Being able to breathe underwater is the most important function of scuba equipment. Our trusty scuba tanks allow us to do just that. If you’ve only been diving out dive centers, you may have never had the option of choosing a tank. So now that you are ready to buy one of your own, how do you know what is the best scuba tank for you?
Scuba tanks come in many different sizes and styles. Just like the rest of the gear, some are options are better suited for you and others are not. In this guide, you’ll learn what to consider when buying a tank. We’ll show you the best models so you can find one that fits your size, air consumption and style of diving.
For more of our top scuba gear recommendations, check out the Best Scuba Gauges.
Quick Answer - The Best Scuba Tanks
- Catalina 63 CF
- Faber 80 CF High Pressure
- Faber 85 CF Low Pressure
- Faber 23 CF High Pressure
- Faber 100 CF High Pressure
Comparison Table - Best Scuba Tank
|Catalina 63 CF||Aluminum||$||4.5|
|Faber 80 CF High Pressure||Steel||$$||5.0|
|Faber 85 CF Low Pressure||Steel||$$||4.5|
|Faber 23 CF High Pressure||Steel||$||4.0|
|Faber 100 CF High Pressure||Steel||$$$||5.0|
Reviews - The Best Tanks for Scuba Diving
Catalina 63 CF
BEST FOR: SMALLER DIVERS OR SHORT, SHALLOW DIVES
PROS: Light weight and small – good for children and learning
Faber 80 CF High Pressure
BEST FOR: ADVANCED / RECREATIONAL DIVERS
PROS: Best all around tank suitable for most types of diving
CONS: Steel can rust over time if not properly looked after
Faber 85 CF Low Pressure
BEST FOR: ADVANCED / CASUAL RECREATIONAL DIVERS
PROS: Steel tank allows for better weight distribution
CONS: Smaller sized tanks loose neutral buoyancy towards end of the dive
Faber 23 CF High Pressure
BEST FOR: SMALL STAGE, BAILOUT OR REDUNDANT AIR SUPPLY TANK
PROS: Steel tank allows for better weight distribution
CONS: Circular tank bottom so can’t stand on its own
Faber 100 CF High Pressure
BEST FOR: SPORT NITROX DIVERS
PROS: Will give you extra bottom time if you consume a lot of air
CONS: Heavy large duty tank, more drag in the water
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST SCUBA TANKS
The capacity of a scuba cylinder is an important consideration. There is no perfect size tank for all diving types and all divers. Pony or bailout bottles can range from 6 – 40 cubic feet. Back mounted cylinders range from 45 – 130 cubic feet plus.
The standard aluminum 80 cubic foot cylinder is the most popular size for recreational divers worldwide. This tank is the top choice for dive shops and dive resorts because they can buy them in bulk for cheap.
The smaller 63 cubic foot tanks are a popular choice for students who are just learning to dive. This size is also attractive to smaller adult divers, kids or people who tend to do shallow or short dives.
If you consume a lot of air and want to increase your bottom time, it’s common to dive with larger tanks. 100 cubic foot or even 117 cubic foot tanks are good options for this. These tanks are also popular among sport nitrox divers who stay at depth for longer periods of time.
Scuba cylinders are made either from aluminum or steel.
Aluminum cylinders are negatively buoyant when full and positively buoyant as the diver consumes air. Being positively buoyant towards the end of the dive can make the safety stop a challenge. A diver will need to use more weights to avoid floating to the surface at the end of the dive.
Steel cylinders go from being negatively buoyant when full to either negatively buoyant or neutrally buoyant when empty. A diver using a steel tank will need to wear fewer weights. Steel tanks also tend to have a higher fill capacity.
Aluminum tanks are not as sturdy as steel ones. Aluminum is softer than steel which makes them susceptible to dents and damages.
The downside to steel tanks they are more vulnerable to rust in the presence of moisture. Also, they are more sensitive to improper filling techniques.
If properly maintained, steel tanks tend to last longer than aluminum tanks. Steel tanks are usually more expensive than aluminum tanks. But if budget is not a concern, steel tanks are the way to go.
LOW PRESSURE OR HIGH PRESSURE
The pressure in a scuba tank is measured in PSI (pounds per square inch) or Bar, in metric. PSI/ Bar refers to the amount of compressed air in the scuba cylinder. The pressure in a dive tank can range between 2400 PSI up to 3500 PSI (165 – 240 Bar).
Low-pressure steel tanks have a pressure range between 2400 PSI to 2700 PSI (165 – 186 Bar). Low-pressure tanks are the easiest to handle. These types of tanks are best for technical and nitrox divers who use the method of partial pressure blending to create the desired gas mix.
High-pressure cylinders are a new trend. High-pressure tanks allow for a large gas capacity in a smaller size. High-pressure steel tanks will have a pressure range between 3300 PSI to 3500 PSI (227 – 240 Bar).
A drawback of high-pressure scuba cylinders is that they require more metal to maintain the higher amount of compressed air inside. This means that a high-pressure tank is typically as big as a normal low-pressure one and is also heavier.
The tank valve controls the amount of air flowing from your tank and connects it to your regulator. The ‘K’ valve is the most popular type of valve used on scuba cylinders. K valves are the simplest of all valves. This valve has a system using a convertible insert that screws in to make it a yoke valve, and screws out to make a DIN valve.
If the tank valve is exceptionally hard to turn or is loose, it will need a service. It is also good to check that valve tank connection for leaks. The best way to do this is to submerge the tank in water and check the connection area for bubbles. If there are bubbles, it means there’s a crack in the tank thread.
Certain manufacturers only make scuba cylinders that are suitable to use with air (20.9% oxygen). If you want to dive with a higher percentage of oxygen, such as a Nitrox mix, you need to buy a tank that is compatible with higher percentages of oxygen. The valve needs to be oxygen compatible as well. For a tank to be oxygen compatible, it needs to be oxygen cleaned and serviced by a trained professional and labeled as such.