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Weight belt vs integrated

Discussion in 'Public Safety Divers/Search and Rescue' started by Gil57usa, Mar 21, 2006.

  1. Gil57usa

    Gil57usa Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Upstate, NY
    I am a member of a Fire Department SCUBA Team and am looking for some other opinions about weight belts vs integrated weights for public safety diving.

    I asked why the team required a weight belt instead of using integrated weights and was told by the only remaining original member that it is because Lifeguard Systems taught them that was the "right" way.

    We use Zeagle Ranger BCDs and the cummerbun is fairly low in the front and I feel this makes it difficult to find and release the belt in an emergency situation. The Ranger integrated system has a single "T" handle that is pulled like a rip cord to release the weights.

    I would appreciate any input one way or the other.
  2. RonFrank

    RonFrank Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Conifer, CO
    Seems to me that the entire point of an integrated weight system is just that, having a weight system integrated into the BCD.

    Some divers like the weight belt. I see this more so with tech setups.

    I'd say that if the ONLY reason that your outfit is using a weight belt is because that's the way they have always done it, so it must be right, than this needs to be revisited.

    I'm NOT a public safety diver, so take my advice for what it's worth. As a software engineer we often run into this stigma however, this is how it's done and that is because it's always been done that wey. Part of our job is to assess if things could be done better based on the requirements and available technology not just some old school approach. I think that this applies to many things, diving included, as technology and advancements SHOULD result in improving the process, but often will not if people refuse to adapt to the new options available.
  3. Peter_C

    Peter_C Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Santa Rosa, CA
    I have only used a weight belt a couple of times, then switched to weight integrated. The time where I found the weight integrated to be the most convienent, was when setting my gear into the water, from a small boat, then jumping in myself and putting on my BCD. Having no fins on and a weight belt could be a bad combination. With the weight in the BCD and the bladder filled it was no big deal. I am by no means a tech or rescue diver just a fun loving rec diver, so take that for whats it's worth.
  4. dandrian

    dandrian Instructor, Scuba

    I am on the Fire Dept. Dive Team as well and we do not have a specified setup. I would say that it is most important to use what is comfortable and familiar to you because rescue diving is inherently stressful anyway and why be thinking about gear configs at that time.

    Also I know when we are doing searches and you are dragging along the bottom, I would think having one less buckle and strap to catch on anything would be good.
  5. Gary D.

    Gary D. ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Post Falls, Idaho
    Weight belts are better suited for PSD work. PSD's are a lot more prone to entanglement situations than the average diver. Those entanglements are likely to happen at night and/or in zero visibility and while they are solo. Removing gear with a belt is much better and easier to deal with.

    Some of our local affiliates just tried to get through DR1 with integrated weights and had to go to belts in order to pass the class. The belt is much easier to deal with.

    You can have some in the BC but keep a minimal amount there.

    Another problem is the amount of weight between the tank and BC you might have to run for a boat with. It is easier to divide up if it separated between a belt and the tank BC combo.

    I think all the PSD training still recommends belts.

    Gary D.
  6. Greg D.

    Greg D. Solo Diver

    Like Gary said, entanglement is the key reason for keeping a weight belt as apposed to a integrated system.

    Problem #1 with integrated systems

    Put it this way, I would say 90% of PSD work in in BLACK water, so you are swimming along looking for this or that, feeling for this or that is more like it. In a hurry you get your BC/ tank tangled up in something, you need to get out of your BC and untangle it. Whats gonna happen if you take that BC off with an integrated system? up you float.. possibly right into what has already entangled your BC and possibly compounding the problem, not to mention how are you going to get untangled when you have to hold onto your BC just to stay down?

    Problem number 2 with weight integrated systems...

    here you are swimming along again and something snags your weight belt releases it and you feel it slipping off, you manage to get a hand on it throw it back on and away you go. Try doing that underwater when you cant see with a rip cord weight system, not gonna happen! Damn try it in Cozumel with tons of vis and see if you can get that rip cord treaded back through you BC back on and have enough air to do a search.

    Integrateds have their place but its not in Public safety diving.

    I would say this though, if you are currently diving an integrated for PSD take half of that weight and put it on a belt so if you DO have to get out of your BC you wont float like a cork.
  7. bridgediver

    bridgediver Instructor, Scuba

    Greg and Gary have made some good points, here's a couple more...

    - Mobility above the water or on land is pretty big for PSD. Manipulating a BC full of 20-30lbs plus the tanks is awkward to say the least!

    - some systems don't always work. The zeagle system will only work 100% of the time if you're vertical, most of the time (but not immeadiate) when horizontal and not at all if you're inverted

    - if your weights are integrated chances are you won't practice weight ditching drills as much because threading that little peice of plastic is a pain (as is reloading almost any system)

    - I've accidentally released integrated weights and you trully are screwed, a weight belt not so much (see Greg's #2)

    - In PSD its fairly easy to get weight pouches/BC's mixed up and end up with over/under weighted divers. A belt is visable and easier to see how much weight is worn.

    If you check Butch's PSD book he describes all the resons why they teach belts over integrated.
    I've tried 3 different types of systems (including zeagle) and they're all junk IMO. We wear belts with the zeragle BC's and can get at the buckle easily. For the warm water rec diver with only a few lbs to wear integrated may work but for cold water - especially PSD, belts are best

    just my take
  8. Gary D.

    Gary D. ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Post Falls, Idaho
    Just because we use weight integrated systems doesn't mean we use that feature. If nothing else they make storage pockets once in a while.

    Bridgediver said it and I have to agree, integrated systems for PSD's are junk and can be dangerous. They have their place but it isn't here, stay with belts.

    Gary D.
  9. gcg

    gcg Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: tallahassee
    seems like all of the focus is on Zeagle style weight systems and not any other ditchable weight pokets such as dive rite's or oms's neither of these systems have a card that has to be threaded. just velcro, simple, effective, velcro. granted the circumstances are difrent but i've done 0 viz dives, drills, and the DR weight system has never been a problem. however this all just my opinion, and just like ***** holes everyone has one.
  10. Gary D.

    Gary D. ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Post Falls, Idaho
    A lot of teams, like ours, use Zeagles as well as many other systems that are available. The bottom line is Intergrated systems and PSD are not a good match. The belt is a far better choice.

    The Zeagle isn't bad to rethread but in the same breath is not that easy. That doesn't have anything to do with the choice. It is any system other than a belt of some type is not well suited for PSD.

    Most of these systems are designed for sport diving. What we have done is get the best of what is available. Some of the one's promoted for SAR and PSD are even a worse choice.

    Gary D.

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