When diving, having the best scuba regulator could be a matter of life or death. This may sound a little dramatic, but the regulator will quite literally be supplying you with life-saving oxygen while on a deep sea or technical dive.
This is why choosing the best scuba regulator is such an important decision to make. When faced with a multitude of choices, it might be best to make a checklist of what you need in a regulator, such as: environmental protection, anti-freezing or whether you will need a balanced or an unbalanced one.
The following is our list of complete scuba regulators, conveniently placed into categories to make your search easier. Best Scuba Regulators, Best Airflow Scuba Regulators, Best Regulators With Extra Features.
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We reviewed over 9 scuba regulators for this article. Below are the best options.
The SCUBAPRO MK25/S600 is perfect for cold-water diving.
The first stage has a patented Extended thermal Insulating system (XTIS) that protects all internal parts from the extreme cold that comes with deepsea diving.
The XTIS has improved the environmental protections by 30%, while still ensuring optimal breathing performance. This ensures the best environmental protection for your regulator.
In fact, the improved anti-freeze protection of XTIS has resulted in an increase in breathing performance, even at the most extreme deep water temperatures.
This air balanced first stage contains a flow-through piston which is chrome-plated. The airflow is completely unaffected by outside factors such as tank pressure, breathing rate and depth. It continuously provides reliable and effortless airflow.
The first stage contains two opposing high-pressure ports and 5 high-flow, low-pressure ports. It also contains an intermediate pressure adjustment to easily fine-tune performance.
The second stage is also air balanced which makes inhalation almost effortless, no matter the depth and pressure.
It was made to be durable with metal valve housing, ensuring that it will last for years, even with frequent dives at varying depths.
It contains convenient user controls such as a “diver-adjustable inhalation effort knob” and VIVA pre-dive/dive switch. The bore on the hose is bigger than the standard, which allows for more airflow and the mouthpiece is a comfortable orthodontic with an easy grip.
The MK23/S600 is lightweight at only 3.2 lbs (1.45 kg), offers patented anti-freeze protection and provides almost effortless airflow despite depth and pressure changes.
Aqua Lung Mikron is one of the smallest and lightest regulators on the market, making it perfect for those traveling divers who prefer to take their own diving equipment along.
The first stage has a patented Auto-Closure Device (ACD) that is used as environmental protection. It does this by automatically closing the inlet when the Core is removed from the cylinder valve, thus preventing corrosion.
A braided hose (5 oz) accompanies the first stage offering greater flexibility, comfort and transportability. The first stage has two high-pressure ports and four medium-pressure ports placed in a T-shape for increased optimization.
A pneumatically-balanced second stage allows for smooth and easy breathing at all depths. An adjustment knob with “Mini” and “Maxi” settings optimizes opening effort.
The “Mini” position increases the opening effort, avoiding freeflow at the surface, while the “Maxi” position lowers the inhalation effort and thus makes breathing easier.
The second stage also comes with a patented Comfo-Bite™ mouthpiece and reusable mouthpiece clamp (as well as a smaller Comfo-Bite™ for small mouths).
A detachable silicone bridge, which fits across the palate, reduces mouth fatigue and ensures comfort throughout your dive. The Aqua Lung Mikron offers excellent performance in a compact package.
The Aqua Lung Calypso has an unbalanced, high-flow piston first stage that offers reliability and excellent performance.
The intuitive design offers a better thermal exchange which improves anti-freezing. The large holes in the cap end also makes it easier to clean.
It contains a second filter that protects against air pollution by allowing for filter changes without the need for dismantling.
Open-yoke screw prevents water retention and the adjacent dust cap protects the inlet from shocks.
The first stage also contains a transformation kit for Aqua Lung’s patented ACD (Auto-Closure Device) system. This stage contains a marine base and bright chrome plating, with a sintered bronze conical filter and EPDM O-rings.
The second stage is fitted with Aqua Lung’s Comfo-Bite mouthpiece for reduced jaw fatigue and a reusable clip to quickly and easily change mouthpieces.
Thanks to the in-line ergonomic Venturi knob, adjustments are precise and easy to make, even while wearing gloves.
The rugged and durable polyurethane purge cover allows easy water purging while protecting against shock with its abrasion- and tear-resistant design.
Freeflow is prevented by the side openings, reducing the worry of facing currents.
The second stage has a lower number of components and is fitted with a clipped deflector that offers easy access to the exhaust valve which allows for easier maintenance.
The first stage of the Zeagle F8 contains a balanced, dry-sealed spring chamber.
All delicate parts are environmentally sealed behind a hydrostatic diaphragm, and allows you to dive in waters with a temperature below 40℉ without fear of it freezing.
The New Precision Neoflon seat has an unconventional design that extends its service life and thus increases its reliability in deepsea and deep technical dives.
It allows for optimal airflow performance and responsiveness, even for those who do not know how to regulate their breathing yet.
The first stage has a brass body, with stainless steel high pressure valves and nitrile O-rings. The new inhalation diaphragm of the second stage is made of elastomeric polymer for superior tear strength.
It has an exhaust valve containing soft silicone that is molded over a below friction disk to increase the ease of airflow with each inhalation.
The Zeagle F8 was provided a Seat-saving orifice from Atomic Aquatics. This orifice extends the life of the breathing tube seat by retracting when it’s not being used.
The redesigned heat sink, coupled with the zirconium-plated inlet tube, creates an improved heat exchange. This improves the antifreeze and ensures that corrosion-resistance supasses older models.
Finally, there is far less jaw fatigue with the silicone mouthpiece that has been co-molded for a much better fit.
The first stage features a balanced diaphragm for optimal airflow, with new anti-expansion elements that prevent freezing in water below 4° but avoiding direct contact with the metal pieces.
A semi-flexible elastomer shealth is fitted to protect the first stage from environmental factors that cause erosion.
With the mechanism’s hyper-balanced membrane you can be assured that the last leg of your dive will receive the optimal level of airflow performance. The mechanism offers greater reliability, durability and reduced maintenance.
The integrated second stage has a body of incorporated metal particles. This prevents freezing in waters below 4° by improving the thermal conductivity.
The bayonet closure conveniently offers a 30° turn thread without the need for tools.
Cressi XS Compact uses a patented cam tilt that greatly reduces friction because the polished Telfon covering virtually removes friction on the cam-disc.
Due to the asymmetrical frontal perforation, the membrane is pushed counter-clockwise by the flow of water.
This causes the membrane’s retraction to be flat, and thus ensure that the cam will descend perpendicularly, regardless of outside conditions such as currents or brisk movements.
This also ensures that water will not infiltrate, no matter how brisk your movements may be.
A highly effective flanged filter is anchored to the valve connection nut, allowing insertion without circlip.
The polyurethane valve is featured, and is highly resistant to oils and hyperoxic mixtures alike. It has a high-pressure, stainless steel saddle, which prolongs its life and makes it resistant to deformation-causing micro-metal particles.
This regulator offers high performance at all depths due to the exclusive distribution chamber that directs the air volume directly to low-pressure ports.
It features an oversized purge button and a broad cap safety lock that can be removed without tools. The cap also offers two different angles and phases to remove the risk of accidental freeing.
The overbalanced diaphragm of the first stage is cold forged and environmentally sealed for protection against contaminants and freezing.
There is a heat exchanger that has been added for greater performance in cold water. For an even great coldwater performance, the heat exchanger has been placed in the hose connecting to the second stage.
The second stage is pneumatically balanced and is fitted with a pre-dive/dive switch as well as a patented Dynamic Airflow Adjustment control.
It improves airflow at all depths and pressures, lessening the work of inhalations. An ergonomic exhalation vent further increases airflow.
The Mechanical Purge button ensures you will not have to worry about your airflow during purging as it will remain reliable and consistent.
The mouthpiece is Orthodontic with Bite Tabs for comfortable fit and extra durability.
There is an optional swivel adapter (universal) available, along with instructions on how to attach it. The Milfex Braided Hose is available for completed models only.
Oceanic offers a lifetime warranty as well as free parts for life. There is also a 2 year service interval (required).
Atomic Z3 is one of the few products that comes with four different patented features.
The first stage allows for natural breathing and corrosion-resistance with its patented balanced Atomic Jet Seat piston. It is made of chrome-plate brass and stainless for increased service life and reliability.
An environmental factory-seal is optional and prevents outside silt and sand from contaminating the delicate parts of the first stage. There are two fixed high-pressure ports and seven low-pressure ports which are on the fixed cap.
The second stage is pneumatically-balanced and allows for an easy breathing experience at all depths and pressure.
The patented Atomic AFC (Automatic Flow Control) removes all dials and buttons (manual adjustment) that usually accompanies the Venturi effect, ensuring seamless regulation as you dive deeper.
It's soft, overmolded Rapid Adjustment Knob has been included for surf entry and octo use.
In order to maintain the same, crisp factory tuning, the patented Atomic Titanium Seat-Saving Orifice is included. This has the added benefit of preventing damage when it is being stored or transported.
The hose has a patented Brass Atomic Comfort Swivel that allows for 30° rotation without having to worry about kinking, pulling or binding.
The entire front of the second stage can be used for purging due to the dual material cover used, while the exhalation effort is reduced by the elliptical valve.
A dual silicone mouthpiece ensures extra comfort, while the tear-resistant bite tabs increase durability.
The Hollis 500SE DC7 has an overbalanced first stage and a pneumatically balanced servo valve second stage, both of which improve airflow and breathing under the most extreme underwater conditions.
The first stage is environmentally sealed to prevent contaminants from entering the inlet and to keep ice from forming.
This in turn prevents the corrosion of important internal mechanisms. Designed and built to work at optimal levels at even the coldest water temperatures.
The fixed hose routing allows for both sidemount and backmount configuration.
The patented Orthodontic Mouthpiece of the second stage has been designed for comfort and to reduce jaw fatigue. The servo mechanism of the second stage opens up with just a small sip through the mouthpiece.
It's main valve diaphragm is opened up automatically by the vacuum created from the air flow from the servo valve. This allows air to flow freely through the regulator to the mouthpiece.
The entire main valve features porting all around instead of just one small port. This means that the first stage has less restrictions and has a great maximum performance.
Comes with a 30” maxflex hose that is easily disassembled without the need for tools, and can even be disassembled underwater if necessary.
The Apeks XTX50/DS4 features an innovative Diver Changeable Exhaust (DCE) system that gives divers the ability to change the exhaust tee from small to large.
A wider exhaust tee is used for underwater photography as it minimizes bubble interference, while a narrow exhaust tee is used for a smaller, more comfortable regulator. Both options are supplied.
If you are keen on using twin cylinders or a sidemount, an optional 5th port is available. The hose can be converted from right-handed to left-hand, due to the Reversible Venturi System.
Although this configuration must be performed by an Apeks Authorized Service Technician.
The overbalanced first stage offers superior performance at all depths. This is due to the medium-pressure gas rising at a faster rate.
An environmental dry system ensures that all delicate parts are protected from ice buildup by keeping water out of the main chamber. It also provides protection against contamination such as silt.
The pneumatically balanced second stage offers smooth and easy breathing at all depths.
The large XTX purge buttons are easy to operate and offer two stages: the side purge button decreases flow rate while the center button offers the full purging effect.
A soft rubber grip Venturi lever allows it to be located and used easier, even while wearing gloves. It has a smooth operation due to the reduced amount of grit and friction.
An improved breathing performance is provided by the silicone exhaust valve. A patented heat exchanger protects the valve mechanism by dissipating the cold that usually accompanies gas expansion, while simultaneously pulling in the warmth available in the ambient water.
Aqua Lung’s Comfo-bite™ is attached and reduces nearly all jaw fatigue. A braided flexi-hose is standard for all Apeks regulators.
Simply put, the first stage of a scuba diving regulator is attached to the tank valve, while the second stage is the mouthpiece. Thus, a complete regulator would be one with both the first and second stage. This would be the best buying choice for beginner scuba divers.
That being said, each stage can be purchased separately if you are so inclined. This might be the case if, for example, you prefer the first stage but not the second stage. You would then try out a new second stage with your original first stage. The reverse could also be true.
Alternatively, the first or second stage could be damaged and will need to be replaced. In this instance, it is considered highly convenient that brands create the stages separately.
The yoke, or International, valve, is the most commonly used in the US. This, however, does not make it the best. Most experienced, professional divers prefer the DIN valve due to its ability to withstand greater pressure as opposed to the yoke setting, which leaves the O-ring vulnerable to increased pressure changes.
The DIN setting is more reliable, secure and safer, especially for deepsea and deep technical dives. While it is uncommon in the US, it is the standard valve setting for most of Europe.
Environmental protections such as sealing all the delicate parts in the first stage diaphragm, is incredibly important to prevent these parts from freezing at low temperatures. It also protects all important features from silt and other debris which might adversely affect the regulator, which could prove detrimental to your health.
This is especially important if you will be doing deepsea and/or deep technical diving, where the water temperature, pressure and depth could all have adverse effects on the delicate parts in a regulator.
Yes, that is the standard for all recreational scuba tank regulators.
All complete regulators come with their own hose. However, you could purchase one separately if the need arises. It should be said that even the cheapest regulators will have extremely reliable hoses.
Balanced regulators are designed to allow easy exhalations at any depth and pressure. Conversely, unbalanced regulators cause exhalations to become more difficult the deeper you go or when there is a change in tank pressure (or with heavy breathing).
With this in mind, a balanced regulator will be best for beginners who generally have trouble regulating their breathing. Experienced divers should have no noticeable exhalation problems with an unbalanced regulator.
The type of valve used could have an effect on the regulator. For instance, while yoke (or international) connection is the most popular for diving in the US, it does not offer adequate protection for the O-ring. This makes it vulnerable to overpressurization.
Alternatively, the DIN connection commonly used in Europe due to the extra protection it provided the O-ring. This makes it the more reliable valve of the two.
Ensure that you know which valve is being used when deciding on a scuba diving regulator.
Goes without saying that all regulators should be environmentally sealed to protect against water and contaminants such as silt, entering the delicate sections of the regulator. If this does happen, it will cause corrosion and the regulator will become unreliable and much less durable.
Certain brands have patented environmental sealing systems that offer greater protection against corrosion and you should look for this feature when deciding on a regulator. The best environmental sealing offers effortless protection while ensuring optimal anti-freezing and air flow.
If the sealing hinders airflow then the regulator will not be working efficiently, especially for deepsea and technical diving.
Generally, anti-freezing and environmental sealing usually go hand-in-hand. The same sealing that protects against corrosion, will likely also protect against ice-formation in coldwater conditions.
I should not need to tell you how important it is for your regulator to remain free of ice while you are diving. If it freezes over, exhalations and airflow will be incredibly difficult. You do not want this happening when you are doing deepsea and technical diving, where you will be in extreme water temperatures and low depths.
Certain materials are better suited for continuous, aggressive diving. Silicone and stainless steel are particularly durable in seawater and silicone also provides less friction. A soft, silicone mouthpiece will also help lessen jaw fatigue and extend its life service.
Polyurethane and chrome plating are also commonly used in diving regulators for their durability and reliability.
Many brands have developed their own patented features for their scuba diving regulators. The best brands have more than one patent, that usually offers superior quality to other brands. The most commonly patented features are: the airflow control, environmental protection, thermal protection, mouthpiece, Venturi adjustment, and many more.
The best scuba diving regulator will likely be the one with the most superior features. Although you will need to consider how much more expensive it might be with added features included.
Control of airflow is one of the most important features in a regulator for obvious reasons. You want your inhalations to be nearly effortless at all depths. You also want to ensure that other features, such as purging, will not affect the air flow.
Certain brands have patented airflow control systems to ensure they provide continuous, reliable and uninterrupted airflow despite adverse conditions (such as depth, pressure or aggressive movement). These would be the best types of airflow control as they offer greater performance and reduce the work of each exhalation.
Ensure that the airflow system is also properly protected against environmental contaminants.
Hey, I'm Brad - the founder and editor of Watercraft Watch. My love for boating is what prompted me to start WatercraftWatch.com – helping people find the right equipment and supplies so they can enjoy their time on the water. I hope you find the articles on the site useful, and share in my love for boating.