Choosing your Octi / Alternate Source.
Your Octi, Alternate source, or secondary second stage is an essential yet often overlooked part of your dive gear. Many divers think that it just dangles there, doing nothing yet having costed them a fortune. Firstly they’re right in that it won’t have as much use as your primary but, if you think about the situations where you or another diver is going to need it….well… I’m pretty sure we all expect it to perform flawlessly in those high stress situations!
Secondly - you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a tough, reliable AS!
For a simple, tuck away reliable option look at something like a Performance Diver Slimline Occy. These are designed to be as compact and unobtrusive as possible, while also not breaking the bank!
For a higher performing second stage, consider a Performance Diver Standard Occy or a Scubapro R295 Alternate Source. These two are both second stage designes which are identical to the primary equialent, other than colour scheme. This means that, if you do find yourself in a situation where a diver is having to breathe from your AS, it will perform at a high level with comfortable, easy breathing. These are bulkier and more expensive than something like a slimline, but have higher performance to balance it out.
A third option, and one that is ver popular here in NZ, is the integrated Octi, such as the Ocean Design Air Plus or Scubapro Air II. These units replace the inflator on your BCD with a combo unit which acts as your inflator and your AS! These units are great for alot of kiwi diving, as it means you have one less hose and one less item to catch on rocks and overhangs. There are a couple of important considerations with these units. Firstly, in the event of you needing to donate air to another diver, you need to give the regulator from your mouth to the other diver and breathe from the combo unit yourself, due to the lengths of the hoses. Also, these units require a high flow regulator hose, which is included.
Whichever option you choose, make sure to treat it in the same way you’d treat your primary. You never know when your AS will be needed!