Choosing a regulator is an important part of buying your own scuba gear
Regulators, or regs for short, are quite literally the lifeline of scuba divers.
They connect us to our air tanks, allowing us to breathe the gas stored in them.
So picking the right scuba regulator, and setting it up the right way for you is an important part of buying your own gear.
What not to consider
First and foremost, you typically don’t need to consider the safety of the reg.
Almost all regulators for diving sold today, and definitely the ones from all major brands, live up to very rigorous demands on safety and performance.
So don’t be swayed to thinking that the more expensive a reg is, the safer it is, because for most types of diving, all regs are safe to use.
Learn more about Safety And Actual Safety in diving.
Should Regulators be Made for Cold Water
If you’re only dive in tropical waters, you don’t have to worry much about water temperature when picking a reg. If you dive in cooler water, maybe even cold water, it does become something you need to consider.
The movement of air under high pressure through the regulator cools the material considerably, and if the water around the reg is cold the reg might start freeflowing. And it doesn’t even have to be freezing, diving in waters at 10°C (50°F) or lower is cold enough to cause problems.
So if you do dive in cooler waters from time to time, make sure your reg of choice is constructed and tested to perform in cold water.
Good news is that more and more regulators are made for cold water use, and the price difference is considerably smaller than it was only a few years ago.
Mounting a Dive Regulator
Depending on where you live, you will typically have two choices of mounts, that is, the way you attach the regulator to your tank.
The classic Yoke is the most common one, and in particular in North America, it is the dominant one, which mounts over and around the tank valve.
The other option is the DIN (Deutsche Industri Norm), which is screwed directly into the valve itself.
The advantage of the Yoke is its ubiquitousness. It is still by far the most widely used mount, and is the one you probably used during your scuba class.
The DIN has a number of advantages over the Yoke, though, as it is more streamlined, reducing risks of entanglement, and has a more solid mount to the tank.
It is a point of debate whether they are as such safer than Yokes, but many divers, including tech divers, prefer the DIN over the Yoke.
Most tanks can accept both types, but in a number of countries, including North America and the Caribbean, you might find tanks that exclusively accept the Yoke.
However, you can purchase an adapter if need be.
Before buying a new scuba regulator, ideally try it out first.
If you know someone who uses the reg you’re considering, go for a dive with it. Or, if this isn’t a option, ask the shop if they have a demo model. And pick a primary second stage that has an airflow that you like.
Again, all regs will supply you with enough air to survive, but some divers prefer a reg that supplies the air more readily, even aggressively, than others.
For the backup second stage (or octopus), chose one that has a considerably higher breathing resistance, though, to prevent it from freeflowing on dives.
Ideally, pick a regulator that has adjustable airflow, meaning you can set them as you like. First introduced by Aqualung, more and more producers are making this feature part of their regs.
Don’t just pick the reg you want in the shop form. Consider the setup.
The standard setup for recreational diving is to have the octopus and the primary second stage on hoses of roughly the same length, and to have the octopus stored somewhere on the torso.
But perhaps you want a slightly shorter hose of the primary to make your profile more streamlined. Or perhaps you want a slightly longer hose on the octopus, to make donation situations easier.
Here is our article that explains more about what divers call the octopus.
You could also consider the tech setup, where you have a long hose of the primary, and in a out-of-gas situation that’s the one donate, and a much shorter hose on the octopus, which is then stored in a bungee around the neck.
Take some time to get the setup that works for you, rather than the factory setup.
If you have any questions about a new regulator, feel free to leave them in the comments below!