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Spare Air - Any opinions?


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#1 Alex_Tattersall

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Posted 29 January 2011 - 03:21 PM

Hey y'all,

I've just done an SDI solo diver course and have started thinking about redundant air sources. Has anyone had any experience of 'Spare Air' and if so, what do they think?

Thanks in advance

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#2 Scubysnaps

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Posted 29 January 2011 - 03:26 PM

Twindies ALex :island:
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#3 davephdv

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Posted 29 January 2011 - 03:33 PM

I always take one with me.

I've made an unplanned free ascent from 85 ft. One or two breaths would have been a great benefit then. This is not something I would ever advocate, but a catastrophic equipment failure or momentary brain fart are possible for even the most careful diver.

Some divers will tell you they are dangerous. They are if you think of them as a pony bottle. If you think of them and use them as an emergency parachute then they can make a lot of sense.

A pony bottle is always better. The more air the better. However the bigger the rig the less likely you have it with you when you actually need it. I would rather have a pony bottle, but a spare air is superior to no backup.

If you are specifically equipping and planning to solo dive then a pony would be better. I don't think that could be emphasized enough.
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#4 bmyates

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Posted 29 January 2011 - 03:57 PM

...A pony bottle is always better. The more air the better. However the bigger the rig the less likely you have it with you when you actually need it. I would rather have a pony bottle, but a spare air is superior to no backup.

If you are specifically equipping and planning to solo dive then a pony would be better. I don't think that could be emphasized enough.



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#5 MIKE POWELL

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Posted 29 January 2011 - 04:11 PM

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#6 Kilili

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Posted 29 January 2011 - 04:48 PM

The marketing sounds good for Spare Air, the reality less so. I tried it for a bit, now use 13 cf pony. At least I trust it.

Edited by Kilili, 29 January 2011 - 04:49 PM.

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#7 Karl

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Posted 29 January 2011 - 04:56 PM

I use a 3 litre pony bottle for every dive - enough air to get me safely to the surface.

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#8 Captain_Caveman

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Posted 29 January 2011 - 06:10 PM

What circumstances would have to occur for you to require an additional air source the size of a spare air?

Then I guess you have to ask yourself, if that circumstance occurred, would you spend time deploying that additional air source, and then when deployed, what would happen if it didn't work.

And all that time, you could have been up and on the surface.

There's a saying that you can probably be unbent, but you can't be un-drowned.


I think the only thing I'd use if I couldn't get to the surface safely in one breath is a set of doubles or a sufficient pony bottle at the very least.

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#9 Alex_Tattersall

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 01:21 AM

Thanks for the comments.

The reason I did the solo diving course was because I discovered that my life insurances would not pay out unless I was diving within the limits of my certification. Quite often I will go alone for a very shallow dive under a local pier to test equipment so need to ensure that the insurance companies have no get out not to pay up.

However the SDI course also promotes the use of a redundant air source. I'm now thinking about travel and diving elsewhere. I think a pony is a good idea for the UK but if I go elsewhere and they don't have pony options, would the insurance companies turn round and say, well the course told you to have a redundant air source? I guess with the spare air, this can be taken with me more easily?

I never dive below 10 meters alone in any case and have done many solo dives with the camera, it just hadn't occurred to be earlier that this was irresponsible towards my young family.

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#10 decosnapper

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 01:37 AM

However the SDI course also promotes the use of a redundant air source. I'm now thinking about travel and diving elsewhere. I think a pony is a good idea for the UK but if I go elsewhere and they don't have pony options, would the insurance companies turn round and say, well the course told you to have a redundant air source? I guess with the spare air, this can be taken with me more easily?


Every dive centre has the standard 12 litre/100cuft cylinders. I always band up two and make a twinset. This gives massive redundancy, and even if I take one cylinder down to 50 bar on the first dive, I get to carry that as bailout on the second.

Downsides? Heavy and more complex, requiring in-water reg switching.

Upsides? I have as much gas as I can physically carry. Once underwater, its nigh on impossible to find any more if you need it. On one occasion, I had enough gas for me and the solo diver who ran out of gas at 40m a long way from the ascent line......not a good day in the office, but we both lived and there was still enough gas for the second dive......
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#11 Paul Kay

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 01:53 AM

I have no experience of a Spare Air however here's my 2 pennyworth which might be worth thinking about.

I always use a 3litre pony in UK waters. Its a weight and a pain. It also costs as the regs have to be serviced annually and the cylinder tested as needed.

To be effective a Spair Air will also (I assume) need similar maintenance, which will be an on cost and I would suspect, be far too easy not to bother with. If you have any sort of bail-out whatsoever, it has got to work when needed and as it will only be used when needed, must be checked and serviced regularly - otherwise it is potentially unreliable and potentially worse than not having at all.

Its worth considering before you buy anything like a spare air, whether you are prepared to accept all its implications. In my experience, traveling and bail-outs is always problematic.
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#12 John Bantin

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 02:36 AM

There isn't much Spare Air sold in the UK since I reviewed it and tried to do an ascent with it from 100 foot. I called it "Three breaths from death." I think that sums it up fairly.

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#13 Bent C

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 02:38 AM

If you never go below 10 m when solo diving, I believe that you donīt really need a redundant air source. If you for some reason get out of air so shallow, just go up. I do carry a pony when going deeper alone, but never bother for the shallow dives. And for the deep dives, where you really need redundancy, I would not consider a spare air. So I guess a spare air would be fine as redundant air source for shallow dives, but then you really donīt need it. For deeper dives a spare air would probbly not be enough anyway.

/Bent


I never dive below 10 meters alone in any case and have done many solo dives with the camera, it just hadn't occurred to be earlier that this was irresponsible towards my young family.

Alex


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#14 JohnLiddiard

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 03:42 AM

I'm now thinking about travel and diving elsewhere. I think a pony is a good idea for the UK but if I go elsewhere and they don't have pony options...


When overseas, most boats on a 2-dive trip give you a cylinder for each dive. Take a buddy twinning kit and a second regulator (the baggage weight increase is only really that of a first stage, as you don't need an octopus on either). You now have twindies that you can stretch over 2 dives. You can even use a bit more gas on the deeper first dive at the expense of a bit less on the second dive.
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#15 John Bantin

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 03:57 AM

When overseas, most boats on a 2-dive trip give you a cylinder for each dive. Take a buddy twinning kit and a second regulator (the baggage weight increase is only really that of a first stage, as you don't need an octopus on either). You now have twindies that you can stretch over 2 dives. You can even use a bit more gas on the deeper first dive at the expense of a bit less on the second dive.



Good idea! I do that but I usually use too much gas and need a refill - greedy bugger that I am.

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#16 Timmoranuk

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 05:39 AM

Hi Alex.

Spare Air is waste of money IMHO. If you _need_ redundancy, twins, either indes or manifolded are the way to go. I use twin 7s, twin 10s, twin 12s and twin 15s. A pony is just a PITA. Otherwise just adopt an 'alpinist' style of diving, know your SAC, carry on with your single and try not to worry too much when you are at 30 metres and have a 15 minute obligation on your computer... :P

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Edited by Timmoranuk, 30 January 2011 - 05:40 AM.

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#17 Timmoranuk

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 06:14 AM

When overseas, most boats on a 2-dive trip give you a cylinder for each dive. Take a buddy twinning kit and a second regulator (the baggage weight increase is only really that of a first stage, as you don't need an octopus on either). You now have twindies that you can stretch over 2 dives. You can even use a bit more gas on the deeper first dive at the expense of a bit less on the second dive.


I always try to sweet talk a third cylinder and use one and a half for each dive. Definately worth it not so much for the redundancy but to allow you to stay under the pack and keep your water column clear of bubbles...
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#18 Paul Kay

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 06:15 AM

A pony is just a PITA.

I've been using a 3 litre pony for around 20 years - you just get used to having it and it no longer bothers you after a bit. I prefer it to twin sets because it is sacrosanct - only to be used in emergency - and I've seen twins drained too far down because they are not always viewed in the appropriate way. Each to their own, but a pony isn't that much of a big deal to carry, and its not that much of a PITA really.
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#19 tdpriest

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 03:55 PM

Hi Alex.

Spare Air is waste of money IMHO. If you _need_ redundancy, twins, either indes or manifolded are the way to go. I use twin 7s, twin 10s, twin 12s and twin 15s.


Spot on, except I only own twin-300 bar-7 l sets. I hire the bigger guys once in a while. A manifold and a little training are the best of all options. A "Spare-Air" just doesn't have enough air to get you out of trouble, unfortunately.

Tim

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#20 r4e

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 09:17 PM

I did my SDI Solo Diver course a year ago and now I am finishing on Trimix.

Since I had already been diving twin manifolded tanks I initially have not been concerned of running out of air except at freeflow due to icing, but, even this should be manageable. However, my SDI trainer insisted on having a totally independent air source, and I selected a 7 liter alu stage tank. As a solo diver in our murky waters, my biggest concern is getting tangled in a fish net. The stage tank gives me more options for such a situation. During the past year I have performed 33 solo dives (and 70 none-solo), all with doubles and the stage tank. Initially I did not like the extra weight and lugging the tanks, but after a while I got used to them and they do not feel heavy anymore. No need to go to the gym...

For travelling purposes, you would not be allowed to take the Spare Air without emptying it first and declaring it as special luggage at extra cost. And then you would need to try to fill it at your destination. There you might run into local laws concerning allowable air tanks. For example, until Dec 31 2010 it was illegal to fill alu tanks in Spain.

I myself select my travel destinations and the dive company based on whether they can supply doubles and stage tanks. However, learning and rigging a side mount set would be more flexible for any travel. The travel kit is light weight and you could tie any size single tanks available from any dive resort. It takes a bit of practising and adjustment to get the rig right, but, then you have a stable platform and ample independent gas.

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