- How To Use Our Weight Calculator
- Why Proper Weighting Is Important
- How Do I know If I’m Properly Weighted?
- How To Conduct A Weight Check
So you know you need to wear weights for scuba diving otherwise you wouldn’t be able to do it down.
But if you’re wearing too much weight then achieving neutral buoyancy becomes challenging.
And you’ll end up wasting a ton of your precious air to maintain it.
Not to mention the additional effort required to drag around that all that unnecessary weight.
So the question is how much weight do you need for scuba diving?
While the answer is different for every diver, the goal is exactly the same. You want to have just enough weight to dive safely and efficiently but not an ounce more.
And that’s why we’ve created this calculator to help you figure out the amount of weight you need for diving.
ScubaOtter Diving Weight Calculator
How to Use the ScubaOtter Weight Calculator
All you need to do is input your weight, in either lbs or kgs, and a little bit about yourself, your equipment, and the type of water you’ll be diving in.
Press calculate and viola!
Our weight calculator will tell you how much weight you need to wear when you go diving with that setup.
But before you head off diving, it’s important to note that a weight calculator is just an estimate of how many weights you will need.
It’s a great starting point. But a weight calculator will never be able to give you the precise amount of weight you need for scuba diving.
So we highly recommend that you conduct a buoyancy check when trying the results from our weight calculator. From there you can easily add or subtract to find the optimal amount of weight you need for your dive.
There are several other factors that will affect the amount of weight you need for diving that weight calculators don’t take into account.
For example, if you’re wearing a brand new wetsuit you’ll need more weight than if you’re wearing an identical wetsuit has been used for over a thousand dives.
And that’s why you’ve always got to test out the results you get from a weight calculator.
Why is Proper Weighting when scuba diving Important?
Being properly weighted is essential if you want to dive safely and efficiently.
Of course, you already know that if you don’t wear enough weight you won’t be able to get down at the start of the dive. Or you’ll struggle to stay down at the end when your tank is nearing empty.
Not only is floating up all the time frustrating, but it can also be dangerous.
If you’re not able to complete your safety, or emergency decompression stops, or ascend too fast then you’re at much greater risk of decompression illness. Not to mention the risks of popping up without an SMB inflated.
Now you might be thinking…
“I’ll just make sure I am overweighted so I can get down and stay safe.”
But it’s really not ideal to be diving overweighted either.
When you’re overweighted you’ll have to add a lot more air to your BCD to find your neutral buoyancy. Which means you’ll burn through your air much quicker and end up with shorter dives.
And even if you have the best air consumption in the world, you’re making your dive harder than it needs to be. Carrying that additional weight increases your drag in the water, further increasing your air consumption, and adding to post-dive fatigue.
Trust us, this is not something you want if you’re trying to make the most of 4 dives a day on a liveaboard. Or have to kick against a strong current!
Proper weighting when diving is the foundation of good buoyancy control. Wearing the right amount of weight when diving helps you to descend and ascend smoothly. It also allows you to easily maintain your position during your safety stop.
And with the correct weighting your overall positioning in the water, aka your trim, will be optimized making you as streamlined as possible.
As a result of all of this, you will be able to move much more efficiently underwater. Which leads to improved air consumption and longer, more comfortable dives!
Who doesn’t want that?!
How do I know if I’m properly weighted for scuba diving?
If you’re properly weighted for diving, you should be able to comfortably hover at your safety stop (between 10 and 20 ft or 4 to 6m) at the end of the dive with little to no air in your BCD, your tank near empty (around 700-900 PSI or 50-60bar), without exerting any effort to stay down and without popping up to the surface.
So now you’re probably wondering, ‘how do I make sure I am properly weighted before I go diving?’
Well, you can start by getting an estimate using our weight calculator above. Then you can conduct a weight check, also known as a buoyancy check, at the surface before you go diving.
But remember, proper weighting is determined through a process of trial and error. So don’t be surprised if you don’t get your weighting quite right on the first try!
How to conduct a weight check
You can complete a buoyancy check at the surface by following these steps:
- Full gear up with your estimated weight and enter the water to where it’s too deep to stand.
- With your mask on and the regulator in your mouth, take a normal breath and hold it.
- Hang vertically in the water and fully deflate your BCD whilst holding that breath.
- If you are correctly weighted you should float at around eye level. As a test, you should slowly sink as you exhale.
- If you’re already sinking whilst holding the breath you’re overweighted. If you’re unable to sink down to eye level then you’re underweighted.
- Add or subtract weight until you can float vertically at the surface at eye level.
Keep your legs and arms as still as possible. If you kick or tread water this will push you upward and you won’t be able to determine the correct amount of weight you need.
But remember you want to be slightly overweighted at the beginning of your dive to compensate for the buoyancy shift of your tank during the dive.
No matter what material your tank is made of, as you use up the compressed gas inside, the tank will get lighter. And therefore it will become more buoyant towards the end of the dive.
So it’s also worth repeating this weight check at the end of the dive to give a more accurate reading of the amount of weight you need.
So now you know why it’s so important to be properly weighted for diving and how to figure out the amount of weight you need.
Have you tried out our weight calculator? Did it give an accurate reading for you?
Let us know your experience in the comments. We’re always looking to improve our calculations so we’d love your feedback!
Alexa Worswick is a PADI and SSI scuba diving Instructor, recreational freediver and freelance copywriter. She first learnt to scuba dive in the UK aged 15 and has since travelled and dived in multiple locations across 3 different continents. After quitting her marketing job in London in 2016, Alexa is now based in Indonesia where she can pursue her passion for the ocean fulltime.