Altitude tent

Altitude tent

An altitude tent, also known as an altitude simulation tent or a hypoxic tent, is an enclosed living space which simulates high altitude by maintaining a lower oxygen concentration. It is used by athletes and by high-altitude mountain climbers to stimulate the body's natural adaptations to altitude, including an increase in the number of red blood cells and enzymes. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body; athletes benefit from increased delivery of oxygen to the muscles, and mountain climbers can avoid altitude sickness by better utilizing the diminished amount of oxygen found at higher altitudes.

The basic concept of living or training at altitude is to cause the body to adapt to the lower oxygen content by producing more oxygen-carrying red blood cells and hemoglobin. This improves the athlete’s ability to perform work, because more oxygen is available to the working muscles..

Sleeping in a simulated altitude environment allows the body to achieve some of the positive adaptations to altitude while still permitting the athlete to perform workouts at an oxygen-rich lower altitude where muscles can perform at their normal work level. An altitude tent is one way to enable athletes living at any elevation sleep in an altitude-like environment. A more expensive option gaining popularity amongst professional athletes is to convert their entire bedroom to altitude.

Rather than simulate altitude with low air pressure, the altitude tent remains at normal air pressure, substituting low concentration of oxygen for low pressure. While normal air contains 20.9% oxygen independent of altitude, the air in an altitude tent contains as little as 12% oxygen (the remainder being the inert gas, nitrogen). The partial pressure of oxygen inside the tent is the same as it is at the natural elevation that the tent is simulating.

Most altitude tents create the low-oxygen environment with a “hypoxic air generator” outside the tent pumping the hypoxic (low oxygen) air into the tent. This displaces the more oxygen-rich air inside the tent and with it the excess Carbon Dioxide exhaled by the occupant(s). Most athletes use altitudes between 8,000 and 12,000 feet.

The tents themselves come in several styles. Unlike camping tents, altitude tents cannot have much ventilation, and often substitute clear plastic windows for nylon and mesh vents. Displaced air escapes the tent through small outlets, seams, or zippers. Air delivery can be through hose long enough to allow the generator to be placed in a different room, reducing noise. Some specially-designed tents can be placed over normal-sized beds to make sleeping comfortable.

In some circumstances, one challenge with altitude tents relates to build up of heat and humidity. Because of the use of plastic panels to reduce exchange with the room, heat and humidity can build up in an altitude tent. Some tents allow the use of air conditioners to maintain comfortable conditions. Carbon dioxide from exhaled air can also build up to uncomfortable levels if air exchange is too low. In recent years, advances in altitude tent design has resulted in greater air-exchange and significantly lower noise levels.

The ethics of the use of these devices by athletes has been discussed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which claimed that it could be equivalent to blood doping and therefore they should be banned; however, on September 16, 2006, Dick Pound of the WADA announced that "...the overwhelming consensus of our health, medicine and research committees – was that, at this time, it is not appropriate to do so," [ * [,20867,20427069-23218,00.html] The Australian September 17th 2006. ] No explanation was given as to how WADA would have enforced a ban.

ee also

*Gamow bag
*Altitude training
*Hyperbaric oxygen therapy


External links

* [] Website providing facts and opinions on the safety and ethics of simulated altitude systems

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