This article summarizes studies of the equilibrium and kinetic swelling properties of a class of hydrophobic weak polyelectrolyte copolymer gels synthesized from n-alkyl methacrylates (hydrophobic) and N,N-dimethylaminoethyl methacrylate (weak base). We present evidence for a pH-driven swelling phase transition, and consider the effect of pH buffers on equilibria. A simple model based on ideal Donnan equilibrium is able to predict qualitative trends but is unsuccessful in making quantitative predictions of buffer effects on swelling equilibria. Buffers also strongly influence swelling kinetics. It is demonstrated that suitably chosen buffers can act as proton carriers which, under the right circumstances, speed up swelling and deswelling substantially.