Order print   subscribe new

KitGuides TopKitKitReviews

The Best Scuba Diving Regulators for 2018 

scuba regulator large

Photo: Alfred Minnaar

Regulators are the most important part of a scuba diver’s equipment, and there's a lot of options to choose from. Mark ‘Crowley’ Russell rounds up some of the best currently on the market

Entry Level Regulator

'Entry-level’ is a much broader category than the name implies, and is targeted at divers making their first purchase, rather than the most basic regulators available. Some manufacturers produce regulators tailored towards dive centre rental gear, a good choice for the novice diver on a budget, but which may compare less favourably in terms of design, size, weight – and especially cold-water use – to the model that manufacturers promote as ‘entry-level’.

Apeks ATX

RRP: £236

apeks atx

Apeks’s entry level offering definitely fits the category of regulators that cater to many more than the entry level diver. The DS4 first stage is an environmentally sealed, over-balanced diaphragm design, with a heat exchanger on the second stage making it suitable for cold water diving which – as a British manufacturer – is an Apeks speciality. The ATX series has been around since 2002, and although it’s been superseded by the XTX range, there’s a reason the old workhorse is still in production.

Specifications

Fittings: Yoke or DIN
First Stage: Overbalanced diaphragm
Cold water: Yes
Ports: 1 HP, 4 MP
Second Stage: Pneumatically-balanced with Venturi control
Weight (first and second): 1130g (Yoke)

www.apeksdiving.com 


200XAround the World In 80 Wrecks Cover

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 WRECKS - FREE EBOOK

Download our FREE gift - a 70-page, beautifully illustrated, colour guide to the world’s best wrecks


 

 

Aqua Lung Core Supreme

RRP: £294

aqualung core supreme

 

Aqua Lung’s most basic entry-level regulator would be the Calypso, an unbalanced piston design popular as rental equipment, a solid, easy-to-maintain warm-water regulator retailing at £156. For divers looking to buy a regulator with a broader range of options, the Core Supreme has a balanced diaphragm first stage featuring Aqua Lung’s auto closure device (ACD) which seals the regulator as it's removed from the tank, with pre-angled ports for better hose routing and chrome plated brass body. The balanced second stage is also suitable for cold water, with a low cracking pressure and Venturi adjustment knob

Specifications

Fittings: Yoke or DIN
First Stage: Unbalanced piston
Cold water: Yes
Ports: 2 HP, 4 MP
Second Stage: Balanced with Venturi assist
Weight (first and second): 688g (DIN)

www.aqualung.com 

 

Atomic Aquatics Z2

RRP: £377

atomic z2

The ‘Z’ in Z2 stands for the Zirconium plated over the brass body of the regulator, designed for increased corrosion resistance. The balanced piston-based first stage features Atomic’s ‘Jet Seat’, and a factory fitted environmental seal is an optional extra. Two HP and  seven LP ports is more than most regulators, with the LP ports located on a fixed cap instead of a swivelling body, allowing for hose routing choice. The balanced second stage features Atomic’s patented Automatic Flow Control for consistent breathing with low effort, and the titanium seat saving orifice of the second stage reduces wear on the valve seat from repeated use, extending the service interval for the regulator to 2 years or 300 dives.

Specifications

Fittings: Yoke or DIN
First Stage: Balanced piston
Cold water: Optional environmental seal
Ports: 2 HP, 7 LP
Second Stage: Automatic flow control with adjustment knob
Weight (first and second) : 844g (DIN)

www.atomicaquatics.com

 

Mares Rover 15X

RRP: £245

mares rover 15x

The Mares Rover comes in two flavours with identical, very compact second stages, but different first stages. The Rover 2S is the preferred rental regulator of many European dive schools, with an unbalanced piston first stage combination retailing at just £146. The Rover 15X is more expensive, but with a balanced diaphragm first stage making it suitable for a wider range of diving conditions. 2 HP and 4 LP pre-oriented ports give some flexibility to hose configurations while patented Mares technologies aid durability and air flow control, with the second-stage mesh grid also present. Cold water kits can be purchased separately and fitted by an approved technician.

Specifications

Fittings: Yoke or DIN
First Stage: Balanced diaphragm
Cold water: Optional extra
Ports: 2 HP, 4 LP
Second Stage: Balanced
Weight (first and second): 936g (DIN)

www.mares.com

 

Scubapro MK11 / C370

RRP: £229

scubapro mk11 c370

Scubapro’s MK2 / R195 combo is probably the most prevalent regulator rental set in the world, and with a RRP of only £189, a decent choice for the entry level diver on a budget. The newer MK11, coupled with the brand new, all-purpose C370 second stage, however, offers a great deal more to the diver in terms of performance, but is not much more in terms of price. The balanced diaphragm design of the MK11 is suitable for cooler water, with two of the four LP ports being ‘high-flow’, delivering 15 per cent more air than the others. The air-balanced C370 second stage has been designed to be compact and lightweight, but remains rugged. With the Mk11 weighing in at 490g and the C370 at only 171g, the combination is one of the lightest available and excellent for travel.

Specifications

Fittings: Yoke or DIN
First Stage: Balanced diaphragm
Cold Water: Yes
Ports: 2 HP, 4 LP (2 ‘high flow’)
Second Stage: Balanced, airflow and Venturi control
Weight (first and second): 661g (DIN)

www.scubapro.com

 

Seac P-Synchro

RRP: £163

seac p synchro

The Italian company's entry level regulator is targeted at the ‘intense activities’ of dive centres, marketed as ‘high in reliability, safety, sturdiness, durability and simplicity’ – which is what dive centres want their regulators to be, along with low in price. The chrome-plated brass first stage utilises ultra-light technopolymers, and unlike some other rental sets, is of a balanced piston design. Basic, but robust.

Specifications

Fittings: Yoke or DIN
First Stage: Balanced piston
Cold water: No
Ports: 1 HP, 4 LP
Second Stage: Venturi dive / predive
Weight (first and second): 850g (DIN)

www.seacsub.com

 

TUSA RS-1001

RRP: £290

tusa 1001

Tusa’s latest addition to its range, the balanced diaphragm R-1000 first stage is compact and light weight, and although it is not environmentally sealed, comes with Tusa’s own cold water insulation system. Two of the four LP ports are ‘high-flow’, delivering 15 per cent more air for each breath. The unbalanced S-0001 second stage has a compact composite case design, with left- or right-hand configuration, Venturi adjustment level and ortho-consciously designed mouthpiece to reduce jaw fatigue.

Specifications

Fittings: Yoke or DIN
First Stage: Balanced diaphragm
Cold water: Yes
Ports: 2 HP, 4 LP (2 high flow)
Second Stage: Venturi control
Weight (first and second): 950g (DIN)

www.tusa.com

 

Zeagle Envoy II

RRP: £240

zeagle envoy ii

Zeagle’s Tech/Rec philosophy is abundantly clear even in its entry-level Envoy II. Redesigned in 2015, the balanced diaphragm, brass bodied-first stage has five low pressure and two high pressure ports. High performance porting and precision engineering combined with the balanced second stage have gained the Envoy II a reputation for excellent, easy breathing characteristics. A simple dive/predive Venturi control completes the package.

Specifications

Fittings: Yoke or DIN
First Stage: Balanced diaphragm
Cold water: Yes
Ports: 2 HP, 7 LP
Second Stage: balanced, Venturi control
Weight (first and second): 1150g (DIN)

www.zeagle.com

 

all purpose

The all-purpose category is aimed at the active diver who likes to explore a range of different environments, from shallow tropical reefs to deeper, colder waters, with both recreational and technical diving in mind. They are often made from higher quality materials, perhaps lighter in weight, and engineered with an extra degree of precision to make the most of their performance. Many people will enjoy their diving without noticing a great deal of difference, but for those who seek to master the art of diving, those extra tweaks might become much more important.

Apeks XL4

RRP: £339

apeks xl4

Launched in October 2017, the XL4 is Apeks’ latest addition to their range, suitable for all divers in all locations, with a compact design and – for the features – a compact price. The first stage is based around the ‘expedition tested’ DS4, and like it’s entry-level ATX cousin, features an overbalanced, environmentally sealed design with over-moulded first stage endcap and large surface area heat exchanger, designed with cold-water exploration in mind. The single piece body and flexible nylon hose reduce the overall weight, with the second stage geared towards reducing jaw fatigue on long duration dives.

Specifications:

Fittings: Yoke or DIN
First Stage: Overbalanced diaphragm
Cold water: Yes
Ports: 1 HP, 4 MP
Second Stage: Pneumatically-balanced with Venturi control
Weight (first and second): 905g (DIN)

www.apeksdiving.com 

 

Aqua Lung Legend LX Supreme

RRP: £513

aqua lung legend lx supreme

It takes a certain je ne sais quoi – as Jacques Cousteau, founder of the original Aqua Lung, may have said – to name any product a ‘Legend’ before it has been tried and tested, but after more than 15 years of service, the various incarnations of the Legend have earned the reputation. The LX Supreme has an environmentally sealed, overbalanced diaphragm first stage with an extremely useful ‘Auto Closure Device’ (ACD) which seals the regulator as it’s disconnected from the tank. The pneumatically balanced second stage comes with Aqua Lung’s ‘Master Breathing System’ (MBS) which has a single knob to control Venturi assist and cracking pressure.

Specifications

Fittings: Yoke or DIN
First Stage: Overbalanced diaphragm
Cold water: Yes
Ports: 2 HP, 4 MP
Second Stage: Pneumatically-balanced, combined air-flow with Venturi control (MBS)
Weight (first and second): 868g (DIN)

www.aqualung.com 

 

Atomic Aquatics B2

RRP: £591

atomic aquatics b2

The chrome-plated brass body of the B2 is fairly conventional in terms of material design, with the balanced-piston first stage common to most Atomic Aquatics regulators. A factory-fitted environmental seal is optional, and the 5 LP ports are housed in a rotating end cap for easier hose routing. The lightweight all-titanium second stage comes with Atomic’s patented Automatic Flow Control and rapid adjustment knob, and a stainless steel swivel joint for the hose is fitted as standard. Atomic’s patented valve seat saving orifice extends the service interval to 2 years or 300 dives, with a limited lifetime warranty. Optional colour kits are also available.

Specifications:

Fittings: Yoke or DIN
First Stage: Balanced piston
Cold water: Optional, factory fitted
Ports: 2 HP, 5 MP
Second Stage: Pneumatically balanced with Automatic Flow Control
Weight (first and second): 996g (DIN)

www.atomicaquatics.com

 

Dive Rite XT

RRP: £399.95

dive rite xt

Dive Rite caters mostly to the technical market and the XT draws on the company's technical roots to provide a regulator that all divers can appreciate. The balanced piston XT1 first stage is environmentally sealed and comes with five LP ports on a swivel turret and 2 HP ports at right angles to the barrel for optimal hose routing. The pneumatically balanced XT2 second stage is adjustable to allow the diver to fine tune their preferred cracking pressure, with associated dive/predive Venturi assist lever

Specifications:

Fittings: Yoke or DIN
First Stage: Balanced piston
Cold water: Yes
Ports: 2 HP, 5 LP
Second Stage: Balanced, airflow control with Venturi assist
Weight (first and second): 1250g (DIN)

www.diverite.com

 

Mares Abyss 52X

RRP: £363

mares abyss 52x

The Abyss 52x features an all-metal second stage, with most of the same features of the Rover series, including the air bypass tube (VAD) which balances the second stage for sensitive and easy breathing, regardless of depth. The smart-looking balanced diaphragm first stage is designed for cold water diving, with the Mares NCC (Natural Convection Channel) increasing surface area for heat exchange. 2 of the 4 LP ports are Dynamic Flow Control (DFC) ports, which reduce intermediate pressure drop during the breathing cycle. The two regulators are connected with a lightweight ‘superflex’ hose as standard.

Specifications

Fittings: Yoke or DIN
First Stage: Balanced diaphragm
Cold water: Yes
Ports: 2 HP, 4 LP (2 DFC)
Second Stage: Balanced, automatic air control
Weight (first and second): 782g (DIN)

www.mares.com

 

OMS Airstream Evoque

RRP: £422

OMS airstream evoque

The OMS Airstream Evoque is a high-performance regulator which has been designed with the optimisation of hose routing in mind. Specialised HP ports at an angle of 45 degrees helps to keep gauges closer to the diver’s hips, and the 30 degree angled LP ports help to ensure optimal trim by guiding hoses directly over the diver’s shoulder. The overbalanced diaphragm first stage is environmentally sealed as standard with a polished stainless steel finish. The balanced second stage is amongst the best in terms of work of breathing rate, with an adjustable airflow control and Venturi switch, coupled to the first stage with a 75cm Miflex hose as standard

Specifications:

Fittings: Yoke or DIN
First Stage: Over-balanced diaphragm
Cold water: Yes
Ports: 2 HP, 4 LP
Second Stage: diver adjustable with Venturi assist
Weight (first and second): 1000g (DIN)

www.omsdive.com

 

Scubapro MK25 EVO / S620Ti

RRP: £619

scubapro mk25 c620ti

The MK25 first stage has been a favourite of both recreational and technical divers for years, and the latest evolution is no exception. Although the balanced piston first stage is not environmentally sealed, Scubapro’s patented thermal insulating system and anti-freeze protection ensures reliability even in the most extreme water temperatures. Five high-flow low-pressure ports are mounted on a swivelling turret, with two HP ports on either side. The titanium-barrelled S620Ti is a recent upgrade to the long-standing S600 second stage, smaller and lighter but reinforced and using the same sized diaphragm, reducing the work of breathing rate by 37 per cent over the S600. User adjustable inhalation effort knob and Venturi assist lever are standard.

Specifications:

Fittings: Yoke or DIN
First Stage: Balanced piston
Cold water: Yes
Ports: 2 HP, 5 LP (high-flow)
Second Stage: Diver adjustable with Venturi assist
Weight (first and second): 749g (DIN)

www.scubapro.com

 

TUSA RS-790

RRP: £335

tusa rs790

The chrome plated R-700 is a balanced diaphragm regulator with a full environmental seal and dry ambient pressure chamber, ensuring that the internals of the first stage are protected from all contaminants and cold water, with a ribbed external heat exchanger to further reduce problems associated with cold water. The accompanying S-90 second stage is pneumatically balanced to reduce cracking pressure, and is also equipped with a dive/predive Venturi lever

Specifications

Fittings: Yoke or DIN
First Stage: Balanced diaphragm
Cold water: Yes
Ports: 2 HP, 4 LP (2 high flow)
Second Stage: balanced, Venturi lever
Weight (first and second): 1000g (DIN)

www.tusa.com

 

Seac DX 200 ICE

RRP: £390

seac dx200 ice

The DX 200 ICE has a balanced diaphragm first stage of forged brass with a sanded chrome finish, and an anti-ice kit to insulate it from the outside. Two of the four LP outlets are inclined at 20 degrees and the others at 30 degrees for increased hose routing options, and a stainless-steel removable valve seat is designed to increase servicing safety and simplicity. The balanced second stage is treated for abrasion on the outside, and has airflow and Venturi controls to regulate cracking pressure and prevent freeflow.

Specifications

Fittings: Yoke or DIN
First Stage: Balanced diaphragm
Cold water: Yes
Ports: 2 HP, 4 LP
Second Stage: Balanced, airflow control with Venturi assist
Weight (first and second): 1040g (DIN)

www.seacsub.com

Zeagle F8

RRP: £576

zeagle f8

Zeagle’s flagship F8 was given a makeover a few years ago, with over 20 improvements in the balanced diaphragm first stage. The environmentally-sealed ambient chamber ensures the internals remain clear of water and silt, making it perfect for diving in all conditions, with the low-profile first stage barely reaching the top of the tank valve. The re-designed second stage with inhalation effort control knob features the same seat-saving orifice as found in Atomic Aquatics regulators, with a zirconium plated inlet tube for better corrosion resistance, and a new larger-area heat sink reducing the risk of seizure in cold water.

Specifications:

Fittings: Yoke or DIN
First Stage: Balanced diaphragm
Cold water: Yes
Ports: 2 HP, 5 MP
Second Stage: Breathing resistance knob with Venturi assist
Weight: 1170g (Yoke)

www.zeagle.com

 

Buying Tips

In the modern era of scuba diving, there really is no such thing as a ‘bad’ regulator. Some may not be suitable for diving in particular environments and others may not meet your personal tastes and preferences – but they are all built to extremely high standards. Your life depends on them, and there are no regulators on the market which cannot perform safely and effectively.

There are plenty of options available, and as one of the most complex items of kit, regulators come with an associated dictionary of technical terminology. They are not cheap, but there are some relatively inexpensive models available for the diver on a budget.

The jargon can be off-putting, is not always adequately covered during training, and is sometimes used by salespeople to direct you to equipment you don’t really need. Having a basic understanding of the components prior to making a purchase is essential, especially if it’s your first, so take a deep breath – here’s the basics.

First Stage

DIN or Yoke?
The first stage connects to the tank valve and converts the high pressure in the tank to an intermediate pressure for delivery to the second stages. Yoke – also known as A-clamp or ‘int’ – regulators fit over the tank valve and are secured with a screw clamp. DIN (Deutsche Industrie Norm) regulators screw into tank valves with a threaded DIN opening. DIN regulators are a little less bulky, form a tighter seal, and can handle higher pressures, so many divers consider it to be a superior system. DIN tanks have a removable adapter which allows them to be used with yoke regulators, but DIN regulators need a separate adapter for use with ‘INT’ (International) tank valves, which do not have a threaded opening. DIN is rapidly becoming the dive industry standard, but is not universal.

Environmental Seals
All regulators will work in warm, clear, water, but compressed gases cool as they expand (aerosol deodorants are a perfect example) and can cause unprotected regulators to freeze open when diving in cold water (10°C / 50°F or lower). Environmental seals prevent cold water and particulate matter from entering the first stage, reducing the risk of freezing or fouling.

Unbalanced, Balanced and Overbalanced
Unbalanced regulators are operated by tank pressure, so breathing resistance increases very slightly as the pressure drops. They are the simplest design, least expensive, and the mainstay of recreational rental gear.

Balanced regulators are not affected by tank pressure, and deliver air at the same pressure throughout the dive. These days, all but the most basic of regulators are balanced.

Overbalanced regulators slightly increase the pressure of air delivered to the diver at depth. It’s a nice, but not essential, feature.

Piston or Diaphragm
Piston regulators operate using a hollow metal piston opposed by a metal spring. They can be balanced or unbalanced, and cold-water diving requires that they have an environmental seal, or anti-freezing technology.

Diaphragm regulators are more complex in design, but they are all balanced, and the rubber diaphragm acts as its own environmental seal, hence they are preferred for deep and cold-water diving.

Ports
All regulators have at least one high pressure (HP) port for the pressure gauge (SPG) or air-integrated computer, and four low/medium pressure ports (LP/MP) for the second stages, BCD and drysuit inflators. Higher spec regulators may have an additional HP port and extra LP/MP ports, allowing for more flexibility in configuration.

Second Stage

Balanced or Unbalanced
Balanced second stages reduce the ‘cracking pressure’ of the regulator – the minimum pressure required for it to operate – providing a small reduction in breathing effort.

Dive/Predive/Flow control
The Venturi effect, in which moving gas causes a reduction in surrounding pressure, is what makes regulators work, and also causes them to freeflow, especially at the surface. Most regulators have a Venturi control, often labelled dive/predive or +/-, which prevents this. Some regulators also have an airflow control which affects the cracking pressure.

Nitrox
All regulators can be used with recreational nitrox up to a maximum of 40 per cent O2. Anything higher requires the use of compatible materials and specialist ‘oxygen cleaning’. EU standards require the use of tanks and regulators with a non-standard connection for anything above 21 per cent, but are not universally enforced.

Hoses
The standard rubber hoses are fairly inflexible and prone to cracking through poor care and maintenance. In recent years, lighter and more flexible braided hoses have become very popular as they are easier to transport, provide better options for hose routing, and reduce jaw fatigue. Swivelling hose connectors provide similar benefits over the standard, rigid connectors. Some manufacturers are now fitting braided hoses and swivel joints as standard, but they are always available as optional extras.

Tips for buying

Chief amongst your considerations is the type of environment in which you plan to dive. For tropical recreational diving, any regulator will do, but cold and deep-water diving require appropriate equipment.

Size and weight may be factors in your decision making, as is the cost and availability of servicing. It’s therefore advisable to buy from a local dive shop with a brand-certified technician.

The general advice is to buy the best that you can afford. For smaller budgets, the basic entry-level regulators are an option, as long as their limitations are taken into account. Spending a bit extra in the first place, however, may save you money in the long-run as your dive horizons broaden

spring

 

 

 

mulipack

THREE AMAZING DIVE eBOOKS - FREE

Love diving? You'll love these. Sign up today to immediately download our unique FREE gifts -

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 WRECKS - DIVE's 70-page, beautifully illustrated, colour guide to the world’s best wrecks

SCUBA STORIES - DIVE's collection of real life stories where divers, who have got themselves into perilous situations, describe how they reacted and what actions they took to ensure they lived to tell the tale

PACIFICHighlights of the Pacific - Dancing mantas in Hawaii • The Best Diving in the World, Galápagos, Cocos, Malpelo & Socorro • Mass Spawning Events in Palau

Signupad

BuyDive2

Destinations Spotlight

Need inspiration for your next dive trip? Try one of our featured destinations from DIVE's travel partners.

sidebar bahamas sidebar philippines sidebar mexico sidebar fijisidebar st helena

DIVE Partners

WAKATOBI DIVE-online-300x100-BSiladen 300x100Aggressor 300x100Fisheye banner 300 x 100Oblu 100px X 300pxparalenzuk2

 

Read DIVE magazine

DIVE magazine is available to read on many devices. Simply click one one of the options below


PCMac final
Apple finalAndroid final