- Quick Answer
- Best Scuba Diving Regulators
- What Is A Scuba Diving Regulator?
- How To Choose The Best Regulators
- Yoke Vs Din Regulators
- Balanced Vs Unbalanced Regulators
- Frequently Asked
A good Scuba regulator is one of the most important pieces of your dive gear, and you need something reliable. No regulator, no dive. Bad regulator, ruined dive, or worse.
Scuba diving regulators are quite literally the lifeline between you and your air source while you’re underwater.
If you are an avid diver you will agree that it’s not always ideal to be renting/using the regulators and other abused gear from dive shops on your trips!
I’ve done hundreds of dives without my own dive gear, and I got by ok, but it was always a hassle. Finding the right sizes, comfortable mouthpieces, second stages that don’t free flow constantly and more, was always a problem.
Once I decided to get all my own gear, each piece perfect for me, my dive experiences improved greatly. No more shabby gear, no more first time learning new gear, no more wasting money on rentals.
In this guide to the best scuba regulators in 2021, we will review some of the best options on the market for the year, from various top brands.
Plus we’ll cover how to choose your own scuba diving regulator so that you can find the best for you!
So let’s dive in.
Quick Answer: The Best Scuba Regulators
HIGHLIGHTS: The top regulator from one of the biggest SCUBA gear manufacturers in the world. Awesome regulator to have. Check it out on Amazon.
HIGHLIGHTS: A more budget-friendly, yet still high-quality regulator from Aqua Lung. Check it out on Amazon.
HIGHLIGHTS: Perfectly lightweight for travel, yet has great breathability still. Check it out on Amazon.
HIGHLIGHTS: Zeagle’s best performing regulator with over 20 improvements from the popular flathead series. Check it out on Amazon.
HIGHLIGHTS: In true Mares style, this great SCUBA regulator is built for any condition, specifically for under-ice dives. Check it out on Amazon
Want to review these options, and a few others, in more detail?
The Full List of the Best Scuba Regulators for 2021
Aqua Lung is arguably the best dive gear manufacturer in the world, and at the moment, the Legend LUX Supreme is their best regulator. You can’t go wrong with this amazing piece of equipment, and will never be disappointed.
The only down-side for some is the price tag, well over $1000 with the octopus and gauge, but if you want the best, this is it.
The Mikron is another awesome regulator by Aqua Lung and the one I use personally. For me, it is the perfect regulator, almost as good as the Legend, but quite a bit cheaper.
It also has a relatively smaller-sized first stage and octopus, which makes it easy to pack and travel with.
The Apeks Flight is reportedly the lightest regulator in the world. It’s made using advanced composite materials selected for their optimum strength to weight ratio and is extremely easy to use.
The Flight is ideal for transportation and travel, and despite its compact size its breathe performance is exceptional.
This is Zeagle’s new flagship regulator model with a completely new platform second stage design. The F8 name is derived from the well-established Zeagle Flathead series regulators.
Totally new design, Zeagle’s best performing regulator ever with more than 20 new improvements. Zeagle’s regulators are US-made, built under strict controls for quality in Zeagle’s own factory, using state of the art technology.
This reg is the Mares answer for every condition. With careful analysis and evaluation of what happens in cold water, Mares has designed a product to guarantee top performance and reliability under the toughest conditions, including diving under the ice.
The first stage is a balanced diaphragm design that is environmentally sealed. The benefit of this type of first stage design is that none of the internal parts are exposed to contaminants such as salt, sand, chlorine, or pool acids.
The SR2 regulator continues the legacy the SR1 created. It packs advanced technology into a compact case, employing contemporary styling and utilizing a multitude of cutting-edge materials to bring to you a superior high-performance regulator system.
Superior breathing performance the SR2 is more technically advanced and more attractive than its predecessor.
The Cressi AC10V Master Cromo Regulator reintroduces the famed AC10V balanced piston first stage coupled with the acclaimed Master Cromo second stage regulator.
This isn’t the highest-rated regulator on this list, but it is probably the cheapest. Cressi is known for catering to the everyday divers as opposed to specialty equipment, so if that’s you it could be what you need.
You didn’t think we would forget ScubaPro, one of the best brands out there, did you? This guy is a little on the expensive side, but that’s what you get with one of the world’s leading companies.
The MK25 EVO teamed with Scubapro’s exceptional A700, offers Superior Ultra-High Airflow System for Maximum Performance in All-Temperatures and Diving-Conditions. Scubapro has been the Leader in the Evolution of piston-controlled first stages since its beginning; the MK25 EVO carries on this heritage with an array of patented features ensuring unfailing performance.
Ergonomically designed to be the world’s most comfortable second stage, the B2 is the next generation of the highly acclaimed Atomic B1 regulator.
The B1 regulators have received more accolades from the diving press and independent test reviews than any other regulator in history for both performance and ergonomics. The B2 shares the identical first and second stage design and performance as the T1, the most notable difference being the metal (titanium) used in the T1.
NOTE: Most of the regulators above only come with the second and first stages and the connecting hose. If that’s the case, then you will still need the air gauge and hose, and an octopus and hose. Maybe a fancy gauge like this one from Suunto or something simple like this one.
Before Buying a SCUBA Regulator
Still not sure what one to go with, with so many great options? There are a few factors to consider when choosing the perfect regulator for you, so let’s go through those, and then we will just give our recommendations and all-time favorites, that you can’t go wrong with.
NOTE: There is nothing wrong with older models. You can check out the links above and search for models of the same brand.
Obviously, you should think about your budget, check the prices in the links above, and that will be a big factor. But obviously, since there are a lot of options around the same prices, there will be more factors to think about.
How often will you dive
If you are diving frequently, are a Divemaster or instructor, you are going to want a good regulator that will last, and you can easily justify investing in the best. If you are diving a few times a year, you don’t need the most top-of-the-line.
How to choose the best scuba diving regulators
When it comes to buying your own scuba diving regulators, there is an overwhelming amount of makes, models, and advice out there. Ultimately the best scuba diving regulators will depend on the type of diving you plan on doing.
Of course, price is also a factor. But your regulators are the main thing that keeps you alive while scuba diving. So it’s definitely not the piece of scuba diving gear you want to be stingy with.
When buying scuba diving regulators, each of the parts above can be purchased separately. But it’s much more common, and often more cost-effective, to buy a set.
In general, these are the key questions to consider when you’re buying your own scuba diving regulators. These few simple questions will help narrow down your choices and cut out the regulators that aren’t suitable for you.
Should you buy a Yoke or DIN Regulator?
The short answer is that it depends on where you’ll be diving:
If you’re a recreational diver who mostly dives in warm waters then go for a yoke regulator. Most of the cylinders in North America and tropical diving locations will have yoke valves.
If you do most of your diving in Europe or are interested in technical diving, then go for a DIN regulator. The majority of cylinders in Europe feature a DIN valve and technical diving requires your regulators to withstand higher pressures.
And if you’re still not sure whether to buy a yoke or a DIN regulator let’s take a close look at the difference between the two types of scuba diving regulators.
What is the difference between a yoke and a DIN regulator?
It’s all about how the first stage connects to the cylinder valve. The first stage of a yoke regulator sits on top of the valve and is clamped in place with a screw. Whereas the first stage of a DIN regulator first stage will screw directly into a threaded opening in the cylinder valve.
The main difference between a yoke and a DIN is their ability to handle high pressure. A DIN can handle up to 300 bars (4350 PSI), whereas a yoke has a maximum working capacity of 200 bars (2900 PSI).
A quick and easy way to tell the difference between a yoke and a DIN regulator is the position of the O-ring. In a yoke regulator, the O-ring is found in the tank valve, whereas on a DIN regulator the O-ring is found on the first stage.
What are the benefits of a din regulator?
As we mentioned already, DIN regulators can handle up to 300 bar which can mean more air for your dive (if you’re using a cylinder that can be filled up to 300 bar).
In a DIN regulator, the sealing o-ring sits inside the first stage. So it is much less exposed to dust and other contaminants than with a yoke regulator.
Depending on the brand, a DIN regulator can be significantly lighter than the yoke alternative. The big lump of metal that creates the ‘A’ clamp on a yoke first stage can end up adding a surprising amount of weight.
And lastly, DIN is the preferred regulator fitting for technical diving.
What are the benefits of a YOKE regulator?
The main reason for choosing a yoke regulator over a DIN is for ease of compatibility with cylinders in North America and tropical diving locations.
Your choice is not final
DIN regulators can be converted to yoke, and yoke regulators can be converted to a DIN system by a knowledgeable technician.
Alternatively, you can easily use a DIN regulator on a yolk cylinder valve using a yoke adaptor. Although this can be a little bulky causing the first stage to stick out which may bump your head.
Many modern cylinder valves can also be easily converted from yoke to DIN by removing the insert using an alan key.
Should you buy a balanced or unbalanced regulator?
Balanced regulators perform better at depth and when your cylinder is low on air. So we’d always recommend buying a balanced regulator. Most scuba diving regulators nowadays are balanced or even overbalanced.
Without getting too technical, a balanced first stage will breathe consistently easy at depth or with a low tank pressure. A balanced regulator has extra components that compensate for the additional water pressure to maintain or even increase, the regulators’ performance at depth. This can be at just the first stage, or at both the first and second stages of the regulators for optimal performance.
Whereas unbalanced scuba diving regulators will slightly drop in performance the deeper you dive or when the cylinder pressure is below 50 bar (725 PSI). This means that an unbalanced regulator will feel slightly harder to breathe from. (But you should be ending your dive by that point!)
Because unbalanced regulators are a simpler mechanism, they are, of course, cheaper and easier to maintain. If price is a big factor, then you may want to consider buying a balanced first stage and an unbalanced second stage. The first stage does most of the work so you can balance performance with your budget.
Do you need an environmentally sealed regulator?
An environmental seal is basically an additional chamber around the first stage that is filled with silicone oil or another non-freeze liquid. This prevents freeflow and protects the moving parts of the first stage from freezing when diving in cold water. And by cold we mean below 50°F or 10°C. A little too chilly for us Scuba Otters but whatever floats your boat!.
If you’re regularly braving these temperatures then it’s recommended you buy an environmentally sealed regulator.
An environmental seal also has the added benefit of preventing any saltwater or debris from getting inside the first stage, minimizing maintenance concerns.
However, environmentally sealed regulators are more expensive, both to buy, and service. So an environmentally sealed regulator is only worth buying if you’ll be regularly scuba diving in very cold waters.
Will you be traveling frequently?
And lastly, if you intend to travel with your dive gear, then the weight of the scuba diving regulators is worth considering.
Although a heavy-duty, full metal regulator will be very robust, it’ll also weigh twice as much as a compact regulator made from lightweight materials.
So to make sure you’re not slapped with excess baggage fees on your next liveaboard trip, look for the lightweight regulator sets.
What is a scuba diving Regulator?
Simply put, scuba diving regulators are a series of hoses and stages that regulate the pressure of the air in your cylinder. So that you can breathe easily underwater. Hence the name regulators!
Scuba diving regulators reduce the high-pressure air from your cylinder and deliver it to your mouth, BCD, and other pieces of dive gear at a safe pressure.
Together, the regulators and the cylinder make up a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, more commonly known as SCUBA. Without both of these pieces of equipment, we wouldn’t be able to breathe underwater.
What are the different parts of a scuba diving regulator?
With different sections, functions, and a wide variety of given names, scuba diving regulators can appear a little tricky.
So let’s break it down and take a closer look at each section of scuba diving regulators.
Standard scuba regulators usually consist of 5 main parts:
- First Stage
- Primary Second Stage
- Alternate Second Stage
- Low-Pressure Inflator Hose
- Submersible Pressure Gauge
Regulator First Stage
The first stage is the central part of a scuba regulator that attaches to your cylinder valve. Named for its position, this is the first section where the air travels from the tank and into the regulators.
This pressure is still too high to breathe from, which takes us on to the second stage. But before we move on, there’s a bit more you need to know about the first stage of a scuba diving regulator.
Scuba diving regulators use either a piston or diaphragm mechanism in the first stage. These mechanisms are how regulators ‘sense’ the change in pressure as you descend and control the air from your cylinder.
The first stage can be balanced or unbalanced which affects the regulators’ performance at depth. And will feature either a yoke, (sometimes referred to as an A-clamp) or a DIN connection.
Primary Second Stage
Often referred to as your regulator, this is the part that you put in your mouth and breathe from.
The primary second stage takes the intermediate pressure from the first stage via a hose and reduces it to ambient pressure, (the pressure you’re currently under) so you can breathe easily.
A regulator’s second stage features a mouthpiece, exhaust valve, and purge button. There will also be an adjustable knob that allows you to increase and decrease the airflow, making it easier or harder to breathe from.
Similar to the first stage, the regulator’s second stage can also be balanced or unbalanced. With a balanced second stage further improving the regulators’ performance at depth.
Alternate Second Stage
Sometimes known as the Octopus, the alternate second stage works exactly the same as the primary second stage.
It is simply a back up if you have a problem with your primary second stage or if your buddy is out of air. Your buddy can then breathe from your alternate second stage whilst you make a safe ascent.
The general rule is that your alternate second stage is brightly colored so it’s easy to spot in an emergency.
Low-Pressure Inflator Hose (LPI)
Running from your regulator first stage, this hose attaches to the inflator on your BCD allowing you to add air from your tank into your BCD to regulate your buoyancy.
Submersible Pressure Gauge aKA SPG
Attached to the first stage via a hose, the pressure gauge shows you how much air pressure you have in your tank. Of course, the first stage does not reduce the pressure coming into the gauge.
Scuba diving regulators may also have a depth gauge, dive computer, or compass mounted alongside the pressure gauge forming what is known as an instrument console.
Want to see the different parts of the scuba regulator in action?
So now you understand what scuba diving regulators are and how the different sections work.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most important feature of a scuba diving regulator?
Ultimately, the most important feature of a scuba diving regulator is how easy it is to breathe from. The main function of a scuba diving regulator is to make it easy to breathe when you’re underwater.
So if that’s not the case then it’s probably time to get your regulators serviced or consider buying new ones.
If possible, try out a few different scuba diving regulators before making your decision. Even if it’s not possible to take the regulators in the water, you can usually try breathing from them dry.
What is the difference between a Piston and a diaphragm regulator?
A piston regulator works by allowing water to enter the first stage and push directly on a piston that controls the airflow. The deeper you go, the higher the water pressure applied to the piston increasing the airflow.
A diaphragm regulator works using a lever inside an air space and a diaphragm that pulls inwards as the air space contracts with the increased water pressure at depth.
Now to the eternal debate over which regulator is best; a piston or a diaphragm first stage?
Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Both a piston and diaphragm regulator are equally good at delivering breathable air.
But there are a few distinguishing factors that can help you decide which regulator mechanism is best for you.
What are the benefits of a DIAPhragm regulator?
Although a diaphragm regulator has more moving parts, it’s actually much simpler to manufacture which means these regulators are usually more affordable.
What’s more, because diaphragm regulators don’t allow any water inside there is much less chance of the first stage being affected by contaminants. Plus a diaphragm regulator is less likely to freeflow in cold waters.
If you’re planning to dive in extremely cold or turbid waters then we’d recommend buying a diaphragm regulator.
What are the benefits of a piston regulator?
Because a piston regulator only has one moving part in the first stage they are more reliable, extremely durable, and less expensive to fix than a diaphragm regulator. Although the initial cost of a piston regulator is higher due to the precise nature of the manufacturing process.
Piston regulators are more exposed to the environment which means they require a little more care. Piston regulators are not recommended for dirty or near-freezing water temperatures which may cause the piston to stick and the regulator to freeflow.
Although technically a piston regulator will deliver more air than a diaphragm, both are equally good for recreational diving. Only under extreme conditions where high airflow is required, for example in commercial diving, will you notice a difference in the ease of breathing.
How do you assemble scuba diving regulators?
Even if you buy a full set of scuba diving regulators, you’ll probably still need to assemble them yourself. But don’t worry, it’s super easy! And doesn’t require any fancy tools.
The second stages, inflator hose, and pressure gauge are easily screwed into the first stage. Then you can use a wrench to gently tighten each hose. Simple!
Check out this video for a more detailed guide on how to assemble your scuba diving regulators.
How do you clean a scuba diving regulator?
Taking proper care of your scuba diving regulators is essential for your safety. And it can save you a lot of money in the long run. This means properly cleaning your regulators after every dive, or at least the end of each diving day. As probably
Even if you’re not diving in saltwater you still need to clean your regulators. There are lots of contaminants in freshwater and even swimming pools, that will over time, cause damage to your regulators.
Here are our top tips on how to clean your scuba diving regulators:
- Use fresh, clean (and if possible warm) water to rinse your regulators.
- Clean your regulators within a few hours of diving.
- Dry the dust cap before putting it back on the first stage and make sure it’s screwed on tight.
- Do NOT soak the first stage. Either quickly dunk or rinse it with a hose.
- Wiggle the second stages in the water but do NOT press the purge button.
- Soak the second stage, pressure gauge, and LPI after rinsing for at least 5 minutes.
- Let your regulator dry out of the sun and make sure it’s completely dry before storing it.
How often should scuba diving regulators be serviced?
In general, it is recommended that you service your scuba diving regulators at least once a year or every 100 dives.
Although this is a good guideline, make sure you double-check your regulator’s manual. Different brands will vary on how often you should service their regulators.
If you don’t follow these servicing recommendations then you may find your warranty is no longer valid. Similarly, it’s often required that you service your scuba diving regulators with an authorized technician for that brand of regulators.
Even if you haven’t used your regulators much, you should still get them serviced annually. All seals inside a regulator are under pressure, even when in storage, and the o-rings will dry and harden.
Your regulators are your life support system when scuba diving. You literally cannot survive without them. So it really is vital that you get them serviced regularly.
The longer you leave it, the more likely there is to be a problem. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure.
And when it comes to maintaining scuba diving regulators, prevention is often A LOT cheaper than the cure!
What is an Octo in scuba diving?
An Octo in scuba diving is short for Octopus. And is just another name for the alternative second stage or alternate air source.
Whether you’re a beginner diver or an experienced dive professional, choosing the right scuba diving regulators will dramatically improve your whole dive experience.
And now you know exactly how to pick the best scuba diving regulators for your needs.
What regulators did you choose? Let us know in the comments!
Alexa Worswick is a PADI and SSI scuba diving Instructor, recreational freediver and freelance copywriter. She first learnt to scuba dive in the UK aged 15 and has since travelled and dived in multiple locations across 3 different continents. After quitting her marketing job in London in 2016, Alexa is now based in Indonesia where she can pursue her passion for the ocean fulltime.