Personal Oxygen System -- BetterThanAir

BetterThanAir, an Evergreen, Colo.-based company that makes a line of oxygen-consumption products including the oxygen bars popular in airports and nightclubs, has entered the outdoor market with its PO24U Personal Oxygen System. Basically a portable oxygen tank, the product was designed to be stashed in a backpack by athletes for a quick hit of oxygen when the need arises.

The company markets the PO24U to hikers, skiers and mountain climbers who fight fatigue and altitude sickness at high elevations. The device, which weighs less than a pound including a full tank of air, will fit in a jacket pocket, allowing the user to surreptitiously take breaths on a chairlift ride or during short breaks on the trail.

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Unlike tanks used on major mountaineering expeditions, the PO24U is not meant to be left on and free flowing. Instead, the 18-liter tanks of oxygen are designed to provide occasional relief at altitude or a quick burst of energy by oxygenating the bloodstream.

Left on continuously, the company’s replaceable 18-liter tank will provide about 20 minutes of air. This equals out to 300 – 400 individual breaths.

In addition to altitude-related activities, BetterThanAir says the PO24U will enhance workouts and make you stronger and more alert during activities. The company recommends its use for sports ranging from racquetball to weightlifting to trail running. Stress and jet lag can also be relieved with the product, according to the company.

The PO24U package includes the regulator device, a face mask and two tanks of oxygen.

I recently climbed Mt. Rainier and was looking forward to putting the PO24U to the test up high on the mountain’s snowfields and glaciers. Unfortunately, the airline would not allow BetterThanAir’s pressurized tanks on the plane.

At home, where the altitude is only about 1,000 feet above sea level, I tested the product before workouts to measure the benefits. While the product’s effects on my endurance during a workout were questionable, the thick breaths of nearly pure oxygen did perk me up, putting a definite spring in my step for the first few minutes into a run.

Price: $185; replacement tanks, $38.
Contact: BetterThanAir, 1-866-699-4363, http://www.betterthanair.com.

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