A weight belt is a standard piece of equipment used in spearfishing. Its primary purpose is to offset your buoyancy. As you swim through the water, your wetsuit substantially increases your natural buoyancy, whilst the weight belt is heavy and will help you sink. Diving without a weight belt will make it difficult for you to swim and stay down.
Let's have a look at the things that alter what weight someone needs to use on their weight belt. The first question is: how much air do you take in when you take a full breath? The average lung capacity is about 4.7 litres.
One easy thing you can adjust to offset buoyancy is the suit you're wearing. A 1.5 mil suit that you would wear in the tropics is different from a 7 mil suit that you would wear in Tasmania. So the amount of weight you need for a 7 mil suit is probably three, four times as much. It's huge compared to that of the 1.5 mil.
Body weight is different from body size. Remember, what is measured in buoyancy is the amount of water that is displaced. There is a proportion of weight that you need compared to your body weight, but a 95-kilo person with a high body fat percentage will need different weighting to a 95-kilo person who has predominantly lean muscle.
If you're training and doing your stretching, you will change your ballast because you will develop larger lungs, and larger lungs mean larger air capacity.
Now we get down into weights and how we carry them. The first belt you will generally get to start off with is a webbing belt. Webbing belts are bulletproof, they last forever. Webbing belts slide through a buckle. The buckle uses a cinching device that holds the belt in place and allows quick release. The problem with webbing is that once you start getting deeper and your body gets pressurized and becomes smaller, and your suit becomes thinner, the webbing will not adjust to that and will likely start to slip up and down over your waist. This type of diving weight belt is inexpensive - so if budget is your concern, webbing is a great choice.
The next material we come to is rubber. The great thing about rubber belts is that they can be stretched. So that when you put it on, you can just make it hug your body a little bit. When you go down the water, your body becomes smaller and it gets pressurised. The belt holds in, it hugs in on you. Once you start diving over about 15 meters, wearing a rubber belt is a must. The other thing is, even when you do shrink below the level that the belt will shrink to, its rubber feel will grip your suit a lot better than that of the webbing.
Diving Weight Rubber Belt Designs
There are two main designs in the rubber belt. The quick release belt that we have previously discussed in this blog and the Marseille weight belt. It's like a belt buckle and is intended for experienced divers because it's more difficult to release.
In a quick release rubber weight belt, your body size doesn’t matter as you can easily adjust it to what is comfortable with you. The thing about a rubber belt and a quick release is that if the rubber belt is too thick and you have to release the belt fast, there are times when you can release it and it will roll. You might need to pull it out a bit because you haven't got a lot of space for it to go through. Depending on your preference, if you like the quick release, go for a thin rubber belt. Although the rubber belt is not going to last long compared to a webbing belt, it is still excellent for diving.
Marseille belts are more secure and don’t slip around as much in the water, but are also harder to take off and have less flexibility in their sizing (they have standard belt holes).
The weights you put on your dive belt come in different sizes with weight increments starting from 500 grams up. These varying weight increments allow you to reach a better level of buoyancy. You can check out our full diving weight belts selection here.
If you need additional tips and guidance on how to properly get started with spearfishing, visit the Adreno Spearfishing Blog now! You can also check out our massive range of spearfishing gear!