I dive a BP/W. My first BP/W going into and coming out of Fundies was a Halcyon 36 pound Pioneer rig. Shiny plate, stiff webbing, the whole 9.
It wasn't long until I moved to a hand made prototype back plate of unknown origin for my Halcyon rig. This thing weighed over 13 pounds, and was an awful contraption - rough hewn and hand pounded and shaped... it was a beast. But I grew to love having a heavier plate and smaller weight belt.
I still remember the first time I saw a DSS rig... I had such rig envy. The way the wing disconnected from the plate without having to remove the straps, no STA (my Pioneer held the cylinder in place, sort of, with these integrated ridges in the wing's center channel), the heavy duty corrugated hose, the blocks that let me get the non-stretching cam bands rock solid, the way it held the cylinder closer to my back, the compactness of the wing, etc, etc, etc. I was smitten.
Eventually, my dive buddy conspired with DSS, and for my birthday she landed a DSS rig on my doorstep. I was stunned. What a wonderful and loving gift!
To dive this rig, with its 'normal' 5 or 6 pound plate, I needed to add some serious weight to the belt. After a few months of this, I purchased a set of the DSS weight plates, and took all that lead off the belt again.
My point is this: I've dived both. I've dived with a standard plate and a heavy belt, I've dived a heavy plate and a lighter belt, and hands down I am a fan of the lighter belt and the heavier plate.
At present, my weight belt is 10# - and that's heavy for me. I like to be a bit heavy, as I like to be able to drop as I shoot - especially later in the dive. I can dive with a 6 or 7 pound belt and be fine. With a wetsuit, I wear no belt at all. When I'm diving water in the 40's with my thinsulate, I add 3 or 4.
All that said - I don't understand the concept of the heavy belt. If someone is in a fluffy BC, and diving a 10mm wetsuit or something, or may an aluminum cylinder with a dry suit (do people do that?) I can see the need for a 20 or 25 (or more....) belt. I guess. But I really can't though.
I dive a dry suit, I dive a scooter, I don't solo dive. The chances of me having a triple failure (wing, DS, scooter flood) that would require me to halt a fine dive because of catastrophic buoyancy loss is beyond remote.
What is the reason someone would dive a monster weight belt? Aside from adding maybe 5 or 8 or 10 pounds to your BP rig that could make it a bit more inconvenient to schlep, I can't think of a good reason why a person would dive these monster 18, 20, 25 pound belts.
Unless maybe someone gets that cold, or is that big of stature that they simply need it? I've been thinking about this since the 'dump your weight' thread - and I can't wrap my head around someone in a single cylinder ever preferring to dive with these huge belts. In fact, I can't think of the scenario whereby I'd ever dump my belt.
I've probably missed something here. Help me out.