Portable Oxygen: Swank Fad or Practical Tool?

Although I’ve spent my share of time gasping for air high atop mountains, I’ve never traveled any place where I needed a bottle of supplemental oxygen to suck on. Sure, a bottle really could have helped when I had altitude sickness in Tibet, but one simply doesn’t travel with an emergency bottle of oxygen. It’s not practical.

Or so I thought.

A company by the name of Oxia is now selling personal oxygen canisters that contain six gallons of pressurized oxygen and weighs less than a pound. The company is marketing the “personal oxygen” as a pick-me-up that will “recharge and refresh anytime.” The website features attractive models enjoying a hit of oxygen while talking on the phone and relaxing at the beach. The target market here is not the outdoorsman struggling to summit a local peak, but rather the swanky consumer who would rather suck down some O2 than a Red Bull.

I’m sure it gives you a nice oxygen buzz, especially considering that the mixture in the canister is 90% oxygen and 10% nitrogen (compared to normal air which is just 27% oxygen). I don’t think I’m going keep a bottle around to huff when I get tired, but it might be nice to throw into my pack if I ever try and summit Mt. Whitney.