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Paris Catacombs - Packing List

Discussion in 'Kit / Clothing / Equipment' started by Oxygen Thief, Nov 15, 2006.

  1. Oxygen Thief

    Oxygen Thief Admin
    Staff Member Admin

    Oct 17, 2005
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    This is my suggestion for a packing list for a multi-day trip to the Paris catacombs.

    Updated with suggestions from the forum and also to update what kit we actually use, as it does change from time to time.

    These are 'the basics' based on experiences from previous trips. Remember you have to carry everything around, it becomes uncomfortable steadily and surely.


    Essential equipment is marked with an asterix *

    Personal items.

    * Eurostar, Ferry or flight tickets
    * Passport (Mandatory - you can get arrested for not having it on you)
    * Euros, wallet, cards
    * Mobile phone and contact numbers
    * Drybag for above kit

    Essential Clothing and equipment...

    * Your usual exploring clothes. Combat trousers, or other quick drying material is ideal, Jeans not so ideal. Don't bring a bulky coat, use a lightweight alternative. Your exposure to weather is going to be limited.
    * Waders (preferably thigh waders, rather than chest waders, or wellies). Insoles and big socks are a bonus but a bit pinchy at times. If you are using these then buy your waders one size too large. (You can wear wellies or boots but you will get wet.)
    * Headlamp
    * Spare light ie torch or head lamp
    * Spare batteries for each
    * Rucsac, about 50 - 60 litres should be sufficient. Old and dirty is good. Low centre of gravity and not too high also. Do not take a rucsac larger than this - it's a liability. Caving bags are also good if you have one.
    * Personal First Aid kit
    * Sleeping Bag (2 season will be OK)
    * Cutlery or a Spork
    * Food and drink - discussed below



    Headlamp attached to helmet
    Knee pads - for those crawls - not essential but very nice if you can.
    Camera, batteries, accessories
    Small gas cooker and cartridge to make cups of coffee and heat cans of food.
    Something to cook in. I use a stainless steel mug, and the gas canister fits exactly inside that to save space.
    Tea-light candles if requested
    Music (CD, MP3 etc)
    Toothbrush and Toothpaste
    Toilet paper for emergencies
    'Ladies things' and a bag or two for disposal.
    An energy bar or two, or a bag of sweets or some chocolate, for when your energy levels need a quick boost.
    Foil blanket
    Self inflating sleeping mat
    Rubbish bag - we don't leave trash down there, everything comes out with us.
    E1-11 Medical Card - https://www.ehic.org.uk/Internet/home.do
    A sit-mat, or a small piece of foam mat, 30cm square maybe, just to insulate and keep dry when your sat down on rock and mud.
    Antibacterial wet wipes, hand sanitizer or no-rinse soap. It's a bit fetid down there even if you can't see it.
    Lightweight gloves, for climbing the ladders.


    Group Leaders...

    Need to take the following...

    * Map (Laminated or otherwise waterproof)
    * Spare Map
    * Compass
    * Spare Compass
    * Detailed maps of individual networks


    Food and drink...

    You will need food and drink.

    No need to carry anything over though it can all be bought locally The local shops are very good and sell everything we need.

    Eating well and not drinking too much alcohol beforehand will help greatly.

    Here's a standard list. It's your responsibly to take enough (but not far too much) for a high-energy high-impact trip.

    * Water (= life). 2 litres or more. Can be replaced with energy type drinks or even milk shakes. Camelbacks or similar are not recommended, we've seen them burst many times. Buy small bottles (500ml or less) so if one punctures or otherwise leaks, it's not catastrophic to your kit or water supply.
    * Food. The local supermarkets are well stocked. On the first day we can eat fresh cheese, bread, sliced meat and salad. Simple and healthy. Day 2 more of the same, and maybe a can of stew or casserole.
    * Alcohol... is acceptable within safe limits. Can you climb a 30 metre wet vertical ladder with a rucsac whilst wearing waders, SAFELY, while drunk or impaired?



    Bring a small bag with a set of clothes for your return journey and leave it at Gare du Nord in the secure lockers for a few Euros.

    Travel out in your exploring clothes, with your waders in a separate lightweight bag or attached to your rucsac. Wear the lightest smallest footwear, trainers ideal. Get changed into the waders at some point determined by the group leader. You then carry your trainers underground. You will be wearing waders 100% of your time underground.

    Cut your toenails very very short. When you stub your toes it will reduce the impact.

    To print this list click here... http://www.28dayslater.co.uk/forums/printthread.php?t=5644
    Any additions or amendments, please discuss in a new thread, I'll update the list as required.
    #1 Oxygen Thief, Nov 15, 2006
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2008

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  2. The Franconian

    The Franconian 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    Nov 8, 2012
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    have you got gloves already ?
    sharp metall on the walls where they cut off the cable carriers
    I use short lashing straps to make my wellies better fit
    spare socks and maybe slippers for longer rests
    short rope and snap hook to fix your rucksack to your belt climbing down shaft ladders
    #2 The Franconian, Apr 3, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2013
  3. spungletrumpet

    spungletrumpet Super Moderator
    Staff Member Moderator

    Oct 3, 2008
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    Nappy bags are light and very useful.

    Also, if you are underground for a couple of nights or more, get a big baguette and wrap your roll mat round it. Get a whole Camembert, or a big chunk of Brie, as well as a reasonably sized 'saucisson sec'. Try to eat nothing but that for the first 24 hours. It will be as effective as Imodium at bunging you up.
    If you are staying longer then 24 hours then buy enough tins of Cassoulet and packets of Cous Cous to last you the rest of your trip. You will need an 'alpine style' gas cooker to heat them up. This will still work out less bulky than using self-heating cans and will provide better nutrition.

    If you want to get pissed, buy strong spirits and decant them into small (empty) plastic coke bottles. Don't use the same style of container that you use for your drinking water or it gets a bit confusing. After 4 days underground you really don't want to find that your remaining 300ml of drinking water is, actually, 50% vodka. Trust me!

    If you don't have a small rucksack then use a big one. Just don't fill it up. An 85l rucksack that is half full has a low enough centre of gravity to make it more comfortable than a 45l rucksack that is full to capacity. Big caving bags are good, but only for a couple of days. They also tend to have quite uncomfortable straps that make your shoulders red raw after a long period.

    If you are into the photography side of things, then take a camera that you can have at hand all the time. Everyone has seen carefully composed photos of the more popular features in the Catas. The more memorable pics are the ones that are taken while the expensive DSLRs are packed out of harm's way. There are very few big spaces that require a lot of light.

    If you arrive in Paris and can't find supplies:

    Carbide, camping gas and compasses from 'The Old Thief'. Overpriced but local and plentiful!
    Google 'Au Vieux Campeur'
    Google Maps

    Baguettes, saucisson, cheese and cassoulet here:
    Google Maps
    merryprankster likes this.
  4. Oxygen Thief

    Oxygen Thief Admin
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    Oct 17, 2005
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    Not sure about the couscous, but yes, that would be good, as would maybe savoury rice, noodles, that sort of thing.

    The cans of cassoulet come in various flavours and are all good. Pate is also cheap.

    I put my spirits (sloe gin) into a red coleman fuel bottle. There's no way I'm mistaking that for water, and it stops others from drinking it, unless they're serious alcoholics anyway.

    The problem I found with big rucsacks is they are drag a lot on the top and sides when the tunnels get smaller, and a proper nightmare when being dragged.

    I can only recommend one bag, the Highlander / pro-Force 66 litre rucksack. Several of us have taken these right to the limits, they are seriously hard wearing.

    There's nowhere that can't be lit up with a P7 and within the limits of any compact, even 5 seconds. And yes, it's been photographed to death, candid on-the-go pictures are the way forward.

    You can get a decent cooker for a lot less, this sort of thing... http://www.urbanexploring.co.uk/shop/compact-stove/ - I've got something very similar and it's been great. Remember that gas is not allowed on the Eurostar. If you're travelling that way you will need to buy some in Paris.
  5. The Franconian

    The Franconian 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    Nov 8, 2012
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    #5 The Franconian, Apr 4, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 17, 2014
  6. Evilgenius

    Evilgenius 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

    Mar 2, 2009
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    I would say extra socks as three days solid in waders aint good trust me and drying socks isnt the easy down there either!

    Some guys bought flip flops for the evenings when your out waders but still moving about, good plan as simple, cheap, easy to store plus light.

    As Spungle said big baguette wrapped in roll mat, whole Camembert and a litre of port in a tin bottle done the job for me.
  7. Garou Garou

    Garou Garou 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    Jun 8, 2012
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    djio likes this.
  8. djio

    djio 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

    Nov 12, 2016
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    This thread was very helpful. Thank you, Oxygen Thief!
    Oxygen Thief likes this.
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