Editor’s Note: This post contains affiliate links and reviews of items supplied to the Greylock Glass at no cost in return for an honest, unbiased review. See our Reviews & Editorial Revenue Policy.
The Greylock Glass receives quite a few offers to review products, which we generally decline. We pass, not really out of any particular principal, but just due to time constraints. While I’d prefer the companies just advertise with us most of the time, I realize that an actual, honest assessment, rather than hype, can actually be a real service to readers if the item seems useful. When a pitch came in to write up Boost Oxygen, I had a feeling that it might be more than useful — it might be a breath of fresh air.
Firstly, a description directly from Boost’s website:
“Boost Oxygen is 95% pure, Aviator’s Breathing Oxygen, in a portable, easy to use handheld canister. Boost Oxygen helps you stay oxygenated and wards off shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness and nausea. Not only does it improve sleep and lift your mood, it also increases mental alertness and stamina. Boost Oxygen is safe for all ages, and also supports altitude acclimation, migraines and when dealing with poor air quality. Increased oxygen intake has been reported by health professionals as the natural health and well-being aid that promotes energy, better mental acuity, increased capacity for exercise (and quicker recovery), as well as boosting the immune system.”
None of the above seemed like particularly groundbreaking information, and even the more subjective claims, such as “lift your mood,” seemed pretty far from controversial. After all, what do they always say in movies when someone is about to fly into a rage? “Take a breath, darling, or your head might explode!” I mean, it’s just oxygen, right? Any first-grader can tell you we need it.
Except that when I read the company’s description, I’d just come in from taking the dog for a brisk walk through our hilly neighborhood. And I was far more out of breath than I would have been a couple years ago. Like a lot of people, I put on more than a few “pandemic pounds” since 2019, on top of some sedentary lifestyle pounds that have been creeping up — occupational hazard I’m working on. The truth is, I get out of breath embarrassingly quickly these days. That experience alone is a major disincentive to getting more exercise, especially in public.
I have to stop here and make a distinction between medical oxygen and sports, or recreational, oxygen. Firstly Boost products are 95 percent oxygen versus the 100 percent that is medical grade. The company is quick to inform people that their canisters should not be confused with any sort of medical treatment:
“Oxygen therapies that are prescribed by a medical doctor to treat medical conditions are completely different from Boost Oxygen. Boost Oxygen is recreational Aviator’s Breathing Oxygen (95% pure), not USP medical oxygen (defined as 99.2% or above). Although both are produced in the same manner, recreational oxygen is designed for healthy people looking to experience the benefits of recreational oxygen in the different facets of their life. It is not intended for use by anyone who has asthma, lung ailments or heart problems, or as a substitute for physician-prescribed or life-saving oxygen.”
Now that I’ve exercised due diligence in passing along that clarification, I’m going to tell you — I’d recently been informed by my doctor that my childhood asthma had returned. Not too debilitating at the moment. Most days without high pollen or particle counts in the air, I don’t notice much difference, but it did partially explain the difficulty I’ve been having with exercise lately. She wrote me out a script for an inhaler and also gave me the stern face about my weight — I hadn’t made the progress I’d promised. I was warned that she’d be issuing stricter orders if she didn’t start seeing some results.
Except it’s really freaking hard to exercise when you’re out of breath after what used to be effortless activity. Let’s just say I thought I’d try adding Boost to my overall health and fitness regimen.
I replied to Boost — send me a sample, priority if you can.
When it showed up, I picked the box up off my porch and brought it inside. I remarked that they must have forgotten to pack any product. My adolescent daughter looked at the package and rolled her adolescent eyes, “It’s AIR, Dad,” she groaned. I tried to pretend I’d just been making a dad joke, but she wasn’t buying it.
Now, I had heard that amateur and pro athletes are often big fans of supplemental oxygen. Makes sense. The more O2 in the blood stream, the more work the muscles can be persuaded to do without overtaxing the body’s ability. Training at high-altitude, after all, is really about training your pulmonary and circulatory system to be more efficient, so that when you get down, closer to sea-level, you feel like you have slightly super-human abilities. But it’s not a performance-enhancing drug, since it’s just…you know, air.
It showed up just in time, too. We were a few days out from a trip to northern Lake Champlain, and our rental cabin had one feature it definitely didn’t try to oversell — a stairway that dropped at a steep, steep pitch down a 100 foot cliff to the beach. But I didn’t know that yet.
The company sent me an assorted collection of samples, consisting of the large size (ten liter) original variety, plus a medium “Think Tank” (five liter), and “Pink Grapefruit” in a three-liter pocket size.
I decided to give them an initial trial by bringing them on a short hike on some novice/Level 1 trails with my 80 year old mum. In the spots where I’d normally stop to admire the view (read: catch my breath), I took a couple one-second blasts of first the “Natural” variety, and later the Pink Grapefruit.
There is almost nothing to explain about how to use Boost. A cup fits nicely over your mouth, and a trigger is exactly where your index finger can find it. Give the trigger a squeeze for one second as you breath in the gush of oxygen, hold your breath for a few seconds, then let it out slowly. Feel all the cells of your body thank you. The large can (ten liters) is good for about 200 hits of O2, which actually lasts longer than you’d think. I don’t think I ever felt compelled to consume more than two or three inhalations at a time.
As for the regular O2, I want to say that I wasn’t surprised — taking hits of nearly pure oxygen SHOULD make you feel great. The truth is though, I was impressed. Those little concentrated puffs of life-sustaining gas cut my catch-my-breath time in half. It’s not as if I didn’t know that I’d just walked a mile at a good pace. It’s more like my body stopped complaining that we’d have to do it again a couple times if I wanted to make it back to the car.
Pink Grapefruit was certainly a pleasant breathing experience. It made me instantly understand the appeal of “oxygen bars” in dystopian sci-fi movies were Earth’s atmosphere is nearly completely degraded (we’re getting there by the way, faster than you think). And I suppose I DID feel my spirits lift, though, to be honest, hiking through flower filled meadows and sun-dappled forest on a 78º blue-sky day in the Berkshires tends to do that for people. I could not replicate the experience to verify the effects, however, since, after my mother tried it, she dropped it into her purse and said, “I’m keeping this.”
That’s fine. She actually has prescription oxygen, but keeps this little can of Boost in her purse just in case.
As a firm believer in aromatherapy, I was pretty interested in seeing what “Think Tank’s” shot of O2 fortified with organic rosemary aroma would do for me. Rosemary has a reputation for increasing memory and concentration, and I’ll take all the help I can get in those categories. Gauging the effect was a little tricky, because a lungful of nearly pure oxygen alone is going to do some good things for your brain. It just so happened that I had to burn the midnight oil to finish a couple of projects before leaving for vacation, and that was a great chance for an A/B comparison between Natural and Think Tank. Over the course of the night, I did detect a mild increase in mental clarity. It wasn’t huge. It wouldn’t help a college student do well on their GRE after a night of partying, but I’d definitely have a can nearby at the office for those days when you’re dragging and your brain needs a little boost, but you can’t stomach another cup of coffee.
(Boost’s official internet PR agent, Katie, hosts an entire video on why Boost might tame hangovers.
The real test drive for me was the million and five steps from the beach back up to the cabin. Could I make it up without canned air? Yes. But that would mean dozens of ruined views of sunsets over the lake from high above, as I gasped and sputtered. Which would have caused me to feel disinclined to go down to the shore with my family to splash around, kayak, fish, and just soak up the negative ions, peace, and tranquility. Getting out of breath easily is exactly the sort of disincentive that perpetuates a sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle. So, if you can mitigate that problem immediately, affordably, and conveniently, you can get your exercise in without the discomfort, ya’ know?
And it’s a little embarrassing to be wheezing after being someone who used to hike, run, and cycle as a regular part of my lifestyle. As it happened, I didn’t have to be embarrassed for long. I’d started out taking Boost Natural down to the beach with me, and pausing half-way back up the steps to take a breather. In a couple days, I was leaving the can at the top of the hill, and by the end of the vacation, my lungs seemed to have been stretched or toned or whatever enough that I only reached for extra air very occasionally.
My conclusion? If you’re an athlete, you probably already own a can of this. Certainly you should keep some around even if breath isn’t a problem for you. You have menthol rubs for your aching muscles, right? This is like that, but at the cellular level. If you’re elderly and in pretty good shape, but just have a tough time catching your breath after exertion, this could be your secret weapon against time and gravity. If you’re out of shape, but trying to rediscover better exercise habits (like me), this is an absolute must. Just knowing that I can throw a can into the backpack and have it ready means that I feel ready to put on some miles.
As I said, we don’t do that many product reviews, but this is one item I didn’t even know about a year ago that I thought was worth my time writing and your time reading. You can buy direct from Boost, or you can support The Greylock Glass by purchasing from Amazon through our affiliate link. Either way, give it a try if you could use a little more fresh air in your life.