A mini scuba tank is a lightweight and portable version of a regular scuba tank. It is designed to be a backup air source for scuba divers, but nowadays it is also used recreationally. It allows users to get a sense of what it is like to dive without investing in a bunch of scuba equipment or getting dive certified. You can’t dive for very long with a mini scuba tank, so they should only be used in shallow waters or as a redundant air source when diving.
Mini diving tanks also have some utility outside of water sports, such as an oxygen reserve in the event of a fire emergency. However you plan on using it, in this article we will be reviewing the best mini scuba tanks so that you can get one that suits your needs. We will also answer common questions and go over the pros and cons of using a mini scuba tank.
Our Top Picks:
Mini Scuba Tanks: Read This Before You Buy
Before you purchase a mini scuba tank, there are a few things you should be aware of. Many people make the mistake of rushing out to buy one only to realize that it wasn’t what they expected. To avoid this, please read this section first before you make any decisions.
How long does a mini scuba tank last?
First of all, let’s answer what you’re probably thinking about right now: compared to a regular scuba tank, how long does a mini scuba tank last?
It depends on the capacity of the tank. For instance, a small 0.5L (30 cu in) tank can last approximately 50-60 mouthfuls of air, or anywhere from 2-8 minutes depending on your depth and your physical exertion. If you are near the surface and conserving energy, you can make it last nearly 10 minutes. If you are deeper than that or exerting a lot of physical effort, then it may only last 2-3 minutes. For a larger 1L tank, simply double those numbers.
On the other hand, a regular scuba tank can last up to an hour. Furthermore, regular scuba tanks are filled with mixed gases, so even the air used is different. It’s clear that mini divingtanks aren’t designed for deep dives (except as a redundant air source), however they still have their practical uses which we will discuss in a later section.
How long does it take to fill a mini scuba tank?
A major selling point of mini scuba tanks is that you technically don’t need any fancy equipment to use it. You can easily purchase the tank itself, a hand pump, and you can start using it, no compressor necessary. This sounds idyllic until you realize that using the hand pump to fill the tank is exhausting and time-consuming.
Since the mini scuba tank is so small, you really have to fill it with air to get any practical use out of it. You will literally have to pump it by hand for 10-15 minutes just to fill it up. A 1L tank may tank up to half an hour. If you have to take frequent breaks, then it will take even longer. And then for all of your hard work, you are rewarded with only a few short minutes of extra air while diving. If you are using a hand pump to fill your mini scuba tank, in terms of time and effort spent, it’s hardly worth it.
Ideally, you should use a compressor or a large air cylinder with a refill adapter to dramatically speed up this process. Otherwise, get ready for an intense cardio workout.
How should you use a mini scuba tank?
These small underwater breathing devices were originally designed to be used as a backup tank for scuba divers in case their main tank failed. Most are designed to be safely used for diving within a depth of 10m, and if used as a spare air source, then do not dive deeper than 30m.
Over the years, mini scuba tanks have begun to be marketed as a recreational device to allow users who have never scuba dived before to experience a casual version of it. There’s nothing wrong with doing this, however keep in mind how long it takes to fill up a mini scuba tank by hand and how quickly it is used up. It’s up to you to determine if it’s worth the effort just for recreational use.
Warning: Do NOT use mini scuba tanks for freediving. If you take a full breath from your tank and then ascend rapidly, you run the risk of over-expanding your lungs and possibly dying. This phenomenon can occur within depths of 10m (33 ft) which is probably where you will be spending most of your time.
As we mentioned, you can use the mini scuba tank for casual, shallow diving. If you’ve never been good at holding your breath but always wanted to experience what it is like to have the lung capacity of a world class freediver, then you can certainly have some fun with a mini scuba tank. You can finally dive up close to experience the underwater world up front instead of by the surface.
Lastly, mini scuba tanks are highly versatile and practical. Despite their name, who said they can only be used for water activities? Any situation where you need access to some extra air is the perfect time to use the mini scuba tank.
Now that you know what mini scuba tanks are capable of and how they should be used, if you are still interested in buying one, then let’s head on to our review of the best ones.
Best Mini Scuba Tanks: Recommendations
- 🏊【2020 Newest Upgraded】:S400 pro mini scuba tank uses an extension tube to connect to the pressure gauge, which is more convenient for us to...
- 🏊【LARGER CAPACITY BUT PORTABLE】: SAMCO diving tank has a capacity of 1L, and can be used for 340 underwater breaths at full capacity. It can be...
- 🏊【WIDE COMPATIBILITY】 : You can use a hand pump to inflate the scuba tank at any time.(Usually fill up in about 15-30 minutes.)At the same...
If you’re looking for a portable scuba tank with a respectable 1L (60 cu in) of air capacity, then the SMACO S400 is an ideal choice. The S400 will let you breathe for an additional 10 minutes underwater, and it comes equipped with a real time pressure gauge so you know exactly how much time you have left. With this feature, you can have peace of mind with how to pace yourself when surfacing.
Since this is a 1L tank, it weighs a bit more than smaller tanks at 5.07 pounds. Thankfully, it comes with a bag so you can conveniently bring it with you on your travels. It also lets you easily carry it when you’re in the water.
Next, the S400 comes with a refill adapter so you can easily fill it up in seconds if you connect it to a large air cylinder. You can also fill it using an electric air pump, otherwise you should roll up your sleeves and get ready to hand pump it 800-1000 times to fully refill it. These three options are how you can refill all mini scuba tanks, so pick the one that is most convenient for you.
Lastly, the SMACO S400 is made from durable, high-strength aluminum alloys. It is designed to last for years by resisting internal corrosion and resist damage from impacts or scratches. This cylinder is intended to store large volumes of compressed gas up to 3,000 psi (200 bar) and can’t be used for mixes containing more than 40% oxygen.
Spare Air 3000
- Completely redundant alternate air source: safety back-up air supply
- Many advantages over standard alternate air source, allows self rescue in emergency out-of-air-situation
- 3000 PSI (200 bars) 3.0 cu. Ft. (85 liter) of outstanding, refillable backup air system, small and easy to use
The Spare Air 3000 is yet another reliable compact oxygen tank. While its main purpose is to be used as a spare air source when diving, it can also be used for maintenance work on kayaks and boats. Its compact size makes traveling and going underwater with it a good solution for a short period of time.
Another potential use for the Spare Air is in case of a possible fire. The Spare Air can provide the necessary clean oxygen to prevent CO2 inhalation. When the tank is empty, simply use the included adapter to refill from a scuba tank or manually use a hand pump. It is rated for 3,000 psi (200 bar), so make sure to fill it up to the max to get your money’s worth.
While there’s lots to like about the Spare Air 3000, it’s not perfect. One downside in particular is the fact that it doesn’t come with a pressure gauge indicator. This makes it harder for users to know how much air to add to the tank, or when they are going to run out of air during a dive. With that said, you can purchase one separately, but we wish it came with the original package. Still, this is a great mini diving tank for emergency uses.
Best Compressor for Your Mini Scuba Tank
As we mentioned, refilling a mini scuba tank can be a pain if you are doing it manually with a hand pump. The fastest way is to connect it to a larger air cylinder to refill it in seconds. However, this requires you to have access to a larger tank and to be able to fill that up. So the middle ground is to own an electric air pump if you plan on using your mini scuba tank frequently. This is the one we recommend:
GX CS2 Portable PCP Air Compressor
- Oil-Free & Water-Free & Built-In Fan Cooling for Long Life : Unlike other electric high pressure air pump which needs the standard oil and cooling...
- Convenient Car 12V DC or Home 110V AC Power Choice : This air compressor can be powered by the 12V car battery (Note：not the car cigarette light...
- Fast Inflating Speed and Powerful PCP Compressor : This new air compressor can provide up to 250W power. The inflation pressure can reach 4500 PSI/300...
The GX CS2 is a portable electric air compressor that doesn’t require a water pump, water hose, oil, and best of all, it’s quiet. If you have an electrical plug and play outlet, can distinguish from red and black, + and -, and know how to flip a switch, then you can also easily use this machine.
Whether you are charging at home, or out abroad using a car battery for energy, the GX CS2 can charge a 1L mini diving tank in about 10-15 minutes. The inflation pressure can reach up to 4,500 psi (300 bar), more than capable for a small tank. Keep in mind that it’s designed for a maximum air tank of 1L, so don’t over do it. After charging a tank, you should let it cool down for an hour to not fry the 12V compressor.
Is it slow to fill a tank? No, not for what it does. You will fill your scuba tank faster than you can hand pump it, and you can be off to the side having a drink as this does all of the heavy lifting for you. Weighing only 6.7kg, you can easily carry it with you wherever you go. Take it with you on your diving trip so you can fill up your mini tank multiple times.
If you need a compressor that is fast, quiet, and oil-free, then you should definitely get rid of your hand pump and use the GX CS2 air compressor instead. The only drawback is that it does not have an auto-shutoff feature, and this is available online in a more expensive model.
Mini Scuba Tank Buying Guide
Finding a good mini scuba tank is a lot easier than you might think. They are relatively straightforward devices with little variation between functionality and design between brands. Basically, as long as they do what they say they can do, then it’s probably good enough. With that said, let’s go over some considerations you should keep in mind when purchasing a mini scuba tank.
The size of the mini scuba tank plays a role in how much air it can hold and how portable it is. Typically, the smallest size tank weighs about 3 lbs, with a 0.5L air capacity (30 cu in, approximately 50-60 mouthfuls of air). Larger ones weigh about 5lbs with a 1L (60 cu in) air capacity and last about twice as long. They are typically made from aluminum which is a lightweight material.
Just like if you are snorkeling or scuba diving, the mouthpiece on the mini diving tank should be comfortable. Modern mouthpieces are made from silicone which is comfortable, easy-to-clean, and sterile. Typically, the mouthpiece cannot be replaced. After each dive, you should thoroughly clean it to get rid of bacteria and any lingering odors.
In order to get the right fit, the mini scuba tank needs to have the right connector. The popular Yoke and DIN connectors should fit all of the tanks we have reviewed. But if for some reason it doesn’t fit, then there are adapters for all kinds of connectors.
While mini scuba tanks have a limited use, they still serve a good purpose as a backup tank while diving. If used for this purpose, it is well worth it to purchase a mini scuba tank. You never know when your main gear might fail, so having some redundancies can literally save your life.
On the other hand, if used recreationally, the value proposition drops dramatically. It takes a lot of work pumping a mini scuba tank by hand. Expect to pump approximately 400 times just to fill up the smallest mini scuba tank (0.5L). This is not only exhausting but also time consuming. You will have to pump twice as long to fill a larger tank. And all of that hard work results in just a few minutes of casual diving. Using a compressor is the easiest way to fill a mini scuba tank, but then you might as well use it on a regular scuba tank.
With this information in mind, it’s up to you whether it’s worth it for you to purchase a mini scuba tank or not. If you are using it for its originally intended purpose as a backup, then we highly recommend it. You can try using it recreationally, but we personally feel it’s more worth it to just learn how to scuba dive with a regular scuba tank.