During the day while I was hiking I only carried my small day backpack. The only requirement of that bag was that in addition to my own personal stuff I had to be able to fit my helmet inside the bag as well. You can’t attach it to the outside of your backpack.
For the rest of our items Oxalis provided us each with a thick giant plastic bag to put our stuff in for the porters to carry. We left all of our other belongings and suitcases with Oxalis in addition to all our valuables and wallet/passport and they were waiting for us at our hotel on the last night. You don’t need any money or ID while you’re in the park.
Oxalis recommended purchasing the Five Ten Canyoneer shoes for this expedition. I was able to find them online and they were great, especially on the wet surfaces. I still have them although I’m not sure what I will be doing with them next. Make sure you really break them in before you go. I had only worn mine a few times so they were a little stiff at the beginning. By the end they definitely felt how they probably should’ve felt like before I started. They also recommended a backup pair of shoes but I didn’t bring a pair and it was fine.
Here’s what I packed for four nights and five days in Son Doong Cave.
I chose a backpack on the smaller side and it fit everything I brought perfectly. I used the L.L. Bean Stowaway backpack. Make sure you choose a backpack that has outside water bottle pockets. I only brought one but should’ve bought two of the aluminum 16oz Coleman water bottles. They were extremely light and had clips to add extra security onto my backpack.
There were a few times when we were crossing water that our backpacks dipped into the water so I made sure to keep all my valuables in a dry bag inside of my backpack.
+ L.L. Bean Stowaway backpack
+ Sony A600 Camera
+ Camera case with additional memory cards
+ Gorillapod tripod
+ Sea to Summit dry bag
+ iPhone 6 with LifeProof case
+ Small pouch for all my medicines/first aid
+ Coleman Aluminum 160z water bottle (I only had one so I just used a plastic recyclable bottle as my second bottle).
+ I also had a few snack bars just in case but didn’t end up needing them!
Within the plastic bag I kept everything divided into separate gallon size ziplock bags. Because of the moisture anything that got wet or was exposed too long became damp so this kept my dry things dry and my wet things separate.
+ (1) pair of long leggings + (1) I was wearing
+ (3) tank tops (colors make better photos!) +(1) I was wearing – I could’ve left one at home
+ (1) sports bra + (1) I was wearing
+ (2) camp shorts + (1) camp tee + (1) camp tank top
+ (4) underwear
+ (4) pairs of socks
+ Silk sleepsac – I ended up just sleeping inside of this on top of my sleeping bag
+ Wet wipes
+ Travel towel
+ Face wipes
+ Face lotion
+ Bugspray – I didn’t end up needing this
+ Sunscreen – I didn’t bring a hat but it is recommended for the outside hiking if you like having one
+ Portable charger & cords for camera & phone
+ Flip flops
+ Blister dressings
+ Headlamp & batteries for headlamp
Shared with Friends
+ Gold Bond medicated foot powder – I didn’t really end up using this much but it was to prevent the foot rot from our feet being in wet socks & shoes all day!
+ Biodegradable soap/shampoo – I mostly just used my wet wipes and didn’t end up washing my hair because I kept it in braids but there was a time during a water crossing where we stopped and you could do a quick bathing in your clothes
+ Rehydration tablets – The guides also carried additional in their first aid kit
What I Wish I’d Packed
+ GoPro – I’m still on the fence about this one but I probably would’ve taken a lot more video and worn it on my neck while were climbing for some more action shots between the boulders.
+ Wide angle lens – For some wider landscape shots
+ My own gloves – Just for comfort, the gloves they gave us were fine but since my hands are so small it would’ve been more comfortable to have my own
+ Long sleeve tee – I was okay without it but if you tend to scratch and bruise easily it probably would be good to have this for some of the days inside the cave when it was cooler and we were climbing in the rocks with more risk of scratching ourselves on the boulders
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