Self-Reliant Diver

SAC Rate formula

Example of independent gas

Spare equipment on dive

Diver preparing to dive

PADI Self-Reliant Diver Course

Although most scuba dives are made with a buddy, an experienced diver may want or need to make dives without a partner. During the Self-Reliant Diver course, you learn about potential risks of diving alone and the value of equipment redundancy and necessary back-up gear. During three scuba dives, you develop skills for self-reliance and independence, while becoming a stronger partner in a dive pair or team.

Video showing examples of the type of diving open to you as a Self-Reliant Diver

General purpose

The purpose of the Self-Reliant Diver specialty course is to recognize and accept the role of the buddy system and its contributions to diver safety while identifying and developing self-reliance and independence while diving. There are two reasons for an experienced diver to take the

Self-Reliant diver course:

  • To develop the skills of planning and carrying out dives without a partner when preferred or necessary.
  • To sharpen skills of diving self-reliance, making the diver a stronger partner in a dive pair or team.

This course covers when diving alone may be applicable, and the need to compensate for those situations, including dive planning, life support

system readiness, adaptive training, equipment and responsibility.

This course is an introduction to self-reliant diving that helps student divers develop the skills, knowledge and techniques necessary to rely on themselves first, whether or not they are diving with a partner, including:

  • The value and application of the buddy system.
  • The philosophy of, and motivation for, diving without a partner.
  • Potential risks of diving alone, and how to manage those risks.
  • The value of equipment redundancy and what back-up equipment is needed.
  • Dive planning and gas management.

Is this course suitable for me?

It is not a course for everyone and certainly not one to be taken lightly so the pre-requisites have been set accordingly. It is intended for experienced divers who wish to develop their skills generally - perhaps in preparation for further advanced training.

The course would be ideally suited to: -

  • Instructors
  • Divemasters
  • Photographers
  • Videographers
  • Travelling Divers
  • Wreck Divers
  • Divers considering Divemaster training
  • Potential and current Technical Divers

Course Goals

  1. To develop understanding of the value and application of the buddy system and the philosophy of, and motivation for, diving without a partner.
  2. To introduce the potential risks, risk management techniques and the need for equipment redundancy in self-reliant diving.
  3. To improve self-reliant dive skills, dive planning and gas management abilities.

Course Overview

  1. Responsibilities — A self-reliant diver not only has to accept the increased risk that comes with choosing to dive alone, but also has a responsibility to ensure that family and loved ones understand this choice.
  2. Knowledge development — Information may be presented through classroom presentations and/or predive briefings.
  3. Diving skills assessment — Before beginning open water dive skills, you’ll complete a skill assessment to demonstrate your comfort-level in the water. This will include a general assessment of your dive knowledge.
  4. Open water training dives — There will be three open water training dives during this course.
  5. Performance requirements — Skills will be directly observed and assessed during Dives 1 and 2. Dive 3 may be indirectly supervised. Knowledge assessment will be accomplished through discussion and a Knowledge Review.
  6. Certification — On successful completion of the course, you’ll be awarded the PADI Self-Reliant Diver certification.Course requirements 
  7. Administration — Forms, payment and photos, and course completion paperwork

Course consists of

  1. A knowledge Development presentation with knowledge review completion
  2. Skills assessment in a pool;
    • Buoyancy control
    • Familarity with dive equipment such as being able to easily access and understand instrument readings (the SPG, dive computer, depth gauge, timing device)
    • The ability to perform self-rescue skills;
    • Airway control
    • Cramp removal
    • Air depletion using independent air source
    • Responding correctly to vertigo
    • If the diver exhibits lack of dive readiness, remediate before training progresses.

    3. Three open water dives.

Knowledge Development Topics

Self-Reliant Diving: PADI Worldwide’s Position

  • You will be able to state PADI Worldwide’s position on self-reliant diving.


  • You will be able to explain self rescue in scuba diving.

Self-Reliant Diving

  • Explain the concept of self-reliant diving and how it relates to other dive philosophies.
  • Identify who should consider diving without a partner and why.
  • Explain what is meant by a self-reliant diver mentality.

Equipment for Self-Reliant Diving

  • Explain the concept of redundancy.
  • Identify what equipment is required and recommended for the self-reliant diver.
  • Determine an appropriate equipment configuration.

Dive Planning

  • Formulate a dive plan for a dive without a partner.
  • Demonstrate dive planning ability according to local environmental conditions.
  • Establish your Surface Air Consumption (SAC) rate using gas consumption data from a dive.
  • Calculate the gas consumption for a given depth and time.
  • Use your SAC rate to plan an appropriate reserve for a dive.
  • Determine which cylinder size you need to use and what the pressure in the cylinder needs to be.
  • Establish when to turn your dive around.
  • Explain when to end your dive (start your ascent) as a self-reliant diver.

Independent Management of Dive Emergencies

  • Explain what you should do when you encounter a problem while diving.
  • Identify dive emergencies that can be approached using the principles of self-reliance.
  • Identify five skills that increase your self-rescue ability.

What equipment is required for the self-reliant diver?

  1. Standard diver equipment, at a minimum: Fins, mask, snorkel, compressed gas cylinder and valve, buoyancy control device and low pressure inflator, primary regulator and alternate air source, breathing gas and depth monitoring device(s), quick release weight system and weights (if needed), adequate exposure protection, at least one audible surface signaling device and dive computer or RDP.
  2. Surface marker buoy

a. Delayed Surface Marker Buoy (DSMB) with at least 30 metres of line

b. Or a Lift bag with at least 30 metres of line

     3. Redundant air sources

a. Pony cylinder

b. Twin cylinders with isolation valve

c. Bailout cylinder

d. Sidemount configuration

     4. Redundant surface signaling devices (both visual and audible)

     5. Redundant depth gauge and bottom timer or dive computer

     6. Other equipment:

a. Two knives/cutting tools as permitted locally

b. Back-up mask (recommended)

c. Slate and pencil


What additional equipment is recommended for the self-reliant diver?

  1. Ascent/descent lines with float and flag
  2. Navigation tools including compass
  3. Back-up cutting tool (knife, scissors, dive tool, etc.)
  4. Additional audible or visual signaling devices:

a. Dye markers

b. Signal mirrors

c. Flares

d. Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs)

     5. First Aid and Oxygen Equipment

a. First aid kit

b. Oxygen system with demand valve and nonrebreather mask

c. Pocket mask

Where can I go from here?

Other Courses related to Self-Reliant Diver

Advanced Nitrox, Wreck Diver, Night Diver, Deep Diver, Drysuit Diver, Enriched Air Diver, DPV, other Technical Courses, First Aid Courses


  • Advanced Open Water Diver or equivalent
  • 18yrs or older
  • Logged 100 dives or more
  • Successfully complete a dive skills assessment by a PADI Self-Reliant Diver Specialty Instructor (included in this course)

Course Cost


Course Schedule

  • Day 1 - Morning theory afternoon pool for Skills assessment
  • Day 2/3 - Three open water no deco dives no deeper than 30m. All three dives can be conducted in same day.

Course Dates