Self-Rescue Made Easy

By Jim Walker
Photography by Bonnie J. Cardone

By now you're probably very familiar with the Spare Air alternate air source from Submersible Systems. You've seen it carried by divers wherever you go and it's been featured prominently in the media (used by record setting freediver Pipin). Quite likely, you already carry one of these handy, backup breathing systems on your dives. If so, you'll really appreciate the latest Spare Air innovation, the Universal Refill Adapter. It not only makes filling your Spare Air from your scuba tank a snap, it eliminates the concern of whether your tank has a yoke or DIN fitting-because the Universal Refill Adapter attaches to the first stage of your regulator instead of your scuba tank.

If you already have a Spare Air and are well-versed in the advantages of this amazing self-rescue system, you might move to the section discussing the Universal Refill Adapter. Otherwise, take a moment to study the following highlights. You might realize just how much you've been missing, safety-wise. Convenient Emergency Air Source: Spare Air is a lightweight, compact, backup air source that is completely independent of your primary breathing system. This is a tremendous advantage because, regardless of what problem might strike your primary system, the Spare Air is unaffected-and ready to provide you with enough breaths to reach the surface in a calm, controlled ascent.


Spare Air consists of a miniature aluminum scuba tank that can be filled to 3,000 psi. It has its own balanced, single stage regulator, purge button and silicone mouthpiece. A check valve allows the device to be filled over and over again and a pressure indicator can tell you at a glance when this is necessary. In an out of air emergency, Spare Air is easy to use. All you have to do is place the mouthpiece in your mouth, purge the regulator, then start breathing lifesaving air.

You can attach your Spare Air to a handy spot on your BC harness using the optional Universal Mounting System. To prevent accidental loss of your Spare Air, there is the optional Safety Leash.

As mentioned, the Spare Air can be filled over and over. Adapters are available to fill the unit from an air compressor or a scuba tank. The original tank adapter (still offered) has a yoke-style attachment at one end that fits over your scuba tank valve. The other end threads onto the check valve of the Spare Air. Previously, this was the only method of filling your Spare Air from a scuba tank. Now you have a choice.

Universal Refill Adapter: The newest and hottest Spare Air option is the Universal Refill Adapter. No longer does it matter whether your scuba tank has a yoke or DIN valve. In fact, you don't even have to remove your regulator from your (full) tank to fill your Spare Air. The Universal Refill Adapter allows you to quickly and easily fill the Spare Air directly from the high pressure port of your regulator's first stage.

The Universal Refill Adapter has three rugged, machined, nickel plated brass parts. One fitting screws into the high pressure port of your regulator first stage. (Your high pressure hose then screws into the other end of the fitting.) This fitting has a hole in the middle. Most of the time, the hole will be filled by the second part of the adapter, an O-ring sealed 'plug.' A retaining clip holds the plug in place.

When you want to fill your Spare Air, you utilize the third part of the adapter. It is another fitting, one end of which you screw over the Spare Air's check valve. The other end of this fitting is another O-ring sealed plug, but this one has a small orifice that leads through the fitting to the Spare Air check valve. You simply turn off the air, unclip and remove the non-perforated plug from the regulator fitting. Then you slide in and clip on the perforated plug in its place. Open your tank valve and the Spare Air automatically fills to equalize with the pressure in your scuba tank. You can be assured of an accurate pressure reading while refilling your Spare Air because the adapter allows you to check it with your tank pressure gauge. Turn off the air, switch plugs again, remove the fitting from the Spare Air-and you're ready to go. However it may sound in print, the actual filling process is very simple, requires no tools and can be accomplished in less than a minute with practice.

Whether Sport or Pro, the Spare Air has always been an incredibly handy and reliable backup air source-with the important advantage of being completely independent of your primary air supply.