To help offset the positive buoyancy of a scuba diver’s body, wet suit and equipment a scuba diver needs to wear weights while scuba diving. Scuba diving weights and weight belts are available in a few styles. You may want to test more than one type of scuba diving weight system, before you buy, to ensure the scuba diving weight system works best for you.
The scuba diving weight systems available include the traditional nylon weight belt with solid weights that slide on and off the belt, weight harnesses and buoyancy compensators with an integrated weight system. The actual scuba diving weights are available as solid weights or bags filled with pieces of lead shot, similar to a bean bag.
Scuba Diving Weights
The most popular scuba diving weight system is the traditional nylon belt with a metal or plastic quick release buckle. The scuba diving weights are sold separately and are most often the solid, molded style lead weight. Solid weights are available in 1 pound to 10 pounds and are either unfinished or covered in a plastic coating. The most popular style of solid, molded weights is that which are curved to fit the hip. These scuba diving weights slide on and off the weight belt and are worn lower around the hips for optimal comfort. Some scuba divers prefer the solid weights, which are small cylindrical shaped weights, often called “bullet weights”. These scuba diving weights slide on and off the weight belt as well, but can be worn closer to the waist.
If you are using a traditional weight belt you will need weight “keepers” to keep your scuba diving weights in place on your belt. As you slide your scuba diving weights onto your belt you thread a weight keeper in between each solid weight, alternating weight and keeper along the length of the belt. It is important to thread the keeper as close to the scuba diving weights as possible to ensure the weights stay in place. If you do not have weight keepers you can twist your dive belt between each weight to prevent the scuba diving weights from sliding around. If you do not add enough scuba diving weight to cover the entire length of your weight belt you must space your weight out evenly between the left and right sides of the belt to ensure your scuba diving weight is equally distributed above both of your hips.
An alternate style of scuba diving weight belt has pockets along the entire length of the belt. This type of scuba diving weight belt allows you to secure solid weights or pouches of lead shots into the pockets. Some scuba divers prefer this style of belt because the pouches of lead shots conform to the shape of your body and are more comfortable than the solid lead weights.
When donning your scuba diving weight belt always ensure your belt buckle is secured for a right-hand release. Also ensure the scuba diving weight belt is clear for ditching if you need to remove your scuba diving weight belt quickly and make sure there are no tubes or hoses caught underneath your scuba diving weight belt.
A feature of some scuba diving weight belts, which help to make them a popular weight system, is their ability to compensate for the compression of your wet suit as you descend during a dive. Scuba diving weight belts that do not compensate for compression will become loose as you descend. Scuba diving weight belts that do compensate for compression allow the belt to rotate around your waist, rather than stay in position and loosen. The buckle of your belt may end up on your back or side, but the belt will not loosen and fall off. It is always wise to periodically check your scuba diving weight belt throughout a dive to ensure it is fitting correctly.
A scuba diving weight harness system uses a belt and shoulder harness to secure the weights on your shoulders. This can help to reduce lower back pain or hip pain commonly associated with traditional weight belts. The scuba diving weight harness also secures the weights in a position that prevents them from moving around your body.
Regardless of the type of scuba diving weight belt system you choose, the weight belt must be adjustable to prevent any belt excess from interfering with your dive. The tail of your scuba diving weight belt should not be longer than approximately 6 inches; it should be long enough for you to grab with your entire hand, but not long enough to interfere with your ability to dive. If the tail of your scuba diving weight belt, after threading the weights and fastening your belt, is longer than 6 inches you need to adjust the belt to take up the excess. You can do this by folding the tail back into the buckle. It is preferable to adjust your belt and re-thread the excess, rather than to cut the excess off of the belt.
You can also choose to purchase a buoyancy compensator with an integrated weight system. This scuba diving weight system helps to keep your buoyancy compensator in place while eliminating the need to wear a separate weight belt. Many scuba divers find this to be a preferable weight system because it eliminates a piece of gear, the scuba diving weights cannot move around your body and the weight is supported by your shoulders, instead of your hips. An integrated weight system provides an emergency release system, either a ripcord or pin style release, so you can easily ditch your weights in an emergency situation. If you are unsure where your emergency release is located, or how to use it, speak with your scuba diving gear retailer and ask them to show you how to use the integrated weight system properly and safely.