Best Scuba Regulators

In any sport or recreational activity you ever partake in, there are going to be convenient and optional equipment you could get and then there are going to be 100 percent mandatory equipment. Scuba regulators absolutely fall within the latter category as they are literally your lifeblood when you are diving. At their core, they provide you with the necessary air you need to breathe while you are underwater. Because of this, this is not a piece of equipment you should cheap out on as it could be a matter of life and death. Hence, this is why there are so many fantastic and elite models available today. Perhaps unlike any other piece of equipment, you will ever buy, quite frankly.

Zeagle F8
  • Zeagle F8
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Attention to ergonomics
  • Light case design
  • Price: See Here
Atomic T3
  • Atomic T3
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Titanium comfort swivel
  • Lightweight
  • Price: See Here
ScubaPro A700
  • ScubaPro A700
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Corrosion resistant
  • Effortless inhalation
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Scuba Regulators

 

 

Zeagle F8

Every once in a while, you stumble across a product that seemingly has no weaknesses whatsoever. That appears to be the Zeagle F8 Regulator as it manages to make over 20 new improvements over its predecessor.
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Overall Design
While the high-performance balanced design of the first stage ensures years of corrosion free service, the second stage also sports a pneumatically balanced downstream design.

Type of Construction
Not only is this a regulator that is designed with a diaphragm, it is all-black chrome plated with marine-grade brass. This diaphragm design manages to transmit the pressure changes to the internal mechanism.

Cold Water Performance
The first stage is environmentally sealed and what this means is that the internal components will not be exposed to nasty containments such as sand and salt. Plus, this seal makes it ideal for colder waters.

Configuration
Thanks to the integration of five low-pressure 3/8-inch threaded ports and two high-pressure 7/16-inch threaded ports, you have the ability to mount different accessories and gauges.

Seller Options
At the same price point, the F8 Regulator is available in either a Yoke or DIN configuration.

Overall
It really is rare for a product to be basically flawless. While some users could potentially find minor issues with this design, divers and reviewers who have left feedback have had difficulty finding design aspects to gripe about.
Pros
  • Divers love the attention to ergonomics
  • The second stage features a new case design that makes it lighter
  • A new threaded cover ring has been added for enhanced safety
Cons
  • Hard to find very many negatives among reviews and feedback

Atomic Aquatics T3

Are you going to shell out a lot of money for the T3 Regulator? Yes, you are going to but do not forget what was said earlier. If you are looking for a premier regulator with top-end features everywhere, it is tough to imagine a better one than the T3.
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Overall Design
To ensure the breathing resistance is kept to a minimum, Atomic Aquatics implements a balanced valve system for the second stage. Plus, all internal components are designed of titanium to help them resist corrosion.

Type of Construction
As opposed to the previous regulator, instead of a diaphragm, the designer decided to go with a balanced piston design. Utilizing this on the first stage produces ultra-quick response times and smooth breathing.

Cold Water Performance
To make this above and beyond a normal piston regulator design, it has also been environmentally sealed using O2 compatible grease. Outside of keeping containments out, it also improves its performance in colder waters and prevents it from freezing.

Configuration
On the first stage, there are five low-pressure ports and two high-pressure ports that should give you all the configuration options you need. As a side note, Atomic Aquatics does recommend using the 5th low-pressure port on top of the swivel cap.

Seller Options
The regulator documented for you right now is the T3 Titanium Swivel but there is also another option for the T3 DIN if you are interested in that.

Overall
Ladies and gentlemen, if you are an avid diver and possess the funds it can’t be overstated enough how much use you will get out of the T3 Regulator. In a lot of ways, it is simply unmatched and it just does not get a whole lot better.
Pros
  • Equipped with a full titanium comfort swivel for the second stage
  • The first stage uses a Jet Seat balanced piston for high performance
  • Much lighter than its predecessor
Cons
  • Orientation is a bit wonky if you have a wireless transmitter

ScubaPro MK25

When you imagine in your head what a perfect regulator is supposed to look like, a lot of people will depict the image of the MK25/A700 Regulator. To be honest, perhaps the only reason it is not number one on this list is due to the insane market of scuba regulators.
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Overall Design
The A700, which represents the second stage of this regulator, actually sports an air-balanced valve design with an oversized exhaust valve. This actually combines with the sectional exhaust tee quite well.

Type of Construction
Meanwhile, the MK25 represents the first stage and this utilizes a flow-through piston design. What this accomplishes is an effortless airflow; no matter the tank pressure or the depth of the water.

Cold Water Performance
Scubapro upgraded their design to increase the freezing-resistance by 30 percent. Basically, by fully isolating the first stage’s mechanical components from the cold they improve its resistance against freezing.

Configuration
What is nice about the configuration, outside of the two high-pressure ports and five low-pressure ports, is that the low-pressure ports are mounted on a swiveling turret to enhance the comfortability.

Seller Options
There are actually quite a bit of options to choose from and among them, there are versions for both a Yoke and a DIN configuration.

Overall
Among your researching process, this is one of the regulators that is going to pop up time and time again when people discuss the best of the best. Given its impeccable design and plethora of features, this is not much of a surprise.
Pros
  • Adds a Black Tech coating for corrosion-resistance
  • There are five low-pressure ports and two high-pressure ports
  • The first stage purge creates an effortless inhalation
Cons
  • Wearing a big BCD tends to trap the hoses

Sherwood SR2

Sherwood SR2
This is arguably the first scuba regulator on this list with a few noteworthy, yet still quite minor, issues that could come into play. Still, thanks to its pneumatically balanced second stage and sealed dry spring chamber, it is amongst the elite.
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Overall Design
As compared to its predecessor, the SR2 Dive Regulator offer superior breathing performance and one of the primary reasons why is because of the balanced first stage and pneumatically balanced second stage.

Type of Construction
Sherwood implemented a two-piece piston design for the first stage and this increases the seating surface sealing diameter. In addition to that, a rapid response time and a high-flow capacity are achieved.

Cold Water Performance
To account for colder waters and prevent that water from entering inside the regulator, this has been designed with a sealed dry spring chamber to combat that issue.

Configuration
Much like the regulators that have preceded it on this list, there are two high-pressure ports and five low-pressure ports. What is noteworthy about the low-pressure ports, though, is that they are designed on a 360-degree swivel.

Seller Options
While it is not listed on this particular product on Amazon, you can buy the first stage in either an A-clamp connection or a 300-bar DIN configuration.

Overall
This is a classic example of a manufacturer taking an already impressive design and improving it. Sherwood’s SR2 Regulator sports one of the most remarkable designs out there and it is thanks, in large part, to its two-piece piston design.
Pros
  • The second stage sports an ergonomic shape
  • Integrates a sealed dry spring chamber
  • A single adjustment point is designed in the second stage
Cons
  • The second stage is a bit heavy
  • Some may feel the mouthpiece is a bit too small

Aqua Lung Legend LX

Aqua Lung Legend LX
There are so many excellent features of the Legend LX Regulator that it is almost difficult to sum them up. However, the environment seal for superb cold water performance and the integration of Aqua Lung’s Auto-Closure Device is a good way to try.
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Overall Design
While the ergonomic design of the exhaust tee helps to reduce exhalation efforts, the true beauty here is the second stage’s pneumatic balanced system. This achieves smooth and effortless breathing all the time.

Type of Construction
As compared to a standard balanced system, this is designed with an over-balanced diaphragm and that allows for greater pressure at depth. Also, the design is optimized to allow you to have enhanced breathing performance the further you go underwater.

Cold Water Performance
With the manner in which this is designed, with the first stage being environmentally sealed, it is optimized for cold water diving as ice is prevented from building up around the main spring.

Configuration
The two high-pressure ports and the four low-pressure ports on the first stage are equally split on both sides and this is nice when you are routing your hoses.

Seller Options
The Legend Regulator is available in a wide range of options, with this being the LX version, and you can either get it with a DIN or Yoke configuration.

Overall
At this point in the list, it is much easier to sit back and marvel at what you are witnessing rather than searching for obscure and minute issues. Anyone and that means anyone, should be proud to own the Legend LX Regulator.
Pros
  • Heat exchange fins surround the spring chamber
  • Integrates Aqua Lung’s Auto-Closure Device
  • The second stage has been made smaller and lighter
Cons
  • The larger mouthpiece could be an issue for some users

Cressi Sub MC9

Cressi Sub MC9
Looking past the mouthpiece, which was the only aspect of this regulator that seemed to receive any sort of criticism whatsoever, the exceptional design of the first stage and second stage instantly make this a contender for your next scuba regulator.
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Overall Design
Cressi designed their MC9, much like many of their other regulators, with a hyper-balanced diaphragm and this allows it to provide you with optimal breathing performance no matter the tank pressure and depth.

Type of Construction
To allow the internal elements to perform more efficiently, the inside of the first stage has been coated with an anti-corrosion and anti-friction material. Also, the larger size allows a larger diaphragm to be used which, in turn, decreases inhalation efforts.

Cold Water Performance
It is worth noting that the MC9 does not have an environmental seal but the MC9-SC does which is certainly a nice bonus. Either way, the heat exchanger on both versions keeps the internal mechanisms warm in extremely cold water.

Configuration
Without having to buy any additional kits, this is compatible up to 40 percent Nitrox and also features four low-pressure ports and two high-pressure ports.

Seller Options
Again, when looking at the MC9 Regulator, you have two choices between either this or the MS9-SC. Both are identical except for the aforementioned environment seal of the latter.

Overall
Despite the fact that the diaphragm is made larger for performance benefits, this regulator remains lightweight and compact. This is an admirable combination of performance and size and it is really hard to ask for much more.
Pros
  • Very compact and lightweight at just over two pounds
  • The larger diaphragm decreases inhalation efforts
  • Inside, the first stage is coated with anti-corrosion material
Cons
  • Some divers felt the mouthpiece was too small

Hollis DC7

Hollis DC7
As this next regulator sports a first stage diaphragm design, it requires a little less maintenance as containments are not allowed to enter the internal mechanism. Plus, it has been designed to withstand intensely cold waters because of its environmental seal.
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Overall Design
Even under the most extreme of conditions, the over-balanced design of the DC7 rises to the occasion. Due to this design, the first stage manages to provide greater intermediate pressure as both the gas density and depth increase.

Type of Construction
While the first stage’s diaphragm design was already alluded to, it is capped off by the addition of a secondary diaphragm that manages to completely seal off the main spring cavity.

Cold Water Performance
Once again, this is yet another scuba regulator that is certified to withstand the CE standard set for cold water performance. Why is it able to accomplish this? Simply, because the first stage is environmentally sealed.

Configuration
Besides the fact that there are two high-pressure ports and four low-pressure ports, the hose routing is ideal for both side mounting and back mounting due to the manner in which it is configured.

Seller Options
Although this specific version is the DIN configuration, you can find the same regulator with the option of a Yoke configuration.

Overall
At this point in the list, it is more of the same but with how impressive the entries are, is that really such a bad thing? Now, because of the downstream diaphragm, there is a potential concern of free flow but that can be avoided by submerging the mouthpiece first.
Pros
  • No internal parts are exposed to containments such as salt
  • A secondary diaphragm is used to seal off the main spring cavity
  • The first stage is engineered of marine-grade brass
Cons
  • It is prone to free flow

Mares Rover 12S

Mares Rover 12S
Now, despite all the great features and superb performance, some people will not like that the second stage of the Rover 12S is unbalanced. Yet, it still allows you to perform natural breathing.
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Overall Design
Again, even though the second stage is unbalanced it still offers sufficient breathing performance. However, the first stage is balanced and will perform the same no matter the tank pressure or depths of the water.

Type of Construction
Mares also designed their first stage with Tri-Material Valve Technology, made of brass and heavy-duty polyurethane, and this should deliver great performance during servicing. Also, the first stage does use a diaphragm.

Cold Water Performance
While this is yet another regulator that is optimized for cold water use, Mares accomplishes it a little differently. To reduce the formation of ice, they implement their Vortex Assisted Design system.

Configuration
There are enough ports available to account for most hose routing. This included four low-pressure ports and two high-pressure ports.

Seller Options
Although this is a Yoke configuration, if you did happen to want DIN instead there is a conversion kit that you can purchase but it will run you a few extra bucks.

Overall
If you simply are not willing to spend nearly $1000 on a regulator or feel you do not dive enough to warrant such an investment, this may be the best regulator for you. Even though it is on the cheaper side, it still performs extremely well.
Pros
  • There are two high-pressure ports and four low-pressure ports
  • Features Mares DFC System
  • The second stage is easy to purge even with heavy-duty gloves
Cons
  • Despite its performance, the second stage is unbalanced

Aqua Lung Core

Aqua Lung Core
Aqua Lung’s name is plastered all over scuba gear and equipment and they are one of the leading manufacturers in the world today. That alone sells their products but it does not take a genius to realize how well-designed their Core Regulator is.
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Overall Design
Both the first and second stage combines a balanced and pneumatically-balanced design to provide superior performance and continent breathing when you need it the most.

Type of Construction
Aqua Lung went with a first stage with a diaphragm and once again, this couples with the second stage to provide optimal breathing results.

Cold Water Performance
There are supreme versions of this regulator and they are equipped with freeze-resistance when traversing in waters colder than 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, the CORE comes standard with Aqua Lung’s patented Auto-Closure Device to seal out water.

Configuration
Most notable about the configuration is actually the heat exchanger which is a steel swivel that connects the rubber hose to the second stage. What this does is absorb the heat from the surrounding waters.

Seller Options
As was previously alluded to, there are supreme versions of this regulator. But, there are also standard versions and both are available for Yoke and DIN.

Overall
It may not the best scuba regulator from Aqua Lung but it gets the job done with flying colors. Additionally, you can invest in one of the supreme versions to enhance the cold water performance if you plan on diving in deeper waters.
Pros
  • Corrosive water is kept free of the first stage
  • The venturi lever is easily adjustable
  • Includes a mouthpiece specially designed to reduce jaw fatigue
Cons
  • The venturi level is not labeled very well
  • There is no inhalation effort adjustment

Mares Abyss 22

Mares Abyss 22
The Abyss 22 Navy II caps off this list of overwhelmingly-impressive scuba regulators. While there are a few factors that prevent this regulator from competing with the others on this list, it is still admirable in its own right.
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Overall Design
It is nice that the first stage of the Abyss 22 Navy II is balanced but what may be even better is that it is designed with an all-chrome plated marine-grade brass.

Type of Construction
With a diaphragm membrane integrated, what Mares is able to achieve with their regulator is pressure changes that are transmitted to the internal mechanism which completely eliminates the need for surrounding water to do so.

Cold Water Performance
Mares has taken the time to truly understand what happens in colder waters to optimize their design so it can withstand the rigorous nature of it. Plus, the first stage regulator is environmentally sealed.

Configuration
While there are not as many ports as other higher-end regulators possess, the four low-pressure ports and two high-pressure ports should be more than enough for configuration purposes.

Seller Options
One could choose to settle for the regulator by itself but there is also a packaged deal that includes an additional computer bag and a light for your convenience.

Overall
A lot of unique technology and components are implemented by Mares to make this a very compelling regulator if nothing else. Yes, some slight issues, which you can see below, do deter the overall quality a tad but it is still one of the best scuba regulators in a long line of exceptional versions.
Pros
  • Implements patented Tri-Material Valve technology
  • Hard polyurethane covers the valve
  • Features a mesh designed second stage to reduce the pressure of water
Cons
  • It is a bit on the heavy side
  • The Vortex system has been criticized because it can cause jaw fatigue

Criteria Used For The Evaluation

Whether the Overall Design is Balanced or Unbalanced

Scuba regulators are split up into two stages and instead of analyzing them individually, it is a bit easier to assess what you need to look for as a whole. In terms of where to begin, it all starts with the overall design of the regulator and if it utilizes a balanced, unbalanced, or even overbalanced makeup. The term unbalanced was only used one or two times during this guide and there is a reason for that. As compared to the other methods, unbalanced regulators sport fewer parts and are much less expensive. However, because of this, their performance is sacrificed at deeper depths and when your tank pressures get low and are probably only feasible for basic diving.

The next step up, which happens to be the most common type, is a balanced regulator. Basically, balanced versions utilize enough parts and components to maintain optimal breathing and performance at all depths. Balanced regulators are often preferred because of their unparalleled consistency. Then, finally, you may see some overbalanced regulators and these simply allow you to breathe easier as you go deeper in the water.

The Type of Construction Method Used

When it comes down to it, you will either see scuba regulators designed with a diaphragm or a piston. It is often wondered and asked which is the preferred method of the two and if we are being completely honest, there is not a clear-cut winner. The good news is both methods are sufficient and can be relied upon no matter how extreme your diving adventures happen to be. Yet, with that being said, there are a few minute differences between the two that could end up tipping the scale a little bit.

For example, piston regulators are actually very basic and can’t be overbalanced due to the nature of their design. Still, when it comes to greater depths of water, the performance of pistons could be considered an advantage. On the flipside, diaphragm regulators hold the advantage of being more resistant to cold temperatures and the water itself. Because this design does not directly expose the internal components to the water, they are less prone to containments such as silt and salt.

Their Performance in Cold Water

Everyone knows or at least should know, that the farther you go down underwater the colder it is going to be. In some instances, you can actually physically feel the temperature difference. Well, if you plan to dive in larger bodies of water, for example, the Great Lakes or oceans, you may want to account for a regulator that can perform admirably in colder waters. The question is, though, how do you know it can? One surefire way to guarantee that cold water will not be an issue is to ensure the regulator is environmentally sealed. With this design integration set in stone, freezing of the interior components is prevented as water can’t get inside.

If ice cold water makes its way inside the internal mechanisms of a regulator, things will not be pretty. In fact, some countries will enforce a regulation that a regulator has to be environmentally sealed if you traverse waters that get near freezing temperatures. But, this type of seal can also lend a hand in preventing containments from building up inside.

How They Can Be Configured

Let’s just say that there are several different types of accessories that are borderline mandatory for divers. This can include dive computers, pressure gauges, inflator hoses and various other accessories. Well, these types of accessories are not going to magically be able to connect themselves to you while diving so you need to pay attention to the configuration of scuba regulators. All these types of accessories will need to be connected to your regulator and this will be accomplished via the pressure ports on the regulator itself.

Now, there are low-pressure ports and high-pressure ports and typically there are more low-pressure ports than high-pressure. There is a difference as low-pressure ports should be used for low-pressure items (obviously) such as an alternate breathing source. The same concept applies to high-pressure ports as these would be used to connect devices such as a dive computer. Most of the regulators on this list feature four to five low-pressure ports and two high-pressure ports and that should be enough.

The Different Types That are Offered

There may be some cases where designers will sell their regulators in multiple forms. You may see a more advanced version of the same regulator with special features, for example. But, the most common choice you will need to make is whether you want a DIN or Yoke (often referred to as A-clamp) configuration. Much like with a piston or diaphragm, both methods are common and reliable. Basically, this is in reference to the type of fittings on the regulator and if you plan on partaking in deeper dives more often than not, you may want a DIN fitting as this tends to be a bit stronger.

However, what is nice is you can typically buy a converter and convert DIN fittings to Yoke fittings if you wanted to and vice versa. But, either way, it is not as if one type of fitting is vastly inferior to the other but it is something to keep in mind.

 

FAQs

Q:   What is an Alternative Air Source?

A noteworthy feature that has not been discussed yet is an alternative air source. During your buying process, you may stumble across this and not be sure what it is referring to. Thankfully, we are here to solve that issue for you. Remember how it was stated how critical regulators are as they are essentially your lifeblood when you are diving? Well, even though you never want it to happen to you, you do have to take into account if your regulator fails while you are underwater. This is where an alternative air source comes into play and it is also a reason why diving with other people is not a bad idea.

With an alternative air source, a second person can breathe from a regulator as it adds an additional second stage regulator (which is the mouthpiece). Basically, two users can be using the same regulator and this is ideal in the scenario where one of your group’s regulators fail.

Q:   How Do You Clean and Disinfect a Regulator?

Much like any other equipment that you ever purchase, there is going to be a bit of maintenance involved with regulators. Now, it is nothing extensive and instead, you just need to occasionally clean and disinfect it when you start noticing your regulator needs it. Right off the bat, though, you need to know that when disinfecting it, avoid products that are not specially designed for dive equipment. Through your local dive shop or even via an online retailer is where you should be receiving cleaning products.

However, when it comes to cleaning scuba regulators all you really need to do is take a scrub brush with a detergent that contains no hydrocarbons to clean them out (including the mouthpiece). Locate any containments such as saliva, salt, seaweed, and mud and then rinse it thoroughly with fresh water.

Q:   What to Do For Jaw Fatigue?

One of the biggest caveats to going diving is dealing with the mouthpiece of your regulator. The issue is no matter how well-designed it is, more often than not, jaw fatigue is going to result especially if you go on longer dives. One can expect a little fatigue to be prevalent but if it is overbearing and to the point where it is preventing you from diving, there may be something you can do about it. First off, try out a few different types of mouthpieces to see which one you prefer.

For example, if you use a silicone mouthpiece instead of a rubber version it may be easier on your mouth. Also, it may just simply be an issue of you needing to grip the mouthpiece too tightly. The addition of swivels and elbow joints can help alleviate this grip and enhance the comfort in the long run.

Q:   Typically, How Long Should the Hoses Last?

There is another design integration of regulators that has not been touched on extensively and it is the hoses. The main concern that most users want to be addressed is how long they are supposed to last and what they can do to extend their lifespan. Well, if you take the word of Dive Gear Express, they recommend replacing the hoses every five years or 500 dives. If you know you have eclipsed 500 dives before five years has passed, replace the hose. But, this does not mean that you still can’t take precautions to get the most out of their lifespan.

First off, it is wise to not store the hose in direct sunlight as the UV rays from the sun can be harmful to the materials of the hose. Secondly, do not flush the hose with harmful chemicals. All in all, they are not going to last forever due to age so it is wise to inspect them for damage before every diving trip.

Q:   Is It Necessary to Replace the Dust Cap?

It is quite amazing how something as simple as a dust cap can be so critically important in the grand scheme of things. One would believe that if you merely lost your dust cap you could leave it be as it is not that important. Well, that could not be farther from the truth and the issue lies with the fact that without the dust cup installed, water can be allowed to seep through. The first stage body can have its internal components exposed to water if it is not connected to the tank and the rubber cap is used to seal the opening.

To keep this short and to the point, do not go out diving if you notice your dust cap is missing.

Q:   What is the Purpose of a Venturi Lever?

Sometimes, you will see scuba regulators with second stages that feature a venturi control system. Do not worry, it is not as complicated as the name sounds and it is quite a handy feature to look for. Basically, this is a switch on the second stage regulator and it allows you to control the sensitivity to free-flow ratio and the maximum amount of airflow you need at the depth you are at. So, to make it easier for you to breathe while you are diving down, it should be enabled and in the positive position; but, it should be set to the minus position if you are close to the surface or just about ready to dive.

Final Thoughts

It is not exaggerating by saying that this will be one of the most important investments of your life and a possible lifesaver. Clearly, if you are not a diver you have no need for it but if you have any interest in the activity in the slightest, a regulator should be your first priority. It is a good example of a device that should not be based on the price as you do not want to go cheap with it. Be prepared to spend some money and then be prepared to thank yourself later.

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