Reviewed by our experts:

The Best Scuba Regulators For Every Budget 2019

Z

Our experts at work

We gave our two scuba regulator geeks one job:
Test 20 different Scuba Regulators and write reviews of the best.

The result is 11 of the best Scuba Regulators on the marked today.

Torben Lonne

Scuba Regulator geek and editor Torben is a dive nut, with a passion for dive gear and especially Scuba Regulators.

Thomas Grøndfeldt

Dive instructor & Author

Thomas is a dive geek. Loves the geer, tech and guides.

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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 2019’s 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.

 

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Best Budget Scuba Regulators

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Best Mid-Range Scuba Regulators

You're diving alot and you want a scuba regulator that meets your needs. Here's the best mid-range scuba regulators.

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Best High-End Scuba Regulators

Best high-end scuba regulator needs to be durable, realiable and easy to read. Here's the best choices in the tech scuba regulator selections:

Best Budget Scuba Regulators

Budget doesn’t necessarily mean bad. In fact, the regulators on this list are all quality choices ideal for temperate to warm water recreational diving. These regs are perfect for beginner divers and those who are building their experience levels.

All are well-known, made by trusted brands, and adhere to strict safety guidelines.

Aqua Lung Calypso Classic

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.

We've done all the work for you and found the best prices on the Aqua Lung Calypso Classic:
Our recommendations:
  • Amazon with worldwide shipping
Specs & Features:
  • Valve: Din
  • First stage: Unbalanced
  • Max pressure: 232 bar
  • HP ports: One
  • LP ports: Four
  • Venturi switch
  • Cracking/Flow adjustment knob
  • Environmentally sealed? No.
  • 40% EANx safe? Yes
What we like:
  • Marine brass construction on the first stage is of excellent quality.
  • Breathes like a regulator worth far more.
  • Lightweight.
  • The new updated design is sleeker than previous Calypso versions.
  • Easy servicing.
  • Free parts for life.
What we don't like:
  • Unbalanced.

Oceanic Alpha 10 with sPX First Stage

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.

We've done all the work for you and found the best prices on the Oceanic Alpha 10 with sPX First Stage:
Our recommendations:
  • Amazon with worldwide shipping
Specs & Features:
  • Valve: Din
  • First stage: Unbalanced
  • HP ports: Two
  • LP ports: Four
  • Cracking/flow adjustment knob.
  • Environmentally sealed? No.
  • 40% EANx safe? Yes.
What we like:
  • Pneumatically balanced second stage.
  • Angled ports for optimal hose configuration.
  • Big and sturdy purge button on the second stage.
  • Lifetime warranty and free parts for life
What we don't like:
  • Some divers have reported that the second stage is liable to break if not handled carefully.

Mares Rover 2S

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.

We've done all the work for you and found the best prices on the Mares Rover 2S:
Our recommendations:
  • Amazon with worldwide shipping
Specs & Features:
  • Valve: A-clamp
  • First stage: Unbalanced
  • HP ports: One
  • LP ports: Four
  • Cracking/flow adjustment knob.
  • Environmentally sealed? No.
  • 40% EANx safe? Yes.
What we like:
  • Breath quality is excellent for the price.
  • Lightweight at just over one kilogram.
  • Durable and can take heavy use.
  • Limited lifetime warranty.
What we don't like:
  • Unbalanced.
  • A small amount of water may enter the reg when divers go upside down or sideways.

Cressi AC2/XS2

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.

We've done all the work for you and found the best prices on the Cressi AC2/XS2:
Our recommendations:
  • Amazon with worldwide shipping
Specs & Features:
  • Valve: A-clamp
  • First stage: Unbalanced
  • Max pressure: 230 bar.
  • HP ports: One
  • LP ports: Four
  • Cracking/flow adjustment? Yes.
  • Environmentally sealed? No.
  • 40% EANx safe: Yes
What we like:
  • This reg is a workhorse that just keeps going.
  • Durable and can take heavy use.
  • The lightweight second stage is ideal for divers who don’t like a heavy reg in their mouth.
What we don't like:
  • Unbalanced.
  • The purge button is quite small in comparison to comparable products.

Best Mid-Range Scuba Regulators

Moving away from the budget options you can expect a few more features from your regulator, and the following sets don’t disappoint.

Aqua Lung Mikron

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.

We've done all the work for you and found the best prices on the Aqua Lung Mikron:
Our recommendations:
  • Amazon with worldwide shipping
Specs & Features:
  • Valve: A-clamp
  • First stage: Balanced
  • Max pressure: 230 bar (300 in DIN)
  • HP ports: Two
  • LP ports: Four
  • Cracking/flow adjustment knob
  • Venturi switch
  • Environmentally sealed? Yes.
  • 40% EANx safe? Yes.
What we like:
  • Uber lightweight.
  • Balanced and environmentally sealed.
  • Chrome finish looks good for years.
  • The mouthpiece is exceptionally comfortable.
What we don't like:
  • Unless you have a very narrow face, expect some bubble interference. The small size means this is unavoidable.

Apeks XTX40

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.

We've done all the work for you and found the best prices on the Apeks XTX40:
Our recommendations:
  • Amazon with worldwide shipping
Specs & Features:
  • Valve: A-clamp
  • First stage: Balanced
  • HP ports: Two
  • LP ports: Four (with the option for a fifth)
  • Cracking/flow adjustment knob
  • Venturi switch
  • Left to right-hand conversion possible.
  • Environmentally sealed? Yes.
  • 40% EANx safe? Yes.
What we like:
  • Good for cold water diving
  • Balanced and environmentally sealed.
  • Braided flexihose comes as standard.
  • Exceptional breathability for the price.
  • Suitable for mixed gas diving and 100% O2 after being O2 cleaned.
What we don't like:
  • There’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.

ScubaPro MK25 Evo

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.
We've done all the work for you and found the best prices on the ScubaPro MK25 Evo:
Our recommendations:
  • Amazon with worldwide shipping
Specs & Features:
  • Valve: A-clamp
  • First stage: Balanced
  • HP ports: Two
  • LP ports: Five
  • Cracking/flow adjustment knob
  • Venturi switch
  • Environmentally sealed? Yes and no. Not in the traditional sense but ScubaPro have added their own special coating.
  • 40% EANx safe? Yes.
What we like:
  • Balanced and environmentally sealed.
  • Super fast breathing response.
  • Fun design with interchangeable colored purge shields.
  • Swiveling first stage for easy configuration.
What we don't like:
  • More expensive than other regulators which offer the same performance and features.
  • Not environmentally sealed in the same way as comparably priced regs are.

Atomic Aquatics Z2

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.

We've done all the work for you and found the best prices on the Atomic Aquatics Z2:
Our recommendations:
  • Amazon with worldwide shipping
Specs & Features:
  • Valve: DIN
  • First stage: Balanced
  • HP ports: Two
  • LP ports: Five to seven.
  • Cracking/flow adjustment knob
  • Automatic venturi control.
  • Environmentally sealed? Optional.
  • 40% EANx safe? Yes.
What we like:
  • Breathes better than regs with a much higher price point.
  • Sleek and slick design with doesn’t compromise functionality.
  • Customizable upon order.
  • Durable and can take a few hard knocks.
What we don't like:
  • The included hose is quite stiff but this is really the only thing letting this reg down.

Best High-End Scuba Regulators

If you’re shopping for one of these bad boys you’ve probably got some specific needs or are moving away from recreational diving and need a tec-ready reg that can get the job done. Alternatively, you just fancy having the best reg on the dive boat and all the gloating rights that come along with that!

Either way, our three choices for the best high-end regulator are sure to get you there.

A note here on first stages, if you’re planning cave excursions or penetration dives in tight spaces, DIN should be your preferred set-up because of the lower profile.

Hollis 200LX DCX

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.

We've done all the work for you and found the best prices on the Hollis 200LX DCX:
Our recommendations:
  • Amazon with worldwide shipping
Specs & Features:
  • Valve: DIN
  • First stage: Balanced
  • HP ports: Two
  • LP ports: Six
  • Well-angled ports allow for multiple configurations.
  • Cracking/flow adjustment knob
  • Venturi control.
  • Reversible demand valve for left to right configuration.
  • CE certified for cold water diving.
  • Environmentally sealed? Yes.
  • 40% EANx safe? Yes.
What we like:
  • Incomparable gas delivery despite tough conditions.
  • Lightweight polycarbonate design.
  • Incredibly durable.
  • Sidemount compatible.
  • Super flexible yet lightweight hose.
  • Difficult to make this reg freeflow on the surface, even when you really try.
  • Exhaust system keeps your face clear of bubbles.
  • Suitable for other gasses once serviced and cleaned for specific gas uses.
  • Great value for money.
What we don't like:
  • Slightly heavier than Hollis’ now discontinued 212, but this is a very minor niggle.

Poseidon Xstream Black

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.

We've done all the work for you and found the best prices on the Poseidon Xstream Black :
Our recommendations:
  • Amazon with worldwide shipping
Specs & Features:
  • Valve: DIN
  • First stage: Balanced
  • HP ports: Two
  • LP ports: Five
  • Well-angled ports allow for multiple configurations.
  • Reversible demand valve for left to right configuration.
  • Trimix, O2, and air ready.
  • 100% O2 ready.
  • 95% Helium ready.
  • 200m Norsok Approved.
  • CE certified for cold water diving.
  • Environmentally sealed? Yes.
  • 40% EANx safe? Yes.
What we like:
  • You couldn’t freeflow it if you tried.
  • Can handle any depth or condition you’re likely to throw at it.
  • Extremely freeze resistant and can be used under ice.
  • Sidemount compatible.
  • Super flexible hose.
  • High performance.
  • Very smooth gas transfer from the first to second stage.
  • The second stage can be used on the left or the right.
  • Long, flexible hose.
  • Air assist feature eliminates the need for a cracking knob or a venturi switch.
  • Lifetime warranty.
What we don't like:
  • This is not a lightweight regulator, the first stage weighs nearly two kilograms alone.
  • You might have to sell your car!

Apeks MTX-R

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 (12.7 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s so sturdy that you’d have a hard time breaking this tough and rugged regulator even if you tried.

We've done all the work for you and found the best prices on the Apeks MTX-R :
Our recommendations:
  • Amazon with worldwide shipping
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
  • Well-angled ports allow for multiple configurations.
  • Reversible demand valve for left to right configuration.
  • Environmentally sealed? Yes.
  • 40% EANx safe? Yes.
What we like:
  • Sidemount compatible.
  • Low profile design even in A-clamp configuration.
  • Flexible hose.
  • A high-performance regulator which is suitable for tec, rec, and ice diving.
  • Breathes as only an Apeks can.
  • Doesn’t need for a cracking knob or a venturi switch.
  • Uber durable.
  • Lifetime warranty and free parts for life.
What we don't like:
  • Is not Trimix ready, must be manufacturer cleaned before mixed gasses (excluding 40% EANx) are used.

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 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 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?

Absolutely, you need 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 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 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.

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 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 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 2019’s best scuba regulators.

Did we miss your favorite?

If so, drop us a comment below and let us know what you love about your regulator.

And if you have any regulator specific questions, we’d be happy to answer them below.

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1 Comment

  1. makt

    Can I simply just say what a comfort to find somebody that actually understands what they are talking about. Great guide!

    Reply

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