A freediving neck weight is an invaluable piece of equipment for freedivers who want to practice constant weight, dynamic, or free immersion training. In pool disciplines where maintaining neutral buoyancy as well as a body position that is parallel to the bottom of the pool floor is nigh impossible, particularly with no-fins, tools that help with weight distribution is crucial.
As for depth training, a neck weight speeds up the freefall, making the process more streamlined and efficient, so much so that they may forgo using a weight belt in favor of neck weights.
There are numerous types of neck weights available and selecting the right one can be difficult. In this guide, we will provide an overview of the most popular types of freediving neck weights to help you choose the right one for you. Furthermore, if you’re feeling crafty, this guide will teach you how to make a DIY freediving neck weight.
Freediving Neck Weight Benefits
Freediving neck weights have become a mandatory part of freediving, whether it is for training or competitions. Without it, freedivers would not have been able to reach the level that is possible in dynamic freediving today.
There are two major benefits for using a neck weight: 1) helps to achieve neutral buoyancy, and 2) contributes to a longer glide.
Without either of these, a freediver would exhaust themselves just trying to stay submerged. Freedivers would not be able to maintain the glide phase for nearly as long in any discipline, from no-fins to dynamic with fins, and thus limit their potential for growth.
Types of Freediving Neck Weights
The Lobster is aptly named because of the long “tail” of this neck weight that traces down your upper back. This neck weight is a great companion for dynamic performances because the position of the weight helps to distribute the weight closer to your lungs and back. Since this area is so close to the human body’s center of gravity, it will be easy on the collarbone and neck.
Furthermore, the vertebrae-shaped weights are flexible and adjustable, which solves the issue of the constantly shifting nature of one’s buoyancy. It’s easy to see that the Lobster neck weight was designed with freedivers in mind.
Thanks to its shape, material, and hydrodynamics, freedivers can move underwater with ease so that they can focus all of their efforts on their training. However, the Lobster is costly and is only usable for pool disciplines.
Chabaud provides a large selection of neck weights, all of which are also catered to freedivers. They are masters of their craft and all of their designs take into account hydrodynamics and comfort, both of which can make or break a neck weight.
While they are more affordable than Lobster neck weights, they are still pricier than traditional neck weights. Thankfully, Chabaud have designed neck weights for use in the pool and for depth. Depending on the model, some Chabaud neck weights are adjustable, allowing you to add or subtract weight depending on your needs.
The Apneautic neck weight is a highly adjustable device that wraps around the neck and resembles a neck collar. It features segments of weights each weighing 300g (10.5oz) that can be quickly changed in seconds.
The adjustable nature of this neck weight makes it an ideal choice for both instructors and students, those who train for depth or pool disciplines, or those who train with and without wetsuits.
At first glance, the Apneautic neck weight looks uncomfortably bulky, and it does take a while to get used to. However, its usefulness cannot be denied, which is why instructors keep using them to help train their students. Furthermore, it is considerably more cost efficient than buying individual neck weights at varying sizes for students to use.
When you think of a neck weight, you might think of someone wearing their own homemade neckweight, though nowadays ordering one from an online retailer is also quite common. DIY neck weights are typically constructed by filling a bicycle tire tube with lead, sealed with tabe, and held in place by a snap clip.
This tool is ideal for helping you reach depth, since its closed loop design means it is not likely to slip off. Furthermore, if you are an instructor, having an adjustable strap is recommended for your students to wear.
One downside of the DIY neck weight is that you cannot add or remove weights from it while in the pool; in other words, you cannot make any adjustments on the fly depending on the situation.
Furthermore, your buoyancy changes all of the time, even on a month to month basis, due to your ever-changing body composition, dive locations, as well as equipment. Should you ever replace some of your gear, without being able to adjust your neck weight, you may find that you cannot maintain neutral buoyancy any longer despite having a similar setup.
Adding or removing weight from your weight belt can affect the distribution of your buoyancy during no-fin performances. Lastly, an ill-fitting neck weight can be quite the distraction if it constantly gets in your face during descent.
How to Make Your Own Freediving Neck Weight
Here are the instructions in text form. Making your own basic freediving neck weight is surprisingly simple. Here’s what you need to get started:
- Cable/zip ties.
- Inner tube, recommended 2” in circumference (e.g. mountain bike inner tube).
- Lead weights (lead shot, ball bearings).
- Small pouches to hold the lead shot in the tube for additional security such as balloons (Optional).
- Strapping (at least 12”)
- Quick-release buckle.
- Duct tape.
- A knife to cut the materials with.
Making the Freediving Neck Weight Step-By-Step Instructions
- First, measure the circumference of your neck. Take that number, and add another 20 cm (~8in.) to the measurement, and cut out a piece of inner tube that is this length. You will be filling the inner tube with lead shot and need some extra space so that the tube can expand and still fit comfortably around your neck.
- Attach some fabric or a ribbon to the bottom of the quick release buckle, curl it up, and tie a tight knot. Perform this step to both the male and female ends of the buckle.
- Slide the knot and buckle into one end of the inner tubing until the buckle is slightly in the inner tube as well.
- Secure a cable tie over the knot from outside of the tube. Do this tightly so that it holds firmly in place (otherwise the buckle will simply slide out) but not so much that it damages the tube.
- Pull the buckle out of the excess inner tube so that it is fully showing but still held in place by the cable tie.
- Next, weigh out how much lead shot you want in your neck weight. You can fill the inner tube with the lead weights directly, however we recommend first separating them into small bags or balloons. This way, you can evenly distribute the weight into these bags, as well as get some extra protection against the lead leaking out of the neck weight. Using a funnel is also a good idea so that you don’t spill the weights everywhere. Here, the thickness of the tube can affect how much lead you put in or how long the neck weight ends up being.
- If you think the inner tube of your neck weight is too long, this is your last chance to trim it because we are about to seal the other end. Also, how full your tube is depends on how heavy the neck weight will be. If you need a heavy neck weight, then it is likely that it will be packed tightly with lead shot. Otherwise, the inner tube may not be full and you might even want to trim off any excess tubing.
- Repeat steps 3-5 on the other side to attach the other end of the buckle.
- You can further reinforce the ends of the neck weight duct tape. This can also improve the appearance by covering up the cable ties and also smooth it out so nothing will be poking your neck.
- Congratulations, you have finished making your own freediving neck weight! Now try it on and clip the buckles together to secure it in place. You can use this neck weight for general training or for competitions.
Now what are you waiting for, get into the water and test out your DIY freediving neck weight!
Tips to Keep in Mind
You should check the neck weight frequently for wear and tear. You may need to patch up any holes, or you may choose to make a new neck weight by taking the lead shots out of your old, worn out neck weight. It’s much easier to reuse materials from your old neck weight before it bursts open and all of the weights inside leak out. Also, the buckles are yet another material you can reuse.
Inner Tube Length
Consider whether or not you will be wearing your neck weight with a wet suit or without one. In addition to affecting your buoyancy significantly, the added thickness of a wetsuit around your neck can make the neck weight fit too snug and impede your breathing. On the other hand, making the neck weight too long will cause it to hang loose. A loose neck weight increases drag, can potentially fall off, and can get in your way when you are doing your dynamics.
Also, if you decide to trim the inner tube because it’s too long that you factor in the length of the buckle as well. It’s recommended that you do all of this before you add in any lead, since they are a nightmare to clean up if you spill them.
Getting Rid of Sharp/Frayed Edges
At any step of this process that involves cutting, such as trimming the inner tube or cutting the fabric that will loop through the buckle, be aware that the cut edges may not be smooth. You can use the flame from a lighter or candle to burn off the ends of sharp tubing or get rid of frayed edges from fabric. Just be careful not to burn the tubing or yourself.
Freediving Neck Weight Recap
In addition to (or in place of) freediving weight belts, you can also use freediving neck weights to help you achieve neutral buoyancy and reach depth more efficiently. They are also useful during training to perfectly balance yourself so that you remain parallel to the bottom of the pool and can glide to your heart’s content.
There are four main types of freediving neck weights: the Lobster, Chabaud neck weights, Apneautic weights, as well as DIY freediving neck weights. If you’re feeling up to the task, you can try your hand at making your own weights and potentially save money. If you’re a freediver who is serious about improving your performance underwater, then you should get yourself a freediving neck weight.
Photo: Jean-Marc Kuffer cc