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Choosing the Right Scuba Diving Regulator: A Beginner’s Guide

by Max
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Choosing the Right Scuba Diving Regulator - A Beginner's Guide

As a beginner, purchasing your own scuba gear is an exciting and important step in your diving journey. One of the most crucial pieces of equipment you’ll need to buy is a scuba diving regulator. Your regulator is your lifeline and provides you with breathable air while underwater. Choosing the right regulator is essential for a comfortable and safe diving experience. However, with so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which one is best for you.

In this complete scuba diving regulator guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know – so that you can find the perfect regulator for your needs!

Scuba Diving Regulators Mentioned in This Post

  • The Best All Round Scuba Diving Regulator: Apeks XTX200 Regulator
    This regulator combines performance, reliability, and durability with a comfortable and lightweight design.
  • The Best High Airflow Scuba Diving Regulator: Scubapro Mk25 EVO/ A700
    For both beginners and experienced divers, this high-performance regulator offers an incredibly smooth breathing experience.
  • The Best Budget Scuba Diving Regulator: Aqualung Calypso Regulator
    You don’t need to break the bank to get a reliable regulator. This budget-friendly option offers excellent quality and performance at an affordable price.

Read on for more information and details on each product.

We are reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. This does not affect our opinion of the products linked, which is 100% impartial and unbiased.

What Is a Scuba Diving Regulator?

If you have any prior diving experience, you will have heard of a regulator or “reg” before. But if you’re looking to buy your own regulator outright, it helps to understand exactly what this important piece of kit does.

A diving regulator is a device that allows scuba divers to breathe compressed air from the tank while underwater. It reduces the high-pressure air from the scuba tank to a breathable pressure and delivers it to the diver’s mouthpiece. This process allows divers to inhale and exhale air as they explore the underwater world.

The regulator typically consists of several components, including a first stage, a second stage, a hose, and a mouthpiece. Some regulators may include additional features like alternate air sources or gauges. Regulators can come in various types and designs, each with its own unique advantages and disadvantages.

Choosing the right regulator for your needs and preferences is crucial for a safe and comfortable diving experience.

Why You Should Buy a Scuba Regulator as a Beginner

If you’re a beginner diver, you may wonder if buying your own regulator is necessary or even possible. In short, buying a regulator is absolutely possible and highly recommended if you will dive often!

Here are some reasons why you should buy your own regulator as a beginner:

Works Out Cheaper

Buying a regulator is essential if you see yourself doing a lot of diving in the future. Renting regulators is an excellent way to figure out what type of regulator you prefer, but it can quickly add up in cost. Purchasing your own is a much more economical solution in the long run.

Improved Comfort and Safety

Having your own regulator means you’ll be able to get a more comfortable fit. The mouthpiece and hose of a regulator can be adjusted to suit your individual needs. This is especially important for your safety, as having the right fit is essential for proper breathing.

Increased Convenience

Having your own regulator also means you don’t have to go through the hassle of renting or borrowing one every time you dive. You always need a regulator when diving – so having your own ensures you’ll be prepared for every dive!

More Hygienic

Finally, owning a regulator is much more hygienic. When renting a regulator, it’s impossible to know who has used it before you and if it’s been adequately cleaned and maintained. Having your own regulator eliminates these risks and ensures you’ll always have access to clean, safe gear.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Scuba Diving Regulator

When choosing the right regulator, there are several important factors to consider. Here are some of the most essential ones:

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Regulator

Diving Environment

The type of diving you plan to do will significantly impact your chosen regulator. One big factor to consider is the temperature of the water you’ll often dive in. There are two regulator choices that are best suited for different environments: unsealed and sealed.

Unsealed Regulator

When you’re diving in warm, clear water, an unsealed regulator can be a great choice. It’s designed to work in environments where the risk of dirt and debris entering the regulator’s first stage is low. This means an unsealed regulator is perfect for places where the water is clean and free of debris. The other consideration is temperature. If you are planning to dive in cold water, having a sealed regulator will prevent water from freezing inside the regulator which leads to freeflowing.

Sealed Regulator

If you’re serious about scuba diving and want the best equipment for your underwater adventures, you’ll want to consider a sealed regulator. A sealed regulator is completely enclosed, so the first stage is protected from contaminants like sand, salt, and debris. This makes them perfect for diving in cold or contaminated water environments, where the water could freeze in your regulator.

While the differences between sealed and unsealed regulators are clear, the price difference may also affect your decision-making process. Sealed regulators cost more than unsealed ones, so an unsealed regulator may be better if you’re on a budget.

Type of Regulator

Aside from sealed and unsealed, there are a few other options when choosing a regulator.

Different types of regulators cater to different kinds of diving and have their own unique advantages. For example, balanced and unbalanced regulators deliver air to the diver differently. Balanced regulators maintain consistent airflow to the diver, regardless of the depth, while unbalanced regulators tend to require more effort to breathe at greater depths.

Additionally, regulators can be divided into diaphragm and piston types. Diaphragm regulators are generally more reliable and may require less maintenance, while piston regulators tend to deliver air more efficiently.

When choosing between these types, it’s essential to consider your diving style and preferences.

Total Budget

It’s important to consider your overall budget when choosing a regulator. Regulators can range from basic models to more advanced ones with extra features. As a beginner diver, going for the cheapest option may be tempting – but it isn’t always the best choice.

If you’re planning on diving often, it’s worth investing in a better quality regulator that will last you for years.

Personal Fit and Comfort

Your regulator will be in your mouth for extended periods, so you’ll want to ensure it feels comfortable and doesn’t cause jaw fatigue. Look for regulators with a mouthpiece made of a soft, pliable material that fits comfortably in your mouth.

You should also consider the size and shape of the regulator, as a bulky or poorly designed regulator can cause discomfort during your dive. The flexibility and length of the hose is also a factor to consider. The hose should be long enough to allow for comfortable movement – without getting in the way.

Getting feedback from other divers before making a purchase is a good idea. Always read reviews when purchasing online and, if possible, consider renting a regulator before you buy. This will help ensure that your chosen regulator is right for your needs.

Overall Performance

When it comes to choosing a scuba diving regulator, performance is a critical factor to consider. After all, you want a regulator that delivers air smoothly and consistently throughout your dive.

Not all regulators are created equal, and some perform better than others. Some regulators may require you to breathe harder to get air or deliver more air than others – which can impact your bottom time and overall enjoyment of the dive.

As you evolve as a diver and become more experienced, you’ll understand what level of performance suits your needs. For now, consider what you liked/disliked about any regulators you’ve previously used and consider that when purchasing.

Number of Ports

You should pay attention to the number of ports on the regulator. Most regulators typically have two high-pressure ports and 4 low-pressure ports. The more ports you have, the more accessories and equipment you can connect to your regulator. This will be useful when you eventually upgrade your gear and want to add more items to your setup.

Regulator Weight

The total weight of your regulator will directly affect your comfort while in use and also how easy it is to travel with. Regulators aren’t usually too heavy, but it’s worth considering if you plan to travel with yours. The size and construction will impact the weight, so look for regulators with lightweight materials and a streamlined design – without sacrificing performance.

Brand Reputation

Look for well-established brands with a reputation for producing high-quality regulators and providing reliable customer support. Your scuba diving regulator is incredibly important, so it’s worth investing in a brand that stands behind its products.

Understanding Scuba Diving Regulators

A scuba diving regulator comprises several components, each serving a specific purpose. You must understand how a regulator works to make an informed decision when choosing which to purchase.

Here is a beginners guide for the basics of regulator function and operation:

First Stage

The first stage attaches to the scuba tank and reduces the high-pressure air in the tank to a pressure suitable for breathing. It serves as the primary source of air for the regulator, delivering air to the second stage and other components of the regulator system.

Second Stage

The second stage is the part of the regulator you put into your mouth. It’s responsible for delivering air to the diver at a consistent, safe pressure when you inhale. Along with the mouthpiece, the second stage will feature a purge button. The purge button is a feature you press to clear any water from the second stage before taking a breath.

Some regulators also feature an adjustment system that allows full control over the second stage’s delivery.

Octopus/Alternate Air Source

An octopus, or alternate air source, is a secondary second-stage regulator. It’s connected to the first stage via a low-pressure hose and allows you to share air with another diver in an emergency situation. It is also used as a backup if your primary regulator fails.

Yoke or DIN

The yoke or DIN connection is the attachment point between the first stage and the tank valve. Yoke connections fit over the tank valve while the DIN connection screws into it. The type of connection used will depend on the type of diving your regulator is best suited for.


Scuba regulators have a few hoses, with each serving a different purpose. Low-pressure inflator hoses feed your buoyancy control device (BCD) and/or dry suit if needed. A medium-pressure hose connects the mouthpiece to the second stage, and a high-pressure hose is used for your gauge.

Submersible Pressure Gauge (SPG)

The SPG is a crucial component of the scuba diving regulator. It allows you to accurately measure the amount of air in your tank so you can plan your dive accordingly. Your SPG is connected to the first stage via a high-pressure hose.

The Best Beginner Scuba Diving Regulators

In every industry, certain products stand out from the rest. This is true for scuba diving regulators as well – and these are some of the best beginner models on the market:

Apeks XTX200 Regulator

All of the APEX XTX range of regulators are reliable, durable, and perform well under pressure. The XTX200 specifically is a top-of-the-line regulator, with a choice of yoke or DIN connection and lightweight construction. It’s also balanced and easy to use, making it an ideal choice for beginner divers who see themselves dipping into more advanced diving in the future.

Scubapro Mk25 EVO/ A700

We can’t talk about the best scuba regulators without mentioning ScubaPro! The Mk25 EVO is a popular model and for good reason. This durable regulator features a balanced piston first stage, ultra-high airflow, and is suitable for both cold and warm water diving. The patinated isolation system provides complete protection from the elements – making it a great option for beginner divers who want their regulator to last. If you get it with the A700 second stage, you get one more benefit: an unbeatable, full metal design!

Aqualung Calypso Regulator

This more budget-friendly option may be cheaper than other regulators, but it doesn’t skimp out on quality. The Aqualung Calypso features an easy-to-use purge button and is lightweight and comfortable for extended dives. It’s an excellent option for beginner divers who don’t want to break the bank – but still want a reliable regulator.

Beginner Tips for Choosing the Right Regulator

Even with all the information available, choosing a scuba diving regulator can be intimidating. Here are some tips to help you narrow down your choices and make the right selection:

Make Sure Replacement Parts are Readily Available

When choosing a regulator, make sure the replacement parts are readily available. Some brands are lesser known and not as widely sold, meaning you may have difficulty finding parts when needed.

Consider a Balanced Regulator

Balanced regulators provide consistent airflow throughout your dive, regardless of your depth. This can be helpful for novice divers who may not yet be familiar with adjusting their breathing based on their depth. Balanced regulators tend to be more expensive, but the added cost is often worth it.

Check the Warranty

A good warranty can give you peace of mind and protect your investment. Look for a regulator with a comprehensive warranty that covers any manufacturer defects or issues.

Choose What’s Best for You

When choosing a regulator, it’s important to consider the type of diving you will be doing. Do your research and read reviews to understand which regulators are best suited for your needs. Don’t be tempted by the cheaper options if they don’t meet your diving requirements or the latest model if it isn’t necessary for your diving.

Ultimately, it’s important to choose a regulator that best fits your budget, preferences, and diving needs.

How to Care for Your Scuba Diving Regulator

To ensure your regulator lasts a long time and functions safely, taking care of it is essential. You don’t want to go through the hassle of choosing the best regulator for your needs – and then not maintain it properly!

Let’s take a look at a few tips to keep your regulator in top condition:

1. Read the Manufacturer’s Instructions

The first step to maintaining your regulator is carefully reading the manufacturer’s instructions. These instructions will provide specific details on how to maintain your regulator and what type of care is required.

2. Before Each Dive:

Always perform a pre-dive check to make sure everything is in working order. This includes visually inspecting the regulator for any signs of wear or damage and checking all hoses are securely attached.

3. Annual Service

You should have your regulator serviced annually by a qualified technician. During this service, the technician will disassemble and inspect the regulator, clean it, replace any worn or damaged parts, and reassemble and test it to ensure it’s working correctly.

4. Rinse After Every Dive

Rinse your regulator thoroughly in clean, fresh water after each dive. This will remove any salt, sand, or debris that may have accumulated on the regulator.

5. Soak in Warm Water

Soak your regulator in warm water for at least 30 minutes to dissolve any salt deposits. You can do this when you return home or to your accommodation after each dive. This will help prevent corrosion and ensure your regulator operates correctly.

6. Store Properly

Store your regulator in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat. Make sure the regulator is completely dry before storing it to prevent mold or mildew growth.


Choosing the right regulator for your scuba diving needs is essential for a successful and safe dive. Thankfully, there are many regulators to choose from, so you’re sure to find one that fits your budget and diving needs. It’s important to not only choose the right regulator but also to maintain it properly.

Following these tips and taking care of your regulator, as shown in this beginner’s guide, will ensure you can enjoy diving for years to come!

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