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My new Pony (bottle) by Steve Whitford

One of the goals I set for this year was to gain more experience on deeper dives, including a dive to U-853 at the end of the year. In order to prepare, I did some research on safety measures and decided to get a pony bottle (a small tank that can provide backup air in case of regulator failure or another air-related emergency).

Some people feel that a pony bottle is not enough for an emergency, and only gives a false sense of security. Some recommend using “doubles” instead that allows the gas supply from one of the tanks to be cut off in an emergency situation. This is a hotly debated topic on the Scubaboard forum. In the end I decided to go with a pony bottle as I plan to use it only on deeper dives and can unhook it from my tank for other dives. Based on my planned max depth and breath rate, I felt the best size tank would be at least 19 cubic feet. “Spare Air” tanks do not provide enough air at depth for a safe ascent. After looking at the tank sizes at my local dive shop, I ended up getting the larger 30 cubic foot tank. The size, weight and price difference was very slight, so I went for the larger safety margin.

For placement, there are two different options: strapped to the tank or slung in front like a stage bottle. I decided to strap it to the main tank. In this location, the pony is completely out of the way, although it is a little more complicated switching tanks. As I usually have a few things clipped to my B/C I was not sure I wanted anything else in front. After a few more dives I will probably reevaluate.

My pony bottle configuration is set up with the smaller bottle attached to the right of my main tank. There are two hoses coming out of each tank. From my main (Steel 80) is my primary regulator and console, while from my pony bottle is my secondary regulator and B/C inflator. This way, if I do encounter an out-of-air situation, I can still inflate my B/C. I intend to practice with the pony bottle to increase my comfort level. I have kept my octopus placement where it is for single tank dives for the sake of familiarity. I plan to try out some different configurations including slinging the pony bottle.