Weight systems are a key component of any divers gear set.
Without them, most divers are buoyant, making it difficult to sink to your desired depth after accounting for the rest of your gear.
Most of your gear should be negatively buoyant – wetsuits are extremely buoyant, offsetting a lot of the weight your loadout may have.
So that’s where weight systems come in!
With them, you’re able to descend on demand, or even ascend quicker in the event of an emergency.
When it comes to weight systems, you have two main options, weight belts, and integrated weights.
Let’s jump into the pros and cons of each of these systems, allowing you to get the right setup for your next dive.
Weight belts are the oldest method of making divers neutrally buoyant and involve stringing a belt around yourself with weights (typically lead).
They are super basic and can be uncomfortable at times, but get the job done. It’s also an extremely simple and cheap system to get up and running.
In the event of an emergency, weight belts have a quick-release strap that you can pull, dropping them to the ocean floor while you ascend up.
As you get to the higher end of weight belts, you may find some more comfortable ones made out of fabric with pockets. These are great because rather than having a giant lead block digging into your hips, you have a soft fabric protecting you.
A super common option these days is getting a BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) that has pouches for weights to go inside. This is my preferred method, but then again I come from the newer generation of divers.
These BCDs sometimes have weight systems specific to that BCD that socket in (shown above) or just contain general pockets that the same lead weights could go inside.
The main advantage of this method is that it’s just much more comfortable to dive this weight, and may even help you get more horizontal underwater.
Why Not Both?
In the event, your integrated weight pockets are maxed out, or there’s no more room on your weight belt, you may find a combination of both methods to be useful.
In fact, it’s actually pretty common!
Just remember that in the event you need to drop your weights, you’ll have two places to release, not one.
Releasing Your Weight System
If you ever find yourself in an emergency while diving that requires you to release your weights, it’s imperative to know how the current weight system that you use releases.
Weight belts typically have a quick-release strap but you may see some systems with a buckle.
Integrated weights are usually inside of pockets/pouches, or have a quick release pull that can allow you to ditch the weight quickly.
We really hope a situation never comes up where you’d need to release weights in an emergency, but it’s important to be aware of your release systems.
At the end of the day, weight is weight.
You will sink with all methods.
For beginners divers, we’d recommend just going with the basics and rental gear, which is typically in the form of a simple weight belt.
Some rental gear will have integrated weight pockets, but it’s not super common.
For more advanced or intermediate divers who want to start getting their own gear, we’d recommend getting an integrated BCD, or even just a more comfortable weight belt.
It all comes down to preference. You may prefer a combination of both, or a method not even mentioned here.
How do you set up your weights on your dives?
Let us know in the comments below!