Posted by Kendall Raine on December 21, 2000 at 11:14:30:
In Reply to: Weights... posted by mattschechter on December 20, 2000 at 18:09:00:
Several thoughts and a recommendation.
1) Don't commit to a fixed weight belt set-up yet. You will shed weight from your belt as you gain experience. Also, if you have a new wet suit, it will lose buoyancy over time due to compression of the nitrogen cells. You may also vary the amount of rubber you wear depending on the season. You'll certainly vary the amount of weight you wear if you go from AL to AA tanks. While the Sea Soft fixed belts are very comfortable, they're expensive and lack flexibility.
2) Avoid having all your weight in one place. I expect to hear opposing points of view on this, but there are real advantages to being able to control the amount of ballast you dump in an emergency. By putting all your weight on your belt, you've committed to becoming extremely buoyant in the event you drop you belt.
3) Distribute weight for trim. Another point of disagreement here, but having all your weight on your waist-as in a belt or even most harness systems-tends to push the hips down resulting in sub-optimal swimming posture. Distributing weight around the body solves this problem, but usually results in your having a portion of your weight in non-ditchable form.
My recommendation is to use a stainless backplate (-6lbs) and a pouch (shot) weight belt. I prefer the cordura shot belts to the neoprene ones as they hold up a lot better. My rationale for the steel backplate is that it allows you to distribute weight around your chest and to use a wing instead of a jacket style BC. While a portion of your weight is now permanent, you will still have something like 20 lbs on your belt, so dumping it will give you substantial positive buoyancy for emergencies, but you won't come up quite as fast while having a better balanced more streamlined rig. The wings are interchangeable allowing you to use a smaller one for warm water diving and a bigger one if you want to use doubles.
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