You might be an experienced diver looking for a top-performing regulator for your travel-diving adventures, or you might be a recreational diver on a budget seeking value for money but also quality for what you pay for. The regulator market is widespread, with brands marketing their products as “top-quality, state of the art scuba technology” making it hard for divers – like you – to determine what they should buy. This means that simply picking one that sounds good or boasts to be the best on the market is risky and may leave you feeling disappointed and unsatisfied. It also means you’ll be potentially wasting your money.
Top Scuba Regulator Comparison Chart
Doing research into what you need in a regulator, the qualities that make up a top-quality regulator and ensuring that what you’re looking at is more than just pretty words put together to sound professional and appealing is so important, but we understand just how time-consuming this can be.
That is why we have compiled a list of the best regulators on the market right now, with all their features, benefits and drawbacks to save you time and energy on the technical research. Maybe you don’t even know what you want in a regulator. If so, we’ve got you covered on that front too. We’ve included a buyer’s guide that will help you discover exactly what you need. Whether you look just at the buyer’s guide or the list of regulators, these will help make your buying experience smooth and easy so that you can get out of your seat and into the water with the confidence of knowing that you’ve bought the best regulator for you.
There are many regulators on the market and brands that are constantly improving their products to get to the top. So before you take the dive to purchase a regulator, there are some things you should consider to make sure you are getting the regulator that will fit your needs perfectly.
Before you consider anything, the most important thing for you to know is the different parts that make up a regulator, what their function is and how they all work in conjunction with a scuba mask.
A regulator is made up of a first and second stage that are attached together by an air hose. The first stage of the regulator is the part that you connect to your air tank. Its responsibility is the take the high-pressure air – which is usually 3000 PSI – from the tank and drop it down to a lower pressure that is usually called ‘intermediate’ pressure. The first stage supplies and directs air to the second stage of the regulator through the air hose.
The second stage of the regulator is responsible for transporting the air from the tank into your mouth at the right pressure for breathing. The second stage drops the pressure down even more until it reaches what is called atmospheric temperature. A good regulator will balance the air to the pressure of the water around you, allowing you to inhale.
It’s important to know what type of water temperature you’ll be diving in when considering which regulator to buy. There are regulators that are designed to work better in cold water than in warm water and vice versa. Although many regulators usually work well in both conditions, if you’re traveling to a place with extreme temperature conditions, you may have to think hard about your choice, or you may end up with a regulator that will crack under the pressure.
Knowing the water temperature may also determine whether you need an unsealed or sealed regulator. Unsealed regulators allow water to get into the first stage of the regulator but will not let it into the second stage. These type of regulators are not suitable for cold water. Sealed regulators are optimum for cold water use as they don’t allow water into the first stage.
Balanced vs. Unbalanced
Most divers will prefer a balanced regulator as it provides consistent airflow regardless of the amount of air left in the tank. Unbalanced regulators cause it to become harder to breathe as the air is depleted from the tank.
Diaphragm vs. Piston
The first stage of the regulator can be designed in either a diaphragm or piston design. They control the air pressure from high to moderate during the first stage. Pistons are more favored by divers for their reliability as they have fewer moving parts. They are also much more cost-effective in terms of maintenance. This doesn’t mean to say the diaphragm doesn’t perform as well as the piston design. They both work extremely well, but it is up to you to figure out what you prefer best.
DIN vs. YOKE Valve
These determine where the regulator is placed in relation to the tank. A DIN valve will connect the regulator directly to the tank which may provide a stronger seal. A YOKE valve is screwed over the tank and is the most common form used around the world.
Number of High and Low-Pressure Ports
Depending on your needs or what you are doing while you’re diving, the number of ports may be of importance to you. Generally, it’s much more comfortable to set up your gear when you have more ports. The average number of ports a regulator provides is 4 low pressure and 1-2 high-pressure ports.
Being able to dive with comfort is probably the number one thing you want in a regulator. If you’re a traveler, you want something that is going to be light to carry around – not something that is heavy, bulky and tires you out even before you get into the water. One of the top factors that determine a good regulator is how easy it is to breathe through. Does it sit comfortably in the mouth and does the airflow provide for an effortless breathing experience on your part with minimal to no jaw fatigue?
Surely you’ll want to buy a regulator that not only works well but will last you many dives. A regulator that is durable enough to withstand the elements such as salt, ice, dirt and will be resistant to things such as corrosion or is built with technology that helps to extend the seat life of your regulator. Purchasing a regulator that is durable will mean you won’t have to spend money servicing or buying a new one.
Consistent / Reliable
Not only do you want a regulator that is comfortable and able to withstand the harsh elements of the outdoors, but you also want a regulator that you know you can trust to work time and time again. Products need to be tried and tested for reliable and consistent performance and the following products are some of the best in terms of their performance.
Best Scuba Regulator Reviews
If you’re an adventure-seeking diver looking for a great quality regulator at a reasonable price, then the Sherwood’s got you covered. What stands out about this regulator is that it’s been built with the latest high tech and lightweight materials on the market. It’s environmentally sealed so that the elements which you’re bound to come into contact with on your adventures – such as dirt, sand and ice crystals – will not hinder its performance. It’s built with 5 low-pressure ports and 2 high-pressure ports, giving you plenty of access and the 360-degree rotating turret allows for flexibility and adjustment to suit your needs. Another amazing thing about this regulator is the smart second stage demand lever. It gives the regulator a longer seat life and between your diving adventures and while storing. It’s got a two-piece piston which is reliable for deep diving and provides balance and good pressure control. Combine all of these together and you get a regulator that looks good, is great for traveling and provides consistent and reliable performance and a smooth breathing experience at a fair price.
- Good for deep water diving
- Many ports (5 low pressure + 2 high pressure)
- Consistent performance
- Easy location and use of purge
Made by one of the most renowned brands of scuba gear, this regulator sits at the high-end scale of the regulator spectrum. This regulator comes with an excellent ease of high-end which is effortless and reliable no matter how deep you decide to dive. This balanced and sealed regulator has five low-pressure points and is fully insulated for cold water use. This means you can use it in warm or cold waters up to 130ft deep and feel no difference in the pressure of breathing. The dual airflow feature means that no bubbles will block your vision while you’re diving. For all you extreme divers constantly looking for deepwater adventures, this may be the regulator for you, if you are willing to pay the price – and you definitely get what you pay for, that’s for sure. Not only is it built well with great features, it’s very aesthetically pleasing too. The chrome finish gives it a streamlined look so not only can you dive with ease and comfort, but you can also dive with style. It’s great for diving in the depths of the ocean, shallow diving and even for diving with a heavy workload. Your only negative with this regulator would probably be its price.
- Effortless air flow at any depth
- No vision obstruction
- Well-built with great design
- Fairly expensive
- No high-pressure ports
Do you like to live on the edge and dive into extremely cold temperatures? Or maybe you’re looking for a good regulator that will provide great performance in really cold conditions. The Cares Abyss 22 Navy is the perfect choice for you. This is the only regulator to be approved by the US Navy standards and is practically freeze proof which is due to the fluoropolymer coating on the second stage of the regulator. It’s got a good amount of ports, 4 low pressure, and 2 high pressure. There’s no breathing difficulty, provides comfort and a perforated front vent reduces free flows. However, there are some drawbacks. Because of its all-metal design, it is quite heavy. There is a vortex assisted design that tends to give too much air and results in jaw fatigue. Most find that the tank sits too high on the regulator, meaning you’ve got to spend a bit of extra time trying to figure out the best height for you. The second stage is also not adjustable.
- Reliability in extremely cold weather conditions
- Approved by US military standards
- Reduced free flows
- Very durable
- Non-adjustable second stage
- Slight jaw fatigue due to vortex system giving too much air
- Takes time to adjust the height of the tank
If you’re a traveler, looking for a lightweight, compact, sturdy and reliable regulator and you’re willing to splurge, the Atomic T3 might catch your eye. It’s built with solid titanium billets and its overall weight is around 1 kilogram which would be amazing for a traveler who doesn’t want to be lugging around heavy pieces of equipment. Not only was this material used because of its weight, but because of its resistance to corrosion in ocean water, meaning this scuba regulator is light but tough. It’s a balanced flow-through piston design that is environmentally sealed with O2 compatible grease and freezeproof abilities. The seat system on this regulator allows it to work for around 3 years or 300 dives without any need for servicing which is impressive. It comes with 5 low-pressure ports and 2 high-pressure ports. There are a huge number of features this regulator has that makes it well worth the price point.
- Weighs less than a kilogram / 1.7 pounds
- Many low and high-pressure ports
- Easy breathing experience
- Very expensive
Hey, how about this! Cressi is an actual, real brand of diving gear on the higher-end from Italy. The company has been around since 1946 (wow – that was just during the aftermath and cleanup from World War II). More to the point – this regulator is non-corrosive and is sure to last quite a while. The XS second stage features a really comfortable mouthpiece and easy purge button. It features a non-balanced first stage with excellent reliability and performance. From what we’ve been able to discern online, there are countless fans of this exact regulator (not just the Cressi brand) worldwide because of its simplicity (less to screw up) and strength!
The body of the second stage is a traditional size and it’s made from leading-edge polymers. It’s has a lateral valve downstream system with an adjustable orifice, which makes it simple and strong. A flow of pilot air is channeled to the mouthpiece by injection which really boosts and enhances performance. The second stage also comes with a flow deviator. The regulator is suitable for any kind of dive and because of all its features (mainly strength and simplicity), it’s known around the world as a “workhorse” in the industry.
The sub-$200 price tag betrays its value since it’s probably worth a lot more when you compare it to regulators costing $1500 or more!
- Minimal breathing effort
- Light, yet durable – perfect for traveling
- Works well in both warm and cold water
- Leads its class in simple and strong design
- Simple, easy-to-use design
- Super Cheap (price tag that is!)
- Bubbles slightly interfere vision while diving
If you’re a recreational diver or maybe you just like to dive as a hobby, this “SUPER-budget-friendly” regulator has everything you would need. It’s a balanced piston design with 4 medium pressure ports and 1 high-pressure port. It’s extremely light, weighing just over 500 grams with environmental sealing to keep out dust, dirt or sand. It’s comfortable to wear, however, the second stage is not adjustable. Overall, if you’re not complicated or fussy about the features on your regulator and just need a good working set to dive with, the Palantic AS105 is simple, cheap and comfortable.
Overall it’s a good buy for the price featuring corrosion-resistant marine chrome-plated finish, and an over-balanced diaphragm design that delivers great breathing performance even at increased depths.
- Affordable, budget-friendly
- Protected from corrosion, ice due to environmental sealing
- Easy breathing
- Overbalanced first stage works faster and more efficient gas delivery
- Non-adjustable second stage
- Flimsy regulator cap
Here’s another contender for one of the best budget-friendly regulators available. The Mares Rover (yes, we get the name is a play on the term “Mars Rover from NASA”) is a balanced diaphragm design, built with tri-materials (soft, heavy-duty PU and brass) that provides consistent performance and durability. It works well for its price. The Mares Rover will provide a comfortable diving experience with no difficulty controlling or pressing buttons. Remember, this is a 2nd stage only regulator, so you’ll need to add gear for full functionality. It comes with 2 high-pressure ports and 4 low-pressure ports – perfect for any kind of diver. However, it can be slightly noisy when above the water and has no airflow control.
- Durable (tri-material)
- Oversized Purge Button
- Popular with dive schools (especially throughout Europe)
- No user airflow control
- Slightly noisy above water
Final Thoughts & Conclusion
This is all information that you can take away and apply to your next scuba regulator purchase. Whether or not you choose one of the products listed, you now know what to look for when picking a top-quality regulator. A regulator that provides comfort, is tough enough to withstand the damages of the elements and stands out as being constant in performance with every dive. Balanced and sealed regulators are the best to purchase for a great experience in both cold and warm water and having a good amount of high and low-pressure ports is essential for comfortable set up and for any extra attachments.
There were are a range of products varying in price and function in the top 7 list which will definitely cater to specific people and their needs. If you dive professionally or don’t mind spending a bit of money for a regulator, the ScubaPro MK25, the Atomic T3 or the Mares Abyss are the regulators that will pick your fancy. You get what you pay for and they will last you a long time.
If you’re a diver that travels into extreme weather conditions, or you live in an area that is particularly cold, the Mares Abyss 22 is the regulator for you. Built especially for the extreme cold temperatures, you can rely on it to provide you with high performance that is unaffected by the temperature extremes.
Divers on a budget can look to the Mares Rover, Palantic AS101 or the Cressi Sub Elipse. Pick the Mares Rover if you think you’re going to be diving or doing things that might involve a little wear and tear on the part of the regulator because it’s built for its durability and though materials that will not wear out easily. If you already carry around a lot of equipment with you while traveling to find the best diving spots, the Palantic AS101 is immensely lightweight that it won’t weigh you down even more. The Cressi Sub Elipse is a general all-rounder if you’re not particular about what you need.