Best Scuba Regulators – 2018 Buyer’s Guide Review

A scuba diving regulator is an immensely important accessory to your scuba adventure. It provides oxygen to you from the air tank through a mouthpiece and hose. When you’re shopping for one, you need to know that they do not all perform at a similar standard.

For one, you need first to understand your diving conditions before you go ahead and make your choice. Since your scuba regulator has a great impact on your safety, it is wise to spend adequate time researching before making your decision.

Product

Summary

ScubaPro MK2 EVO R195 Regulator

The ScubaPro MK2 EVO R195 regulator gives you incredible durability while remaining low maintenance and hassle-free.


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Cressi AC2:XS2

Cressi AC2:XS2

The Cressi AC2/XS2 regulator follows suit and goes beyond the already amazing reputation Cressi has in the industry. The first stage is an unbalanced type that was made for reliability. 


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Mares Scuba Regulator Octo Dive Gear Package - Editor's Choice

Mares Scuba Regulator Octo Dive Gear Package

This Mares Scuba regulator package includes everything you in a regulator whether you’re just starting your scuba adventures or if you’re a seasoned diver.


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Palantic SCR-01-YOKE-AJ-OC

Palantic SCR-01-YOKE-AJ-OC

This Palantic regulator comes in a high functioning combo set that ensures you get to go for any dive that you want with ease. It uses a piston system for balanced air pressure that you can rely on. It even works under pressures up to 3500 PSI.


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ScubaPro C350 Scuba Regulator

This ScubaPro model is a lightweight but very inclusive regulator that practically begs you to travel with it. It has built-in features meant to make managing your regulator easier before, during, and after your dive


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Top 5 Best Scuba Regulators On The Market

The following products have been carefully chosen for their value, durability, safety and functionality. A scuba regulator is one of the most important pieces of diving equipment you can buy. It is one of those products that you should carefully research before purchasing. Getting the wrong product can literally mean the difference between life and death.

With that being said, the following scuba regulators serve different purposes and are great for different situations.

ScubaPro MK2 EVO R195 Regulator

Pros

Cons

  • Easy downstream air flow is maintained using piston mechanics
  • Good for warm and moderate temperature
  • Beginner friendly with simple yet durable features
  • Not designed for more extreme depths

The ScubaPro MK2 EVO R195 regulator gives you incredible durability while remaining low maintenance and hassle-free. It's well suited for warm and moderate temperatures so tropical divers and beginners alike get the full package.
It uses the piston mechanism to pressurize air comfortably and the simple piston configuration makes it easy to use. It’s named as one of the top used regulators by commercial and vacation facilities worldwide, so you know you’re getting a regulator that’s proven its quality.


ScubaPro C350 Scuba Regulator

Pros

Cons

  • Convenient features that are easily accessed by feel 
  • Lightweight and very portable
  • Includes pre-dive to dive switch clip
  • Uses improved C series second stage
  • Includes rubber hose
  • If you want a braided hose, it will have to be ordered separately

This ScubaPro model is a lightweight but very inclusive regulator that practically begs you to travel with it. It has built-in features meant to make managing your regulator easier before, during, and after your dive. The improved purge button allows better water flow and sensitivity around the diaphragm.
Now the purge button is even larger and texturized so you can easily know you’re getting the right button, even with all your other scuba gear on. To make diving even more convenient, it has a new predictive to dive switch.

Cressi AC2:XS2

Pros

Cons

  • Made of corrosion resistant materials
  • Specifically engineered for durability and reliability
  • Can be used in most diving environments
  • Adjusts to changing pressure rapidly
  • Adjustable valve
  • If positioning parallel, air regulation may not be as controlled

Cressi is a world-renowned scuba brand with a reputation for quality. The Cressi AC2/XS2 regulator follows suit and goes beyond. The first stage is an unbalanced type that was made for reliability. The XS portion of it, the second stage, features an easily reached purge button and comfortable mouthpiece. It includes a hose of ⅜” and all items are made of materials shown to resist and repel corrosion. 

The valve system is downstream, adjustable, and offers no-hassle manipulation for divers. It was created with extreme maneuverability in mind and thus contains advanced engineering for the most comfortable, reliable, and robust air regulation possible. Because of this, this regulator can be used in nearly any kind of dive for all experience levels.


Mares Scuba Regulator Octo Dive Gear Package

Pros

Cons

  • Includes hose, primary and secondary regulator, and 5 total ports
  • Has 4 low-pressure ports and 1 high-pressure port
  • Easy to assemble and use
  • Offers manufacturer warranty
  • Does not have textured buttons or purge function

This Mares Scuba regulator package includes everything you in a regulator whether you’re just starting your scuba adventures or if you’re a seasoned diver. This regulator is lightweight and hassle-free. Not only does it include 4 low-pressure ports and 1 high-pressure port, but it also comes with a primary and secondary regulator.


Its assembly and operation are simple, which is a bonus for all divers. While this particular set uses the yoke system, a DIN system from Mares can also be purchased and switched out if your dives end up taking you into deeper or murkier waters. It’s compact but loses no functionality with easy, comfortable breathing throughout your entire dive.

Palantic SCR-01-YOKE-AJ-OC

Pros

Cons

  • Includes silicone mouthpiece for added comfort
  • Can withstand high pressure and still deliver a consistent air
  • Includes regulator and Octopus
  • Comes with long hoses for regulator and Octopus
  • Large purge button for easy access
  • May have more free flow at deeper dives

This Palantic regulator comes in a high functioning combo set that ensures you get to go for any dive that you want with ease. It uses a piston system for balanced air pressure that you can rely on. It even works under pressures up to 3500 PSI.


The overbalanced first stage ensures superior airflow management, with an adjustable knob for divers that like to be able to tailor their air to their comfort. Because it’s a combination piece including both the regulator and octopus, it also includes 2 hoses to make your life easier. The regulator comes with a 27” hose while the octopus comes with a 36” hose.


How to Choose a Scuba Regulator

Choosing a scuba regulator


Once you're ready to purchase your own scuba regulator, you need to know what to look for to make sure you're getting the right one for you. We can all admit that price is a factor when we're browsing for a purchase, but with your scuba gear safety has no equal. So how do you know what features to inspect when you're buying a scuba regulator?


Environmental Temperature


This factor makes a pretty big difference in the kind of regulator you'll be purchasing. The needs of a diver in near-freezing water are much different than that of a tropical diver. Depending on the temperature you plan to dive in, you need to look at different sealing and mount fittings. 


The seal on cold water scuba regulators is more robust. They're made to keep water from entering the first stage and freezing inside your equipment.
The more intensive seal is also designed to keep salt, grains, and other particles out to prevent a malfunction while diving. These regulators use DIN mounts made to reduce the chances of a free flow.


Warm water regulators are much more common, especially with beginning divers. These basic regulators often use a yoke mount and as a result, they're often less expensive. They can be used safely and comfortably for recreational scuba divers in warmer waters.


Air Flow


The amount of air flow your gear delivers is obviously important. While regulators are tested for safety and all that pass safety tests do provide enough air, it may not be comfortable to you.


The best way to solve this issue is to look for a regulator with an adjustable airflow. Don't assume that the regulator you plan on buying includes this, as not all do.


Some divers are perfectly comfortable using a preset air flow. If you're considering buying one of these it's a good idea to see if you can test it out beforehand.


Balanced or Unbalanced?


The biggest consideration for when you're deciding between buying a balanced or unbalanced regulator is depth:
While both types will provide safe air delivery, there are distinct advantages to each type. As with most regulator features, your ideal choice will be heavily influenced by your diving environment.


Balanced regulators are better at performing at greater depths. They provide more consistent air flow while under pressure. To put it simply, they balance out airflow changes that occur due to changing pressure:


In deep water with high pressure, they provide sufficient and consistent flow while adjusting to shallower waters by regulating air flow with measured resistance.


Unbalanced regulators are suitable for casual divers that plan to dive in moderate to shallow waters. These are often less expensive but can provide less efficient or more difficult use should you decide to take them on a deep dive. If they’re running low on air, they may also give a harder draw for air.


First Stage Style


You can choose between the two most common styles of first stage components for your regulator based on a couple factors. Again, the main factor tends to be depth. Depth factor and extreme temperatures aside, the two styles aren’t much different. 


Diaphragm 


Diaphragm style first stages have several moving components which can mean it's a more expensive piece. In terms of performance, it's typically equal with other styles. 


Because it contains multiple parts, the interior can be less susceptible to erosion. Likewise, the multiple parts allow for adjustment which can be a bonus for experienced divers but an unnecessary complication for beginners.


Piston


The piston style is much simpler than the diaphragm as it has only one moving part. It's equally effective, just designed differently. Many companies use this style as a baseline for entry-level regulators because of the lower manufacturing price and uncomplicated use for beginners.


Second Stage Style


While the components of the second stage bear similar considerations to the first, it’s for different reasons. Inhalation assistance should be a larger portion of your decision as this is the part that will cause the valve to open without divers losing air or exerting extra effort.


Often, regulators allow this to be controlled by a knob or dial and give divers options for pre-dive and during the dive. Essentially, they prevent free flow issues while you’re at the surface and provide more even air flow while under.


Balanced and Unbalanced Second Stages


Much like the first stage of your regulator, the second stage will be designed as either balanced or unbalanced. Also, much like the first stage, these both have similar advantages. 


Balanced second stages tend to deliver consistent flow regardless of depth while unbalanced second stages may lose efficiency at greater depths. There is one more critical difference between balance choice from first to the second stage, however:


The second stage downstream valve. An unbalanced second stage uses a downstream valve which can provide added safety in case of equipment failure. Should an issue occur, the valve is already in the open position. This means you’ll still be able to breathe from the regulator through free-flowing action.
Aside from that, they’re also much simpler and easier to operate and for beginners less to fumble with can mean a safer and more enjoyable dive.


Hoses


This portion may seem self-explanatory as pretty much all regulators come with hoses included. It’s not as much an issue of safety as it is comfort and preference, but choosing the right regulator and accessories can greatly improve your enjoyment while scuba diving. 


The current industry standard tends to lean towards shorter hoses and many divers prefer them. Entry level regulators also typically come with rubber hoses, which serve their function.


More seasoned divers may not prefer rubber hoses as they are heavier and less maneuverable regardless of length. Rubber hoses are also more susceptible to cracks and corrosion over time. This isn’t to say they’re safe and effective, but it can move an item of preference and longevity.
Your other option is braided or miflex hoses which tend to be lighter and more durable. Often these can be purchased separately from the regulator if they’re not included.


When considering the hose portion of your regulator, also check to see if an octopus is included. An octopus will include an extra wrap around hose, which is often longer than the regulator hose.


These are intended to be used in emergency situations and in cases of a diving partner having equipment failure. It allows air to be shared until you and your partner are able to reach the surface.


How It Works


It's always a good idea to understand how your equipment works, even if you don't plan on doing technical work on it yourself. Let's take a quick look at how your scuba regulator works:


Your scuba regulator works in two separate stages.


In the first stage, the regulator takes the air from high pressure down to intermediate pressure before directing the air through hoses and to the second stage.


In the second stage, the intermediately pressurized air is converted to a comfortable pressure reflecting your surroundings. You draw this air directly from the second stage part of your regulator.

The Verdict


Choosing a scuba regulator is a highly personalized process. Every diver is different and has different needs and preferences. When you purchase your regulator, don’t go on price alone. Safety and comfort are priceless and will add endless enjoyment to your dives when you have the right equipment.


We’ve compiled some of the best regulators on the market to make your choice easier, but don’t be afraid to find a dealer to check them out yourself if you’re having trouble making the choice.