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weight belt ditching

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Oct 9, 2001
Has anybody remembered to ditch his weight belt in a risky situation? In all the storys that i have heard or read nobody did it.
Last year there was a sade accident in Argentina: five scuba divers went to a cero viz reservoir to practise diving in that conditions. one was an instructor and the other 4 were competent divers but not professionals. They all had co2 inflated vests.
Aparently they got disorientated or got in panic and only one, helped by the instructor made it to the surface.
I dont think they were stupid, and they had spare air, vest and weight belt to ditch.
I think more that if you dont practice this emergencies measures until they become a reflex you wont make them when the time comes.
I´ve never practiced it, but now i think about it, it would be good to spend some time getting used to ditching my belt.


Before each dive, i tell everyone to remember to ditch in case of trouble. I think making a rapid resume of all the information regarding safety is a good way to make sure that you'll know what to do in case of trouble.
hi crazifrenchman,

thats my point, knowing what to do might not be enough.

I was reading the E. Fatah profile where he tells about his record dive. He says he got paralized for 6 seconds and thought he was going to die. shouldnt he have released his belt?
Jay Styron tells a story in the samba? thread were he had one, and for what he says he forgat too.

Untill today i never read of anybody remembering doing it, have you?

Hi Sebastian,
When SWB or samba happens you usually don't have time or the mind to ditch your weight belt. One second everythings fine, the next its too late. I think ditching the weight belt should always be a consideration but it seems that its more a viable option when you get in some sort of trouble on the bottom or know you are going to have difficulty getting back to the surface. I also think people get too attached to their gear and don't want to loose it. I mainly freedive to spearfish so I have a float w/ me and I attach it to my weight belt. This way if I do have to ditch it, it's easily retrieveable. Also I like to dive so I'm positive for the first 15-20', from what I've read and experienced most SWB occurs in this area so if it happens at least I'll float to the surface w/ my weight belt on. Just my thoughts. Safe diving.
Hi people, I think there are a few problems associated with ditching the belt in freediving. One reason is that we may not know that we will need to ditch: ascent blackout hits us, and that's it, game over. Another is that we are reluctant to drop the belt because of ego, cost of the belt, and the possibility that we will be fine, but will not be diving the rest of the day because our belt is gone.
Kirk Krack taught me that if you are pushing your limits, or there is any doubt AT ALL that you will make it back to the surface AND you are reluctant to ditch the weight, then we should undo the buckle with one hand but not drop the belt. That way, if you make it to the surface cleanly and give your self 20 seconds or so to recover, then you can do up your belt and carry on. If, however, you pass out or lose motor control, then your hand relaxes and the belt drops. Up you go,and at least you will be at the surface, where your buddy can take over.
Que pasa bien,
Erik Y.

There is an interesting article at www.scubadiving.com/training/instruction/weightditch. While it is oriented toward scuba, there are some very good points made. One of the big points made is that it is a two handed job, so while holding your belt with the buckle open may help, it is not a for sure drop. Dropping weights is something to train for. It makes it easier to have the weights on a float and a line. The experience of trying to swim an unweighted 7mm suit down to the bottom is a humbling experience. I tried a number of drops today and the one hand release only worked 50% of the time. The failures came from belt buckle friction, and hanging on my fins.
The fin hangs likely would not have happened if I had been using full foot pocket fins. The belt buckle friction may be solved by using a rubber belt, which might self remove. I hope that this helps.

Best wishes,

Hi freediver 48

Thanks for the tips. I never tryed ditching the belt, but I will try this week end.
According with your research you need both hands to do it properly, so if you are spearfishing you would not only have to ditch your belt, but your gun too. That would be a tough decicion!!!
I read a book where the author said the speargun should have a buoyant material attached to it, so if you loose it you could get it on the surface. I was thinking wheater it was a good idea or not, but now i´m convinced it is.

Hello all,

I'm fairly new to freediving, so I've been reading everything intently...

I just bought a rubber weight belt that I understand is standard equipment for freediving because the rubber belt self-compensates at depth and keeps the weight from riding up my chest when going down - works quite well, too.

It sounds like this post has been talking about nylon (non elastic webbing) belt with the crimping buckle that's common in scuba diving. I think that the rubber belt set up with the steel wire buckle that you loop one belt end through and fold over is a better solution because you can undo it half-way and hold it with one hand with almost no effort if you think you're in trouble coming up. If you lose consciousness, then your hand would simply go limp and no longer keep the buckle from snapping open like a true Dead Man's Switch. The belt would then fall away and you hopefully float up.

Does this make sense? Has anyone tried weight ditching with a rubber belt / steel wire buckle setup?


ps. BTW, Freediver48, a friend who introduced me to freediving used to tie a float line (plugged hollow poly line with air trapped in it) to his weight belt, drop the belt at depth, and rocketed to the surface from all the positive buoyancy for fun. He then pull the belt up afterward using the attached float line and does it again. (Personally it sounds very dangerous and I don't do it myself. Yet. Cluck, cluck.)
Last edited:
French technicque

French spear fishermans who dive 30-40 m deep normaly put more weight on their belts that are connected to a float with the line.
Heavy weight bring them very fast to the bottom where they release the belts and continue to dive without them. Once on the surface (where they arrive without the weight) they pick up the belts from the bottom. In that way they never come in dilema.
This technicque may seem a bit slow but then diving on 35 or 40 m is better to be in slow rhytm.

Hi Alan and every body else,

That french technique makes a lot of sense to me. I think it is probably orientated at reaching the bottom, and then the surface, faster, so you can have more time to hunt. But the good thing is that in that way you are always on the safe side, either if you have a problem or not.
Yesterday I visited the page that fd48 suggested about weight ditching. The author says he is an scubadiver consultant for scuba accidents, and that he has been involved in this for a lot of years.
He remarks that almost all drowned scuba divers had the weights on.
I (now) think that the way to look at this is wrong. people see ditching the belt as a phisical problem: When the time come I´ll just undo the buckle and thats it, the belt is gone.
But reality show that when the time came for all this drowned scuba divers they couldnt did it. and I´m sure a scuba will have some more time than a freediver.
So the problem must be psicological, when you start having a problem you think it´s nothing, you are still ok. When the problem get worse is too late, you are not capable of doing it.

A probable solution?
Always undo your buckle when you leave the bottom, if something happens you are on the surface. It might be a pain in your ass in the first 999 safe dives, but you will thank god in the one you got in trouble.

At least, this is the way i see it.

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