It’s funny how things work sometimes. While working with a PR company and another brand, the rep mentioned she also worked with Oxygen Plus as a client. Since we were in the midst of planning UintasHike16, with backpacking at elevation, it was perfect timing.
I’m no stranger to using oxygen at elevation. For some time, we’ve been heading to Breckenridge, Colorado for Spring Break skiing. Coming from mere hundreds of feet above sea level to nearly 10,000 feet at the base, I have definitely felt the altitude. For many years, I suffered shortness of breath, debilitating headaches, and general discomfort while acclimatizing over the first day or two. Not fun. Then I discovered that oxygen can be rented, used at out condo, and boom, my issues were minimized – while not completely acclimatized, my second day was spent on the slopes rather than hunkered down in the condo.
So, despite the scoffing of some of the other participants, I brought Oxygen Plus (O+) on board as a partner – with 5 of the 6 hikers being flatlanders, it couldn’t hurt to have their product with us. as their website states: “Oxygen Plus helps supplement your body to the oxygen levels you’re used to operating at lower elevations…” and who wouldn’t want that?
We were all provided with samples of O+ Skinni canned oxygen canisters – each contains more than 50 2-second breaths of 95 percent enriched oxygen, so with a few extras, it seemed sufficient.
Using the O+ Skinni is easy. Exhale. Then, press the button on the canister to release the oxygen. Breathe in O+ through your mouth or nose (I didn’t try it, but I suppose it might be more comfortable or effective for some). A suggested dose is three to five breaths, but it can be adjusted based on individual, the environment, and the level of exertion.
I personally used the O+ as a preventative measure and then also when I struggled on some of the uphill sections. It seemed to work. At roughly 10,000 feet above sea level, I had some minor head aches over the course of the 3 days, but nothing overly taxing. I also slept without problems (though the same can’t be said for those having to listen to my snoring – apparently it does;t solve that problem, haha).
Placebo or panacea? People argue both sides, but I’m firmly on the side that says that using canned oxygen can help with the effects of altitude. I know from previous experiences that my first few days at altitude without oxygen can be miserable or worse. Using oxygen helped me enjoy this hike and, while it didn’t actually get me to the top of any of the uphills, it certainly made it more doable.