There’s a a few things to consider when choosing the best scuba regulator for you; namely your budget and how much you plan to use it!
Top of the range scuba regulators offer greater durability, have more comfortable mouthpieces and provide superior breathing. They may also include fancy features like airflow restrictors and cold water usability.
Budget options still get the job done and are totally safe to use but they tend to be lower in overall quality; being made from cheaper materials and sometimes having less sophisticated internal operating mechanisms.
The best scuba regulators of 2023 are those reviewed on this page! We’ve taken the cream of the crop – from the best budget options to the top of the range models and summarised them all here.
You’ll find real-life user feedback as well as original photos, pros, cons and more! There’s also a handy guide at the bottom of the page explaining scuba diving regulator parts and terminology.
Scuba regulators come in two main parts. The second stage is the part that goes in ya gob. You can buy these separately – or with a first stage which they need to work as it’s the part that screws onto your air tank
Our Top Choice: Oceanic Delta 5
Best Budget Option: Oceanic Alpha 10
Cheapest: Palantic AS103
Highest Quality: Atomic T5
Runner-Up Highest Quality: ScubaPro MK25
Reliable Backup Reg: ScubaPro R095
Cheap Option w. Great Breathing: Cressi Compact MC9
Military Approved: Mares Abyss 22
“I love my Oceanic Delta 5 – it is immediately recognisable thanks to the shiny metal triangle bordering the purge button. Besides making you look cool, it also means you’re easy to identify underwater -which is useful when you’re leading a dive!
I’ve found the mouthpiece to be noticeably more more comfortable in my mouth compared to that of other scuba diving regulators I’ve used: this means that with the Delta 5 I never get a stiff jaw even – when I’m using it a lot!
The dynamic airflow control dial on the side allows you to easily adjust how easily air is delivered which is extremely handy – I love that it clicks as you turn it and how versatile and easy to manipulate between your fingers it is.
The Oceanic Delta 5 is extremely easy to breathe through and performs great in both tropical and cold water – also the first stage is all metal which makes it super durable. Despite it’s durability and high quality this is actually only a mid-priced scuba regulator meaning it offers truly awesome value for money”!
Alex: Grand Admiral of the Diving Squad
“Sleek, affordable and reliable, the Oceanic Alpha 10 is also extremely durable, being constructed from triple chrome marine brass with environmental protection.
It’s only slightly more expensive than the all-time cheapest scuba regulators yet unlike them, it has an airflow adjustment valve which is lets you control air delivery rate constant, regardless of what depth you’re diving at. Weighing just 2.5 pounds (<1 kilogram) it’s also incredibly light to travel with.
I love using the Oceanic Alpha 10 as a alternate regulator because of it’s affordability, lightness and durability – whilst still offering noticeably improved quality compared to the all-time cheapest regulators, such as it’s having an air flow adjustment valve”!
Alex: Grand Admiral of the Diving Squad
If you’re looking to save as much money as possible, the Palantic AS101 is the way to go – it’s the cheapest scuba regulator available yet still a highly popular model that is a top selling product on amazon!
For less than two hundred bucks you get an entire regulator setup – two second stages (you need one for you and a spare to lend a buddy, remember!) and the first stage to screw onto the regulator. It’s ready to go! This is awesome and unbeatable affordability in the scuba regulator world which is usually renowned for being one of the most parts of dive gear.
Despite how cheap it is, the Palantic AS101 is still a reliable and effective scuba diving regulator: it features environmental sealing, a comfortable silicon mouthpiece and a chromium-plated brass body for long lasting durability.
Sure, unlike more expensive regulators, it doesn’t it have an airflow restriction valve or the ability to be used in cold water (the vast majority of scuba diving occurs in warm water anyway) – nor does it breathe quite so easy… but for the money you spend you get a surprisingly decent regulator that’ can’t be beat in terms of affordability.
Ok so it’s expensive but if you afford it the Atomic T3 Scuba Regulator is oh-so-worth-it! In terms of overall quality and performance this diving regulator simply can’t be beat.
It offers the greatest combination of lightness and durability of any regulator on the market thanks to it’s titanium build – in fact it has a service interval of 3 years / 300 dives which is at least one year longer than the recommended time period before you should service most other models of scuba diving regulator – even other high-end ones!
The Atomic T3 Regulator’s orthodontic mouthpiece is exceptionally comfortable in your mouth thank’s to it’s dual-silicone construction.
Furthermore, the first stage features a swivel torrent which reduces tugging of the hoses. Combined with a titanium ball joint in the second stage, this means you can move your head without feeling like the regulator will be pulled out your mouth – meaning you don’t need to bite down on it so hard which reduces jaw fatigue massively!
Suited to both warm and cold water diving, the Atoimc T3 breathes incredibly easily, incorporating a valve system and also having the option to easily adjust air delivery using the fluid airflow adjustment dial on the left hand side.
Many scuba diving professionals view the Atomic T3 as the all-time best quality scuba diving regulator on the 2023 market.
A highly popular scuba regulator, the ScubaPro MK25 (second stage) / A700 (first stage) is another luxury option that seamlessly blends together durability, lightness and high performance.
Weighing just 2 pounds, it’s only marginally heavier than the all-time lightest regulator: the Atomic T3, whilst it’s chrome plated brass body ensures that like it’s more expensive counterpart, it is highly durable.
Ok, so the ScubaPro MK25 is not quite as light or durable as the Atomic T3 – but only by a small amount..and it is considerably cheaper – by more than half a grande in fact! When you take this into account it really does offer superb value for money.
Make no mistake – the MK25 is still an extremely high quality dive regulator, being the second most expensive option on this page.
It’s design consists of an air balanced flow-thru-piston mechanism made from balanced composite/stainless steel which allows it to instantaneously deliver more air to the second stage, while being unaffected by changes in tank pressure. One of the key things reviewers keep mentioning is just how easy the MK25 breathes.
Featuring an airflow adjustment valve, a comfortable orthodontic mouthpiece and swivel adjustments on the first stage so that the regulator doesn’t tug on your mouth when you’re moving your head, this is a superb regulator that operates very well in both cold and warm water.
” During my year in Costa Rica, one of my all time favourite places to dive was at Playa del Coco which I visited on numerous occasions, always with Deep Blue Diving Centre – who routinely rented out the Scubapro R095 scuba regulator.
I can easily see why they chose this reg model – it’s extremely affordable and simple to use but still offers great breathing, all-round durability and most importantly of all – it’s super reliable.
I saw so many other divers using the R095 also and nobody ever had a problem with it. In fact, everyone’s air consumption seemed pretty damn good especially considering there were often a few beginners!
Sure, it’s a little basic – there’s no airflow adjustment valve and it’s not suited for cold water diving – but as a budget-friendly alternate reg for warm water diving, the Scubapro R095 is a really decent option”.
Alex: Grand Admiral of the Diving Squad
” I love my Cressi Compact MC9 reg – the techno-polymer construction of the second stage makes it extremely light for travel and also means that it feels light in my mouth, so my jaw doesn’t get stiff or tired! The second stage is also super compact and unlike most regulators, it features a textured anti-scratch surface around the easy-to-push purge button.
The orthodontic mouthpiece has been specially moulded for the inside-shape of a human mouth – I’ve certainly found it to be very comfortable and sometimes I could swear I almost forget it’s there!
In terms of actual breathing – I’ve found air delivery to be noticeably easier than that of the cheap, rental regulators you get lent at dive centres of liveaboards. That said, I can’t compare how easily it breathes to the luxury, top-of-the-range regulators as I don’t have one…yet!
Cressi, a highly reputable scuba diving brand, seem to be very proud of their MC9 regulator, citing it’s first stage as standing out from their other regulators because “the mechanism is arranged on an axis perpendicular to the axis of entry creating a T-shape” which might just be why it breathes so very well despite not actually being at all that expensive.
If you’re looking for an affordable scuba regulator which breathes far better than anything as cheap as it has the right to, I strong recommend the Cressi Compact MC9″!
Laura DeLaurii: Diving Squad Scout
What makes a scuba diving regulator great? Well, according to the US military (ooh-rah!) the answer to that question is being the Mares Abyss 22 – which being US military approved is the standard issue for many of their diving personnel.
The all-metal construction of this reg set not only makes it insanely durable; it also gives it superb thermal properties which means this reg will provide a stellar performance in any temperature water – warm or cold!
The second stage implements a singular downstream demand system valve which ensures that airflow remains constant regardless of pressure changes with depth.
There’s no airflow adjustment dial – the theory behind this, is that the aforementioned singular downstream demand system, combined with the VAD (vortex assisted design) and mesh grid, perform such a great job of maintaining constant air delivery, there’s no need to over-complicated this regulator with an airflow valve.
Admittedly this is either going to impress you or leave you yearning for a regulator that does have an airflow restriction dial. Just bear in mind that the entire ethos behind the Mares Abyss 22 is less is more!
As for the first stage – it features an extra large surface area to improve it’s cold water performance and a low overall rate with great durability thanks to the fact that it’s mostly comprised of chrome-plated brass.
It also features the Mares patented “Dynamic Flow Control” mechanism which reduces dips in intermediate pressure when you inhale. This is extremely useful in challenging diving conditions such as when you may be exerting yourself whilst swimming against a strong current!
“My experience using the Aqualung Mikron has been great – the reason I chose this regulator set was because is is one of the all-time lightest regulators on the market with a total weight of just under 1.7lb.
It’s extremely compact as well – not only does I find this makes it easier to pack but it also gives the second stage a really small profile which I really like the aesthetics
The comfo-bite mouthpiece feels super soft and really is very comfortable – I never get a stiff jaw from using this reg! Youc an even change the air intake level using the air adjustment dial, which is a super cool feature to have”!
Gabby Abouhassan: Diving Squad Contributor
There’s only one have regulator set as light as this (weighing just under 1.7lb) : the Atomic T3 and it’s many times the price of the Aqualung Mikron! This is truly awesome value for money regulator and in my opinion the best travel regulator because of this, combined with it’s compactness and affordability.
It’s equipped with the Aqualung patented auto-closure device (ACD) to prevent corrosion and in addition to the standard size comfo-bite mouthpiece, which is fairly small making it ideal for people with more fine featured faces.
With its pneumatically balanced second stage, it provides decent breathing experience for it’s price. It is designed for warm water use.
What’s the difference between a first stage and a second stage?
Should I buy a first stage and second stage together?
If you don’t have any regulator equipment, to build a complete, functioning regulator setup, yes – you’ll need to get the second stage and first stage together. However, for a complete octopus setup, you only need one first stage but you need two second stages – a primary and an alternate second stage.
Often, scuba divers buy a fancier second stage for their primary second stage and a cheaper option for their alternate second stage as it rarely gets used.
I strongly recommend that when buying your primary second stage, you choose a matching first stage to go with it – that is one from the same scuba diving manufacturer e.g. aqualung for aqualung, mares for mares, apeks for apeks.
Most scuba regulator packages for sale include one FIRST stage and one second stage, although a few include both second stages – it varies by the model and manufacturer.
So assuming you buy a package on amazon that includes the first stage and second stage, when you are buying your alternate second stage, make sure you don’t buy it with the first stage – as this will cost significantly more but you don’t need two first stages for a complete octopus setup.
The other thing you will need however, is a pressure gauge but these are hardly ever included in scuba regulator setups which doesn’t matter as they’re fairly cheap anyway.
So when buying your regulator setup, the main parts, which is what we’ve focused on in this article are the first stage and the
COMPLETE REGULATOR SETUP: 1 first stage, 2 second stages, pressure gauge and bcd inflator hose.
DIN or Yoke?
Ah the age old question about scuba divers – DIN or Yoke? Let’s backtrack a mo’. What even is DIN or Yoke?!
Most models of regulator first stage are available in either DIN form or Yoke form.
On a Yoke first stage (aka a clamp-style), the o-ring is exposed to the cylinder valve. It has an opening which connects to the exposed o-ring and a pin which screw into the back of the cylinder valve; thus holding it in place.
On a DIN first stage there is a threaded opening which screws directly into the cylinder valve.
Nowadays, a lot of divers prefer DIN first stages because they’re slightly lighter than Yoke first stages, less likely to leak and also they don’t stick up from the back of the tank meaning they’re unlikely to bang into something directly above you (if for example you’re under the roof of a tunnel or cave or in a tight shipwreck) which can happen with Yokes.
A few divers still prefer Yokes; this is generally due to a sense of familiarity as in some parts of the world Yoke first stages are more commonly found in dive centres than DINs. However, DIN’s the future and it’s likely that the older Yoke will eventually become obsolete even if not for a while.
Generally we recommend buying a first stage that is DIN and for this reason we’ve included links to buy the DIN versions on amazon. However, most models of first stage are available on amazon in Yoke if you so choose!
Do I need a regulator that works in cold water?
These days, a lot of mid-priced and luxury scuba regulators are able to perform in cold water – although generally speaking, the super cheap models can’t.
When we say cold water; we’re talking about diving in water that is below 60 degrees Farenheit / 15 Celcius. At the warmest end of this range you’ll be wearing a very thick wetsuit – think 7mm and when it get’s colder you’ll be in a drysuit.
The vast majority of recreational scuba diving takes place in waters that are significantly warmer than this. If you’re diving somewhere with palm trees, lots of sand or anything else tropical – that’s in warm water.
So most divers won’t need a cold water regulator – and if you are a cold water diver, you probably already know your sport very well so you’re probably well aware of the special gear you need for diving cold water.
However, many mid-priced and all luxury scuba regulators can perform in cold water – in many ways this is a metric of their quality and the sophistication of their internal mechanisms.
So whilst it’s likely that most people won’t need a cold water regulator, if you buy a good quality regulator for tropical water diving, chances are high that it can also work in cold water.
What is environmental sealing?
Some regulator first stages have an alcohol or silicone based fluid which seals a watertight barrier inside the first stage. This is known as environmental sealing. It prevents icing on the first stage which is necassary for cold water diving.
What does it mean if a regulator is balanced or unbalanced?
An unbalanced regulator uses a piston and diaphragm design and produce an increase in breathing resistance as a diver descends deeper or tank pressure drops (due to air being used up).
Balanced regulators are superior because they compensate for increasing depth and decreasing tank pressure by equalising air pressure on both sides of the valve. This allows you to breathe more easily.
Nowadays the majority of scuba regulators are balanced with only some of the very cheap optins being unbalanced.
Why do some regulators breathe more easily?
Whilst balanced regulators breathe more easily than unbalanced regulators, there are more factors than just the presences or absence of this feature that determine how easily a regulator breathes – mostly regarding it’s internal working mechanisms and also how well it is tuned and adjusted.
The breathing ability of a regulator is a strong measure of its overall worth – generally speaking the more expensive, high quality regulators will breath more easily with the most expensive options being the best breathers.
What is an orthodontic mouthpiece?
The mouthpiece refers to the part of the regulator that actually goes in your mouth – it’s often got those little tabs that you bite down on.
When a mouthpiece is said to be orthodontic that just means it’s been designed with the very latest knowledge in orthodontics to make it as comfortable as possible and avoid you getting a mouth.
Pretty much all modern scuba regulators have an orthodontic mouthpiece.
What’s actually more relevant is whether that mouthpiece is made from one material – or if features a dual material construction.
Dual material mouthpieces are more comfortable and softer to have in your mouth so you avoid getting a tired or stiff jaw which may otherwise happen when you’ve been diving a lot.
Most higher quality scuba regulator feature dual-material mouthpieces.
Scuba regulator mouthpieces are usually but not always made from silicone.
Most are designed to fit all mouth sizes and shapes but some, such as that of the Aqualung Mikron are designed for smaller mouths.
It can be extra comfortable to wear a mouthpiece if it’s attached to a first stage that features swivel points on it’s attachment ports as it stops the regulator hose straining against your mouth when you move your head.
How often do I need to get my regulator serviced?
Never forget – ya gotta get your scuba regulator serviced to to make sure it is still operating to full capacity. Considering that it’s the most important part of your underwater life support system – that which allows you to breathe air, this is super important!
You can take your scuba regulator to get serviced at your local dive shop or centre.
The Atomic T4 – the most expensive scuba regulator going, is unique in that it’s so durable it only needs to be serviced once every three years! However with most models of scuba regulator they must be serviced every one or two years. Be sure to find out how long the service interval is for the specific model of regulator that you buy.
What makes a good travel regulator?
What should I consider when buying a scuba regulator?
The number one thing you’ll want to consider is your budget. For example the most expensive scuba regulator costs many times the price of the cheapest regulator. There’s also some really great mid-priced options that offer an awesome balance of quality and affordability.
If you’re planning to dive in cold water, you’ll obviously want to make sure you’ve got a scuba regulator that’s capable of doing that. And if you plan to travel a lot, you may find a lighter, more compact regulator a conveniant buy.
Generally speaking with scuba regulators, you get what you pay for – the more you spend, the better it is – i.e. more durable, breathes better, more comfortable mouthpiece, more special features, lighter and so on. But you can rest assured that even the cheapest models of scuba diving regulator we’ve reviewed on this page are both safe and reliable.
Alrighty, Diving Squad! You’ve made it all the way down to the sea-floor of this article – there’s no more to go!
We’ve covered the best scuba regulators across a wide budget range from the very cheapest models available all the way up to the most cutting-edge luxury models and with everything in between.
We constantly review and update our content, so you can rest assured that what you’ve read today reflects the very latest news and info regarding scuba diving regulators in 2023.
Hopefully you’ve found this article useful, maybe even learned something you didn’t know and you’re now ready to go forth and craft your ultimate scuba regulator set up!
Good luck and peace out!!
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