If you are new to diving, you could be forgiven a little for thinking when you first hear about weight systems that they’re going to keep you down in the water. That’s not what they do at all, though. A weight system is an essential part of any scuba diver’s kit.
When you are diving underwater, you are buoyant. This makes it incredibly difficult to get to the depths you want, while your whole body is designed to float. Even when you have heavy breathing apparatus and clothing on.
Weight Belt vs BCD Integrated System
Weight systems solve this problem and as well as making it easy to descend underwater, they also make it easy to quickly ascend, when necessary. It’s important to have the correct weights for your dive. This is why pre-dive weight checks are done at the surface before diving down.
When it comes to the weight system options you have out there though, there are two main choices, different types of weights and BCD integrated systems. We’ve discussed the best belt for scuba diving in another post.
Right now, though, you probably want to know, integrated, or weight belt – which is best? Well, both have their good points and bad points. To help you make the right choice for you, we’re going to discuss each in this post.
Scuba Diving Weight Belts
By far the oldest and most common diving weight system is the simple and effective weighted belt. Often, you will find that a weighted belt just consists of a nylon belt to which you can attach lead weights.
You put it around your waist like a normal belt and as well as being reasonably priced, they are widely available.
There are also higher-end versions that are made from fabric and include specially-develop pockets.
While these are meant to give you greater comfort, either will work just as well.
If you are not intending on using very much weight. For example, if you are diving in a shorty body suit or wetsuit or in warm, tropical waters, a weighted belt is all you’ll need.
BCD Integrated Weight System
Many divers have put off the idea of having a belt wrapped around their waist and if that’s how you feel, you might want to consider a newer weight system that can be attached and incorporated into your BCD.
BCDs are buoyancy control devices. As this style of weight system is incorporated into the BCD you don’t need to worry about any additional equipment.
A major downside that should be noted though, is that it obviously makes your BCD that little bit heavier.
Again, on the upside, you won’t have anything hanging down from your body or gear and many divers prefer using the integrated systems because they are just more comfortable.
Integrated weight systems are especially good when you need to use a lot of weight. When you are diving in a dry suit or in colder waters, they are the best option.
Why Not Combine Weight Belts With Integrated Weight System
What, though, if you need to use so many weights that they don’t fit inside a single belt or the pockets on your BCD integrated system? This is when it might be a good idea to combine the two solutions together.
You can then place half of the weights you have into the pockets on your BCD and half in your belt. This is a great way to dive with weights because it distributes the weight more evenly across your body.
Releasing Those Scuba Diving Weights
When choosing the right weight system for your diving setup, there is one more factor you need to consider. It’s arguably more important than how comfortable a system is to use and that’s the release system.
Although you obviously want to avoid problems underwater from occurring in the first place, there may come a time when you need to release the weights in your system quickly.
Here’s a short video of how the integrated weight system works and also how to remove integrated weights whilst underwater.
With that in mind, the system you choose needs to offer you a quick and safe way to release weights. You need something that you can control and handle while underwater and that you can take off quickly.
So, look for a quick-release system, which uses just one little latch to drop the weights and only requires one hand and one motion.
Don’t get confused though, as a quick-release system is not the same as having weights that are kept secure by buckles that are too loose. You don’t want those weights to fall out accidentally. So always look for buckles that are strong, reliable, but easy to release when necessary.
Many divers opt for a weight system that incorporates many weights that can be released separately. This gives you the flexibility to add and drop some weights, rather than dropping it all at the first sign of trouble. Here’s a short clip on how scuba divers release diving weight belts at the surface and replace them again.
Like many things related to diving that we’ve explored here at Ocean Scuba Dive, the diving weight system you choose is more a personal preference than anything else. Hopefully, you can see the pros and cons of each system though, and have a better idea of what to invest in.