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January 2016    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 31, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Why These Readers Refuse to Give Up Their Spare Air

from the January, 2016 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

In our November story "Do Divers Need a Spare Air?," we postulated that it's not a necessary piece of gear because it just adds bulk and is one more potential complication, especially if you're diving at reasonable depths. It may also encourage some divers to get dangerously low on air and have to rely on the Spare Air's very limited capacity to surface.

Several subscribers wrote in to disagree. Daniel Spitzer (Piermont, NY) says, "I have tested it underwater, and at 60 feet, I can get 17 to 20 breaths. Put another way, because my typical air consumption, when not panicked, is less than one cubic foot per minute, a Spare Air should give me about three minutes to get to the surface. Assuming I panic and hyperventilate, it still would give me well over a minute."

Stephen Moore (Toronto, Ontario) says, "I had a high-pressure hose for my Scubapro G250 blow out on the surface while diving the Rhone. That is a situation where I think the Spare Air could have been a lifesaver if I had been at depth when the failure occurred. Having a totally redundant air supply strikes me as prudent. A pony bottle would be a better choice, but I dive a couple of times a year, and I don't need to pay even more baggage charges."

Ron Johnson (Houston, TX) says the Spare Air saved his life while diving in Truk Lagoon. "I put a swivel on my first-stage air hose, allowing it to rotate up, down, and around. It worked well for a season. Then, one day in Truk, the O-ring in this swivel blew out at 65 feet. I did an 'O Shite' moment as I saw my air tank pressure drain down to zero. I knew I could not hold my breath for a controlled ascent. It was definitely an emergency. My mind was rushing into a panic when I remembered my Spare Air; I carry it in a specially designed neoprene holster on my BC. I reached back, slid it out and life-giving air rushed into my lungs. I did a controlled ascent to the surface and climbed back into the boat. I haven't needed it since, but then, once is enough. Buy a Spare Air and hope you never need it."

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