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Pony Bottle - Tank mount, side mount, or stage rigged?
gemiller - 6/25/2014 5:34 PM
Category: Equipment
Replies: 13

Hi, I’m preparing to set up a pony bottle rig (either 19 or 30cf). I am 6’6" so don’t mind the size of the 30. I’ll be using it mostly on ow, aow, and aow wreck dives, nothing super technical. I originally was planning to go with a tank mount, but after mulling it over started leaning towards stage rigged for access to everything. I’d just like to hear how everyone else feels about this topic, and their go to setup for this kind of thing. I’m looking at planning to dive the Black Panther in the Potomac in September with Woodbridge Scuba and would only feel truly comfortable having this setup rigged before going with the combination of low visibility and depth. It’s not required, but to me redundancy is key. I’ve yet to dive with an alternate air source, so this is new to me (although i’ve done deeper low vis quarry dives, clearwater mexico and grand cayman reef dives, but i’m a creek diver lol!).

Thanks ahead of time for everyones insight.
DiverMikeB - 6/25/2014 8:02 PM
Hi Gemiller, a lot of this comes down to personal preference however I do have some opinions on this. The tank mount adapter is very convenient however if you plan to extend your training to technical it will not be used. A stage bottle or Deco bottle will normally be mounted by clipping it on a D-rink on the chest and along the side of your BC. I personally dive with the side mount set up and love it. It offers more safety as I can always reach the tank and all of its equipment. Also if I dive with a bad buddy and they run out of air I can give them the tank very easily and we safely ascend together. The other point I would make is to check on your breathing habits and plan to use your deco bottle for emergencies only. How much air do you need to safely ascend to the surface from your max depth. keep in mind your buddy might also need air and you want to have a reserve. the smaller pony bottles are nicer however in advanced diving you will find more aluminum 40s. Good luck with you choices, see if you can rent one and try it out before you buy.

LatitudeAdjustment - 6/26/2014 5:34 AM
First question you need to ask are you going to hand off your 2nd to the OOA diver or stay connected?

If you are handing off then it’s stage rigged.

My pony is tank mounted because the OOA diver will get my long hose and I’ll go to the pony which also powers my DiveAlert horn.

On deeper dives I also stage a deco bottle that’s 50% o2

gemiller - 6/26/2014 5:40 AM
The goal is to provide alternate air source for myself, but maintain easy access (which is why I started leaning away from tank mount). I’m certainly not ruling out the possible future use of hand-off situations, but for the specific few dives I’m looking at doing my dive buddies will all be running their own pony bottles as well.
btw2459 - 6/26/2014 2:52 PM
Sling mine under my right arm. Didn’t like the idea of mounting it to my tanks. By slinging it you can hand it off to an OOA diver if needed.
tazzer9797 - 6/28/2014 8:32 AM
I totally agree with the thinking of EskimoBluDay ... This is the way I was taught in my solo course and it is very easy and comfortable to dive this way as well.....only difference I sling mine under my left arm ...(personal preference)
gemiller - 6/30/2014 6:37 AM
Well research/responses has pushed me to avoid the 19, and now I’m actually debating the other direction 30/40, that way I have the option like was touched on a little here but moreso on other forums I’ve been reading, the ability to progress the 40 to future tech use, and at 6’6" the extra few inches I’m sure won’t bother me at all and a 40 for a bail out tank should prove to be plenty of air. I think I’m going to go with the clip/sling style stage rigging as well. We’ll see this afternoon if the LDS has a 40 tank, if not online we go.

Thanks for your input everyone.
nmrice - 7/01/2014 4:01 PM
I may be late to this party but, for what it’s worth, I’d go with the sling mount. My 30cf pony was originally a tank mount, and I never really liked it, always felt like that little extra weight was uncomfortable. I know many of my buddies use it this way and are ok with it but I wasn’t. So, I was planning a wreck dive in NJ last year and decided to pick up a sling mount and give it a try. It wasn’t expensive so why not see for myself. I ever happy I did because it simply disappears during the dive. Really, I don’t even know it’s there. I thought there may be some balance issues because of it only being on one side, but there were none. Also, I like just peeking down and seeing the reg and spg right there. Very comforting you know.

I can only suggest that you experiment, especially when it’s not hard or expensive to do.

gemiller - 7/07/2014 5:33 PM
I am all setup now and have everything here except a reg set that I should have soon. I ended up with a Luxfer 40cf bottle, a dive rite stage bottle rigging kit, and a diverite hose band. I am probably going to put on a mk2 first stage, alpha 8 second stage and a simple pressure gauge for use as the bail out bottle. I may in the future add a second stage alternate for use as a two person bail out setup for ocean dives, but i’m not sure on this yet.
btw2459 - 7/08/2014 3:42 AM
Take a look at Diver gear Express. they have a DiveRite reg for under $200 and button gauges that fit directly into the reg for under $20.
John_giu - 7/20/2014 12:59 PM
a mk2 first stage, alpha 8 second stage and a simple pressure gauge for use as the bail out bottle. I may in the future add a second stage alternate for use as a two person bail out setup for ocean dives, but i’m not sure on this yet.

You might want to consider having that regulator tuned like an octo (a little harder breathing) to keep it from free flowing.
MDW - 11/12/2014 9:52 AM
I recommend putting a stage strap on your "pony" rather than strapping it off center on your single back gas cylinder. This will allow you to choose, on a dive by dive basis, whether you side mount it or sling it. Really there is little difference between the two. Side mounting a AL30 is more or less just slinging it plus a bungee to pull it in tight under your arm. I choose sidemount, since your intent is to not normally need to use it and the bungee will keep it more steamlined for less drag. Plus it won’t be flopping around when you move or roll over. On the other hand, simple stage slinging can give a little better access to the knob and the second stage you will have tucked into the side of the tank with rubber bands.

To me, mounting it to your primary tank makes it virtually inaccessible when needed, puts it out in the open causing drag, and throws your off balance to whichever side you mount it on. Also, you will have to have that 3rd second stage over your shoulder and clipped off somewhere which can add to confusion if you need to switch to it. You will either need to have the "pony" turned on throughout every dive (meaning you could accidentally breathe it down or otherwise drain it unintentionally during a dive, or you may forget to turn it on before the dive and then can’t reach it to get air when you need it) or be able to reach and quickly turn it on when you need it (which won’t be easy or maybe even possible with a little tank behind your back).