Comparison of Altitude Training Systems

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Altitude (hypoxia) systems vary widely in price and function. Some manufacturers do not state prices openly, so the prices below reflect the quotes I was given and may be out of date. If you have a price quote, please let me know and I will update this page.

Contents

1 Types of Altitude Systems

Different altitude systems work in different ways[1] and are suitable for different Altitude Training Approaches, so be sure which approach you want to use before you buy.

Type Mechanism Suitable for Manufacturers Pros Cons
Semi-permeable membrane (SPM) [2]. Separate N2 and O2 using a 'sieve' Intermittent Hypoxic Exposure and Intermittent Hypoxic Training GO2Altitude Minimal running costs, Stable 02 levels Expensive to buy, Lower flow rates than PSAS
Pressure swing absorption[3] Different gases are absorbed at different rates under different pressures Live High, Train Low, Altitude tents or altitude rooms.
(Note Hypoxico systems also support Intermittent Hypoxic Exposure and Intermittent Hypoxic Training.)
CAT, Hypoxico, and Higher Peak (same generator, different prices) Minimal running costs, High flow rates at moderate O2 concentrations Expensive to buy, Poor performance at low O2 concentrations
Rebreather Use of scrubber to absorb exhaled CO2, which then contains less O2 and is rebreathed Intermittent Hypoxic Exposure at rest AltO2lab, AlitPower Cheap to buy, Cheap to run (refilling cartridges) Harder to control O2 concentrations

2 Recommendations

I believe that the DIY Altitude Training (or similar AltoLab system) is the most cost effective solution. For those wanting a sleep based system, Higher Peak offers the best value.

3 Rebreathers

Chemical generators use a chemical reaction to either remove oxygen from the air, or to remove the carbon dioxide from the air that you exhale, which is then breathed again. These systems are cheaper to purchase, but require the ongoing purchase of the chemical cartridges. These systems are only used for intermittent Exposure, not for sleeping.

3.1 AltoLab

AltoLab uses a stack of AltoMixers, with each AltoMixer diluting the oxygen to provide the equivalent of 5,000 ft. The AltoLab system also requires a CO2 scrubber which has to be replaced and lasts 2-3 hours. The running costs would be $10-15 per hour, but you can buy the CO2 scrubber in bulk, reducing the cost down to $1 per hour; see AltoLab for details.

  • The elite kit is $850 and contains 8 AltoMixers giving 5,000-40,000 ft of elevation, 12 silos (CO2 scrubbers) proving 24 hours of usage, a Pulse Oximeter and the masks.
  • The performance kit is $580 and contains 6 AltoMixers giving 5,000-30,000 ft of elevation, 6 silos (CO2 scrubbers) proving 12 hours of usage, a Pulse Oximeter and the masks.
  • The starter kit is $190 and contains 3 AltoMixers giving 5,000-15,000 ft of elevation, 2 silos (CO2 scrubbers) proving 4 hours of usage, and the masks.
  • Replacement silos (CO2 scrubbers) are $22

3.2 AltiPower

AltiPower uses a system that removes the CO2 from the exhaled air that is then rebreathed. It is not clear how long the cartridges last, or what altitude is achieved. The system appears equivalent to AltoLab, but significantly more expensive. http://www.altipower.com

  • AltiPower Pro Kit, $1,000. Comes with 2 cartridges and Pulse Oximeter
  • Replacement cartridges $100 each, $300 for four

3.3 METOM

A Russian company makes a similar rebreather system for 1000-1500 roubles (about USD 32 to 49). http://metom.narod.ru/hip.htm

4 Pressure Swing Absorption

Note: Apparently CAT, Hypoxico, and Higher Peak use generators from the same supplier, but at significantly different prices. The units appear physically identical.

4.1 Hypoxico

Hypoxico systems is an established manufacturer, offering purchase, rental and rent-to-own for their equipment. Hypoxico supports sleep tents, Intermittent Hypoxic Exposure and Intermittent Hypoxic Training. (The prices shown below are from March 2013.) I've found Hypoxico to the be the most helpful of the manufacturers listed here, and they also offer training programs and consultations.

  • Summit II Generator, $2,950.
    • Provides 12,500 ft, or 21,000 ft with a $200 adapter.
    • 3-year, 8000 hour warranty
    • Rental of generator and queen sized tent $175/week (1 month minimum, US & Canada only)
  • HYP123, $4,950.
    • Provides 12,500 ft, or 21,000 ft with a $200 adapter.
    • Industrial grade generator (metal body, upgraded components)
    • 4-year 10,000 hour warranty
  • Conversion for use in exercise - $700
  • Tents - $350-950
  • Hypoxico also makes a K2 line of generators for room or house conversions. These generators use a different technology for extracting the oxygen and can provide simulated altitudes above 25,000ft.

4.2 Higher Peak

An established producer of competitively priced products. http://www.higherpeak.com/

  • MAG-10, $2,300. Provides 20,000 ft. Base price for generator only
  • MAG-10 with tent, $2,550 (Tent only covers head and shoulders)
  • MAG-10 with mask, $2,400
  • The MAG-10 and Summit II generators look identical.

4.3 Altitude Tech

This Canadian company produces competitively priced products. http://www.altitudetech.ca/

  • 8850P, $2400 (delivered). Provides 10,500 ft and comes with tent and tubing
  • Summit, $2,900 (delivered). Provides 20,000 ft and comes with tent and tubing
  • Conversion for use in exercise - $300 (includes humidifier)

4.4 Simulated Altitude Technology

http://simulatedaltitudetech.com

  • ALT-7, $2,000. Provides 9,000 feet. Comes with hose and mask.
  • ALT-10, $2,300. Provides 13,000 feet, but also mentions 9.5% Oxygen, which others claim is equivalent to 20,000 ft. Comes with hose and mask.

These products look physically identical to the Higher Peak products.

4.5 Colorado Altitude Training

Colorado Altitude Training provide a wide variety of systems. The CAT 9 and CAT 12 air units provide air at the equivalent of 9,000 and 12,000 feet respectively. The CAT systems have a 3 year warranty.

  • CAT-430 Walk-in Tent System with CAT-12 Air Unit $4,595 + $219 shipping
  • CAT-315 Walk-in Tent System with CAT-12 Air Unit $4,245 + $189 shipping
  • CAT 12 with Sleeping Mask Kit $3,620 + $99 shipping
  • CAT 12 with Exercise Mask Kit $3,495 + $99 shipping

5 Semi-Permeable Membrane

5.1 GO2Altitude

GO2Altitude focuses on systems for Intermittent Hypoxic Training rather than sleep systems and appear to use a semi-permeable membrane technique. The cheapest system is their One Person / Portable. Their focus seems to have changed to aviation usage and their web site is now http://www.hypoxic-training.com/

  • One Person / Portable 2010, $5,990 ($6,500 delivered). Provides 21,000 ft and comes with Pulse Oximeter, PC software and hoses/masks

6 See Also

7 References

  1. Adapted from Equipment and Regimes for Intermittent Hypoxia Therapy, Bassovitch and Serebrovskaya
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semi-permeable_membrane
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pressure_swing_adsorption
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