a torch between the four of us.

When we eventually got out at 3am the batteries were well past starting to die on it, so we wandered back to the car by starlight. Home at 5am.

uk_caver said:
However, If I ended up relying on a 3rd light, let alone a 4th or 5th one, I suspect I'd be thinking "What the **** went wrong with all the lights that broke?" rather than "Good job I had loads of spares!".
Ditto. I've never known a trip like that one. And I am so glad that LED lights are more reliable than incandescent filaments.
 

PeLu

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TorchBoy said:
Ah yes, you remind me of the time...
The maker of the Scurion was part of a trip when all 4 Petzl Duo lights failed (they were four cavers obviously). And theses are lights made for caving.

BTW, I avoid changing batteries in the cave (I also have to add that I do not make any >100 hour trips any more).
 

uk_caver

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The maker of the Scurion was part of a trip when all 4 Petzl Duo lights failed (they were four cavers obviously). And theses are lights made for caving.

Ah - so that was the inspiration - that's interesting.
It certainly looks like a serious design.

I designed my current light to avoid the problems with a previous tentative homebuild, which was dim, unregulated, and prone to sticking on one brightness level whan it got wet, though it never actually failed, and I was only using it for a few months ogf digging close to the surface.
Sometimes it's good to make mistakes in order to be determined not to repeat them.
 
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