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September 2004 Vol. 19, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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More About Weight Integrated BCDs

from the September, 2004 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

In the June issue, we wrote about weight integrated BCDs, saying that lost weights and heavy lifting made them an impractical choice for traveling divers. Several readers responded.

* * * * *

Dear Ben,

As an owner of a SeaQuest Quickdraw for 150+ dives, most of the article looks like organic fertilizer derived from male bovines. I have no problem putting hard weights in the pouches. Since I have an actual budget, one BCD that works fine off Cape Ann, Massachusetts and Nusa Penida, Indonesia suits me much better than multiple BCDs, each requiring purchase and maintenance costs and storage space.

The only time I’ve lost a pouch was on one of those moronic boats where the staff insists on dragging your gear to you as you stand at the back, rather than permit you to gear up and walk to the entry like a competent diver. They took the pouches out, and replaced one improperly – it parted company on entry. I see little desirable about having anyone but me schlep my gear around, and prefer dive boats that avoid this. When returning to a boat that wants gear handed up separately before re-entry, it’s quite easy to pull the pouches and hand them up, just as such boats often do with weight belts.

Lawrence H Smith

Dear Ben,

For tropical diving, the proliferation of weight integrated BCDs is due to an effective marketing campaign triumphing over common sense. To begin with, at least for tropical diving, I think before the marketing of WIBCDs, many divers would have agreed that having a weight belt with 12 or so pounds would be very low on the list of diving problems. Suddenly every diver (except me!) has to have this innovation.

I have witnessed several instances of weights dropping out of the BCD pouches. One when the BCD was being lifted onto a dive dinghy, which posed a big risk of injury for the diver who could have been clobbered by the falling weight. Last year my dive buddy in Komodo had her weights slip out of her BCD pouch and we had to hold her down and find some heavy stone she could carry for the remainder of the dive.

The biggest nuisance caused by WIBCDs is the back problems these cause the dive crew when they have to be hoisted onto a dinghy. Where I dive, the people waiting on the dinghies to hoist up the gear are usually indigenous local people. Are we that callous that we turn a blind eye to the back problems these WIBCDs cause?

A Berkeley, CA diver and trip leader

Dear Ben,

Some individuals have anatomical differences in their hips that cause difficulty with the weight belt remaining in the correct position. Slipping weight belts can cause significant problems for divers and integrated systems are preferable. Integrated BCDs also allow divers to dump part of their weight and retain part of their weight that allows for a more controlled ascent. Integrated BCDs are also helpful to divers with specific back conditions.

For divers who want to have their BCD pouches fully filled, they can add socks or other material to the pocket. Also, several newer pouches for integrated BCDs have straps to keep solid weights in place.

Ken Kutner
PADI Master Instructor

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