- A freediving belt attaches around the waist or hips and holds weights to help divers adjust their buoyancy while underwater. Freedivers use these belts to reach a set depth quickly and with ease.
- Buyers should ensure their chosen belt fits properly. Too loose and it will move about; too tight and it can cause discomfort. It would be best to look for a belt made with durable materials that will stand up to saltwater and other elements encountered while diving.
- Safety is important with diving belts, and you should know how to use them. The belt should be easily adjusted, and models with quick-release mechanisms are ideal.
- Freedivers should also check for any wear and tear before each use, replacing any worn buckles, straps or weights as necessary; this helps ensure maximum safety while freediving with your chosen weight belt.
A freediving belt, also known as a weight belt, is a key part of your freediving equipment. Freedivers typically use freediving belts for carrying lead weights to counterbalance their body’s natural buoyancy in open water dives. However, getting the right one for your needs can be tricky, considering the many factors in play, such as material, buckle type, size and more.
In this guide, we’ll go over the basics of freediving belts, including key features and important considerations when selecting one. We’ll examine why they’re important to freedivers and give you some tips for safety, care and maintenance.
By the end of this article, you’ll know everything you need to make an informed decision about selecting a freediving belt that will help maximise your underwater performance. Let’s get started!
What Is a Freediving Weight Belt?
As we just mentioned, a freediving weight belt is an essential piece of freediving equipment as it’s used to counteract the buoyancy of freedivers to make them neutrally buoyant in the water.
Diving belts come in many sizes and styles, but all consist of a belt and a buckle that allows for adjustments to fit your waist snugly. The buckle can be made from metal or plastic, and the belt is usually composed of rubber, silicone or other strong material. However, some divers still prefer traditional nylon belts, and we’ll look at the pros and cons of all these types of belts later.
The weights themselves are usually threaded through the belt, and most belts will feature a quick-release buckle. Many freedivers consider belts without such a system to be dangerous. Other features on more advanced belts include pockets or attachments for holding a knife or a dive light.
Benefits of Wearing a Freedive Weight Belt
By counteracting the buoyancy of the body in the water, freedivers reduce drag and move through the water more efficiently. Weight belts help with stability and allow the freediver to move with greater control and ease.
Additionally, adding weights to the freediving belt enables you to venture deeper into the ocean at a quicker speed. This allows divers to conserve their energy through less physical exertion, so it’s a safety advantage.
Among the many reasons people enjoy freediving is to see the amazing and diverse ocean wildlife, including fish, turtles and many other unique species. However, many of these creatures are alert to predators and moving silently without making a disturbance is essential. The less kicking a freediver does, the better, and the use of weights aids with this.
Types of Dive Belts
Choosing the right freediving weight belt for your body type and freediving goals is important. Investing in a quality diving belt helps with safety and increases the likelihood that it will last through many freedive sessions.
There are a few main types of freedive weight belts, each with pros and cons. Here are the main freediving belts available:
Nylon webbing weight belts: This is the traditional type of weight belt and the one most commonly used by scuba divers. However, they have disadvantages. Nylon belts are known to move around much easier than other types and can be uncomfortable. When you dive, your wetsuit will compress, meaning the nylon belt tends to move upward or around. To combat this, divers must tie the belt extremely tight, which can be painful pre-dive and constrict the breath.
Equally, the weights attached to a nylon webbing belt must be fixed by weight stops to keep them in place. With that said, nylon belts are cheap, weigh less and are easy to find. If you don’t plan on wearing a wetsuit, that can also eliminate some of the above-mentioned issues.
Rubber weight belts: These belts are popular among freedivers and provide comfort and durability. They’re also more flexible and easily adjusted. Alongside being less likely to move about, a rubber weight belt is much more comfortable, particularly for those with back problems, as it can be worn much lower.
Budget belts in this category will come with a plastic buckle. Freedivers can expect to pay more for a metal buckle that is easier to unclip and will last longer.
Silicone weight belts: The newest type of belt out there, silicone belts are more expensive but offer advantages over rubber weight belts. Silicone weight belts are more flexible and stretchy than their rubber counterparts, meaning they’re extremely comfortable to wear. These diving belts will also last longer and are better at handling such things as salt, chlorine and heat.
Alongside the different materials, there are two main versions of belts depending on how a freediver wants to attach weights. With most belts, the weights are threaded onto the strap. However, there are also pocket belts available. These feature pouches along the length of the belt, allowing freedivers to place the weights inside. The main advantage here is comfort, as some find that the weights on regular belts dig into the skin.
How to Choose the Right Freediving Belt for Your Needs
When choosing a freedive weight belt, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, you need to decide on the material and type of belt based on your budget, preferences and freediving goals. For instance, if you plan to do a lot of freediving or going to depth, then a rubber weight belt or silicone belt may be more suitable due to its superior flexibility and comfort.
Secondly, you need to pick the correct size. The belt should fit snugly around your waist with no spaces between your body and the belt itself – this is what keeps it securely in place during dives while allowing you to move freely in the water. Finally, you should ensure you use enough weights for your desired depth but not too many, as this can cause drag underwater.
Ultimately, picking out a freedive weight belt will come down to the freediver’s personal preferences, goals and budget. By researching and trying out a few freedive weight belts, you can find the perfect fit.
What about Lead Weights?
Most divers will use lead weights, and they’re considered standard. These weights come in various sizes, and divers combine them to get their required weight. Most weights are two pounds, but one-pound weights are also available. Divers should know the conversion between pounds and kilograms if they buy or rent weights in different countries.
However, lead weights aren’t the end of your options.
Lead weights: Lead weights are cheap but unrefined and often rough, making them an issue for those who don’t wear a wetsuit. They are also somewhat fragile.
Coated weights: These are slightly more expensive and provide a smooth, comfortable surface that is less likely to scratch freedivers. They will also last longer than lead weights.
Sand as weight: Somewhat out of fashion, sand-filled weight belts have pockets the freediver fills with sand to produce the same effect as regular weights. However, the diver needs considerably more sand in terms of volume to achieve the same weight as a comparatively small piece of lead. On the plus side, filling a belt with sand means the diver doesn’t have to travel with heavy weights in their luggage.
Shot weights: These weights are a softer option that moulds around the body of the freediver. They are lead shot pellets that are individually coated to prevent erosion. If left untreated, the lead shot can erode into a powdery form of harmful chloride, detrimental to marine life. Thus, ensure you only use coated shots for your diving weights.
Is Using a Rubber Weight Belt Safe?
Like all forms of diving, freediving has many dangers associated with it if you don’t have the correct training or take the necessary safety measures. One of these safety measures is the buckle, and you must know how to quickly and safely shed your weight in an emergency. Equally, ensuring your belt is secure is paramount.
Beyond this, using a weight belt may actually make a freediver safer. Remember, the weight belt is designed to help with energy conservation and ensure you’re not battling your way down. Conserving energy is crucial in freediving as you need to maximise the oxygen you have. The best way to do this is to only use the muscles you have to when you need to.
Tips for Safety, Maintenance and Care
We’ve already talked a little about ensuring that your weight belt is secure to your body. Choosing a rubber or silicone belt, as opposed to a webbing belt, helps with this. But there are other things you can do to make sure you’re freediving safely and that your dive gear is properly maintained.
At the store:
- If possible, try on the freedive weight belt before purchasing it to ensure a proper fit. If this isn’t possible, then make sure you adjust the belt when you take it home.
- As with all freediving gear, buy from a reputable freediving store and brand. Your safety is too important to cut corners.
- Ensure your weights fit securely in the pockets of the weight belt (if your belt has pockets). Equally, ensure they are secured if using a webbing belt. Always double-check them when putting on your gear.
- Never use a freedive belt or weights that have been damaged or show signs of damage, as this could lead to injuries or accidents.
- Wash your belt down with fresh water to remove salt, sand or other material.
- Keep your freedive belt clean and store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and moisture. Please don’t leave them in the car or trunk, as this can cause damage to the belt and buckle if the weather is hot and the space isn’t ventilated.
- Ensure your freediving weight belt is inspected and serviced regularly by a respected retailer or dive shop. This helps to ensure it is fit for freediving and that any wear and tear is noticed and addressed before it becomes a safety issue.
By respecting your freedive weight belt and taking the necessary steps to maintain, clean and inspect it regularly, you are ensuring your safety both in the water and out! With frequent use, freedive weight belts can last for many freediving sessions, but if you doubt their safety or it shows signs of wear and tear, have it checked out!
Here at Agulhas, we’re committed to helping freedivers make their dives as safe and enjoyable as possible. We provide high-quality freediving gear that’s revolutionising the freediving world and also helping maintain the oceans we hold so dear.
Our freediving equipment is modular, meaning you can easily swap out any part of an item for another when needed. This not only saves you money, but it helps cut down on waste that sadly often ends up in the water, affecting the planet’s beautiful wildlife and delicate ecosystem.
Our dedication to improving freediving as an experience comes from who we are – freedivers. Agulhas’ freediving equipment is designed by world-renowned freediver Hanli Prinsloo, champion swimmer Peter Marshall and the acclaimed designer Alexander Taylor. They understand that freediving is a sport that requires careful consideration and preparation before any dive takes place and that you want equipment that is not only functional at the highest level but beautiful to look at.
That’s why we strive to provide freedivers with the best freediving gear and advice so you can safely enjoy the underwater world. So if you’re looking for freediving gear or accessories, head to our store and check out the rest of our website for plenty more tips.
Freediving can be fun and rewarding, but ensuring you have the right freediving gear is important. The weight belt is an essential part of your freediving kit and should never be taken for granted. When choosing your freedive weight belt, ensure that it fits securely, ensure your weights fit properly in any pockets or on the strap, inspect the freedive belt regularly, and buy from a quality freediving store.
At Agulhas, we understand just how important freediving safety is, and that’s why we offer freediving gear that is both reliable and eco-friendly. So why not check out our store page and get in touch with any queries or tips – we’d love to hear from you!
How much weight should I put on my belt?
Height and weight affect buoyancy, as do muscle density, fat and lung volume. Whether you’re wearing a wetsuit or not is also a factor. You even have to factor in the type of water you’ll be diving in. Therefore, trial and error is the best way to determine how much weight you need, or you could seek the advice of fellow freedivers who’ve dived in your location before. Don’t be afraid to seek assistance!
Can you summarise what I should look for when adding a weight belt to my freediving equipment?
Look for one that fits comfortably around your waist and hips and has easily adjustable straps. Find a belt made from durable materials and one that comes with high-quality stainless steel buckles or fasteners. Additionally, check the manufacturer’s recommended maximum weight capacity before purchasing to ensure it meets your needs.
What other features should I look for when adding a weight belt to my freediving gear?
In addition to size and material, you may want to consider the design of the buckle for ease of use, especially if you plan on doing multiple dives or activities that require frequent adjustments. Some buckles have a quick-release feature that allows you to abandon your weights quickly in an emergency. Additionally, some belts come with extra pockets and clips so you can attach gear like knives and flashlights.