How to Make a Weight Belt for Diving

Having your own weight belt, rather than renting one, means you have equipment that is suited to your exact weight and buoyancy. The weight needed differs for each person, so a homemade weight belt can work for you and fit perfectly.

The following will explain how you can make a homemade weight belt for diving, the different weight systems, and what you can use as weights.

Why Do You Need a Weight Belt When Diving?

Wetsuits are designed to be buoyant as they are made of neoprene, a material with lots of air bubbles, causing you to float. Weights are needed when diving to counteract your wetsuit’s buoyancy and make the descent into the water easier, so you do not have to fight against your wetsuit to swim down, but are also not too heavy to swim back up.

How to Make a Homemade Weight Belt

  1. Lay your strap on a flat surface with the buckle side facing up.
  2. Thread your weights through the belt with the flat side facing down so that they will be flat against your body and not uncomfortable when wearing the belt.
  3. Set out the weights so that they are equally placed on each side of the belt to balance your body. Make sure there is a gap at the back middle of the belt for your tank.

What Do You Need?

  • Strap – the belt strap should be made of nylon or rubber, though nylon is more resistant and durable.
  • Buckle – the buckle will be made of metal or plastic and needs to be quick release, so that the belt can quickly be removed with one hand in an emergency.
  • Weights – the weights will either be designed with slits to be threaded onto the weight belt or will be able to be placed into pockets.

What Weight Systems Are There?

The types of weight systems are weight belts, weight harnesses, and integrated weight systems.

Weight Belt

Weight belts are commonly used by divers as they can be altered to suit your weight and buoyancy and are easy to rent or make yourself. They are simple devices as they are made up of a belt, weights which thread on, and a quick-release buckle.

There are also weight belts which have pockets to place soft weights into as shot lead.

Weight Harness

Weight harnesses have pockets which the lead weights are placed into. The shoulder straps help hold the harness in place, so the weights do not slip down your waist.

Integrated Weight System

Integrated weights are placed into the buoyancy control device, a type of life jacket which holds the diver’s tank. These are mostly used by diving professionals who can dump weights quickly in an emergency, or hold spare weights for people they are diving with.

What Can You Use for Dive Weights?

weight belt for diving

The common weights used by divers are lead blocks, lead shot, and bullet weights.

  • Lead blocks are the most common weight used. They are designed with two slits to be threaded onto a diving belt.
  • Lead shot is a soft weight which comes in bags. These bags can be placed in the pockets of a weight belt, harness, or the buoyancy control device.
  • Bullet weights are smaller, cylindrical shaped weights with one slit through the middle to be threaded onto a weight belt.

What Affects How Much Weight You Need to Dive?

The amount of weight you need to add to your belt depends on your weight, the wetsuit you are wearing, type of tank, and the kind of water you are diving in.

  • The amount of weight you need to use will differ depending on your body weight.
  • You will need more weight for saltwater dives as opposed to freshwater, as saltwater is denser. For a saltwater dive you need 8-10% of your body weight in diving weights, and 6-8% for a freshwater dive.

Your buoyancy is also affected by the type of wetsuit you are wearing. With a full body wetsuit, or a thick one, you will be more buoyant and need more weights than if you are wearing a short wetsuit.

If all this seems a bit too much to take in, no worries, you can take advantage of this dive weights calculator to get an estimate of how much extra weight you need.