Dive Gear Guide: Regulator Reviews

Posted January 7, 2014 by Charli Moore in Travel Guides

Welcome to the 2nd in our series of Dive Gear Guides.

In this article I’ll be taking a look at a range of regulators on the market. From high end to low cost I’ll be highlighting something suitable for every diver’s budget.

While there are some differences between the two ends of the scale, every model is subject to the same safety regulations and in theory should offer the same standard of air delivery.

But which regulator is right for you?

Buying A Scuba Regulator

Like so many adrenaline sports scuba diving requires much more than just a sense of adventure.

Those with the desire to explore our underwater world require some kit to enable them to breathe at depth and so for the keen diver, purchasing a regulator allows them to forget about the unnecessary stress of using hired gear each time they dive.

Like so many adrenaline sports scuba diving requires much more than just a sense of adventure.

However, buying your own scuba regulator can be an expensive experience. With some models for sale at over US$1000 how do you make sure you’re buying the right regulator at the right price?

Before you decide which model to buy there are a few things you should know so I suggest reading our Guide to Buying a Scuba Regulator prior to making your purchase.

If you already know the difference between balanced vs un-balanced and piston vs diaphragm then read on for my top 3 picks from models available in 2013.

#1 ScubaPro MK17 / A 700

First on my list, and the kit combo I dive with myself, is the MK17 first stage and A700 second stage from ScubaPro.

The perfect choice for recreational divers who desire the freedom to travel between temperate and tropical waters, this set up offers fantastic overall performance.

The A700 offers exceptional breathing performance through sleek, handcrafted design.
First Stage Facts /

The MK17 is a balanced diaphragm first stage for smooth flow and maximum performance, it also comes with ScubaPro’s patented high flow features.

It is environmentally sealed and incorporates a dry ambient pressure chamber providing better cold water performance than any other diaphragm regulator on the market.

This first stage is fitted with a Thermal Insulating System (TIS), which prevents ice build up and undesired malfunctions in cold water conditions.

The sleek exterior is constructed of machined marine-grade chrome, drop it and it will bounce right back all be it with a scratch or two.

The perfect choice for recreational divers who desire the freedom to travel between temperate and tropical waters.
Second Stage Facts /

The A700 offers exceptional breathing performance through sleek, handcrafted design and allows you to breathe underwater with ease, regardless of your dive destination.

The airflow is diver adjustable allowing for maximum delivery comfort and Scubapro states that the high flow ports allow 15% more air to flow through to the 2nd stage than standard low pressure ports.

The MK17 / A700 are Nitrox compatible to 40% (The Recreational Limits of Nitrox)

Review /

A great combo for any diver although those frequenting harsh environments or cold water will appreciate this perfectly matched pair.

Want to find out more? Find out what Simply Scuba think of the ScubaPro MK17 / A 700.

Price /

The MK17 / A700 is US$759

#2 Mares Instinct 52

Next up is a high caliber system from Mares for divers looking for a mid range model.

First Stage Facts /

The all chrome plated marine brass first stage regulator is environmentally sealed with a balanced diaphragm design.

The NCC (Natural Convection Channel) system increases performance in cold water by enhancing heat exchange.

With pre oriented pressure ports the MR52 first stage provides perfect placement for hoses even when using two independent second stage regulators.

The NCC (Natural Convection Channel) system increases performance in cold water by enhancing heat exchange.
Second Stage Facts /

The Instinct 52 incorporates a double DFC system which facilitates a consistent rate of air flow at any depth. Both the primary second stage and the octopus can be utilized without any change in the performance of the DFC system.

Mares’s patented Vortex Assist Design ensures this second stage is responsive and breathes easily at all depths, and the side exhaust guarantees exhaled breath is deflected away from the diver’s line of sight.

The Instinct 52 / MR52 are Nitrox compatible to 40%.

There are specially designed openings in the rear of this second stage which minimize the chance of a free flow in strong currents.

This second stage is small, compact and formed of light weight techno polymer making it ideal for those who want to travel with their dive gear.

The Instinct 52 / MR52 are Nitrox compatible to 40% (The Recreational Limits of Nitrox).

Review /

Renowned for its high level of performance and light weight design this is a great combo for those who travel to dive.

Want to find out more? Check out what Diver Net thought of the MR52.

Price /

The Instinct 52 / MR52 is US$470

Mares Instinct

#3 Sub Gear SG500

At the lower end of the regulator market sits the Sub Gear Bonaire SG500. The perfect high performance regulator for the first time buyer, or secondary purchase for the live aboard enthusiast.

The perfect high performance regulator for the first time buyer, or secondary purchase for the live aboard enthusiast.
First Stage Facts /

The Sub Gear Bonaire first stage is a high performance, balanced diaphragm regulator with a dry chamber making it ideal for all diving conditions.

Nitrox ready up to 40% this first stage is equipped with two high pressure ports and four low pressure ports, two of which are high flow and deliver 15% more gas than conventional LP ports.

Its streamline body is formed of machined marine-grade chromed brass for durability and appeal.

The balanced technology of the diaphragm and on demand ultra fast flow mechanisms ensure fantastic overall performance and silky smooth breathing that is unaffected by tank pressure and depth.

Its streamline body is formed of machined marine grade chromed brass for durability and appeal.
Second Stage Facts /

Incorporating a fail safe and efficient downstream demand valve and reversible hose attachment the Bonaire second stage can accommodate your configuration and set up requirements.

Not only is the Bonaire equipped with a Diver Adjustable Venturi to minimize free-flow and enhance breathing, its streamline design, minimal weight and orthodontic silicone mouthpiece combine to provide exceptional dive comfort.

Review /

Great build quality and ergonomic design combine to offer those on a reduced budget high quality and exceptional performance.

Want to find out more? Check out what Scuba Diving Magazine think of the Sub Gear Bonaire SG500.

Price /

The Sub Gear Bonaire SG500 is US$390

With a high performance regulator like those listed above you’re well on your way to exploring the diverse underwater eco systems across our marine planet.

Sub Gear Bonaire SG500

If you’re after some scuba inspiration why not check out our trip reports from the temperate waters surrounding the Poor Knights Islands in New Zealand or the tropical warmth of Palau.

About the Author

Charli Moore

Travel writer and blogger Charli is a digital nomad currently travelling the world with her other half Ben. Whether backpacking through Central America or road tripping around Australia they embrace each and every opportunity for adventure. Read more about their insatiable wanderlust on their blog, Wanderlusters.

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