Backpacks and bouyancy

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Posted by Dick Analog on March 09, 2005 at 16:21:33:

Based on photos I've seen on this BBS, it seems that quite a few local, long-time divers are using backpacks instead of BCs. Since I'm a fairly new diver and have only been indoctrinated in the BC way of doing things, I'd like to know how divers make backpacks work for them and what advantages they may offer. They certainly look simple, and I'm all for simplicity - especially in an activity that has as many potential hazards as diving does. I refer to myself as 'Mr. Analog' because of an inherent distrust in complex gadgets. For example, I appreciate the extra dive time I get when using a computer compared to going straight from tables. But, I also dive with TWO computers PLUS a full set of analog gages and an analog dive watch because I have yet to have both computers working 100% OK on the same day.

So, here are my questions about backpacks:
1) I can imagine that a diver could be perfectly weighted to near-neutral bouyancy at the beginning of a dive with a backpack, but what happens toward the end of a dive when the tank is 5 or 6 lbs lighter - it seems like you'd be working hard to stay under, and make a controlled ascent without a reference line or anchor chain to hold onto. Or, when you are fairly deep and your wetsuit is compressed, or when you're carrying a load of scallops, it seems that you'd be working hard to stay off the bottom. How do you deal with the tendency to be either too light or too heavy, and rarely perfectly neutral?

2) Aside from robustness and simplicity, are there any other advantages that diving with a backpack offers?

Thank you in advance for your responses.

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