Best Scuba Regulator for Beginners and Tech Diving [ 2020 Reviews ]
Our Top 14 List for Scuba Regulators in 2020
The AS101 DIN diving regulator by Palantic undoubtedly brings the best value for money and is a great choice for recreational divers. This high-quality regulator comprises both first and second stage units and comes complete with an octopus.
Two hoses, a 36-inch yellow hose on the octopus, and a black one on the second stage regulator make it easy to use.
We particularly like its over-balanced first stage developed to provide progressively greater intermediate pressure as the gas density and depth increase, ensuring a superior gas delivery even under extreme conditions.
The second stage is not adjustable, and purging the system is quite difficult when the unit is not in use. However, these are rather small annoyances than real drawbacks. What counts, after all, is that it breathes very easy – a feature most newbies will love.
Ideal to use in both fresh and saltwater, it sports a chromium-plated brass body and stainless steel springs; this choice of materials prevents internal corrosion and the icing of the first stage.
Capable of delivering high performance at an attractive price point, the Palantic AS101 is perhaps the best scuba regulator you can get your hands on.
If you only need a second stage regulator, one to consider comes from the same brand as our top pick. The Palantic AS206 is a reliable, non-adjustable second stage designed with beginners and recreational divers in mind.
Not ideal for pairing with the AS101, it comes with a yellow 36-inch hose that can handle pressures up to 350PSI.
The regulator works great at all depths and conditions, and it comes with an ergonomic mouthpiece that’s comfortable to hold for hours. Like the AS101, it also boasts a large purge button that makes it really easy to use.
As you would expect from a quality regulator, you can use it in both fresh and saltwater environments.
Affordable, easy to use, and dependable, the Palantic AS206 is an excellent choice for those who don’t want to break the bank.
Designed for dive trekkers, the MK11/C370 by ScubaPro is an ideal travel companion ready to come with you in all underwater adventures.
It’s made from marine-grade brass with sealed internal parts that prevent water and pollutants from getting into the inner mechanism. Ideal to use in all environments, it boasts outstanding performance when diving in cold waters.
One of the best features is the external intermediate pressure adjustment. This function makes it ideal for technicians, allowing them to fine-tune the system’s performance as quickly and easily as possible.
Multiple hose routing options also make it ideal for diving instructors and schools. Despite the higher price point, newbies might also benefit from such an investment – while it could be a tad more complicated to use, it impresses with an innovative exhaust tee that improves breathing.
Another nice thing is the air-balanced diaphragm design of the first stage that delivers constant airflow regardless of the depth, tank pressure, or breathing rate.
Standing out with its lifetime quality, the MK11/C370 delivers all bells and whistles you’d expect from a range-topper.
Manufacturing diving, snorkeling, and swimming gear since 1946, Cressi really knows how to impress when it comes to scuba regulators. The brand has a range of products in this category, but a combo we recommend is this AC2/XS2 first and second stage equipment.
Both components are made with non-corrosive, long-lasting materials that are suitable to use in both fresh and saltwater. Simple to use and praised for its strength, the regulator requires low-cost maintenance and ensures constant airflow.
Particularly impressive is the second stage unit. It has a standard size and is made from hi-tech polymers. The simple and reliable construction includes a lateral valve downstream with an adjustable orifice that channels the air to the mouthpiece for enhanced performance.
Another nice thing is the flow deviator that boasts both dive and pre-dive functions.
As far as the first stage is concerned, the unit comes with a traditional Cressi piston capable of delivering high performance despite the non-balanced design of this model.
A small number of components on both first and second stage units not only reduce maintenance; they also reduce weight, making the regulator more travel-friendly and easier to carry. Defined by most users as a real working horse among regulators, this ingenious piece of equipment comes in three versions and at a wallet-friendly price point.
The next entry on our list comes from Oceanic; the Alpha Octopus 8 is essentially a second stage regulator compatible with most Oceanic scuba equipment.
Designed to deliver an unrivaled price-to-performance ratio, it is ideal for dives up to 80 feet. However, breathing through it becomes harder at depths below this threshold. Regardless of this limitation, the unit is a great choice for newbies.
Made from quality materials, it’s relatively inexpensive to maintain. The included Miflex style low-pressure hose also brings further value, while its bright yellow color makes it ideal for diving in lower light conditions.
Another nice thing is the ergonomic mouthpiece designed to enhance breathing.
If you don’t mind a slightly higher premium, the Alpha Octopus 10 could be a more appropriate choice for the tech divers. The main difference between the two is the pneumatically balanced demand valve on the Octopus 10, a feature that helps it perform to the US Navy’s class standards.
This nickel plated 2nd stage regulator employs the downstream demand valve system where air will only freely flow during inhalation and the valve will automatically shut off during exhalation. The regulator’s diaphragm is relatively flexible courtesy from its high quality silicone material.
One good factor about the Hanperal is its minimal breathing resistance where you are given an optimum amount of air in every breath that can reach a maximum intermediate pressure of 145 psi.
Although it employs one of the early models and systems of an alternate air source, many of its users have appreciated its “under-shin exhaust system” where bubbles, during exhalation, is directed to the side of the regulator and does not interfere with your underwater vision.
While the Hanperal is consistent on the list of the top regulator octopus in the market, you need to take note of some of its disadvantages.
First, as compared to new brands and models, the length of the low pressure hose is only 22 inches which is quite short when compared to the long low pressure hose of most modern octopus that may reach 36 inches and is vital during an emergency situation.
Second, only the 2nd stage regulator is colored yellow and the low pressure hose is still colored in the traditional black undertone. This particular feature may become disadvantageous when it comes to an emergency as spotting a yellow colored hose is easier as compared to searching for a black colored hose that usually camouflages with our standard black colored wetsuit.
You also have to take note of its threading and that it will not fit all 1st stage regulator. The 2nd Stage Regulator Octopus uses an ⅛ male NPT with a barbed fitting connector which is perfect only for an 8mm diving tube. While this may sound technical, asking your scuba outfitter would significantly aid if it’s a perfect fit or not.
Aside from being used by most recreational divers, it is also used in technical or commercial diving where the source of air may not necessarily come from a scuba cylinder, but rather, surface supplied.
This light and compact alternate air source, made by Euro-Italian Company Mares, sits persistently as one of the top 10 scuba regulator octopus. Designed solely as an alternative air source and not as a primary regulator, the MV Octopus Regulator is the product of years of research and have undergone extensive testing, both in the laboratory and out in the wild open seas.
Contrary to your regular circular shaped regulator, the Mares has a unique mini compact rectangular shape with soft edges on the side. It only weighs 3 pounds. The compact rectangular is not just designed without a purpose and this is the reason why it features a symmetrical shape where the octopus unit can be used either on the left side or the right side.
When it comes to internal design, the Mares Diving Regulator is uniquely arranged employing the “Vortex Assisted Design”. This simply means that the internal parts are arranged in such a way that air will convey towards the mouthpiece in a swirling vortex of low pressure air that is mostly concentrated at the central portion.
In this way, it creates a highly sensitive flow of air that equates to minimal breathing resistance. However, this design has both good news and bad news. The good news is that breathing resistance is put to the minimum regardless of depth. On the other hand, a slight pressure given to the diaphragm will cause the regulator to free flow even when not in use or still in its mouthpiece holder.
This is evidently true when you perform a giant stride entry where the sudden gush of water pushes the diaphragm in causing a regulator free flow incident. But, other than that, the regulator relatively stays in the demand valve category where it only gives out air when inhaled upon.
If there is one thing that really stands out with the Mares MV Octopus Regulator is that it is nitrox compatible. It is specifically designed for use up to EANx 40 where air content from your scuba cylinder is significantly increased from the normal 20% to 40%. You should also take note that this model is only recommended for warm water diving and should not be used in extreme temperatures, like when you go ice diving.
This US manufactured medium-size high performance alternate air source is the preferred octopus by divers who wants an affordable yet rugged and reliable 2nd stage octopus regulator.
While manufacture settings will tell you that this Aqua Lung model best work with a Calypso or Titan 1st and stage regulator, many have shared their experience that it can suit and work in any brand or model, making it a highly versatile octopus regulator.
Majority of its users told us that there are several features with the Aqua Lung Calypso Titan Octo that they prefer when compared to other brands and models.
First, it is nitrox compatible up to EANx 40 where we presume you already know what a 40% increased oxygen content means. Second, it features an adjustable Venturini knob that can be adjusted to regulate the flow of air that can be adjusted to prevent unwanted regulator air free-flow.
And lastly, as far as the low pressure hose is concerned, you can have the option to choose “Quick Connect” or “Classic connection”. Classic connection simply means that the low pressure hose is mounted on the 1st stage regulator via a swivel nut and tightened using mechanical tools.
On the other hand, the Quick connect allows you to remove and re-attached the octopus without the use of a tool.
The Aqua Lung Pro is a complete diving set ideal for beginners and recreational divers. It includes all you need to use it straight out of the box and is designed to enhance your overall safety underwater.
One of the highlights of this set is the Titan Scuba regulator; a device that uses a balanced diaphragm mechanism to deliver constant airflow and consistent performance at all depths. Breathing is also made easy by the ABS octopus that combines the ergonomic mouthpiece with a low profile body style.
Besides these two components, the set also includes the acclaimed Aqua Lung i300C dive computer that boasts air and nitrox modes for a variety of situations.
The dive computer also incorporates wireless connectivity and overall effortless operation.
Last but not least, we also like the Pro HD BCD wrap-around jacket. A must for scuba and freediving applications, it comes with weight integration and is ideal to use in both salt and freshwater.
Ideally priced for its value, this gear pack is undoubtedly a great choice for anyone in need of a complete scuba set.
Experienced divers looking for a complete set might also love the SEAC Pro 2000. Just like the Aqua Lung above, it comes with all you need for a safe dive, and it’s ready to use straight out of the box.
It includes an Aqua Lung regulator designed for cold-water performance. Ideal for the pros, the regulator boasts a pneumatically-balanced second stage and Venturi assist system. Furthermore, it also features a heat exchange inlet fitting developed to reduce freezing, and it can handle nitrox up to 40%.
Together with the regulator, the diver adjustable octopus enhances breathing while getting rid of unwanted free flow. Made from technopolymer materials, it is durable and lightweight.
While the whole set is a true range-topper, the star is undoubtedly the dive computer with OLED color screen and smart Bluetooth capabilities. Some of its highlights include a 3-axis digital compass and compatibility with an optional hose-less transmitter. Various modes also make this set ideal for both free and scuba diving.
To crown, everything is the jacket-style BCD with integrated weights and releasable pockets. Constructed in 420D nylon, it features a high inflation speed and delivers a balanced ascent.
Manufactured by the world’s most iconic brand of diving equipment (check out Scubapro fins in our top scuba fins of 2020 roundup), the MK25/S600 is a first and second stage scuba regulator package made by Scubapro that has been out in the market since 2013.
While there are several scubapro regulator series in the market, the MK25/S600 combo regulator set really stands out in this unique niche of sport for several reasons. First, the MK25/S600 is a fully balanced regulator that will give you high breathing performance regardless of depth, temperature and pressure.
As for the 1st stage, the MK25 is a piston-balanced first stage regulator with a very high flow rate yet giving you a persistent steady flow of air making it very good in terms of consistency. While the MK25 is environmentally sealed, it has been redesigned with coatings and finishings to the internal parts preventing the possibility of an accidental free-flow.
This property of the MK25 1st stage regulator has become the preferred 1st stage when you go diving in extreme temperature like ice diving. The internal parts does not freeze up and malfunction even when temperature reaches below the freezing point.
As to the pressure ports, it has 5 low pressure ports. But what is significant with the MK25 is that it has 2 high pressure ports making it a highly versatile 1st stage regulator where it does not compromise the way you set-up your submersible pressure gauge and other pressure related instruments. It is also being manufactured either as having a DIN valve or a yoke valve, either ways, it will suit any configuration you want it to be.
With regards to the second stage S600 regulator, this system is considered a high performance breathing regulator that has a feature similar to the its 1st stage MK25. It’s balanced system filled with an anti-freeze coating will give ambient breathing air even in extreme water temperature.
Based on the re-modelling of the S600 2nd stage regulator, it has now an Inhalation control that regulates breathing resistance by turning the control bezel on the side. By turning the control bezel, it basically decreases or increases the breathing resistance of the S600 2nd stage regulator where you can adjust it base on your own personal breathing resistance rate.
Another re-modeled feature of the S600 2nd stage regulator is the Bench Area Control where it has an indication of Pre-dive and Dive Mode. By placing the control to Pre-dive mode, it allows some air back to the regulator diaphragm decreasing the chances of a free-flow incident and by switching it to Dive Mode, it basically allows optimum air to freely flow out of the mouthpiece.
And finally for the mouthpiece, it has been re-modelled with a sof material giving you a softer bit. Further, it is retrofitted with soft rounded edges and a longer lug handles for a nice and comfortable mouth grip.
One more thing, there are 4 versions of the MK25/S600 combo as re-styled in its 2013 version: the standard chrome plated, the Black-Tech version, the Titanium version and the special Gold-colored version to commemorate Scubapro’s 50 years in serving the diving industry.
While they differ in material and color, the different version of the MK25/S600 all delivers the same outstanding breathing performance.
Taking care of your gear is as important as investing in quality equipment in the first place. This is why, once you found the right regulator, you should also invest in a high-quality regulator bag.
There is a myriad of options out there, but one we truly like is the Aqua Lung Explorer. Designed specifically for the brand’s regulators, it impresses with a hexagonal shape developed to minimize hose kinks.
Ideal not only for protecting your regulators but also for helping you organize your dive kit, it boasts padded air mesh side walls and polyester boards that keep your gear protected and promote airflow for a quick dry-out.
Pairing with all the other bags in the brand’s Explorer collection, it makes a nice addition to your Aqua Lung kit, or to protect your regulators manufactured by any other brand.
One of the cheapest on the market, the bag has a capacity of 13 x 12 x 4 inches and is backed by a 2-year limited warranty.
Another set of bags we truly recommend is this one by Scubapro. It consists of a regulator tech dive bag and a smaller pouch for your dive computer.
This high-value combo is made of 420D nylon and 450C ripstop fabric. The main bag is large enough to accommodate your regulator and gauges, while the delicate dive computer will be even more protected until your next outing in its own separate pouch.
Boasting a rectangular shape, the bag has a capacity of 14 x 10 x 4 inches. A double-slide zipper makes it easy to access the main compartment, while a transparent zipper pouch offers a dry place for your logbook.
We also like the tote design that is really comfortable to carry. Furthermore, you’ll most likely enjoy the padded handle and shoulder strap carrying options.
If you couldn’t care less about the dive computer bag but would like a sleeker design for your regulator carrier, know that you can also opt for a vintage model made from 500D water-resistant tarpaulin fabric.
Whatever your choice, we’re sure this stylish bag can help you keep most of your diving gear organized and protected when not in use or during your travels.
Last but not least, the AKONA Pro regulator bag is a product that brings unrivaled value for money.
Half-way between the hexagonal and rectangular models, it impresses with a capacity of 12 x 14 x 4 inches and is spacious enough to accommodate both the first stage and second stage regulator, their hoses, as well as the octopus.
Fully padded to protect your valuables, the AKONA bag is made from rugged 600D poly/natural fiber blends and boasts an incredibly durable polyurethane interior lining that resists water and stains.
Like you could expect from a quality bag, you can enjoy an ergonomic design that makes it comfortable to carry. Indeed, the bag comes with a convenient tote handle and padded shoulder strap.
The only slight downside is that it has a main compartment only with no interior or exterior pockets where to hold a logbook, small valuables, or other smaller pieces of equipment. Considering that it’s made for your regulators, though, we can’t really say that this is a drawback.
Apart from the unique design and impressive value, we also like that it’s compatible with the AKONA travel bags. Just what you need for taking your diving equipment with you on all your adventures around the world.
How does a scuba regulator work?
A fully filled scuba tank has a pressure rating of 3,000 psi or 205 bars and breathing directly from it may cause injury, especially in our respiratory tract, as we are only adopted in breathing normal atmospheric pressure set at 1 bar. Breathing high pressure air from a scuba tank is only possible with the use of a scuba regulator where it functions as a pressure reducer.
Scuba regulator works by reducing high pressure air to an ambient pressure at two specific levels. Initially, when you turn on the valve of the scuba tank, high pressure air will gush in to the First Stage Regulator. Except for a single high pressure port of the first stage regulator which has a pressure equal of what is inside a scuba tank, low pressure air is delivered out to the low pressure ports releasing an ambient pressure of 250 to 300 psi (17 to 20 bars).
However, despite being significantly reduced, the air pressure from the low pressure port is still high that it can possibly damage our respiratory tract. This is where the Second Stage Regulator comes in to play. From the low pressure port of the first stage regulator, low pressure air is led to the second stage regulator via a low pressure hose.
By this time, you should know that all your pressure hoses are low pressure hose, except for the submersible pressure gauge which uses a high pressure hose that can withstand 5,000 psi (345 bars). A typical regulator has 4 pressure hoses. One high pressure hose for the submersible pressure gauge, 2 low pressure hose for the second stage regulator and another low pressure hose for the buoyancy compensator device.
Now focusing on the second stage regulator, the intermediate pressure coming from the first stage regulator is reduced giving an ambient pressure of 15 - 20 psi (1 - 1.3 bar). At this phase, the air given by the second stage regulator is now breathable where its pressure rating is the same as the atmospheric pressure that we are used to breathe on land.
You should also take note that second stage regulators are classified as demand valves. Meaning, air will only come out of the regulator once the diver inhales. Although there are instances of a “regulator free-flow” which is possibly caused by damage of the second stage diaphragm or intrusion of foreign objects like sand or rubble.
And lastly, in order for the second stage regulator to be comfortably used and air will gently flow out inside your mouth while creating a watertight seal, all second stage regulators are fitted with a flexible mouthpiece.
How to Choose the Right Scuba Regulator?
Having your own scuba regulator does not come cheap. Due to the complexity of its mechanisms, regulators are often an expensive piece of scuba equipment and purchasing the right regulator for you would equate to your money’s worth and a well spent savings.
Here are some considerations that you can look into in buying a scuba regulator:
1. Type of Diving:
Regulators are designed to address a specific need a diver may be exposed when he or she goes diving. Take into consideration depth and temperature. Most scuba regulators can function at any depth, however, there are some regulators that are designed to function at higher water pressure such as when you go deep diving.
Most regulators can function at any temperature range, however, there are some regulators that can function perfectly below the freezing temperature point such as when you go ice diving. Usually, these types of specially designed regulators are heavier compared to an average unit.
So, really, the key here is to know first what kind of diving you will be exposed to and that it will become the basis of selecting your regulator. There is no point of having a regulator for ice diving when you will be exploring the underwater habitats of Asia and the rest of the Tropics.
2. Dive Instruments, Accessories and Configuration:
A typical scuba regulator is composed of a first stage regulator, high and low pressure hoses, submersible pressure gauge, a second stage regulator and an alternate air source second stage regulator commonly known as the octopus.
But as the sport of diving has become a specific science, instruments and accessories are added on and configured allowing a diver to explore a specific kind of underwater environment.
DIN or Yoke Valve - the valve of the first stage regulator can be modified depending on the configuration you want. Commonly, scuba regulators are fitted with a yoke valve that partners and fits to a yoke-fitted scuba tank valve.
On the other hand, you have the option to choose DIN valves for the first stage regulator which is designed for deep and cold water diving. You need to remember that DIN valves can only be fitted to DIN-fitted scuba tank valve. Just in case you have a different valve configuration, a DIN to Yoke valve adapter would do the trick.
3. Alternate Air Source (Octopus):
Also called as an octopus, many have considered the alternate air source as an accessory to a scuba regulator. But technically, it is a mandatory piece of scuba equipment.
Most brand new scuba regulators out in the market are only configured with a first and second stage regulator together with its corresponding low pressure hose. So you have to make a separate choice on your alternate air source.
They often come in a longer and brightly colored hose that is usually yellow including the second stage regulator and comes with a keeper or holder.
4. Long or Short Low Pressure Hose:
Standard size for most low pressure hose are 1 meter in length and 1.2 meters for the alternate air source. However, there are specially made low pressure hose that are long and can go as long as 3 meters.
If your dive profile would involve simple reef diving, then we recommend you choose the standard length. However, if you are into the technical aspect of the sport, like cave diving, then having a longer low pressure hose would be appropriate.
5. Submersible Pressure Gauge:
All scuba regulators are mounted with a submersible pressure gauge, otherwise without one, you have no way of determining the tank’s air content. A submersible pressure gauge can be a standalone equipment.
But as diving equipment evolves, submersible pressure gauge are now integrated into a console that may come together with a depth gauge and/or a compass. Some console are retrofitted with a dive computer where a simple glance will give you an indication of your underwater time, maximum depth, current depth, temperature and surface interval.
New age dive computers do not need the mounting of high pressure hose and a console. Instead, they are worn on the wrist and hose-less.
A scuba regulator is a life-support system and many have considered not to restrict their budget in purchasing a brand new regulator. Well, for us, the budget that you need to prepare will depend on the instruments, accessories, modifications and brand that you want. In other words, a basic scuba regulator will function underwater the same way a high-end regulator will do.
To give you an example: a typical regulator equipped with a submersible pressure gauge and depth gauge integrated in a console will function as the same compared to a state of the art scuba regulator mounted with a transponder for the hoseless wrist-type dive computer.