14 Best Scuba Regulators in 2022 | Complete Buyer’s Guide

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A diver’s regulator is their best underwater friend—besides their buddy, of course! Without our regs, we’d be limited to the surface and breath-hold dives. Regulators are what allow us to breathe from high-pressure, compressed air at depth.

To do this, regulators take the high pressure from the tank and then regulate it so that we can breathe gas at ambient pressure–the water pressure we are surrounded by at any given time on the dive.

Most scuba regulators are sold slightly differently to what you may have encountered with rental equipment. Instead of buying a complete set in one go, the first stage and the primary second stage are sold together. You then purchase the alternative second stage (or octopus) and any gauges separately.

Here, we’ll be going over the best scuba regulators. We’ll cover budget, mid-range, and high-end options. All the regulators on this list are tried and tested by divers around the world and are popular options for a reason.

Before we get stuck in though, let’s first examine what you should be looking for in a scuba regulator.

The Top 7 Scuba Regulators in 2022

All Scuba Regulators We've tested

Sort by your needs:

Best Overall

apeks-mtx-r-featured
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The second Apeks on our list and this one is chock full of the kind of features that you didn’t even know you needed. It offers superb breathability under all conditions and like the Poseidon above, has been precision engineered for cold-water diving. In fact, it’s based on the MTX military design and meets all the requirements of the Navy Experimental Dive Unit (NEDU).

The temperature range is down to 0.5 degrees Celcius (32.7 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s so sturdy that you’d have a hard time breaking this tough and rugged regulator even if you tried.

Specs & Features

  • Valve: A-clamp but also available in DIN.
  • First stage: Balanced
  • Max working pressure: 232 bar (300 DIN)
  • HP ports: Two
  • LP ports: Five

Our Overall Review

4.8

Reasons to buy:

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    Sidemount compatible.
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    Low profile design even in A-clamp configuration.
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    Flexible hose.
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    A high-performance regulator which is suitable for tec, rec, and ice diving.
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    Breathes as only an Apeks can.

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markIs not Trimix ready, must be manufacturer cleaned before mixed gasses (excluding 40% EANx) are used.
Read full review

Where to buy:

apeks-mtx-r.jpg

Apeks MTX-R

Best High-End

hollis-200lx-dcx-featured
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This is Hollis’ flagship regulator. It’s been designed to endure any strenuous water condition that you could enter. The outer casing is built to last and is PVD coated meaning it’s not going to show any signs of wear or tear even after several years of use.

Hollis is so confident in this reg that they include free parts for life and a lifetime warranty.

Specs & Features

  • Valve: DIN
  • First stage: Balanced
  • HP ports: Two
  • LP ports: Six
  • Well-angled ports allow for multiple configurations.

Our Overall Review

4.7

Reasons to buy:

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    Incomparable gas delivery despite tough conditions.
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    Lightweight polycarbonate design.
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    Incredibly durable.
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    Sidemount compatible.
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    Super flexible yet lightweight hose.

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markSlightly heavier than Hollis’ now discontinued 212, but this is a very minor niggle.
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Hollis 200LX DCX

aqua-lung-calypso-classic-featured
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This classic reg from Aqualung is loved by dive centers the world over because it is super durable, reliable, easy to maintain, and performs very well for the price. Our selection is DIN but you can also find this reg in A-clamp here.

Specs & Features

  • Valve: Din
  • First stage: Unbalanced
  • Max pressure: 232 bar
  • HP ports: One
  • LP ports: Four

Our Overall Review

4.6

Reasons to buy:

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    Marine brass construction on the first stage is of excellent quality.
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    Breathes like a regulator worth far more.
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    Lightweight.
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    The new updated design is sleeker than previous Calypso versions.
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    Easy servicing.

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markUnbalanced.
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Aqua Lung Calypso Classic

Best Mid-Range

scubapro-mk25-evo-featured
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Another top-selling reg that has stood the test of time, the ScubaPro MK25 Evo is often found on dive instructors’ gear because they know how reliable it is.

It’s also suitable for a range of diving activities and is just as at home in cold water as it is warm.

Specs & Features

  • Valve: A-clamp
  • First stage: Balanced
  • HP ports: Two
  • LP ports: Five
  • Cracking/flow adjustment knob

Our Overall Review

4.5

Reasons to buy:

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    Balanced and environmentally sealed.
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    Super fast breathing response.
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    Fun design with interchangeable colored purge shields.
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    Swiveling first stage for easy configuration.

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markMore expensive than other regulators which offer the same performance and features.
  • check-markNot environmentally sealed in the same way as comparably priced regs are.
Read full review

Where to buy:

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ScubaPro MK25 Evo

Really Durable

oceanic-alpha-10-featured
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Simple, sleek, and made from high-grade marine chrome, this reg from Oceanic will last for years to come. It weighs just under a kilogram (2.5 pounds) and will not take up valuable weight allowance when you’re traveling.

Specs & Features

  • Valve: Din
  • First stage: Unbalanced
  • Max pressure: 232 bar
  • HP ports: One
  • LP ports: Four

Our Overall Review

4.5

Reasons to buy:

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    Marine brass construction on the first stage is of excellent quality.
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    Breathes like a regulator worth far more.
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    Lightweight.
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    The new updated design is sleeker than previous Calypso versions.
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    Easy servicing.

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markUnbalanced
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Oceanic Alpha 10

Comfortable

mares-rover-2s-featured
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Another dive shop favorite, the Mares rover is popular for good reason. It’s reliable, hard-working, breathes well, and can take a few hard knocks.

Mares’ very own Fluid Dynamic Deflector system and VAD (vortex assist design) mean an effortless breath quality more similar to a balanced regular than an entry-level unbalanced reg. The unique system also means that this reg is sensitive to air demand.

Specs & Features

  • Valve: A-clamp
  • First stage: Unbalanced
  • HP ports: One
  • LP ports: Four
  • Cracking/flow adjustment knob.

Our Overall Review

4.4

Reasons to buy:

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    Breath quality is excellent for the price.
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    Lightweight at just over one kilogram.
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    Durable and can take heavy use.
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    Limited lifetime warranty.

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markUnbalanced.
  • check-markA small amount of water may enter the reg when divers go upside down or sideways.
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Mares Rover 2S

Great for New Divers

cressi-ac2xs2-featured
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You can’t really go wrong with this AC2 first stage and XS2 second stage. Both are made of the kind of high-quality materials we’d expect from Cressi and are durable. Most of Cressi’s scuba gear has a reputation for dependability and these regulators are no different.

This reg is simple to use and simple to maintain, and because it isn’t jam-packed with the kinds of bells and whistles entry-level divers don’t need, maintenance costs are generally low.

Specs & Features

  • Valve: A-clamp
  • First stage: Unbalanced
  • Max pressure: 230 bar.
  • HP ports: One
  • LP ports: Four

Our Overall Review

4.3

Reasons to buy:

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    This reg is a workhorse that just keeps going.
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    Durable and can take heavy use.
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    The lightweight second stage is ideal for divers who don’t like a heavy reg in their mouth.

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markUnbalanced.
  • check-markThe purge button is quite small in comparison to comparable products.
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Cressi AC2/XS2

aqua-lung-mikron-featured
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This regulator has been specifically designed to be ultra lightweight without compromising on quality or breathability. If you’re the type of diver who’s always boarding a plane, you won’t be weighed down by this bit of kit.

This is an A-clamp reg but it’s also available in DIN here.

Specs & Features

  • Valve: A-clamp
  • First stage: Balanced
  • Max pressure: 230 bar (300 in DIN)
  • HP ports: Two
  • LP ports: Four

Our Overall Review

4.3

Reasons to buy:

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    Uber lightweight.
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    Balanced and environmentally sealed.
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    Chrome finish looks good for years.
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    The mouthpiece is exceptionally comfortable.

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markUnless you have a very narrow face, expect some bubble interference. The small size means this is unavoidable.
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Aqua Lung Mikron

apeks-xtx40-featured
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It wouldn’t be a list of the best regulators without an Apeks or two (or three). The XTX40 is one of the company’s affordable models. Despite the very tempting price point, it’s more often viewed as a high-end product.

Loved by techies for their reliable deco reg performance and by recreational divers alike, the XTX40 offers a lot of bang for your buck.

Specs & Features

  • Valve: A-clamp
  • First stage: Balanced
  • HP ports: Two
  • LP ports: Four (with the option for a fifth)
  • Cracking/flow adjustment knob

Our Overall Review

4.2

Reasons to buy:

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    Good for cold water diving
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    Balanced and environmentally sealed.
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    Braided flexihose comes as standard.
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    Exceptional breathability for the price.
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    Suitable for mixed gas diving and 100% O2 after being O2 cleaned.

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markThere’s really not a lot to criticize here but if we’re really being tough we could point to the o-ring in the swiveling first stage. Because of the design, after a few years, you may see some tiny bubbles escaping from the join point.
Read full review

Where to buy:

apeks-xtx40.jpg

Apeks XTX40

atomic-aquatics-z2-featured
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Atomic Aquatics may not as familiar as some of the other brands we’ve featured here, but they’ve been making a splash in the dive gear market since the 90s. The ‘Z’ in the product name stands for Zirconium which the company uses as plating over the first stage’s chrome and brass bases.

Although the Z2 is among the most affordable of Atomic’s regs, it still offers the same performance and exceptional breathability of their more expensive regulators.

Specs & Features

  • Valve: DIN
  • First stage: Balanced
  • HP ports: Two
  • LP ports: Five to seven.
  • Cracking/flow adjustment knob

Our Overall Review

4.2

Reasons to buy:

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    Breathes better than regs with a much higher price point.
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    Sleek and slick design with doesn’t compromise functionality.
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    Customizable upon order.
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    Durable and can take a few hard knocks.

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markThe included hose is quite stiff but this is really the only thing letting this reg down.
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Atomic Aquatics Z2

Cressi Ac25 Master Cromo Regulator Worn
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Cressi needs no introduction when it comes to scuba equipment. Since releasing the Polaris 4 regulator in the mid-1960, Cressi has continued to innovate and raise the standards of durability and performance in this category.

The AC25 is the next generation of the company’s popular IP adjustable balanced piston first stage. By combining this with the Master Cromo second stage, Cressi has provided divers with a regulator that performs well in any underwater environment.

Already know the Cressi AC25 Master Cromo is for you? If so, click on the link below for the latest prices and all the details.

Specs & Features

  • First Stage: adjustable balanced piston
  • Ports: 2 HP and 5 LP
  • 360-degree swivel turret
  • Second stage: pneumatically balanced
  • Adjustable: breathing effort and dive/pre-dive venturi switch

Our Overall Review

4.1

Reasons to buy:

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    Small, stylish second stage
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    Lightweight
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    Smooth breathing at all depths
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    Extra quiet when exhaling
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    Durable and reliable

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markBreathing adjustment knob can be stiff
  • check-markSome customers caught their fingertips between the soft diaphragm cover and the front plate when purging
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Cressi AC25 Master Cromo Regulator

poseidon-stream-black-featured
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Poseidon wasn’t messing around when they designed this regulator. Designed for challenging conditions and even more challenging dives, the Xstream is certified for deep water use up to 200 meters / 656 feet.

This reg is also the only one on the list endorsed by US Navy divers as suitable for Antarctic waters and conditions.

Every other regulator on this list features a downstream demand valve second stage which is the most common design. The Poseidon Xstream, however, has an upstream design.

What Does This Mean?

Regulators feature either a downstream or an upstream demand valve second stage. With a downstream valve, the valve opens with the direction of the gas flow and is closed with a small spring.

But in an upstream design, the valve must open against the gas flow, that is, in the opposite direction. The benefit of this system is that upstream valves are much more resistant to freeflow and unlikely to suffer from issues caused by wear and tear.

When a first stage fails and pushes too much gas pressure to a second stage, a downstream valve is forced into an open position. As you might remember from your initial training, this results in a free-flowing regulator and very rapid loss of air.

In an upstream reg, the same situation results in the valved being forced closed. This effectively stops the freeflow, but it also means that the build-up of pressure may lead to another failure. To counteract this, upstream regs must feature an OPV (over-pressure relief valve) in their designs. This then allows the user to continue breathing from the reg with a minimized gas loss.

Specs & Features

  • Valve: DIN
  • First stage: Balanced
  • HP ports: Two
  • LP ports: Five
  • Well-angled ports allow for multiple configurations.

Our Overall Review

4

Reasons to buy:

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    You couldn’t freeflow it if you tried.
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    Can handle any depth or condition you’re likely to throw at it.
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    Extremely freeze resistant and can be used under ice.
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    Sidemount compatible.
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    Super flexible hose.

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markThis is not a lightweight regulator, the first stage weighs nearly two kilograms alone.
  • check-markYou might have to sell your car!
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Poseidon Xstream Black

Featured

Zeagle Regulator 2
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Read full review

Zeagle is a brand most divers would associate with top-quality, hardwearing BCDs. And this same quality is readily apparent in Zeagle regulators. Rated highly in scuba gear reviews, Zeagle’s regs have earned a reputation for toughness, reliability, and value for money.

For the F8, Zeagle partnered with Atomic Aquatics, a brand renowned for the radical innovations it brought to the dive industry over the years. Together, these companies have engineered 20 improvements on the Zeagle Flathead regulator series, including changes to the inner mechanisms, materials, and exterior controls. The result is a reg that works harder, breathes better, and lasts longer.

Already know the Zeagle F8 is for you? If so, click on the link below for the latest prices and all the details.

Specs & Features

  • First stage: Balanced diaphragm
  • Environmentally sealed
  • Ports: Five LP and two HP
  • Nitrox compatible: Up to 40% O2
  • Second stage: Pneumatically balanced downstream demand valve

Our Overall Review

4.8

Reasons to buy:

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    Smooth breathing even after 1,000+ hours of use
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    Very durable and reliable
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    Great value for money
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    Comparable to regulators at a higher price point
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    Performs well in cold and warm waters

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markThe whole unit is slightly heavier than many regs on the market. However, this is not a problem underwater

Related Reviews

What to look for when buying a Scuba Regulator

We all have different needs when it comes to buying a scuba regulator. Where you’ll be diving, if you’ll be traveling a lot, and the type of diving you’ll do will all impact on your purchase decision.

Here are a few of the factors you need to consider:

DIN or A-Clamp?

If you’re primarily diving in places where the tanks are set up for A-Clamp regs, then an A-Clamp scuba regulator is best. If, however, you encounter more DIN valve tanks, go for a DIN regulator.

Not sure of the difference? It’s pretty simple, just remember that “DIN screws in”. Meaning that a DIN valve regulator screws into a threaded opening on a tank. An A-clamp (or international) reg, on the other hand, sits over the tank’s opening valve.

A DIN reg has an O-ring inside the scuba regulator itself, this is visible when you remove the dust cap. Then, when you screw the reg into the tank, the O-ring is snugly inside. On an A-clamp set-up, the O-ring is part of the tank.

Of note here is that A-clamp tanks are more common. Proponents of DIN argue that because the O-ring is placed in a less superficial position, there is an added level of safety. For this reason, DIN is becoming increasingly popular and more and more dive shops offer both DIN and A-clamp tanks.

*A note on terminology here. A-clamps are also called yoke, INT, and international. These terms are interchangeable.

Can I Use a DIN Reg on an A-Clamp Tank?

You certainly can. You’ll just need a converter. Look for one that is solidly made from durable materials and looks like it can take a few knocks. For DIN divers, a converter is an essential bit of kit that should never leave your dive bag when you’re on a scuba holiday.

We like this converter from manufacturer, Beaver.

Can I Use an A-Clamp Reg on a DIN Tank?

Yes, but you need to do know what you’re doing, as there’s a safety issue here. A DIN-tank is rated to 300 bar and an A-clamp-tank is rated to 232 bar. If you fill a DIN tank to 300 bar and use a it with a A clamp reg on it, you could end up in a world of hurt or worse!

So, if you do this, make sure the pressure of the tank does not exceed 232 bar, before you add the A-clamp on the tank.

Once done, all you need is an insert and an alan key. Any dive center worth its salt (water) will have these readily available. But it’s never a bad idea to have a few extra with you just in case. You can pick them up here.

Pro Tip: Use your old mask box to store your inserts, alan keys, dive tool, spare fin straps, and all those bits and pieces the well-equipped diver never leaves the shore without.

Cold Water or Warm Water Diving?

If you’re going diving in places like Silfra or in waters that are significantly colder than 14 degrees Celsius / 57 degrees Fahrenheit, you need a scuba regulator that’s fit for purpose. Make sure that it is environmentally sealed.

This is a level of protection that ensures the first stage will not freeze up because no contact is made between the surrounding water and the internal parts.

A metal second stage is also recommended for cold water diving because metal has more thermal conductivity than plastic.

Any scuba regulator is fine for use in warm water.

Ease of Breathing

This one is a no-brainer, your reg needs to be easy to breathe from without undue resistance. Because you can’t always test out a regulator before you buy it, go for trusted brands. Check scuba forums for advice and reviews and follow the information you find in trusted publications, such as this one.

Recently, there has been a spate of cheap Chinese-made regulators making their way into divers’ mouths. Are these unknown brands tested and meet stringent safety standards? Our advice here is to stay clear. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Scuba Regulator Weight

If you’re traveling for diving a lot, you’ll want a reg that doesn’t take up a lot of your sports bag’s allowance. Look for regs that have been specifically designed for this purpose.

Now that we’ve looked at the things you’ll need to factor into your purchase, let’s dive in (pun intended) to the regulators themselves.

Balanced or Unbalanced?

We’re talking about the way a scuba regulator manages gas here, not your (or your buddy’s) state of mind!

A balanced regulator neither assists nor resists the flow of air, it breathes the same under all conditions. This matters when it comes to external conditions including the amount of gas remaining in a tank. At lower tank pressures, an unbalanced regulator may exhibit increased resistance.

Balanced scuba regulators are also better suited to dives deeper than 40 meters / 130 feet. So if you’re planning a tec diving excursion or a foray into the dark side, go for balanced regs.

What Gasses Will I Be Using?

Most regulators are safe to use with EANx (enriched air nitrox) up to 40 percent. This is the mixture which EANx certified divers are licensed to use as well.

For deco dives and Trimix diving, you should consider the regulator’s compatibility with gasses including higher percentage oxygen (commonly used for accelerated decompression) and helium.

Number of Ports

The first stage should have a minimum of three low-pressure ports (sometimes marked as MP or medium pressure) for recreational diving. One for the primary second stage, one for the alternate, and one for the inflator hose. If you dive with a dry suit, you will need an additional port so you can add air to your suit from the tank.

There will also be a high-pressure port (marked HP) for the SGP/Console. Contrary to the belief of some, you still need an SPG when diving with a transmitter and air-integrated computer.

Purchasing a Scuba Regulator for a child?

If so, you need to look for a reg with slightly shorter hoses and a mouthpiece that will fit comfortably in smaller mouths. Our top pick for a children’s scuba regulator is the Scubapro MK2 Evo. This trustworthy reg comes in both DIN and A-Clamp versions and includes an R095 second stage.

That concludes our list of the best scuba regulators.

FAQ

Frequently asked questions

What is the best scuba regulator?

All divers have their own individual preferences, but some regulators have stood the test of time. Here are a few of our favorite scuba regulators on the market:

  • Oceanic Delta 5
  • Aqua Lung Calypso
  • Apeks XTX 40
  • ScubaPro MK 25 Evo
  • Hollis 200LX DCX
  • Atomic Aquatics Z2
  • Aqua Lung Mikron

To know more about what Regulator will work best for your needs, check out our Buyers guide here.

How much is a scuba regulator?

Scuba regulators are essential pieces of precision equipment, so they do come with a hefty price tag compared to other bits of kit. You should expect to pay between US$250 to $1200 and even more.

To learn more about regulators and the differences in price brackets, check out our extensive guide here.

What does a scuba regulator do?

A scuba regulator regulates the flow of air. It takes the high pressure, compressed air in your scuba tank and delivers it to you at ambient (or surrounding) pressure so that you can breathe safely underwater.

If you’re interested in knowing more, you should consider getting a Scuba Certification, and start out diving.

What is the most important feature of a scuba regulator?

The most important feature of a scuba regulator is how easy it is to breathe from. After all, color and style matter very little compared to how well a regulator breathes!

To build it down, this is what you should consider:

  • Ease of Breathing
  • Should the first stage have Din or York(A-clamp)
  • Weigh of the Regulator
  • Warm or Coldwater
  • How many ports will you be needing
  • What gas will you be using?

We cover all these points in-depth in and other important buying considerations in our guide to buying a scuba regulator.

Related Reviews

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