First, it should be said that, contrary to what the name implies, weight systems are not intended to make you sink while diving. Many people erroneously think that a weight system, needed when diving, will make you sink straight to the bottom of the sea. It won't.
Weight systems are a necessary part of Scuba diving; for those who are not aware, divers are buoyant. Even with the weight of your equipment, it’s really difficult to reach depths while diving when your very anatomy makes you float. Also keeping you from descending is the fact that wetsuits are extremely buoyant as well.
Weight systems make the descent a lot easier while still allowing for you to ascend quickly and easily if needed. You have a couple of different options when it comes to your weights used for diving, and we’ve outlined each along with their benefits and setbacks below.
As the oldest weight system known to scuba, and what some divers consider the “tried and true” weight system, weighted belts are as simple as it gets.
Typically, a weighted belt is just a nylon belt that has lead weights on it. It fastens around your waist just like any other belt and is incredibly easy to find as well as a very affordable piece of dive gear.
There are fancier versions available that are fabric and have pockets. These are supposed to provide extra comfort for on the dive, but either type is just fine.
Weighted belts are great for when you won’t be using much weight. If you’re diving in warm water or in a shorty wetsuit or bodysuit, weighted belts should be all that you need, but when extra weight is needed, you might need something more.
BCD Integrated Weights
If you don’t like the idea of having a belt wrapped around your waist, you can opt for weights that hook right on to your BCD. For new divers, your BCD is a buoyancy control device; it’s the lifejacket look-alike that divers wear that allows them to have better control underwater.
Integrated weights are built right into your BCD which means you don’t have to worry about carrying or maintaining an extra piece of equipment. The only downside is that it makes your equipment a lot heavier when the weights are in the BCD.
On the plus side, you no longer have anything hanging around your midsection and most divers will tell you that these weight systems are much more comfortable.
I shifted to integrated weights a few years ago and I like it. It’s all a matter of personal preferences but I for one found it much more comfortable.
BCD integrated weights are great for when you need more weight, especially when diving in cooler temperatures or in a dry suit.
If you, for some unexplainable reason, are diving with too much weight. You will find the BCD weight integrated systems will place you more horizontal in the water than a normal weight belt. Alternatively, you might consider adjusting your buoyancy.
Combining the Two
If you are caring a lot of weight you might find that all the weight doesn’t fit on one belt or in the BCD weight pockets.
Here it can be a good idea of combining the two systems if your BCD allows you to use BCD integrated weights.
Put half of the weights on your weight belt and the other half in the two Weight pockets. This is a far more comfortable way of distributing your weights evenly around your body. One minus when diving with this, if you have to drop your weights fast there is one more thing you need to do.
The Release Factor
No matter which weight system you choose, the release system is of utmost importance. There may be a time when you need to quickly release your weights, so you need to be sure that your weight system has a release system that is quick and easily accessible.
First is safety; you must have something that you can easily handle while diving and that you can get out of quickly. A quick-release system is a must; this feature means that your weight system has a single quick-release latch that allows you to drop your weights with one hand in one motion.
A quick-release doesn’t mean that you want to look for weights with extremely loose buckles. The last thing you want is for your weights to come undone and drop accidentally. The buckles should be easy to release but strong and reliable as well.
You might also choose a weight system that has multiple releases. This way if something should happen and you need to release some weight, you can drop just some of your weights rather than losing all of it.