Whether you are new to the sport or have been diving for years, purchasing your own set of gear is a great way to feel comfortable and confident on your next scuba-centric adventure.
Unsure of where to begin? The centerpiece of any scuba kit is a sturdy, reliable regulator.
Once you get your regulator, you can check out our scuba gear homepage to get everything else you'll need!
Check out our list below of the best scuba regulators to see what we here at finbin.net have deemed the best options money can buy.
The Top 8
Best Scuba Regulators
#1 Best Overall: Scubapro MK25 Carbon Black
In the pantheon of scuba brands, few are more revered than Scubapro.
Known for constantly delivering exceptional gear, we have found the MK25 Carbon Black regulator to be no exception.
This update on a legacy design ensures consistently high air delivery on demand, unaffected by changes in tank pressure. New technology allows this rig to perform exceptionally well in cold temperatures, successfully passing tests in water colder than 36℉, an impressive feat for a piston-style regulator.
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, carbon fiber construction allows this set up to weigh in at an impressive 1.75 lbs, far less than most of the competition.
Impressive mobility, bombproof construction, and ironclad performance cement the Scubapro MK25 Carbon at the top of our list.
#2 Best Overall: Mares Fusion 52X
If tropical vacations aren’t always your thing, then a regulator geared towards exceptional cold-water performance is right for you.
Look no further than the Mares Fusion 52X, whose innovative Natural Conversion Channel (NCC) system places more metal on the front cover, resulting in exceptional performance at cooler temperatures.
An impressive Double DFC system provides constant air flow, even when breathing off of two second stages at the same time. Flexible hoses and prepositioned ports ensure ideal gear placement so you can stop worrying about discomfort and focus on fun.
While heavier than many of its competitors, the Mares Fusion 52X is another hardcore regulator from a top brand in the industry, perfect for divers serious about spending time in cooler climates.
#3 Best Overall: Zeagle F8 Regulator Yoke
Whatever our third pick lacks in stylistic flair, it makes up for in uncompromising performance.
The F8 regulator is a great option for those looking for a rig to get the job done, no matter the circumstances.
Impressive improvements in design and technology have resulted in an efficient workhorse of a regulator.
Due to it’s environmentally sealed design, water, silt, and other junk are unable to enter the regulator, resulting in reliable performance for the long haul.
Stay out of the shop and in the water with this flagship regulator from Zeagle.
#4 Aqualung Legend Supreme Regulator
Aqualung has been a leader in the scuba industry since their inception the the early 1940’s. All 70+ years of experience shine through in the Legend Supreme, their top of the line regulator boasting a variety of features to keep you breathing easy dive after dive.
A specialized Auto-Closure Device (ACD) acts to keep water out of the first stage when it is removed from the tank, reducing corrosion and resulting in uncompromising performance for years to come. Designed with premium engineering in mind, this rig is the epitome of Aqualung innovation and a great centerpiece for the experienced diver’s kit.
#5 Atomic Aquatics Titanium Swivel Regulator
Weighing in at an impressive 1.7 lbs, this deceptively hardcore rig from premium maker Atomic Aquatics is a great buy for those looking to get the ultimate flexibility out of their set up. The only regulator on our list with swivel attachments at both the first and second stages, this set up also boasts an environmentally sealed design and a self-lubricating piston. The entire front of the second stage acts as a purge button, resulting in easy access even if your hands are full. Coming with a padded travel bag complete with pockets and a shoulder strap, this rig is sure to get any diver through a variety of underwater adventures.
#6 Cressi Compact AC2 Regulator
First time buying a kit of your own and unsure of what you like? Maybe you’re just looking for the perfect lightweight travel rig? Then look no further than the Cressi Compact AC2. While lacking some of the technology and innovation of its competitors, this extremely reliable rig is designed to take you through dive after dive in place after place. Although it is slightly heavier than the top-of-the-line MK25 or Titanium Swivel, this regulator is perfect for no nonsense travelers who just need their reg to get the diving done.
#7 Aqualung Calypso QC Regulator
Aqualung is at it again with the Calypso QC, delivering a great option for the beginning diver, as well as dive centers looking to stock sturdy, reliable rental gear. Easy to pack, easy to store, and a pleasure to use, the Calypso QC is a rig that takes all the worry out of your dive. With less extras than the Legend Supreme line, you can spend more time focusing on the marine world and less time on your reg settings. A solid update to the long-lived Calypso line, this classic robust design utilizes relatively few materials resulting in easy cleaning, inspection, and maintenance.
#8 Hollis 200 LX Second Stage Regulator
Rugged, reliable, and customizable, the Hollis 200 LX is a solid addition to any scuba kit. Boasting a unique “PVD” industrial plate finish, every component of this rig is set to outlive and outlast. An adjustable inhalation knob with a soft rubber grip allows divers to easily finetune inhalation effort during a dive, as well as choose between “pre-dive” and “dive” settings. An unique, ergonomic exhaust design acts to divert exhalation bubbles away from your field of view while simultaneously reducing exhaust effort, adding a nice touch to an already solid rig. Aiming to make your dive as comfortable as possible, the 200LX ensures you have the freedom and flexibility to dive how you want.
Things to Consider When Buying a Scuba Regulator
Where will you go? How often will you go? How deep will you go? While modern regulators are often stuffed to the gills with bells and whistles, we’ve compiled a list of the most important factors to be aware of when shopping for that perfect regulator.
When air leaves the cylinder and flows through a regulator both it’s temperature and pressure are greatly decreased. This in turn chills the regulator, especially the first stage. If cold seawater comes into contact with the already chilled system, ice crystals can form, jamming the first stage and causing the regulator to free-flow. While many assume this is only a cold water concern, it is possible for freezing to occur in water as warm as 50℉. Most regulators on the market today are designed to resist freezing, but if cold water diving is your thing, it is best to ensure your rig is ready.
Balanced vs. Unbalanced:
Balanced regulators provide steady air throughout a dive. On a balanced reg, a breath from a full tank will feel the same as a breath from a tank that is nearing empty. In an unbalanced regulator, ease of breathing changes inversely with tank pressure. Towards the end of the dive, the amount of effort it takes to draw a breath increases. Many divers prefer a balanced set up, but some enjoy the extra reminder that air is becoming rare.
Unsealed vs. Sealed Regulators:
In an unsealed regulator, sea water is free to enter the first stage, whereas in a sealed regulator, water is unable to enter your first stage. Why does it matter? Seawater is extremely corrosive, bringing with it salts, oils, sands, and all other sorts of junk to clog up your rig. By sealing the first stage off from the elements, sealed rigs are generally more reliable and require less maintenance. Although are usually more expensive, they may be worth the money saved in trips to the repair shop.
Diaphragm or Piston?
The diaphragm or piston in a regulator acts to reduce air pressure in the first stage. Piston regulators are considered most reliable because they only possess one moving part, whereas diaphragm rigs possess multiple. As with any moving system, more parts equals more points of possible failure. Despite this, many cold water divers prefer diaphragm regulators because they are less likely to free flow in sub-freezing conditions.
Din Valve vs. Yoke Valve:
These are the two means by which the first stage of a regulator attaches to the tank. “Yoke” valves are commonly used by dive shops and boats, utilizing pressure to seal the first stage in place. Din valves physically screw into the tank’s valve to trap the O-ring in place and form an extremely secure seal. Adapters allowing easy conversion from yoke to din and vice versa are readily obtainable.
There are two types of ports found on the first stage of a regulator: high pressure and low pressure. High pressure (HP) ports supply air from the tank before it can pass through the first stage, while the low pressure (LP) ports supply air after it has been depressurized. More ports allow for more gear, but you’ll need at least 3 on your set up. Most regulators on the market today have ample space to attach gear, but some travel rigs may have a reduced number to save on space and weight. Make sure you have enough ports before you buy, you can not add more after the fact!
How does a scuba regulator work?
In broad strokes, a scuba regulator takes compressed air from the scuba cylinder (generally around 200 atm) and, via two steps, reduces it to ambient water pressure (usually 1 to 5 atm dependant upon depth). Each step of this process is performed within a separate stage of the regulator. The “first stage” attaches directly to the cylinder and consists of two chambers, separated by either a piston or a diaphragm. High pressure air comes in from the cylinder and moves between the chambers, dropping to an intermediate pressure as it does so. A hose travelling from the first stage then delivers the intermediately pressurized air to the second stage, where it is further depressurized and received by the diver.
How do I care for my scuba regulator?
The best way to the counteract the corrosive effects of sea water is to soak your regulator in fresh water after every dive, then let it drip dry in a cool, shaded environment. Washing the regulator dissolves salt crystals and other gunk, reducing wear and tear and increasing rig longevity. It is a good idea to have your gear inspected by a professional at least once a year, possibly even more if you dive often.
Final Thoughts - Which Should You Get?
The right regulator is arguably the most important component of any scuba kit. Your life depends on it, quite literally, so finding one which best suits your needs is of paramount importance. While there are many brands and styles to choose from, we have deemed the Scubapro MK25 Carbon to be the best of the best. Boasting uncompromising craftsmanship, performance, and longevity, along with an array of innovative features, it is perfect to carry you through years of diving adventures, no matter where they may take you.