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March 2007 Vol. 22, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
What's this?

Looking for the Strong and Sturdy

test divers rate the regulators

from the March, 2007 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Besides top performance from a regulator, one wants dependability. Nothing can be more frustrating than a sensitive regulator, no matter how well it handles depth and low tank pressure, that easily free flows or doesn’t stand up to the rigors of a long trip. Charles Hood, an advanced dive instructor for the British Sub Aqua Club and a gear reviewer for Britain’s DIVE magazine, recently put regulators through the test. He selected six that were most suitable for a dive school or club, and then had dive instructors and students test them for four months. His theory was that rookie divers need regulators with durability, staying power, minimal maintenance and trouble-free performance, but these factors also apply to any sport diver looking to buy a regulator for personal use. Below are Hood’s tester reviews of regulators to help divers breathe easier.

Divers need regulators with durability,
staying power, minimal maintenance
and trouble-free performance.

Apeks TX40 (scored 9 on a 10-point scale; approx. $770; www.apeks.co.uk) This was the testers’ top choice because of its trouble-free performance. It gave excellent inhale and minimal exhale resistance, and a fully adjustable Venturi system so that airflow can be changed to suit the dive. The TX40 vents bubbles to the side, giving a better field of vision, and the reliable purge button is easy to use. The second stage lets in a fair amount of water when upside down, but the first stage is well set-up with a top section that swivels. The drawbacks: It is a little bulky and very pricey, but if you’re looking for a quality regulator that will last for the long term, this is a good choice.

Aqua Lung Calypso (scored 8 out of 10; approx $435; www.aqualung.com) Other regulators have better performance, but Calypso is a testers’ favorite for its good reliability and low price. “I know of one particular model that has done several thousand dives without having a single part replaced,” Cook wrote. It’s an excellent all-around breathe, and can be adjusted via the Venturi system. The mouthpiece is hard, but it performed better than most on bubbles staying out of divers’ vision. The first stage set-up is easy to attach, and the purge is excellent—just make sure to press squarely in the middle.

Mares Proton (scored 8 out of 10; approx. $340; www. mares.com) The stylish Proton makes for a comfortable breathe, but testers found it difficult to purge and think the cost for servicing is pricey. It offers little breathing resistance and doesn’t put too much strain on the mouth, but it does vent exhaust directly in front of the mask. Testers thought the first stage could have been set up better since it configures the hoses to go directly into the tank, making attachment more difficult, but the small second stage makes long hours underwater more pleasurable.

Poseidon Cyklon (scored 9 out of 10; approx. $865; www.poseidon-uk.com) The cost is a stumbling block but the Cyklon was undoubtedly the choice of most instructors. It’s also popular in technical-diving schools worldwide because of its reliability at extreme depth. Its clever design means that as soon as you inhale, the Cyklon gives you as much air as you want, although it has no adjustment method. Although light in the mouth, the huge mouthpiece made some student testers gag. Other strengths: an excellent purge, a lack of bubbles in mask view, and no complaints when used upside down. It also boasts a good first stage setup and an easy fit to the tanks.

Scubapro MK2 (scored 7 out of 10; approx. $430; www.scubapro.com) The modern-looking MK2 is a classic demand valve used worldwide as a basic teaching regulator. It offers a good breathing performance but like many regulators, it has a hard, uncomfortable mouthpiece and vents exhaust directly in front of the mask. The purge is strong but if you push too hard, you’ll feel like your head will blow off. It also lets in mouthfuls of water while upside down and drains the tank very quickly. Testers thought the MK2 lacked the performance of the other regulators but liked its bulletproof strength and simple servicing.

Sherwood Brut (scored 7 out of 10; approx. $470; www.sherwoodscuba.com) Testers think the quality is excellent, but a few bad features knocked it down the list. A difficult crack pressure meant divers had to suck hard for air. The airflow can’t be adjusted and the hard mouthpiece is uncomfortable for new divers. Both the octopus and mouthpiece let in lots of water when upside down, and the exhaust valve is directly under the mask, sending all bubbles straight up. Testers’ biggest concern was the first stage set-up, which sends a constant flow of bubbles from the dry spring chamber and could give a diver the impression that his tank is about to explode. Cook spoke to several U.S. dive shop personnel, who mostly agreed that this regulator is reliable and easy to service.

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