Stage Cave Diver course

Sooner or later, there comes a time when you have gone just about as far as you can go, in all the popular caves, within the limits of a single set of sidemount cylinders or backmounted doubles. Or maybe it’s just a particular cave. You’ve gone as far as your primary cylinders will take you…but you have just got to know what lies ahead.

When that day comes, the easiest and most cost-effective way to extend your range is by using stage bottles. In caves like Little River or Devil’s Eye, a single stage bottle can extend your range by up to 200 m/660 feet or more. Using a stage bottle, however, isn’t as easy as just strapping on another cylinder.

  • If your stage bottle isn’t properly rigged, it can create unnecessary drag or, worse, increase your risk of entanglement.
  • If you don’t know how to move through water with maximum efficiency while carrying a stage, what little distance you gained will be offset by increased gas consumption afterwards.

If you dive north-central Florida, you’ve most likely seen stage bottles dropped just past the Lips in Devil’s Eye, or in the vicinity of Table Rock at Little River. We can just about guarantee the divers using them gained little, if anything, by carrying a stage.

Odds are, they were so winded by the time they dropped the stage that any savings in distance was offset by the fact they are now huffing and puffing at a much higher rate than they would have had they not had a stage cylinder. This resulting increase in gas consumption can easily negate any advantage a stage bottle might offer.

In our Stage Cave Diver course we cover:

  • Optimal stage bottle rigging for backmount and sidemount.
  • Swimming stage cylinders with minimal effort and drag.
  • Intelligent gas management for optimizing stage bottle efficiency.

Think of how much you spend driving to cave country, staying in a motel or cottage and eating out while here. Factor in the cost of your gear, its maintenance plus the cost of fills and dive site admission fees. Now divide this by the number of dives you get in while here. What you’ll discover is that there are few things more expensive than a wasted dive.

This is why a Stage Cave Diver course is one of the best investments you can make.


  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have 50 or more cave dives
  • Be certified to the Full Cave Diver level or equivalent
  • Possess Nitrox Diver certification

Time frames

  • The Stage Cave Diver course generally takes two days and approximately four dives.
  • To maximize range, you can combine this course with our DPV Cave Diver course. This takes a total of four days and eight dives. The NSS-CDS calls this the Advanced Cave Diver course.
  • With sufficient notice, we can usually accommodate requests for specific course dates.

Required equipment

  • Mask and flat-bladed scuba fins with adjustable or spring heel straps
  • Adequate thermal protection for prolonged exposure to 21° C/72° F water
  • Sidemount or backmounted doubles harness
  • BC air cell with adequate lift for the cylinders used
  • Either backmounted doubles or two sidemount cylinders
  • Two separate regulator first and second stages
  • At least one mission-capable dive computer
  • Slate or wet notes
  • Two Z-knives or comparable cutting tools
  • One primary light
  • Two backup lights
  • Two safety reels/spools with a total of at least 50 m/150 ft of line
  • Stage bottle and regulator

Be aware than any equipment you use must meet very specific requirements. Learn more…

Items such as primary, deco and stage cylinders and primary lights, which my be difficult to travel with, are available for rental. Be sure to alert us if you will need any of these.

 Choose your price

Stage Cave Diver Course

Go further
$ 600 Single student price
  • Two days
  • Four or more dives
  • Inquire about multi-student discounts

Stage Plus DPV

Go much further
$ 1,200 Get both certifications
  • Four days
  • Eight or more dives
  • Inquire about multi-student discounts
Best value

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