Diving in caves or in any overhead environment requires special equipment as well as special training. Most certifying agencies will offer a cave or cavern diving certification course. Due to the increased danger involved with Cave Diving, it is considered one of the most gear intensive forms of diving.
Whether cavern diving or cave diving, special equipment is required and you need to know how to use that equipment. Outlined is this section is the type of gear for all types of cave diving. Go to our main Gear Guide for information on all diving equipment.
The NSS Cave Diving Manual is a great reference for cave divers and anyone contemplating cave diving. Reference this manual when planning your next dive: NSS CAVE DIVING MANUAL
Here is a partial list of specific cave diving gear:
1. Mask: Low Volume mask reduces drag and requires less effort to clear it of water.
3. Three lights to include one hat can be used hands free
4. Wet/Dry suits with hood. Conditions specific.
5. Crotch Strap to hold BCD in place
7. Knife: Mounted in front, near the center of the diver’s body
8. Pockets: Hip-mounted to reduce drag; these pockets are ideal for storing slates, decompression tables, small guideline spools or other necessary equipment
10. Double Cylinders: Dependent upon dive plan.
13. Compass: Wrist mounted
14. Fins without buckles
15. Guideline Arrows
16. Stage bottles: As required by the dive plan
For a full rundown of required cave diving gear, consult the NSS CAVE DIVING MANUAL
Cavern and Cave Diving?
Cavern diving is defined as a dive that takes place under no-decompression limits during daylight hours within direct sight of the surface. Limits for cavern diving are a maximum of 70 feet deep and no more than 130 feet of penetration into the cavern zone. Diving a “Cenotes” in Mexico may fall under this category.
The cavern must be large enough for two divers to swim side by side at all times. Visibility should be 40 or more feet. Cavern diving is good place to start for the aspiring cave diver. It presents an opportunity to test your limits. If you are not comfortable with cavern diving, cave diving will present stresses that you may not be prepared for.
Full cave diving is penetrating into a cave further than the sight of the surface or natural light. Cave diving is considered diving to a maximum depth of 130 feet . Cave divers are know to explore depths much deeper, requiring the use of multiple tanks and stage bottles.
Cave diving presents the opportunity to explore tunnels, rock formations, pristine cave floors. The formation of unique rocks, walls and the shape of cave tunnels is often cannot be found many places on the surface. There is life in caves, from blind crayfish to catfish.
Cave diving in Florida and Mexico is considered some of the best in the world and offers the properly trained cave diver an opportunity to dive and explore many levels of the sport. The Bahamas also have some great cave dives, as well as Cuba and some in Europe.
The Florida springs and sinkholes offer cave diving into Florida’s aquifer. Mexican (Yucatan Peninsula) cave dives are some of the most beautiful in the world. These caves were dry during the ice age and formed stalactites and stalagmites . When the ice melted the water rushed back into the caves and the formations were frozen in time, making for some of the most beautiful cave diving in the world.
Certification is required to dive in most caves. Cave or cavern diving is extremely dangerous without the proper training. Cave and cavern diving requires special training, equipment, techniques, and procedures. It should not be conducted unless you have the proper training.
Don’t risk your life by attempting a cave dive before receiving the proper training. Special gear is required to dive safely in caves. Equipment, such as line reels, directional markers, backplate and harness, wing BC, primary and backup lights, special long hose for your regulators, etc. Your basic open water gear will not suffice for diving in caverns or caves.
Cave diving has been considered one of the most hazardous forms of diving, but it doesn’t have to be with proper training and follow the rules. With anything that risks your life, the safety factor exponentially grows when you receive the proper training. You wouldn’t skydive or fly an airplane without proper training and the same goes with cavern or cave diving. Cave diving is safe with the proper training. By following the rules, having the proper equipment, configuring it correctly and by being fit both physically and mentally cave diving can be an exciting and safe experience.