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The 10 Best Regulators


Mark Newman

MARK NEWMAN considers the best models currently available to meet a variety of demands

To fill this brief I had a good look through the regulator section over at, which stocks a wide range of brands and regulators, but, instead of simply choosing 10 of my favourites, I’ve tried to break them down into 10 categories that are best for, say travel, cold water, budget buys and so on…

Best Travel Regulator: Mares Ultra 62X 

Mares Ultra
Mares Ultra
Mares 62X
Mares 62X

When I think about travelling regulators, right now my mind goes to the Mares 62X. It’s the smallest first stage Mares has ever made, and the smallest I’ve ever seen that wasn’t made merely for inflating a drysuit.

The 62X has Mares auto-sealing technology that closes the inlet when you depressurise your regs to prevent moisture and dust from getting in. And with the 62X, you have a choice of second stages.

I chose the Ultra, which is made from an ultra-light polymer and features the Mares Twin Power System, which is a collar where the hose attaches to let you supercharge the airflow when you need more gas.

All in, excluding gauges, these regs are weighing in at under a kilogram – for a top-of-the-range regulator, not some stripped-down model that’s built only for travel. You’re getting a full-blooded regulator that works in cold water, too. 

Best Budget Regulator: Mares Rover 2S 

Mares Rover 2S
Mares Rover 2S
Spoke design
Spoke design

The Rover 2S is a compact system with everything you need on a regulator. It even has some cool features that you wouldn’t usually expect to find on a budget model.

The Rover has the Mares Vortex Assisted Design that twists the airflow as it enters the second stage. Along with the Dynamic Flow Control, that ensures a smooth breathe, so you don’t get that fluttering you can get on some regulators.  

The first stage is a spoke design that can limit your hose routeing options, and it’s not going to function very well in colder waters. But if you’re trying to save your pennies, this is one of the cheapest regulators out there, and you’ll get a decent breathing experience.  

Best Coldwater Regulator: Apeks MTX-RC  

Apeks MTX-RC regulator
Apeks MTX-RC

For diving in cold water you want something like the Apeks MTX-RC. The MTX range was made to go warm, go cold, go deep, go anywhere.

Every possible improvement has been made to make these regs function better, from big chunky controls so that you can do things when wearing thick gloves, to heat syncs all over them, and an over-moulded rubber cap to prevent ice from forming over the environmental seal and affecting the balancing. 

The regulator itself is very practical. It’s a five-port swivel turret first stage for any hose routeing, and the second stage has been lightened up from the previous version so that it breathes a bit lighter. You can adjust that in the water with the chunky controls. 

Best All-Round Regulator: Scubapro MK25 S620ti 

Scubapro MK25 S620ti
Scubapro MK25 S620ti

This was one of the most popular models when I was selling regulators, and for good reason. The Scubapro Mk25 EVO is a beautiful piston first stage with another five-port swivel turret design and a coldwater XTIS proofing to prevent ice from forming in colder waters. 

The S620ti second stage is a combination of the best parts of Scubapro second stages. It’s smaller than the S600 but with the same-sized diaphragm, which reduces the work of breathing by 37%.

All of the adjustments that you find on top-end second stages, and a titanium barrel makes it lighter and corrosion resistant.  

Best Mid-Range Regulator: Aqualung Helix Compact Pro  

Aqualung Helix Compact Pro
Aqualung Helix Compact Pro

There are a few versions of the Helix regulator, and they all sit in the mid-price range, but the best is the Helix Compact Pro which, as the name suggests, is smaller than the regular version, while the ‘Pro’ means that it’s made to work in colder waters. Which makes it a great regulator choice for most divers. 

The first stage has a cool auto-closure device, which is a spring-loaded valve that closes the inlet as soon as you depressurise the regulator, to help prevent anything from entering the first stage. 

The second stage is a nice size to reduce jaw fatigue and has both a dial-a-breath and venturi switch and Aqualung’s Comfobite mouthpiece, which holds the second stage in place without you needing to bite down, thanks to the little bridge.  

Best High-End Regulator: Atomic Aquatics TFX  

Atomic Aquatics TFX
Atomic Aquatics TFX

The TFX may look different to most second stages but, technically, it’s an awesome design. By lowering and angling the diaphragm it improves the way it functions. No matter the angle, the breathe will feel the same and less sensitive to different positions. Whether you’re looking up or down, it will breathe the same. 

There are titanium metal parts, Atomic’s Seat Saving Orifice and a clever variable lift cam that automatically increases air-flow when in high demand.

The first stage is also very cool, milled from a single piece of titanium with a swivelling turret and filled with grease to prevent contaminants from getting in. 

The A-clamp version has a party trick too. The way Atomic designed it, every rotation of the cap counts for four rotations of the screw, so it’s much faster to attach and remove your regs between dives.  

Best Eco-Friendly Regulator: Apeks XL4 Ocea  

Apeks XL4 Ocea
Apeks XL4 Ocea

This is a bit of a new category. The Ocea version of the XL4 regulator is specifically made to be as friendly to the environment as possible, made from recycled materials and bio-plastics and manufactured in a solar-powered facility.

Apeks looked at each individual component and manufacturing process to make it as eco-friendly as possible. And the XL4 / DB4 platform on which the Ocea is based is a solid combination. 

Both the first and second stage are compact, so better for travel and reduced jaw fatigue, because you have a light second stage in your mouth. And they have special laser-etched detailing on the first stage and colour options.

Suitable for both cold and warm waters, this is a solid regulator for both the travelling and stay-at-home diver who is conscious about the environment. 

Best Long-Term Regulator: Atomic Aquatics T3 

Atomic Aquatics T3
Atomic Aquatics T3

The T3 regulator from Atomic could very easily have taken the High-End slot on this list but I put it in the Long-Term slot because it has one of the best servicing schedules available.

Most regs have to be serviced once a year but the T3 needs to be serviced only once every three years, thanks to a lot of clever engineering and premium materials. 

Most of the metal parts are made from titanium, which makes it light, strong and corrosion-resistant. And the second stage has a clever mechanism to automatically take the force of the sealing surface off the seat when you’re not using it.

The T3 is an expensive regulator upfront but, when you add up the long-term costs of servicing, it could soon catch up.  

Best New Regulator (for 2024): Scubapro MK19 EVO G260  

Scubapro EVO G260
Scubapro EVO G260
Scubapro MK19
Scubapro MK19

Scubapro retired its MK17 first stage for the MK19 EVO, which is a diaphragm version of its MK25. It’s a five-port swivel turret and, in the Black Tech version, has a hardened PVD coating.

And the G260 has been upgraded. This was always a practical second stage and Scubapro has made a carbon fibre front cover that saves 24g and helps to reduce jaw fatigue.  

Built as Scubapro’s technical regulator, the G260 is a solid second stage with both breathing-adjustment and venturi switches. And it has a large diaphragm that gives you better breathing sensitivity and Scubapro’s clever storage mode, which reduces the force on the sealing surface when it’s not in use. 

Best Unusual Regulator: Mares SXS 62X

Mares SXS
Mares SXS

I’ve already sung the praises of the 62X first stage, and that’s a standard first-stage design. It’s the SXS 2nd stage that’s something different.

The SXS is a side-exhaust second stage, which we’ve had for years now, and they have so many advantages going for them compared to a standard second-stage design. 

The first benefit is that it’s always the right way up. When you’re donating, there is no way to put the second stage in the wrong way round.  

You can route the hose from whichever side you like, and one cool thing that the SXS does to improve on the classic side-exhaust design is that it puts the purge button on the front. 

The classic design has the purge on the side, which confused and put off some divers, so Mares put it there on the front, making it a clever blend of a classic front-purge second stage with an ambidextrous side exhaust.  

Now if I were in the market for a new set of regs, it would probably be one of these. If you have a favourite, let me know down in the comments.

Regs are awesome and a tool for a job. Not every tool will suit every diver and some regs will suit a particular purpose better than others but, for most recreational dives, most regs will get you there and back. Check out prices and other details of these regs at 

Also read: How To Store Regulators, Regulators: CE Marking and Warranty, DAN Europe: 5 Tips on How to Clean Your Scuba Gear

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Picture of Mark Newman
Mark Newman
A former SCUBA Dive Instructor, I learnt to dive in the UK and taught both here and abroad. After that I spent a lot of time working with dive equipment from all of the major brands. From the Arctic Circle to the Tropics and Apnea to Closed Circuit, most of my professional life has been spent in the scuba diving industry.
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