Using The Right Weights

Using The Right Weights

Being properly weighted while scuba diving not only increases your safety and diving ease, but also increases your dive time; the less you struggle with maintaining buoyancy, the less air you'll consume. Assemble your weight belt. See "How to Use a Weight Belt in Scuba Diving."


  1. Assemble your weight belt. See "How to Use a Weight Belt in Scuba Diving."
  2. Do the belt and the rest of your scuba equipment.
  3. Inflate your buoyancy compensator.
  4. Enter water at a depth too deep to stand.
  5. Place the regulator in your mouth and make sure the tank valve is open.
  6. Breathe in and hold a normal breath.
  7. Deflate the buoyancy compensator.
  8. Notice if you float at eye level with the water. If you sink, take away weight. If you float too high, add weight.

People find the “weightlessness” of scuba diving to be quite freeing. Modern scuba masks are available in translucent models, which you may prefer if a mask makes you feel closed in. During your scuba diving training, your instructor gives you plenty of time and coaching to become comfortable with each stage of learning. The Red Sea contains more salt than most oceans and you become more buoyant for this reason.

Having problems equalizing or not having enough weights might normally not seem like a huge problem. However, when making a negative entry on a dive like the north plateau of little brother this probably means you miss the dive. Empty your BCD and suck out the last air through the inflator orally. As you roll in exhale so you get extra heavy. A few fin kicks and meet up with your buddy on 5-6m. Make sure you have everything you need. Most commonly forgotten items are weights, masks, computers and cameras. Weight belts are also important, especially in the Red Sea. They help you maintain buoyancy. Some people need them while snorkeling while others don't. Make a buddy check!

Your scuba instructor works with you at your own pace to ensure you master each skill necessary to become a capable scuba diver who dives regularly. If you won’t use much weight at all, such as when warm water diving in a body suit or shortie wetsuit, a weight belt may be fine. For most temperate water diving, an integrated weight system is usually more comfortable. Dry suits use the most weight, so you may choose an integrated weight system and a weight belt. This redistributes your weight more evenly for maximum control and comfort. The PADI Dry Suit Diver course helps you learn more about the proper weighting and techniques of diving with a dry suit.

Adjust weighting and achieve horizontal trim

Normally a diver using a bit more-than-needed weight in a conventional BCD won't be able to achieve a perfect trim. The weight around the waist pulls down, while the air cells in the BCD pulls up at the chest area. Compensation for poor trim takes effort, which translates into more air consumption.

Minimize the “hole in the water” made by your body. The less water you have to shove aside, the less energy and air you have to consume. One way is to reduce the amount of weight you carry because extra weight needs extra BCD inflation to lift it. A more inflated BCD pushes aside more water.

Another way to shove aside less water is to trim your body in a horizontal position so that your legs are following through the hole made by your shoulders and not enlarging it. Many divers do, in fact, swim with their heads up and fins down. Wings and integrated weight pockets help achieve a good trim, but you can still get the right trim and weight while using a conventional BCD.

On the other hand, underweighting is as bad as overweighting. Too little weight means that as your tank empties and becomes more buoyant, you will increasingly have to struggle to stay down, resulting in more work and harder breathing.

When you test your weight, be sure to have on all the gear you would use in a normal dive. This includes the proper exposure suit.
Note that salt water is more buoyant. You will need slightly less weight in fresh water.

Being improperly weighted can result in erratic buoyancy and spoil your dive.

Overall Warnings:
Scuba diving is an inherently dangerous activity that can result in serious injury or death. We recommend that you seek proper training and equipment before attempting this activity.

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Last Updated on Friday 17th December 2010