The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best Scuba Diving BCD for Your Needs
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Scuba Diving Regulators: The Unbiased Buying Guide You Were Looking for

Are you ready to explore the depths of the ocean and discover the wonders that await you? Before diving in, let’s talk about one of the most important pieces of equipment: the scuba diving regulator.

After writing several articles about diving gear, we have been thanked for our impartiality and thoroughness.

Today, it’s time to talk about scuba regulators. Once again, our interest is purely informative. We are SCUBA experts with many dives in our logbook and we know we can help, but we don’t sell dive regulators or any diving equipment. We have no preferences or interests. Our commitment is to provide all the information with one goal in mind: to help you make the best purchase decision when buying a regulator for diving.

Interested in the topic? Check out the table of contents.

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1. How Scuba Regulators Work

Divers are under pressure when we submerge. For instance, our lung capacity decreases, and we need to equalize our ears. Fortunately, thanks to the diving regulator, we don’t have to worry about this pressure affecting the air we breathe.

So, how do scuba regulators work? Well, these little gadgets are called regulators because they regulate the flow of air. They take the high-pressure compressed air in the scuba tank and deliver it at a pressure that suits our current depth.

In other words, if the air in the tank is at 3000 psi or 200 bars of pressure, the first stage reduces this pressure to an intermediate pressure of between 6 and 10 bars (87-145 psi), and the second stage further reduces the pressure to make it breathable. This way, we can breathe underwater safely!


1.1. Why Do Divers Have 2 Scuba Regulators?

Let’s clarify: a regulator for scuba diving has two stages, so if we want to speak accurately, we cannot say that divers carry two regulators, what we carry are two second stages. The alternate stage is mandatory, but it is only used in case of emergency.

This second alternate air source is known as an “octopus” and is also connected to the first stage just like the primary source that the diver has in the mouth.

This second source is not intended for the diver, but to assist the buddy, so its low-pressure hose is longer and yellow in color.


1.2. Parts Of a Scuba Diving Regulator

After what we’ve said, it’s very easy to differentiate the parts of a scuba regulator. We have the following parts:

The first stage. This is connected to the scuba tank and is responsible for reducing and regulating the pressure of the air that comes out of it.

The second stage. This is the part that we put in our mouth to breathe. It has a valve that provides us with air on demand, so that we can inhale and exhale easily.

The inflator hose is connected from the first stage to our buoyancy control device, allowing us to control our buoyancy by inflating and deflating it.

The octopus or emergency second stage is there to save the day if our main dive regulator fails or to provide air to a buddy in distress.

Let’s not forget the pressure gauge! This small device tells us how much air we have left in the tank. It is connected to the first stage and is essential for keeping us safe underwater.

Last but not least, we have the compass. Technically not part of the regulator, but often combined with the pressure gauge to help us navigate during the dive.

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1.3. Types of Diving regulators

Connection of the scuba regulator to the tank: DIN or Yoke

There are two types of connections to attach the first stage of the scuba diving regulator to the air tank: the DIN connection and the A- Yoke (also known as A-Clamp or International) connection.

The DIN connection screws directly into the valve of the tank. The DIN connection has the advantage of being smaller and able to withstand higher pressures, making it the preferred option for technical diving. Additionally, the O-ring is located in the regulator for diving, so when you screw the regulator into the tank: the O-ring is inside and less exposed. Therefore, its advocates consider it a safer connection.

The A-Yoke connection, on the other hand, uses a screw and clamp to attach the regulator to the tank valve. The A-Yoke connection has the O-ring on the tank.

There are also adapters available to connect a DIN scuba regulator to a A-Yoke tank, and vice versa.

Piston or membrane Scuba regulators.

This refers to the first stage of a scuba diving regulator.

Piston scuba regulators use a metal piston and spring to decrease air pressure as the diver breathes. They are a more budget-friendly option compared to membrane models and are easy to maintain due to their simple internal mechanics. However, they are heavier than membrane models and the movement of parts can cause quicker wear and tear.


Membrane dive regulators work by the diver inhaling, which moves the membrane to allow in high-pressure air. Once enough air is in the intermediate pressure chamber, the membrane returns to its original position and closes the valve until the next inhalation.

They offer greater protection against saltwater, cold water, and corrosion. Some models are even sealed and allow for adjustment of the intermediate pressure according to the diver’s needs. However, they are typically more expensive and can deform with use, requiring frequent membrane replacements.


Uncompensated, compensated, or overcompensated scuba diving regulators

We can also differentiate diving regulators based on whether their first stages are non-compensated, compensated, or over-compensated.

Firstly, we have non-compensated dive regulators, which vary the airflow depending on the depth and pressure in the tank. These are the most basic and tend to be more affordable.

On the other hand, there are compensated scuba regulators that maintain a constant airflow and provide a more comfortable breathing experience at any depth or pressure in the tank. These are more complex and therefore more expensive.

Finally, we have over-compensated models, which offer a constant airflow performance even at greater depths. This makes them the ideal choice for very deep dives, where the increase in gas density can affect the scuba diving regulator’s performance.

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2. What Is the Best Scuba Regulator


2.1. What Dive Regulator Features Should I Consider

In addition to what we have already mentioned, there are other qualities of diving regulators that we should consider. These include:

  • Diving regulator’s breathing performance
  • What use will you give your scuba regulator (cold water, gases)?
  • Comfort
  • Weight of the regulator
  • Number of ports


Diving regulator’s breathing performance

The breathing performance of regulators is an important consideration when purchasing one. It’s important to look for a high-performance regulator for diving that provides smooth and effortless breathing even when large amounts of gas are required. It’s also essential that the gas is supplied smoothly without sudden changes in resistance when inhaling or exhaling, and that the regulator doesn’t block or flow too freely.

While the choice of a good regulator can be subjective, there are objective standards that we can use to compare different types and manufacturers of regulators. If you’re unsure about which regulator is right for you, ask at your trusted dive shop.

What use will you give your scuba regulator (cold water, gases)?

If you plan to dive in cold water, you will need a scuba regulator designed for this purpose and environmentally sealed to prevent freezing. Additionally, it is recommended that the second stage of the diving regulator be made of metal, as metal has a higher thermal conductivity than plastic. It is also important to consider the deep dive regulator’s compatibility with gases used in decompression and Trimix dives. Nitrox up to 40% is compatible with all regulators.


Another factor to consider is the comfort of the regulator for diving. You should choose a regulator that fits comfortably in your mouth and does not have issues like a hose that is too short and pulls your head back. The same applies when choosing a dive regulator for a child, but in this case, the mouthpiece will be smaller, and the hoses will be slightly shorter.

Weight of the scuba regulator

If you travel frequently to dive, it is essential to choose a diving regulator that is lightweight and does not take up too much space in your sports bag.

The number of ports

Finally, the number of ports on the scuba regulator is also important. The first stage should have at least two high-pressure ports and three low-pressure ports (one for the second stage, one for the octopus, and one for inflating the buoyancy compensator).

The number of ports increases with some functionalities. For example, you will need one more low-pressure port if you use a dry suit. A dive computer with a transmitter will require a new high-pressure port.

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2.2. Should I Buy My Own Scuba Regulator?

The scuba regulator is one of the most expensive components of scuba equipment. For that reason, many divers choose to rent it rather than buy it.

If you are an occasional diver (2-3 times a year) and usually dive only on vacation, renting a scuba regulator may be a good option. If you rent from a reputable dive center, you know their regulators for diving will have good maintenance and be clean.

However, if you prefer to have your scuba diving regulator without sharing it with anyone, you can find basic complete sets for little money.

Ultimately, renting or buying a regulator depends on your experience, how often you dive, and your budget. But if you’re a regular diver, having your regulator is a worthwhile investment.


2.3. Scuba Diving Regulator Price

As with everything in life, price is one of the variables to consider when acquiring your best scuba regulator. If you are new to diving, you may not need extras that increase the price. Our advice for you is to buy a complete set and forget about it.

However, if you have a considerable level of experience, you already know what you want. Remember that prices can vary greatly depending on the model or brand. Generally, you can expect to pay between $250 USD and $1200 USD or even more.

In that case, our advice is not to skimp: Buy the best scuba regulator you can afford. Saving a few coins now could mean buying another diving regulator in a short time. If you take good care of your scuba diving regulator, it can last many years and save you money in the long run. How do you do that? We’ll tell you now.

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3. Scuba Diving Regulator Maintenance

The scuba diving regulator is a delicate piece of equipment and therefore requires good and constant maintenance.

Before each dive

Make sure it works properly, the hoses don’t have air leaks, and they are the appropriate length to swim freely underwater.

After each dive

Rinse the regulator with fresh water and dry it well before storing it in a cool, dry place. Never bend the hoses and don’t expose it to the sun or high temperatures.

In addition to these daily care tasks, complying with the manufacturer’s recommended periodic inspections is vital if you want to ensure the proper functioning and maintain the warranty.

Active divers are recommended to have their regulator checked once a year. During this inspection, possible leaks will be analyzed, the regulator will be disassembled and inspected, defective elements will be cleaned and replaced, and several calibrations will be performed to ensure it works correctly.

Do you have any other questions about your scuba diving regulators? If so, feel free to ask.