Scubaverse Group Equipment Test: Regulators under £299

Scubaverse-EQT-800_433.jpg

The Scubaverse Group Test Team

The Scubaverse Group Gear Testing Team are a diverse bunch, with recreational divers, instructors & tech divers in the mix. The team tested these regulators over a 40min dive at Capernwray Diving Centre in Lancashire, UK with a max dive depth of 18m.

Group Test Team Members

  • Yo-Han Cha: Yo-Han is a PADI Divemaster Candidate and a BSAC Sports Diver. He has been diving for 13 years, is a committed club diver and dives throughout the year in the UK.
  • David Pilgrim: David is a PADI Master Instructor, a PADI Tech Deep Instructor, a TDI Advanced Trimix Diver, and has been diving for 20 years.
  • Tom Tyler: Tom is a PADI MSDT, a BSAC Instructor and has been diving for 12 years.
  • Andy Ciaramella: Andy is a PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, a BSAC Instructor, an AIDA Level 2 Freediver and has been diving for a very long time!
  • Alex Tasker: Alex is a PADI Rescue Diver, an SDI Solo Diver and an IANTD ART, and has been diving for 8 years.
  • Mich Gillian: Like Alex, Mich is also a PADI Rescue Diver, an SDI Solo Diver and an IANTD ART, and has been diving for 8 years.
  • Nick Barrett: Nick is an experienced recreational diver who has dived all over the world.

The Scubaverse Group Test Team met up to put seven budget regulators through their paces. All retail at £299 or less for first and second stage, and all the regulators we tested were DIN versions, set-up straight from the box.

Scubapro R195

The regulators included in this test were:

Cressi XS2; RRP £159

Scubapro MK2EVO/R195; RRP £189

Beuchat VRT30 Iceberg; RRP £209

Apeks ATX40; RRP £216

Cressi MC9 Compact Pro; RRP £239

Mares Loop; RRP £263

Beuchat VRT90; RRP £295

With these budget regulators starting at just £159, our team wondered just how good they could be!

However, nowadays, European regulations mean that all regulators bought in the UK require a CE mark and so a basic minimum standard has to be reached for the product to make it to market. These regulations are strict and so gone are the days when unsafe equipment might hit the market. Our team put each one to the test, looking at performance, looks, value for money, and put each reg through a series of tests that included breathing whilst inverted, regulator recovery and purging, mouthpiece comfort, exhaust bubbles and hose length.

Amazingly, for regulators at this price, none of these regs gave a wet breathe when inverted, which is reassuring for all those looking in this price range. Also, the recovery and purge test saw all of these performing well. However, hose length seemed to be a real issue in many of these regulators with all our testers, aside from the Mares Loop and the two Cressi models which allowed our test team to move freely without the reg tugging. Of course, the Mares Loop is routed differently, with the hose coming up to the second stage rather than from the side.

The three models that stood out for mouthpiece comfort were the Apeks, Mares and Scubapro models. Whilst you are swimming along, most bubbles will go to the side and behind you as you exhale whist finning forward. However, if you stop to look at something, or take a photo, what happens then? Many of these regs saw the bubbles exhaled partially obscuring the view. Those that stood out from the crowd in this test were the Apeks and Mares. Aside from this, our testers loved the Beuchat DIN wheel that was much easier to use than all the others in the test and really nicely designed. Our tester with the Cressi MC9 Compact Pro also commented on the pre-dive/dive lever working very well.

Mares Loop

All these regulators performed really well, especially given the price they come in at. But the ones singled out by our test team and given 5* in performance, looks and/or value for money were:

Apeks ATX40

Tom said: “No frills or gimmicks needed (so nothing unnecessary to go wrong), just a good reg that’s as good to breathe as ones twice the price.

Mares Loop

Mich said: “Loved the hose direction, making this a great reg for underwater photographers.

Scubapro MK2EVO/R195

Nick said: “Excellent value for money, and all round great performance.

Final Thoughts

For less than £299 you really can do very well indeed. Our team dived in cool water (around 12 degrees C) and suffered no free-flows and no wet breathes. There are some really good regulators within this price range, that are solid, good performers.

Next up with be the mid-price-range regulators. How will they perform? Find out on Scubaverse.com soon.

Team Scubaverse

Team Scubaverse

Team Scubaverse manages the Scubaverse website

scroll to top