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Cave training - GUE vs. TDI/IANTD (or other)

Discussion in 'Cave Diving' started by naick, Feb 4, 2019.

  1. naick

    naick Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Belgium
    Hey guys,

    I'm looking into doing cave training (after diving the cenotes in Mexico, see my thread We did our first cenote dives and we're HOOKED)
    I've been doing quite a bit of research and have some remaining questions on the agencies in specific. I'm well aware of the importance of the instructor and choosing a good instructor. I also do realize that the agency you pick can have some impact as well. I'm not trying to open up a can of worms here, with this post, but I've got some genuine questions on differences between agencies (I know feelings can run strong on this topic). Could anyone shine a light on my questions:
    - What are the pro's or con's of GUE versus TDI and IANTD as an agency (especially related to cave diving)?
    - What are the pro's and con's of the different training routes that they offer (e.g. Cave 1, Cave 2 in GUE vs. TDI Introductory Cave Diver and Full cave, etc.).
    - Pro's and con's in standards used at these agencies?
    - Anything else I didn't think of?

    Thanks a lot guys!
  2. PfcAJ

    PfcAJ Orca

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: St Petersburg, Fl
    You get a very consistent product with GUE. The quality control is very high, the expectations are well known, and you don’t have to worry about instructors throwing in “personal flair” which may or may not be absolute baloney.

    With other agencies, there’s a LOT of variation. Some great instructors. Some uhh... well... not.

    GUE demands passing their Fundamentals class before you can even sign up for a cave class. I think there’s a lot of value to this. Before you head down on your cave class, you’ll know that you have the base skills to start the class. Other agencies do not have this, but it’s sometimes incorporated into cavern (but didn’t you sign up to learn how to cavern dive, not work on basic skill refinement?).

    Cave 1 gives a bit more latitude than intro to cave. It falls somewhere between intro and apprentice.

    Cave 2 includes use of stage bottles, a step above some full cave courses. Mine also had a basic segment on survey and some decompression training.

    Ok, GUE “downsides”:

    It’s expensive. If you’re ballin on a budget, the course costs with GUE will turn you away.

    It’s definitly a “do it our way” organization. If you won’t accept their methods during the course, or you value “personal preference” over standardization, you’re gunna have a bad time.

    GUE can be a bit cliquey. The emphasis on standardization and shared methods disinclines some people from doing cave or technical dives with people who don’t have the same training, equipment, and mindset. If diving with everyone everywhere is important to you, GUE might not be the best fit.

    All that said, I fully believe that GUE is the best in the game when it comes to technical and cave training. Holding a GUE cave cert states without a doubt that you met a rigorous standard. An IANTD does not have the same guarantee.
  3. almostDIR

    almostDIR Barracuda

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Finland
    if you want to do cave sidemount I have understood that it comes much later in GUE path than which is possible with other agencies.
    I have understood that it is not possible to mix and match courses with GUE (though don't know if it's possible to for example mix and match TDI and IANTD cave courses either? ) but if you have the possibility for all GUE cave path it would be an excellent choice for sure. when comparing the course descriptions if is clear that GUE has combined more in a single course compared to others like tdi/iantd where it is much more segmented/more separate courses for the same info.

    other agencies instructors may actually recommend a GUE Fundies class before doing a Cavern course, I am probably going that path too sometime later when having more diving experience
    Esprise Me likes this.
  4. decompression

    decompression Instructor...seriously...

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Victoria, BC, Canada
    For about a hundred reasons, choose GUE......if you want to do sidemount choose a GUE trained TDI instructor.
  5. naick

    naick Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Belgium
    Thanks a lot for your insights guys. Really good input there. I was already quite convinced on the GUE path. I dont't have any problem with the standardization part. I dive a DIR-ish set-up anyway (give or take a few details - I still have the bases on my tanks, blasphemy :wink:.

    It does make a lot of sense to do the fundies so you have that squared away. There's even a local GUE instructor for fundies so that's handy.

    I'm not interested in sidemount at this point and probably not in the future. Plenty of caves to not have to crawl through small holes.

    But holy cow, those courses are expensive. I'll just have to rob a bank... Or two!
    ScubaSam likes this.
  6. JohnnyC

    JohnnyC PADI Pro

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: United States
    @PfcAJ hit the nail on the head and not much more needs to be said. That doesn't mean you can't get fantastic training outside of the GUE structure, but like he said, it's a consistent product doing with GUE.
  7. chrisch

    chrisch Solo Diver

    GUE is costly in both time and money. It is - I believe - the best training available on a consistent basis. But your point is a good one and not everyone has the time and money available to follow this system. It is perfectly possible to learn the techniques and skills with other agencies. Even with a less talented instructor you can top up with your own skills practice and there is a lot of information on line and in many good books. If the student is determined to be good then s/he will be. With GUE you have to be or no certification.

    I really like the GUE team attitude. I like it in their instructors and in GUE divers. But you can have that attitude and not be GUE.

    My spending priorities are elsewhere and my training is with TDI. My wife and I practice skills together and I do not feel I am getting a worse deal in any way by adding to the purchased training by doing some of my own. The only issue is if a person doesn't have the right attitude and wants the easiest way to a plastic card so they can dive beyond their ability level. You cannot get that with GUE. You can get to be a good diver or cave diver by many routes.
    Esprise Me likes this.
  8. barth

    barth DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Netherlands
    I’m not sure if I’m right. Can you check this and tell me if it’s wrong?


    650 fundamentals 4 days

    2250 cave 1 6 days

    2250 cave 2 6 days

    Bottom stage(s), deco stage(s), complex navigation and deco.

    5150/16 days

    TDI :

    TDI intro to tech 350 2 days

    Caverndiver 1 day 175

    Intro to cave 4 days 1000

    Fullcave 5 days 1250

    Stage cave Diver 4 days 1000

    3775 / 16 days
  9. barth

    barth DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Netherlands
    I guess at the end of the line you are paying 300 dollar/day or something like that for good cave instruction. And to become a cavediver and do complex navigation and dive with stages will take you at least 16 days in total with a great instructor.

    There are also other costs like gear, travel, accommodation, food. The instructor costs are just a part of the total costs.
  10. bamafan

    bamafan Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Panama City Beach, Fl.
    GUE and I am not GUE.

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