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For a diver, there is no piece of equipment more vital than a regulator. Fortunately, there are plenty of great models to choose from. Here, Neil Hope selects the best regs, from entry level to intermediate and advanced

Entry Level Dive Regulators

  • Apeks ATX40
  • Oceanic Alpha 9 CDX5
  • Scuba Pro MK2 EVO R195

Intermediate Level Dive Regulators

  • Hollis 150LX DC7
  • Oceanic Delta 4 FDX10
  • Mares Abyss 52X

Advance Level Dive Regulators

  • Atomic Aquatics T3
  • Zeagle F8
  • Scuba Pro MK25 EVO / A700

Top3 Entry 

#1 Apeks ATX40


Apeks ATX40 regulator

UK manufacturer Apeks has a long and proud tradition of producing workhorse regulators for British divers, and the brand is respected around the world. The ATX range has been around for a while and is the company’s entry-level offering. It is so good that it often wins tests against far more expensive models, and for many divers is the perfect regulator. Beautifully designed, well made, extremely reliable, comfortable and easy to use – who needs anything else? Oh, and a great price! Makes you proud to be British!


Fittings: yoke & DIN
First stage: over-balanced diaphragm, environmentally sealed
Ports: 4 medium pressure, 1 high pressure
Second stage: balanced, Venturi
Nitrox compatible: 40%
Weight: 1,130g (yoke)


 # 2 Oceanic Alpha 9 CDX5


OceanicAlpha9CDX5Regul opt

Oceanic’s Alpha 9 CDX5 is a keenly priced , good looking, entry-level regulator with lots of features. For example, the flexible braided low-pressure hoses are a real boon for comfort, eliminating irritating pull on your regulator during your dive. The Alpha 9 is both light and comfortable and other features include an orthodontic mouthpiece, a large easy-purge soft front cover, plus a wide exhaust routeing to push exhaled gas sidewards and away from view. You also get Oceanic’s lifetime warranty, with free parts for life if you service it annually at an authorised Oceanic dealership.


Fittings: yoke & DIN
First stage: over-balanced diaphragm, environmentally sealed
Ports: 4 medium pressure, 2 high pressure
Second stage: balanced
Nitrox compatible: 40%
Weight: 980g (DIN)




# 3 Scubapro MK2 EVO R195




Scubapro’s MK2 EVO/R195 is a simple and economical combination suitable for both warm- and cold- water diving. The unbalanced, piston first stage is environmentally protected by the manufacturer’s patented system whereby the internal components receive a coating to help prevent the formation of ice crystals in lower temperatures. While it is nice and light for travelling, it feels solid and well made. It even offers left or right hose routeing, making it popular for stage cylinder or pony use. At well under 200 quid, this is excellent value.


Fittings: yoke & DIN
First stage: unbalanced, XTIS insulated
Ports: 4 low pressure, 1 high pressure
Second stage: unbalanced, Venturi
Nitrox compatible: 40%
Weight: 840g (DIN)



Top3 Inter


# 1 Hollis 150LX DC7




Hollis, the sister company of US-based Oceanic, has a reputation for innovation and quality production. The 150LX DC7 is no exception. The pneumatically balanced, chrome-plated brass first stage is compact, making this regulator a great lightweight choice for the travelling diver. The reversible demand valve design also offers the advantage of hose configuration from either the left or the right – essential for aspiring tekkies. A stylish and distinctive design makes this a strong contender. Good value for the quality of build and features. This could become your travelling partner for years to come.


Fittings: yoke & DIN
First Stage: balanced, environmentally sealed
Ports: 4 low-pressure, 2 high-pressure
Second stage: balanced, Venturi
Nitrox compatible: 40%
Weight: 780g (DIN)

# 2 Oceanic Delta 4 FDX10



Forged from marine-grade brass with chrome plating and a protective casing, the FDX10’s over-balanced diaphragm first stage provides high flow rates and consistent performance. Cold-water protection is provided by an environmental seal and the body is fitted with four fixed position low-pressure ports and two fixed-orientation high-pressure ports. The Delta 4’s mechanically-balanced second stage is fitted with a patented ‘Dynamic Adjustment’ assembly control which maintains inhalation effort automatically, regardless of depth. A top-mounted Venturi lever is also provided to switch between dive and pre-dive modes, and the reg


Fittings: yoke & DIN
First stage: over-balanced diaphragm, environmentally sealed
Ports: 4 low pressure, 2 high pressure
Second stage: balanced
Nitrox compatible: 40%
Weight: 1,000g (DIN)


# 3 Mares Abyss 52X 




Mares 52X combines two grades of polyurethane on an inner brass core to supply a lightweight and compact balanced-diaphragm first stage. Mares’ Dynamic Flow Control features in two of the four low-pressure ports to minimise the pressure drop on exhalation, allowing both primary and secondary second stages to provide an uninterrupted supply of gas independent of depth or tank pressure. A patented NCC (Natural Convection Channel) groove-shaped recess on the body of the first stage ensures an increased heat supply to its interior components, that coupled with the all-metal second stage and Vortex Assisted Design provide sensitive and easy breathing, with excellent cold-water capabilities. Connected via a super-flex hose, the second stage has a mesh grid which, Mares claims, improves breathing effort when diving in strong currents.


Fittings: yoke & DIN
First stage: balanced 
Ports: 4 low pressure, 2 high pressure
Second stage: balanced 
Nitrox compatible: 40%
Weight: 929g (DIN)



Top3 Advanced

# 1 Atomic Aquatics T3




If you want the best that money can buy, this is it! This absurdly lightweight, glorious thing of beauty, both first and second stage machined from a single block of titanium alloy, is a joy to behold. As soon as you pick it up you realise it is something special. It feels featherweight. The finish is as exacting as you would find on an Aston Martin. It oozes quality. In recent years, regulators have evolved to such a point that it is difficult to find much difference between them, that is, until you take your first breath with an Atomic Aquatic T3. Sublime. As natural as any breath you are every going to take. Whether you can justify spending such a sum on a regulator is a personal choice. But without a doubt, this is peerless.



Fittings: yoke & DIN
First stage: balanced piston, environmentally sealed
Ports: 5 low pressure, 2 high pressure
Second stage: balanced 
Nitrox compatible: 40%
Weight: 770g (DIN)


# 2 Zeagle F8



A good value, top-end regulator. The all-black first stage is extremely low profile. Its Atomic Aquatic designers have produced an impressively spec’d, good-looking gem at a reasonable price. The second stage is built for comfort, with soft, pliable parts and smooth edges –an ergonomic marvel. The Venturi lever is easy to find and even easier to use. The purge is soft and rubbery - again, extremely easy to use.


Yoke & DIN
First stage: balanced, environmentally sealed
Ports: 5 low pressure, 2 high pressure
Second stage: balanced 
Nitrox compatible: 40%
Weight: 1,160g (yoke)


# 3 Scubapro MK25 EVO / A700




Scubapro built its reputation on excellent regulators and this latest version of the much-loved MK25 marque is worthy of the name. Effortless, natural breathing in a stylish, rugged package, with all the whistles and bells you would expect from a flagship product. The first stage is fully isolated from the cold and it delivers an effortless gas flow. A quality build, that looks and feels substantial. Not cheap, but neither is it ridiculously priced for such a fine bit of kit. It comes with oversized bore super-flow hose and comfortable orthodontic mouthpiece.


Fittings: yoke & DIN
First stage: over-balanced, XTIS sealed
Ports: 5 low pressure, 2 high pressure
Second stage: balanced 
Nitrox compatible: 40%
Weight: 1,040g (yoke)





Aqua Lung Core


With a balanced diaphragm first stage and pneumatically-balanced second, the chrome/marine brass Aqua Lung Core has a four low-pressure and two high-pressure ports, features a patented heat exchanger and an Auto Closure Device (ACD) to shut off the first stage inlet to prevent water ingress during removal. A Venturi lever is also provided to prevent unwanted free-flow at the surface.



Atomic Z3


The Z3 is Atomic’s entry-level regulator featuring a zirconium over chrome and brass finish to provide corrosion resistance up to four times that of conventional chrome plating. The balanced piston first stage offers seven low and two high-pressure ports with environmental sealing. Both first stage and the pneumatically balanced second stage qualify for Atomic Aquatic’s lifetime warranty and two year/300-dive service interval.


TUSA RS 460 II Int

Tusa RS460 11 X-PERT


The R-400’s balanced-diaphragm first stage offers two high-flow pressure ports for smooth gas delivery to primary and octopus second stages, one standard low-pressure port, plus a single high-pressure port. Tusa’s cold-water insulation system ensures the regulator remains operational throughout a range of temperature extremes, while the S-60 balanced second stage comes with an orthodontically designed mouthpiece to combat fatigue, along with a surface/dive sensitivity control to decrease the possibility of regulator free-flow.



Hollis 100LX DC3


The second stage is the same as its more expensive 150LX stablemate, but the 100LX is paired with the entry-level DC3 first stage to offer excellent value for money. The chrome-plated brass valve is a balanced diaphragm design and has four low-pressure and two high-pressure ports. The reversible demand valve has ergonomic exhaust channels, an orthodontic mouthpiece and an adjustable Venturi switch.



Zeagle Envoy 11 


Zeagle’s high-performance Envoy 11 balanced first stage regulator features five low- and two high-pressure ports situated around its environmentally-sealed chrome-plated brass cylindrical body. The pneumatically balanced second stage is constructed from lightweight thermoplastic and benefits from a Venturi free-flow control.


Mares Prestige 15X


This compact, balanced-diaphragm first stage has four low-pressure and two high-pressure ports for simple hose routing. It features Mares’ Dynamic Flow Control, which dispenses with the need for any manual adjustments, and a lightweight techno polymer second stage with large purge button. The 15X also has a super-flex hose and orthodontic mouthpiece.




Aqua Lung Legend Supreme


Environmentally sealed, the Legend Supreme’s chrome/marine brass, over-balanced diaphragm first stage features Aqua Lung’s ACD system, designed to close off its internal components during removal. A total of four medium and two high-pressure ports are provided, while the regulator’s second-stage features include a patented heat exchanger to dissipate cold water, a Venturi switch and ergonomic exhaust tee.



Atomic B2


The B2’s chrome-plated brass first stage offers almost identical performance to Atomic’s flagship T3 regulator but with a more economical price-tag. The high-flow piston first stage has two fixed high-pressure and five low-pressure ports located on its swivel cap, with environmental sealing to guard against contamination and prevent freezing. The titanium second stage has a high-flow, easy-purge cover, Atomic’s Automatic Flow Control and uniquely designed low-pressure seat, plus a stainless steel swivel joint.



Zeagle Onyx


The black, chrome-plated marine brass balanced diaphragm Onyx first stage provides two high-pressure and five low-pressure ports, with environmental sealing for cold-water usage. The lightweight and compact pneumatically balanced second stage is manufactured from a combination of thermoplastic, elastomeric, polymer and silicone with an anodized aluminium heat sink to combat freezing, and also features diver-adjustable inhalation resistance and Venturi controls.



Scubapro MK17 EVO/C350


Scubapro’s lightweight, compact air-balanced and environmentally sealed diaphragm MK17 first stage provides two high-pressure and four high-flow low-pressure ports for maximising hose routing options. The C350 second stage primary regulator uses a classic downstream design, with diver-adjustable inhalation effort and Venturi-Initiated Vacuum Assist (VIVA) controls on its compact body. The super-flow hose with oversize bore also allows more airflow on each inhalation and the rig also features a large triangular easy-to-access purge button and an orthodontic mouthpiece. 



Tusa RS-790


Tusa’s first stage R-700 is a balanced diaphragm first stage with a dry ambient pressure chamber and external rib section for thermal exchange, designed to maximise performance for cold-water diving. Two high-flow, low-pressure ports offering up to 15 per cent increased air flow are available on the R-700, in addition to two further standard low-pressure and two high-pressure ports. The S-90 is a pneumatically balanced lightweight, composite second stage with a two-position surface/dive Venturi adjustment lever.




Aqua Lung Legend LX Supreme


The Legend LX Supreme’s chrome-over-marine-brass first stage utilises Aqua Lung’s ACD (Auto Closure Device) to prevent water entering its inlet during removal from the cylinder valve. The over-balanced diaphragm design has environmental sealing plus a pair of high-pressure and four low-pressure ports. The pneumatically-balanced second stage, complete with over-sized, removable lip shield for added warmth, features the ‘Master Breathing System’ or MBS, which combines Venturi and opening effect adjustment in a single control. A patented heat exchanger surrounding the valve’s mechanism also dissipates the cold caused via gas expansion and the ergonomic exhaust tees help reduce exhalation effort.



Apeks XTX200


The XTX200’s compact over-balanced first stage is of one-piece brass body construction finished in highly-polished chrome plating, with an environmental dry system fitted as standard. Configured with two high-pressure and four low-pressure ports, an additional fifth port option is also available. The balanced second stage with its anti-bacterial protection has a two-stage purge button and can be converted for left or right hose routing by any authorised service technician. Further features include an opening-effect control knob, Venturi lever and a Diver Changeable Exhaust (DCE) system with a choice of wide or narrow exhaust tees. 



Mares Carbon 52X


The compact Carbon 52X balanced first stage features Mares’ patented ‘Dynamic Flow Control’, ‘Vortex Assisted Design’ and ‘Natural Convection Channel’. It has four low-pressure and two high-pressure ports, while the lightweight second stage uses the superior thermal conductivity of its carbon fibre manufacture to combat the dry mouth effect at the end of a dive by retaining moisture from exhaled breath.



Oceanic ZEO FDXi


Oceanic’s ZEO is an over-balanced first stage of chrome-plated marine brass construction featuring an environmental seal for improved cold-water performance. With its patented ‘Dynamic Adjustment’ feature automatically maintaining inhalation effort throughout the dive, it provides a total of six ports – two high-pressure and four low-pressure. The metal barrel balanced FDXi second stage is connected via a lightweight braided MiFlex hose and offers control for inhalation effort and Venturi effect.



Hollis LX200 DCX £449

Designed specifically for harsh environments, the DCX is an environmentally sealed, balanced diaphragm first stage offering two high-pressure ports and five low-pressure on a swivel turret. The balanced LX200 second stage is of reversible design with a MiFlex hose, honeycomb mesh grid, ergonomic exhaust channels and an orthodontic mouthpiece. It also benefits from Venturi lever and cracking pressure adjustment controls. 




If you intend diving in tropical locations your choice of regulator is unlikely to be as demanding as a diver descending to 50m-plus in icy seas. Many lightweight travel regs use composite materials that prevent their use below 10°C. If you want to dive in cold water, an environmentally sealed first stage is recommended to guard against freeflows.



Piston first stages are a simple design and have high performance and efficiency due to their low number of moving parts. This design is used on both entry level and flagship models. The more complex diaphragm first stage is generally found on mid to high specification regulators and is best suited for easy fitting of an environment seal. 

Both designs can be split into balanced or unbalanced types. Unbalanced systems become marginally more difficult to breathe from as depth increases and cylinder pressure decreases. Balanced regulators offer consistent performance at any depth regardless of cylinder pressure.



Balanced second stages provide consistent performance and flow rates at any depth while unbalanced second stages do not maintain the same performance as depth increases. A Venturi lever is a means to control the flow of air inside the second stage housing. The ‘pre-dive’ setting is used for water entry to shut the valve to prevent freeflow and then set to ‘dive’ prior to descent for best performance. Typically seen on balanced second stages, an inhalation adjustment control can be used to alter breathing effort and is particularly useful for deeper dives where a comfortable resistance at depth may result in a freeflow at the surface.




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