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The Basics of a Good Foundation

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The basics of a good foundation are inherent to the quality of the material or tools that are used in the building of that foundation. Gear configuration is one of the tools that will shape a cave diver career.

Gear configuration is an essential topic. This is basic for all cave training. Remember what we talked about on our last “Tips and Technique” column. 2013 Underwater Speleology The journal of the cave Diving Section of the National Speleological Society NSS/CDS

Sea to Sky

“Gear configuration is an important factor. Remember your training. Look around and ask other divers why they use a specific type of equipment or configuration. Be open-minded.”

We need the best possible tools to do the perfect job. If I visualize a cave diver in the 80’s the gear set was limited to the basics. The equipment is probably safer today but divers in the past paid more attention on what they had, and I am sure it was taking long hours to get the best on their gear configuration set up. Given the fact that gear donned was minimal, streamlining was commonly and easily achieved. So let’s go back to the minimum gear requirements for Cavern, Intro Cave and Cave Diving dives.

Practice in a pool or in a confined Water, with your equipment helps to understand it better. (see IANTD Essentials Recreational Scuba Diver video gear removal practice)

The main recommendations to a good gear configuration are:

  • Redundancy
  • Streamlining
  • Accessibility
  • Comfort

Cavern Diver Equipment

Steel Tanks 80s or 85s are recommended; the weight of the tank will minimize the weight on the belt, while maintaining slightly negative buoyancy at your safety decompression stop. These tanks are also easier to adjust on the diver’s body. If you choose aluminum tanks, you will have to position the weights forward of the body on your weight belt, for proper balance.


DIN valves are highly recommended, because they allow a better connection that reduces the risk of leaks.


It is a good practice today to use wings and harness such as Transpac from Dive Rite, or a standard aluminum back-plate with wings such as OMS, or Halcyon. The advantages are enormous: it is easier to attach the pressure gauge with large D-rings and you will have better horizontal position swimming underwater.

Regulators and Hoses

Well maintained regulators are fine, I would go with the main brands such as: Apex, Aqualung, Atomics, Dive Rite, Poseidon, Scubapro, and make sure that parts will be available when traveling. I will recommend a short hose with a back-up regulator attached with a bungee around the neck, and a 5‟ to 7‟ long hose wrapped also around the neck.

Gauges and Console

One SPG (Submersible Pressure Gauge) is a good idea. I suggest removing the plastic cover on the SPG itself that has a tendency to keep moisture in, even if it protects the SPG from shocks; it then becomes easier to see and control leaks.

Personally I do not like consoles. They are too bulky – even the smaller ones. Also, in case of an emergency, the diver needs both hands, so they can easily have access to control their depth and stop time. I strongly recommend wearing everything on the wrists.

Knifes and cutters

Cutting devices are very important pieces of equipment, small and located on the harness or waist strap. would recommend Z-knives, which are easier to use with one hand and they cut almost everything (monofilament, cave-line, nets, etc.)

The Intro-cave diver gear configuration

We would use the same basics but we will add and dual first and second stage as seen in picture.

Original Article was published in the Volume 40 Oct/Nov/Dec/ 2013 Underwater Speleology The journal of the cave Diving Section of the National Speleological Society NSS/CDS

Learn more at: www.cavedivertraining.com


La Galigo

About Author

Georges Gawinowski has been teaching full time scuba diving for 18 years. He is located in North Florida in "Cave country". He is IANTD's Training Director for the US South-East coast, member of the IANTD Board of Advisors.

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