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Integrated weight BCD or not?

Discussion in 'New Divers and Those Considering Diving' started by Thrillhouse, Oct 23, 2007.

  1. Thrillhouse

    Thrillhouse Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Vancouver, BC
    I've done 13 of my dives with an integrated weight BCD, but recently had to rent and ended up with a non-weight-integrated one and a 33lbs weight-belt. I was a bit cautious about it at first, but enjoyed it a lot more. It was easier to walk around once geared up since the weight was on my hips instead of shoulders, it was nice knowing I could easily dump the weight (while still having it safely fastened to me) and liked having the weight around the waist and the BCD above in general.

    What are the thoughts of more experienced divers on this matter? Keep in mind I'm diving with a dry suit in cold water.
  2. spectrum

    spectrum Dive Bum Wannabe ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: The Atlantic Northeast (Maine)
    I have a weight integrated BC but usually use it's weight capabilities only for trim management. The rest goes on a belt or DUI weight & trim.

    Keeping weight out of the BC keeps it a lot easier to handle especially if it needs to be passed up onto a boat or dock.

    Most importantly is that by having the weight on your person you can more safely get out of your BC underwater if you should need to in the event of self rescue from entanglement for instance. With everything in the BC and any amount of neoprene you will be clinging to the weighted BC like a balloon on a string or keeping it in a bear hug. Neither of those is conducive to underwater problem solving.

    I was doing this just the other day and had 4 pounds in my BC trim pockets and an E7-80 steel cylinder. All of my other weight (14 pounds) was on my belt. Even with most of the weight on my belt I still needed to manage my buoyant state when out of my rig. This was late in the dive where the cylinder was probably 3.5 pounds negative and as I said 4 pounds were in the BC for trim. Those 7.5 pounds made a big difference when they were decoupled from me.

    I will admit that in warm water at home and away when I am wearing lesser amounts of neoprene and hence weight I will sometimes go fully integrated but I do so with that disadvantage recognized.

    A dUI harness is probably the most comfortable way to carry weight. For those with floaty feet it also allows you to carry the weight lower than your hips can safely engage a belt letting you tip your personal see saw without adding mass to your legs. I use mine with my drysuit for this reason. Also since my hips begin do disappear with the suit and garments it's a more positive way to carry the weight compared to a belt.

  3. Santa

    Santa Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Denmark
    I dive weight integrated most of the time in wetsuits and drysuit. However when teaching I put some or all of it of it on a belt so I can demonstrate skills or so I can easily remove a kilo or two for a student if needed. And it's just good to have similar equipment to the students

    However there's some considerations when I don't use a belt.

    I find that with the lead on the belt you kind of get a more stable working point from which to transfer the power into your finning. This can be acheived with an integrated as well but it must be a good fit and all straps must be properly tightened and adjusted with depth changes as the suit compresses.

    For me the added possibilities of distributing weight have been essential to proper trim. My legs have a natural tendency to sink so I often need to move it further upwards that a belt would allow or at least compensate with weight in shoulder pockets which I'm not so keen on.

    This is more of an issue with heavy suits and equipment as in warm water I tend to use just a couple of kilos, and my 3 mm is so battered that i'm at least neutrally boyant without my BCD most of the time anyway.

    For sure in cold water it can be a chore for the boatsman to haul a rig with some 14 kilos in it over the side of a Zodiac but I guess we're just used to it. (which is why i find it kind of hard to truly feel for the warm water DM's when they whine about 2 kilos of integrated weight).And it actually saves time floating by the boatside and fidgeting with heavy gloves on when the waves are big.

    But it's a heavier deal for sure and I guess that It's easier and more safe with a belt in many circumstances. For me though the trim benfits, the weight off the lower back and the elimination of an extra piece of equipment is worth it.

    However, if you get integrated system make sure that the pockets are a good make and stay put. Some models just loose them all the time which must be really annoying and potentially dangerous depending on how much is in there.
  4. LindaBluedolphin

    LindaBluedolphin Resident/Token Treehugger ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Raleigh(ish), NC
    My first BC was was weight integrated/back inflate, I hated it. I love my jacket style and weight belt. It is all a matter of preference and what works for you.
  5. Ber Rabbit

    Ber Rabbit Floppy Ear Mod ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Ohio
    Like Linda said, it's personal preference. When I wear my drysuit I prefer a non-integrated BC with a harness for my lead. Wetsuit, I can dive either integrated or non-integrated and like them equally.
    Ber :lilbunny:
  6. Allen Herron

    Allen Herron Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: South Jersey
    Another consideration, If you have a lower back problem like I do, integragted weights prevent the weight "hanging" on your lower back while you swim in a horizontal position. I used to have back spasms after every dive, now using integrated weights I never have a problem.
  7. DeepSeaExplorer

    DeepSeaExplorer Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Cave Country
    The question I always come back to is... "Who wants a BC that weighs 30 pounds?!" It's much harder to handle topside and more likely to get damaged. Then there's that whole pouch sliding out unexpectedly. I see integrated weight pouches on the reef frequently.
  8. xjkip

    xjkip Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    I go for comfort underwater, rather than comfort topside.

    also, with my Zeagle, i don't have to worry about those pouches falling out.:lotsalove:
  9. RonFrank

    RonFrank Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Conifer, CO
    30lbs+ of weight is a lot to put in a belt, or in an integrated BC. When I dive dry I use a SS BP/STA. That weights approx. 12lbs, and that is twelve less pounds on the belt.

    The DUI weight system is a good answer for a lot of weight. I find putting much over 20lbs on a belt makes for a heavy belt.

    I'm not sure I think a weight belt is a better solution than a weight integrated BC for the majority of divers. I've seen belts fall off of divers, or hanging off their ankles. The couple that died off Boynton beach about a year ago did so in part because the divers girlfriend attempted to dump his belt only to have it catch around a rope they were tangled in.

    This is a personal preference, and subjective. My experience is that weight integrated systems are easier especially for new divers. Where they run into issues is when one is pushing the weight limit of the BC (33lbs hits that).

    Someone mentioned that they see weight pockets on the reef on a regular basis. That is most likely user error. The current crop of weight integrated BC's does not have the *self release* feature (OK, Defect! :D) that a couple models in the past displayed. However with those types of systems, one has to make sure that the pocket is inserted correctly! :11doh:

    I personally love the Zeagle system for this reason. No expensive weight pockets that limit the weight configuration, and are sometimes difficult to clip in. Just put the weight in the weight pocket, zip it, and no worries.

    To the OP, I hate to say it, but a heavy BP/STA and some channel weight would go a long way towards reducing the amount of weight you need on a belt. OTOH, you are back to a heavy BC, but SOMETHING has to be heavy! :D
  10. Ber Rabbit

    Ber Rabbit Floppy Ear Mod ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Ohio
    I'm learning that double 100's pretty much negate the need for a weightbelt for me. I carry 26-28 pounds with an AL80, I don't carry any with the 100's. In my case the "heavy" part is 107 pounds on the surface but only slightly negative at 500psi in the water LOL!

    A steel tank will take some of the weight off of your belt as well.
    Ber :lilbunny:

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