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15 Years of Legendary Life Support

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The Legend in action in 2011 – that's the regulator, not yours truly – exhaling a heart of bubbles from a much-loved piece of kit (photo: Jovana Milanko)

I acquired a set of Aqua Lung Legend regulators in 2010 after some shady busybody stole my much-loved Scubapro Mk25, and they remained the workhorse of my career as a full-time dive professional ever since.

Rather like the Mares Volo Power fins I reviewed previously, and which I bought around the same time, the Legend subsequently accumulated around 2,000 dives, but unlike the fins, I bought the regulator set second-hand from a colleague who had been working as a guide in the Red Sea for some years. The overall dive tally is at least twice that, and, since this is a 2002 model of regulator, probably much higher.

The Legend is a regulator that definitely fits into the category of ‘all-purpose’, in that it can used in all environments and at all depths. With 2 HP and 4 LP ports, the overbalanced diaphragm first stage is as perfect for deep technical diving as it is for standard recreational diving – cold, fresh water or extra-salty tropical seas, the diaphragm will not let you down.

Overbalancing means that as you get deeper, the intermediate pressure automatically adjusts to deliver air at a continuous rate to the diver. With a personal deepest dive of 45m using these regulators I cannot testify to their breathing characteristics down at 100m, but I do not recall them exhibiting anything less than the easiest delivery of air possible at all times. I once deliberately (in a controlled environment in 5m of water) ran a tank to empty in order to test the principles of a genuine, out-of-air controlled emergency swimming ascent, and the Legend delivered a smooth flow of air until the very last few breaths.

Servicing is fiddly only because there are more small parts than a typical unbalanced piston design. Note that I never recommend regulator servicing without some form of training but since that was effectively unavoidable in my line of work at the time, it was no more difficult than even the most basic equipment. Slightly easier, in fact, as the task could be accomplished with a standard toolkit, rather than having to invest in expensive proprietary tools. It does require a little more precision when balancing the regulator after re-assembly, but nothing that can’t be accomplished with an inexpensive intermediate pressure gauge and a full tank.

I have the DIN version and the Auto-close device (ACD) is a nice little feature, in that the connector is spring-loaded and therefore the inlet valve is automatically closed as the regulator is unscrewed from the tank. This was ‘sold’ to me as a feature meaning I could change regulators at depth, something I had absolutely no intention of doing, but more practically speaking for divers, it does prevent water from entering the first stage should it get dunked without the dust cap.

After I did exactly that, one keen customer implied that I was setting a poor example and I should pay the €25 fine for washing my regulator without its dust cap. When I explained and demonstrated the ACD he just asked ‘why don’t all regulators have this?’ A very reasonable question.

The pneumatically balanced second stages – in which intermediate pressure is routed through the regulator valve to act against the spring and therefore make breathing lighter – are compact, robust and easy to use. The basic Legend doesn’t have the air-flow resistance adjustment knob present on the LX version, just a Venturi switch which rotates around the barrel of the regulator inside the housing, rather than a plastic barrier that drops in front of the mouthpiece. It seems more robust than the latter design. The diaphragm is held in place by a plastic washer and sealed in place with a threaded retaining ring, with the rubber purge cover held in place by a second exterior retainer. If the front piece should for some reason become dislodged underwater (which, through carelessness, mine once did), the regulator will continue to function with the diaphragm held securely in place.

Everything about this regulator says solid, robust engineering, and if it has one minor downside, it is the overall weight. The first stage, two seconds plus standard rubber hoses and (in my case) an SPG weighs in at just under 2.5kg. Clearly this is not the end of the world, and is only moderately inconvenient in that I always carry my regulators in cabin baggage rather than checked, but remember that this is a 15 year old model, and the newer versions shave around 1kg from the overall weight.

Aqua Lung is the brand created by Jacques Cousteau and Émile Gagnan, inventors of the open circuit scuba diving regulator as we know it. They would not be disappointed by the Legend.

Aqua Lung Websitewww.aqualung.com

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