GUE and DIR?


Premium Member
Anyone take any GUE (Global Underwater Explorers) classes? It's a method based on DIR (Doing It Right) that specifies equipment and skills that grew out of what expert cave divers developed over the years.

I'm thinking of taking the DIR fundamentals class from a GUE instructor
DIR Fundamentals Course
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Premium Member
Close to zero so far- I've snorkeled for over 30 years now, but only done one PADI class (could not take the open water dives to certify at the time) and a few resort dives.

I'll be taking the PADI OW class soon, and was thinking of the advanced class later this summer.

I'm about to upgrade my snorkel gear and get a BC/Reg., etc. From what I've read I like the backplate/wings idea and most of the methodology behind GUE, even though I doubt I'll ever cave dive.

What I really need is someone who would take me under their GUE wing and help pick out some affordable gear to get started with.

I've got a chance to take the DIR Fundamentals later this summer. If I work hard between now and then to prepare, I think I'd get a lot out of it.


New member
Forgive me but you are trying to fly before you can crawl.

The "Fundies" as they are called is the base class used for the entrance into technical diving. The class requires you to show "good buoyancy and trim". Most people say that it will take about 300 dives to really get the buoyancy down, which is needed for the rest of the class. They also want you to work with some tech gear, 6 foot hoses for starters.

I would suggest first starting out and getting your OW cert from a good local shop. From there buy your first good set of gear. Then start diving, you can work your way up through the stardard dive training relitively quick if you have the skills and learn fast. But it will take time and dives to really dial them in. We dove 2-4 dives almost every weekend all last year. And just now can I finally hold my camera, focus, and shot without floating up or sinking any.

To be honest you don't even know what you don't know.
In other words, yes a backplate and wings are a must for some forms of diving. However, you will be much better off starting with a standard BC. For example we are going to little Cayman in April. The plane allows 1 55 lbs checked bag and 1 15 lbs carry on. You wont want to take your BP and wings on that trip, as it is I'm only packing 3 days of cloths for a 7 day trip.

If your are serious about getting into diving nothing is going to be "affordable". My wife and I are now Master Divers with just under 100 dives in one year and countless hours of pool time. We each have a dry suit, 5 wet suits, countless other gear, multiple computers, 10 tanks and counting, and list goes on and on. To get a starter set of tech gear will run in the $5,000 and up range. And the last thing you want on your mind when you have a deco obligation is that "affordable" gear on your back.

In any event your starting the correct way by asking questions. Go talk with all the local dive shops in your area. Call the guys and GUE. Call DAN and talk with them.

Hope this helps and does not sound to harsh, I'm not good with people, and good luck. Feel free to keep asking, or correct me if I'm wrong.


Premium Member
Thanks for your reply- I appreciate the good information, even if I'm going to debate a little of it. It's how I learn best I suppose. ;)

My plans may be too aggressive- my goal is to be comfortable in my own equipment by October, so when we go to Grand Cayman I can concentrate on the dive, and not on fighting my equipment. That's one reason for getting my own gear early- so I know it better.

I'm fundamentally opposed to buying entry level anything, with the plan of upgrading later. That has never served me well in the tools I buy, or any other aspect of my life, so I'm know that I would not be happy with that plan here. That's not to say I'll buy the most expensive equipment there is (I never do that either), just the best equipment that meets my projected needs in my price range.

The options on available gear are pretty stunning to a new person though. I admit that by picking the "GUE" method, I was hoping it would help narrow down the choices to something more manageable. Riding on the coat-tails of people who are well respected I guess.

You say that a standard BC would be better to start with- Could you elaborate a little? My thoughts are that where better to learn how to use a backplate/wing, then in a pool under the watchful eye of the instructors.

The 300 dives number is pretty stunning though- That's a lot of years of elapsed time for me I suspect.

Thanks again-



New member
I have no doubt that if you take a very agressive route you can be a very capable diver by October, as long as you catch on and learn fast.

Just FYI, my wife and I started diving last Jan. and we already are working on your Dive Master Cert. we have become very capable divers in a short time, but we dive a LOT. Most people maybe get in 10 dives a year. We are going to have over 100 dives in the last year by time April comes around. Along with those 100 dives they span the board on types. We have dove in pools, quarrys, Epcot living seas (that was fun), Niagara River dirfts, Lake Erie, Cold Ocean, Warm Ocean, Shore, little boats, huge boats, deep wrecks, shallow reefs, you name it. We even did some basic cavren diving with an instructor in FL.

So what you want to do is possible for sure.

As for your equipment, to start our shop will not even think of having a new student in a BP and wings. We have one of the best tech instructors in the area up here. He owns a BC and a BP. When he does pool classes and simple dives he wears his BC most of the time. He wears his BP on deep dives and tech dives.

So in the end if you start doing the heavy stuff yes your going to need a BP, but thats a ways off, yes maybe 3 years or so. But for the time being and when you travel to tropical destinations you will want a regular BC to bring. You typicaly own a small claw hammer to handle most jobs around the house but you also may have a sledge hammer to bust concrete if you need to. Same thing here.

In your basics class you will be doing gear removal skills. A BP by design does not have any quick release clips and only 1 buckle which is a threaded type sometimes. They are a little hard to get on and off. A wing only gives back inflation (and some BC's) when on the surface this will tend to put your face in the water. A BP does not have any pockets, most tech divers always wear a dry suit and use those pockets. Weight is also an issue, BP and wings weigh more than a BC when you travel.

There are many reasons you are going to want both if you get to a point where you need a backplate. It all comes down to the right tool for the right job. Don't think of a BC as entree level, I paid like $500 for my BC and its a very nice BC and serves me very well, same for my wife.

Also when you do your basics class don't buy gear right away. A shop will normally have a couple different types of rental gear, ask to try different stuff in the pool and your open water dives. This way you can kind of see what you like and don't like.


Moderator, 10 & Over Club
Premium Member

fppf has some very good points. I've been diving long enough to have started out with a Horse Collar as my BC :eek1: My advice is simular to fppf's, keep it simple. You will be learning a lot of new skills just to get the basics down. Things like back plates and wings aren't really needed, while useful, they are only useful for specialties. Unless you really see yourself getting into tech diving, theres just no point in making it complicated. My BC is a simple vest style with a few nice D rings, nothing complicated. It has served me well and is easy to use and maintain, the old KISS principal. Heck, my regulator's are 20+ year old sherwoods. Again, simple to maintain and work just as good today as they did when I got them. I watch newer divers with fancy adjustable regs spending time adjusting them and having free flow difficulties when they first jump in, meanwhile I'm heading straight for the bottom :D Keep it simple ;) And don't buy anything other the minimum of mask snorkel and fins to start, it's good to get some experience with different gear, as everyone ends up with their own personal preference of what reg is most comfortable, what BC works best, what computer is easiest to easies to use, etc. Take it slow and have fun ;)


New member
Since you are just starting please take the time before you purchase a BC and dive a few styles. BP/W are very comfortable to dive, they are not restricting like a typical jacket style BC.
Yes, a BP/W will dump you on your face if you pump it full. With a little practice it won't. Of course I am biased to a BP/W since this is what I dive. I only wish I had made this my first BC purchase.

You will need more experience before starting a DIR course, people that have been diving many years have trouble passing the class. But by all means talk to the DIR instructor and see what he thinks. If you are going to go DIR it would be great if you could start out that way, as the DIR way is somwhat particular in gear selection.

I have to respectfully disagree with fppf on the weight issue, an aluminum BP/W or perhaps a Dive Rite Transpak does not weigh more than a typical BP/W, I could be wrong about this but that is my perception.


Premium Member
Thanks all- I'll work with the local shop and come up with a plan for the class. Sounds like using their equipment will be expected, so I may go that path.

I was hoping I could go on a shopping expedition soon. ;)

There is no local DIR instructor- I've got to go 300+ miles for one, which is possible. He did indicate he would come to town for a class if I got another student, and paid for hotel/miles. I'll look in to that maybe after AOW I think.

Thanks a lot for the information-



New member
Check out some of the sponsors over on scubaboard too. Some of them give discounts to board members ( is another good on-line store and I believe has some technical rigs that might interest you.


Premium Member
Actually, I've got to admit that Hammerhead site caught my eye:

That's just a nice looking backplate. :)

Pretty amazing what they charge for a piece of punched/bent steel though.

Too much window shopping already though- I've found one local guy who dives DIR, and will meet up with him soon.


New member
I might have to bookmark that site too.

Funny you mention how expensive the plates are - I've always thought so but was afraid to say it. The wings seem expensive too for what you get.

I need a new bc but I'm kind of thrifty.