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Buddy Breathing Versus Air Sharing: Different Techniques

Buddy breathing vs air sharing- main

Buddy breathing technique is based on sharing your primary scuba regulator with your dive buddy. However, it is often confused with gas sharing, also known as the air sharing technique. Do you know the difference?

We already know! We all hope we don’t have to use any of these techniques because it would mean we are in trouble. Both of them are designed to help the diver during an emergency. Their main goal is to help the couple to ascend safely even when one of the divers has no air in his/ her tank or his/her equipment does not work properly. In this article, we review the different procedures and we will point out their advantages and disadvantages. Are you interested? Continue reading!

The Buddy Breathing Technique Or How To Share Your Regulator With Your Partner

As we have said before, the buddy breathing technique consists in sharing your primary second stage regulator with your dive buddy. The one you were using yourself. Please understand this point well. It is not about sharing the octopus (alternate second stage regulator) it is about one regulator second stage used by two persons at the same time.

buddy breathing vs air sharing - boy and girl

When he or she makes the “I have no air” signal, the protocol is started. The donor diver will be the one who maintains control over his primary regulator and will pass it to his buddy to breathe. Two inspirations later, it will be his turn to breathing again. The diving regulator passes from one diver to another every two breaths, continuing with the maneuver all the time their ascending lasts.

This specific practice of military diving was born when technical limitations made sharing a same second stage regulator was a vital skill. At that time, the equipment did not include a second stage regulator and there were still no pressure gauges to check how much air was left in the cylinders. This meant running out of air was a common problem for these professionals. So much so that this fact was not even considered an emergency. Luckily, since the 60s, we have pressure gauges that indicate the air left in the tank. Also, during this decade the two second stage regulators were incorporated into the diving equipment, so that there was always an alternate second stage to give.

That is the reason why the buddy breathing technique has been gradually replaced by more modern ones and now it is just an optional content in some diving courses.

However, learning the buddy breathing technique has some advantages for divers.

  1. It is a great training for stress management.
  2. It allows you to ascend safely even if your octopus does not work.

Air Sharing: 3 Techniques

Current air sharing techniques are based on sharing the secondary second stage regulator or octopus.

The knowledge of these techniques is mandatory and it is a unanimous decision by PADI and the rest of the certifying agencies. Obviously, to get your Open Water course you must learn them.

With any of these techniques, when your dive buddy makes the “I have no air” signal, you provide one of the two regulators to him or her and together you ascend to reach the surface.

Depending on your gear configuration, the air sharing technique varies:


This configuration is the most common and you will find it if you rent your scuba gear with Dressel Divers. In this case, the primary diving regulator measures about 75cm / 29.53 in. long and the secondary second stage regulator or “octopus” 100cm / 39.37 in. You will recognize it because its hose is yellow. Therefore, the octopus will be the regulator you give to your dive buddy.

As it is a standardized configuration, everyone has used it on some occasions or, at least, it is known by the majority of divers and this is an advantage. However, there are some drawbacks as well. For instance, the donor diver has to spend some time looking for the octopus because it is not possible to know where it is exactly. Also, at the worst, the second regulator can suffer unnoticed damage during diving because it is hanging alongside the body and out of sight.


This configuration is integrated with the BCD inflator valve with the second stage regulator using the same hose.

The donor will undoubtedly know exactly where to find it, but he will have to offer the primary regulator to his buddy and he will use the inflator integrated octopus. This happens because the octopus’ hose is very short.

In addition, you will have to deal with the discomfort generated by having the buoyancy control BCD inflator knobs near the mouth and in such an unusual position.


This configuration is preferred by those divers who transcend the limits of recreational diving and choose technical diving’s more demanding environments.

It is characterized by having a very long hose for the main second stage diving regulator. The hose measures around 200cm / 78.74 in. that the diver passes around his neck.  The secondary second stage regulator measures 55 cm / 21.65 in. and hangs on the diver’s neck as if it were a necklace.

buddy breathing versus air sharing - crew

The main advantage of this configuration is the diver will always be sure where both regulators are, and they will work properly. Since they are protected from suffering mishaps during the dive. The only drawback is that this method requires greater dexterity.

Now you know the differences between buddy breathing technique and air sharing. But if you still have any questions, just contact us!