Weight systems are an essential aspect of scuba diving. However, even after bearing weight from the diving equipment, divers struggle to reach depths because the anatomy naturally floats in water.
Another factor keeping divers from descending is their wetsuits, considering that they are also buoyant, is using weight belts.
A diving weighting system is an additional weight attached to either a diver or diving apparatus to negate extra buoyancy.
There are various weighting systems that divers wear to combat excess buoyancy; however, the most common are weight belts.
The scuba divers must be sufficiently weighted to maintain proper buoyancy at safety or deck stops, even after exhausting most of their breathing gas.
While diving, divers can control their buoyancy by regulating the proportion of air in the Buoyancy Compensation Device (BCD) to attain negative, neutral, or positive buoyancy, depending on the diver’s need.
The quantity of weight required is determined by the diver’s highest overall positive buoyancy, suit, and equipment.
Typically, the diver’s mass and body composition, the buoyancy of the suit, the weight of breathing gas, water salinity, and water temperature all determine the additional weight required.
Usually, scuba weighting systems range between 2 kg to 15 kg, and the weights can be spread to help the diver maintain his purpose while diving.
Weight systems help divers descend a lot easier, without tampering with their ability to ascend quickly when necessary.
What is a Weight Belt?
A weight belt is one of the oldest weight systems in scuba diving, and it is considered the tested and trusted diving weight system.
A weight belt is a nylon belt that has lead weights attached to it.
Divers fasten it to their waists, just like regular belts. Weight belts are readily available and an inexpensive piece of dive equipment.
Some weight belts are quite fancier than the regular ones, with pockets and extra fabric.
These weight belts are designed to give additional comfort for the diver; however, both regular and fancy weight belts serve the same purpose.
Weighted belts are best used when you don’t require so much extra weight. For example, if you will be diving into warm water or a smaller wetsuit, all you require is a weighted belt; however, you may need to explore more weight options if need be.
What is a BCD?
A BCD is simply a buoyancy compensator or a buoyancy control device. It is a stabilizing piece of gear with an inflatable bladder.
Divers wear BCDs to stabilize neutral buoyancy while underwater and to maintain positive buoyancy on the surface.
You can control buoyancy by regulating the quantity of air in the bladder. Ambient pressure from the diver’s breathing gas is the principal supply of air in the bladder.
The air is transferred through a low-pressure hose from a cylinder or the diver’s mouth.
Suppose you’re not comfortable having weighted belts around your waist while diving, you can go for weights that you can easily attach to your BCD.
Buoyancy control devices look like life jackets that divers wear, which gives them control underwater.
BCDs have integrated weights built into them, so divers don’t have to worry about carrying additional equipment. However, buoyancy control devices tend to increase the weight of your equipment.
Divers love buoyancy control devices because they can dive any depth without having anything around their waists, and they are generally more comfortable. In addition, BCD is excellent when you need additional weight, especially when diving in a dry suit or cooler temperatures.
What Do Dive Belts Do?
Buoyancy control is regarded as an essential skill that every diver must master.
Inability to properly control your buoyancy will require extra effort from the diver to maintain precise depth, and it can also cause damage to the surroundings.
Dive belts serve as a ballast to divers. It helps prevent the diver from floating to the surface when he wants to remain at depth.
Also, when freediving, dive belts serve as a release system that helps the diver float, even in his unconscious state, to where there is a higher chance of getting a rescue.
Dive belts are used to neutralize the suit’s buoyancy because the diver is almost neutral at all times, and there is hardly any other gear included.
Divers usually require dive belts to facilitate underwater work, as they may have difficulty achieving neutral buoyancy.
Freedivers especially make use of weight belts to offset the buoyancy of their wetsuit.
However, they will likely weigh for neutral buoyancy at a certain depth, considering the suit as it compresses with depth and the compression of air in the diver’s lung, which ultimately leads to loss of buoyancy.
Do You Need a Weight Belt for Scuba Diving?
Weight belts are a beneficial rescue mechanism because you can drop them in an emergency at any point during the dive to boost your buoyancy to help you back to the surface.
Weight belts are a crucial part of any diving to help the divers maintain a certain level of buoyancy in correlation to their depth.
Since the weights are commonly made of lead, they are high in density, and they are reasonably affordable and can be easily molded into various shapes for scuba divers.
Notwithstanding the weight you opt for, it is essential to pick one with an easy release system. You may need to release your weights in an emergency urgently, so you want to go for one that has a quick and accessible release mechanism.
Another factor you must consider when selecting weights is safety. Ensure that you only use a weight system that you can easily handle and take off quickly.
A quick-release feature ensures that only one quick flip will allow you to drop the weight.
Selecting a weight that has a quick-release system does not mean choosing a weight with loose latches. The idea is for the buckles to be strong enough but easy to fix and remove.