Staying Active at High Altitude: Tips for Using Portable Oxygen Concentrators

High altitudes offer breathtaking landscapes and thrilling adventures. From skiing in the Rockies to hiking the Himalayas, these environments provide unparalleled experiences. However, the reduced oxygen levels at high altitudes can pose significant challenges, especially for those not accustomed to such conditions. Portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) can be a game-changer, enabling individuals to stay active and enjoy high-altitude activities safely. This guide, brought to you by Summit Oxygen, explores tips and best practices for using POCs to maintain an active lifestyle in these environments.

Understanding High-Altitude Challenges

At high altitudes, the air pressure is lower, leading to a decrease in oxygen levels. This condition, known as hypoxia, can cause various symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, and headaches. For some, these symptoms can escalate to acute mountain sickness (AMS), which can be severe and even life-threatening if not managed properly.

Staying active in such environments requires careful planning and the right equipment. Portable oxygen concentrators offer a reliable solution, providing a steady supply of oxygen to help mitigate the effects of hypoxia. Summit Oxygen offers a range of portable oxygen concentrators designed to meet the needs of active individuals at high altitudes.

Choosing the Right Portable Oxygen Concentrator

1. Assess Your Oxygen Needs

Before embarking on your high-altitude adventure, consult with your healthcare provider to determine your oxygen requirements. They can perform tests to measure your blood oxygen levels and recommend the appropriate oxygen flow rate. Understanding your needs is crucial in selecting a POC with the right specifications.

2. Consider the Device’s Portability

Since you’ll be engaging in physical activities, the portability of your oxygen concentrator is paramount. Summit Oxygen’s range of POCs are lightweight, compact, and easy to carry, ensuring you can stay active without feeling encumbered by your equipment.

3. Battery Life and Power Options

High-altitude activities often involve extended periods away from power sources. Ensure your POC has a long-lasting battery and consider carrying spare batteries for longer excursions. Summit Oxygen’s POCs offer reliable battery life and optional power accessories, such as car chargers and solar charging options, providing additional flexibility.

4. Altitude Capability

Not all oxygen concentrators are designed to function efficiently at high altitudes. Summit Oxygen’s POCs are rated for operation at elevations up to 10,000 feet or more, ensuring consistent oxygen delivery even in challenging environments.

Preparing for Your High-Altitude Activity

1. Acclimatization

Allowing your body time to acclimatize to the higher altitude is essential. Ascend gradually, spending a few days at intermediate altitudes before reaching your final destination. This helps your body adjust to the reduced oxygen levels and can reduce the risk of AMS.

2. Hydration and Nutrition

Staying hydrated is crucial at high altitudes, as the dry air can lead to quicker dehydration. Drink plenty of water and avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine, which can exacerbate dehydration. A balanced diet rich in carbohydrates can also help maintain your energy levels.

3. Monitor Your Health

Regularly check your oxygen levels using a pulse oximeter, especially during the initial days of your stay. This device clips onto your fingertip and provides a quick reading of your blood oxygen saturation. Monitoring your levels can help you adjust your oxygen flow rate as needed and seek medical attention if necessary.

Using Your Portable Oxygen Concentrator

1. Proper Setup

Ensure your POC is set up correctly before starting your activity. Check the oxygen flow rate, and make sure all connections are secure. Familiarize yourself with the device’s controls and indicators, so you can operate it efficiently.

2. Oxygen Delivery Methods

Summit Oxygen’s POCs offer both continuous flow and pulse dose delivery methods. Continuous flow provides a constant stream of oxygen, while pulse dose delivers oxygen in bursts synchronized with your breathing. Discuss with your healthcare provider which method suits your needs best. For physical activities, pulse dose can be more efficient and extend battery life.

3. Safety Precautions

When using your POC, be mindful of safety precautions. Avoid exposing the device to extreme temperatures, moisture, or dust. Ensure the air intake vents are unobstructed to maintain optimal performance. Additionally, carry your POC user manual and a basic troubleshooting guide for quick reference.

Staying Active and Safe

1. Pace Yourself

Even with supplemental oxygen, it’s important to pace yourself. High-altitude activities can be strenuous, and overexertion can lead to complications. Listen to your body, take breaks as needed, and avoid pushing yourself too hard.

2. Team Up

If possible, engage in activities with a partner or group. Having companions can provide additional safety and support in case of emergencies. They can also help monitor your condition and assist with your POC if needed.

3. Emergency Plan

Have a clear emergency plan in place. Know the location of the nearest medical facilities and have contact information for emergency services. Carry a fully charged cell phone and a backup power source to ensure you can call for help if necessary.

4. Enjoy the Experience

Remember that the goal is to enjoy your high-altitude adventure. Take in the stunning views, relish the physical challenge, and appreciate the unique environment. Using a POC from Summit Oxygen can help you stay active and make the most of your experience without compromising your health.


Staying active at high altitudes is both challenging and rewarding. Summit Oxygen offers a range of portable oxygen concentrators designed to help individuals maintain an active lifestyle in these environments. By choosing the right POC, preparing adequately, and following best practices, you can overcome the challenges of high-altitude activities and have an unforgettable experience. Always prioritize your health and safety, listen to your body, and take the necessary precautions to make the most of your high-altitude journey with Summit Oxygen by your side. Contact our team today to rent a POC for your next Colorado mountain trip!