Weight Belts for Diving: 8 Tips On Function, Use, and Safety

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  08.02.2023
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Weight belts are great for diving, IF you know what you’re doing.

A weight belt is a belt worn around the waist that contains lead weights. These are used to counteract the diver’s buoyancy and achieve negative buoyancy by default, and then adjust the amount of air in the Buoyancy Compensation Device (BCD) to achieve neutral or positive buoyancy as needed.

So, let’s look at everything you need to know about weight belts before you start using them.

What are weight belts for diving

Understanding the Function and Use of Weights for Diving

What Are Weights Used For?

Weights are used for two primary purposes when diving: ballast and trim adjustment. Ballast is used to keep the diver from floating to the surface when they want to remain at a certain depth. Trim adjustment is used to help the diver maintain a certain position in the water.

Free Diving

In free diving (breathhold), the weight system is usually a weight belt with a quick release buckle. This is because the emergency release of the weights will usually allow the diver to float to the surface even if they become unconscious, giving them a chance of rescue.

The weights are mainly used to neutralise the buoyancy of the exposure suit, as the diver is nearly neutral in most cases. The amount of weight needed depends on the buoyancy of the suit. Most free divers will weight themselves to be positively buoyant at the surface and use just enough weight to minimise the effort required to swim down against the buoyancy at the start of a dive. They also want to have enough buoyancy at maximum depth to not require too much effort to swim back up again.

To help with this, freedivers will often use a thin wetsuit as it minimises buoyancy changes with depth due to suit compression.

Scuba Diving

Buoyancy control is an essential skill for scuba divers, but it can be difficult to master. Lack of proper buoyancy control increases the risk of disturbing or damaging the surroundings and makes it harder to maintain a precise depth.

The scuba diver needs to be able to control their depth without having to hold onto a structure or landform, or rest on the bottom. This requires the ability to achieve neutral buoyancy at any time during a dive.

The average human body with a relaxed lungful of air is close to neutral buoyancy. If the air is exhaled, most people will sink in fresh water, and with full lungs, most will float in seawater. The amount of weight required to provide neutral buoyancy to the naked diver is usually very small, though some people may need several kilograms of weight to become neutral in seawater due to low average density and large size.

Most ballasting is needed to compensate for the buoyancy of the diver’s equipment. The two most commonly used exposure suit types are the dry suit and the wet suit. Both of these types of exposure suit use gas spaces to provide insulation, and these gas spaces are inherently buoyant. The buoyancy of a wet suit will decrease significantly with an increase in depth as the ambient pressure causes the volume of the gas bubbles in the neoprene to decrease.

A further requirement for scuba diving in most circumstances, is the ability to achieve significant positive buoyancy at any point of a dive. When at the surface, this is a standard procedure to enhance safety and convenience, and underwater it is generally a response to an emergency.

What Weights Should I Use for Snorkeling?

Types of Weights

When it comes to snorkeling, you’ll need to get yourself some weights to keep you from floating away. Weights come in a variety of sizes, and you can combine them to get the amount you need. Most weights are two pounds and up, but you can also get one pound weights. It’s best to have the weights balanced on your hips and not on your back or kidneys.

Weight Bags

Another option for weights is weight bags, also known as soft weights. These are a great option if you don’t want the weights to move around too much. However, we haven’t tested them out yet, so we can’t vouch for them.

Weight Belts

When it comes to weight belts, you’ll want to get a nylon belt. This will help keep the weights from slipping around too much. You can also get an accessory clip, like a d-ring, to keep the weights in place.

Weights in Other Countries

When you’re traveling to other countries, you’ll need to keep in mind that weights are rated in kilograms instead of pounds. So make sure you’re aware of that before you go.

Taking Weights in Luggage

If you’re taking weights with you on a trip, make sure you check with the airline first. Some airlines may not allow you to take weights in your luggage, so it’s best to check before you go.

Making Traveling Easier with a Sand-Filled Weight Belt

What is a Sand-Filled Weight Belt?

Have you ever been on a trip and wished you could bring weights with you to get a good workout in? Well, now you can! A sand-filled weight belt is a special multi-pocket belt that you can fill with sand instead of buying or renting weights. This is a great way to reduce your luggage weight and still get a good workout in.

How Does it Work?

Using a sand-filled weight belt is simple. All you need to do is fill the pockets with sand and you’re ready to go! To make the process easier, you can put the sand in correctly sized ziplock bags.

Benefits of Using a Sand-Filled Weight Belt

Using a sand-filled weight belt has many benefits, including:

  • Reduced luggage weight
  • Easier to transport than traditional weights
  • Can be used for a variety of workouts
  • Can be filled with sand from anywhere
  • Affordable

Where to Find Sand-Filled Weight Belts

Sand-filled weight belts can be found online or in sporting goods stores. Be sure to read reviews and compare prices to find the best deal.

The Pros and Cons of Dive Weights

Pros of Dive Weights

  • Lead is inexpensive and easy to find, making it a great material for dive weights.
  • Lead is resistant to corrosion in both fresh and salt water.
  • Dive weights are relatively easy to make at home with scrap lead and re-usable moulds.

Cons of Dive Weights

  • Lead is a toxic substance, causing biological damage to wildlife and humans.
  • Lead can be inhaled or ingested, and its effects on the body are permanent.
  • Lead weights can corrode and be damaged when dropped.
  • Lead dust and corrosion products can be released into the water when dive weights are handled.
  • Lead contamination can build up in swimming pools over time.

Alternatives to Lead

  • Bismuth: Similar density to lead and low melting point, but less toxic and its salts are highly insoluble.
  • Tungsten: High density, but very expensive.
  • Iron: Non-toxic, but lower density so the dive weight needs to be of larger volume and therefore greater mass.

What Buckle Should I Choose?

When it comes to buckles, there are a few options to choose from. It’s important to make sure you get one that can be released quickly in case of an emergency. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of buckles and their pros and cons:

Stainless Steel Metal Buckles

  • Durable and strong
  • Can be adjusted to fit
  • Can be a bit heavy

Nylon Plastic Buckles

  • Lightweight
  • Can be adjusted to fit
  • Not as strong as metal buckles

Rubber Belts with Holes and Metal Buckle

  • Easy to adjust
  • Can be a bit bulky
  • Not as strong as metal buckles

Understanding the Benefits of Quick Release Weights

What Are Quick Release Weights?

Quick release weights are weights that can be released quickly in an emergency situation. They are typically used in scuba diving to help divers achieve a neutral trim and make their dives more comfortable.

Why Use Quick Release Weights?

Quick release weights are a great way to ensure safety while diving. If a diver needs to release their weights quickly, they can do so without having to struggle with a weight belt or integrated weight system. Additionally, quick release weights can help divers achieve a neutral trim, which can make their dives more comfortable and enjoyable.

How to Use Quick Release Weights

Using quick release weights is relatively simple. When distributing your weights, make sure that the weights you use have a quick release system and are sufficient to give you positive buoyancy if you drop them. If you are using an integrated weight system, remember that the back weights are not releasable in an emergency.

The Benefits of Quick Release Weights

Quick release weights offer a number of benefits for divers:

  • Increased safety: Quick release weights can be released quickly in an emergency situation, ensuring that divers remain safe.
  • Neutral trim: Quick release weights can help divers achieve a neutral trim, which can make their dives more comfortable and enjoyable.
  • Time savings: Distributing weights to achieve a neutral trim can take time, but using quick release weights can save time and effort.

How to Choose the Right Weight for Snorkeling

How Much Weight Should I Use?

Choosing the right weight for snorkeling can be tricky. It depends on your body weight, body fat, if you’re wearing a wetsuit, and how deep you’re diving. The deeper you go, the less buoyant you’ll be because of the water pressure.

Here are some tips to help you choose the right weight:

  • Start with a lighter weight and add more until you feel comfortable.
  • If you’re wearing a wetsuit or neoprene top, you may need more weight.
  • If you’re wearing flip flops or other buoyant items, you may need less.
  • Stay on the buoyant side for safety.
  • Test different weights with a partner who can dive.

Choosing the right weight for snorkeling is all about finding the balance between comfort and safety. Start with a lighter weight and add more until you feel comfortable. Remember to take into account your body weight, body fat, wetsuit, and how deep you’re diving. With a bit of trial and error, you’ll find the perfect weight for you!

Should You Rent or Buy Dive Weights?

When it comes to diving, the right weights are essential to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. But should you rent or buy dive weights? Here’s what you need to know.

Renting Dive Weights

Renting dive weights is a great option for those who don’t want to lug the weights around in their luggage. Most dive shops will have weights available for rent, so you can easily get the gear you need without having to buy it.

Buying Dive Weights

If you’re a frequent diver, buying dive weights may be the better option for you. You won’t have to worry about finding a dive shop that has the right weights for rent, and you’ll have the gear you need whenever you need it. Plus, you can customize the weights to fit your needs.

Traveling with Dive Weights

When traveling with dive weights, it’s important to keep in mind that airport security may want to open up your luggage. This is because the x-ray machines don’t like lead, so you may get delayed. To avoid this, make sure to pack your weights securely and be prepared to answer any questions the security staff may have.

Tips for Traveling with Dive Weights

  • Pack your weights securely
  • Be prepared to answer questions from security staff
  • Consider renting weights if you don’t want to lug them around
  • Buy weights if you’re a frequent diver
  • Make sure the weights you buy are the right size and weight for you

How to Achieve Perfect Trim When Diving

What is Trim?

Trim is the balance of your body when you are underwater. It is the position of your body when you are in the water and it is important to be in the correct position to be able to move efficiently and to be able to use your air supply efficiently.

How to Achieve Perfect Trim

Achieving perfect trim when diving is not as difficult as it may seem. Here are some tips to help you get the perfect trim:

  • Use a harness for your weight system. This will help distribute the weight evenly and help you stay in the correct position.
  • Position additional weights along the harness for the right balance.
  • Try different weights until you find the best trim.
  • When adding weight to your BCD, remember to remove the same amount of weight from your belt or pockets.
  • Practice in shallow water first to get the feel of the right trim.
  • Make sure you are not carrying too much weight.
  • Make sure your BCD is properly adjusted.
  • Make sure you are not wearing too much clothing.
  • Make sure you are not wearing too much gear.
  • Make sure you are not wearing too much jewelry.

Understanding the Hazards of Diving Weights

What are the Hazards?

Diving weights are essential for a safe and enjoyable dive, but they can also be a source of potential danger. Here are some of the most common hazards associated with diving weights:

  • Over-weighting: This can lead to difficulty in ascending or remaining at the surface, or difficulty in controlling buoyancy. In extreme cases, it may be necessary to ditch weights to reach the surface.
  • Under-weighting: This can make it difficult to descend or remain at a certain depth. If you’re unable to descend at the start of the dive, it’s an inconvenience. But if you’re unable to stay at a required decompression stop at the end of the dive, you’re at risk of decompression sickness.
  • Inability to ditch weight: In an out of air emergency, it may not be possible to inflate the buoyancy compensator. The only way to reach the surface may be to ditch weights. The same applies if there’s a major loss of buoyancy at the surface.
  • Loss of weight at depth: Ditching weights at depth to establish positive buoyancy will generally prevent a properly controlled ascent. This can put you at risk of drowning due to running out of breathing gas, or decompression sickness.
  • Mishandling: When passing weights to someone on the boat, there’s a risk of dropping them, which can cause injury or damage to the diver, their gear, or someone else’s.
  • Discomfort or stress injury: A weight belt hanging from the small of the back of a horizontal diver can cause lower back pain. When walking on land before and after a dive, the weight belt can cause painful pressure on the hip joints.
  • Additional work load: Ankle weights can increase the work of finning, which can lead to a buildup of carbon dioxide.

The Dangers of Not Understanding the Hazards

The risks associated with diving weights are real, and it’s important to understand them before heading out on a dive. Buoyancy and weighting problems have been linked to a high proportion of scuba diving fatalities, with many bodies being recovered with all weights still in place.

It’s also important to remember that diving weights are not a substitute for proper buoyancy control. If you’re not comfortable with your weighting, it’s better to err on the side of caution and use less weight than you think you need. This will help you to avoid the risks associated with over-weighting, and it will also help you to get used to the feeling of being properly weighted.


Weight Belt Vs Weight Vest For Diving

Are you ready to get your dive on? You’ve got two options when it comes to weight systems: weight belts and weight vests. Both have their pros and cons, so let’s dive into the details!

Weight belts are the classic choice for divers. They’re easy to use, adjustable, and can be used with any type of wetsuit. The downside is that they can be uncomfortable and can cause chafing if not adjusted properly.

Weight vests, on the other hand, are a more modern option. They provide a snug fit, and the weight is evenly distributed across your body. The downside is that they can be bulky and may not fit properly with certain types of wetsuits.

So which one is right for you? It really depends on your preferences and the type of wetsuit you’re wearing. If you’re looking for comfort and convenience, a weight belt might be the way to go. But if you want a snug fit and even weight distribution, a weight vest is the way to go. Whichever you choose, you’ll be ready to dive in!


When you’re diving, it’s important to have the RIGHT amount of weight on your belt to keep you at the right depth. It’s also important to have a quick release buckle so you can get to the surface quickly if something goes wrong.

Now that you know what it is, you can make sure to have the right one for your next dive!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Kauai Surf Report is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new sports with everything surfing at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2019 to help loyal readers with surfing and water sporting tips.