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Scubaverse Group Equipment Test: Regulators under £299



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 soon.

Gear Reviews

GEAR REVIEW – Revolutionising Diving Comfort: The Sharkskin T2 Chillproof Suit




In a review written exclusively for, diver and blogger Katy Woodroffe from Katy Jane Dives takes a look at the T2 Chillproof Suit from Sharkskin.

Sharkskin wetsuits attract a lot of attention in online forums, with some divers swearing by them whilst others just can’t understand how a suit so thin and lightweight can provide the warmth they require. I too had my doubts, but I was able to put this suit to the test in one of the most challenging open water environments we know.

Embarking on an adventure in the Galapagos, I found the Sharkskin T2 Chillproof Suit to be an incredible ally. Designed to offer warmth, UV protection, and defense against the many marine stingers, this suit surpassed my initial reservations, providing a level of thermal insulation I did not expect and durability amidst the archipelago’s rugged underwater landscapes. Its lightweight, easy-to-wear design clearly sets it apart from traditional wetsuits, proving essential for divers prioritising comfort and efficiency.

Exceptional Performance in Varied Conditions

The suit’s performance was thoroughly tested in the Galapagos’ unpredictable waters. Despite its seemingly thin material, it offered extraordinary warmth and flexibility. The inclusion of Titanium Far Infrared (FIR) nano-technology within the fabric reflected my body’s heat, enveloping me in a warm embrace that countered the cold without adding bulk. This level of tech came in handy when we hit the common thermoclines, with my dive computer recording a drop of several degrees in water temperature. This, combined with the suit’s ease of use and quick-drying capabilities, in my opinion marks a significant advancement in dive gear.

However, the perception of warmth in the Sharkskin T2 Chillproof Suit can indeed vary among individuals. Divers accustomed to cooler waters may find the suit exceptionally warm and sufficient for their needs, due to their higher tolerance and acclimatisation to the cold. This aspect underscores the importance of considering personal resilience to cold and usual diving conditions when evaluating the suit’s effectiveness in providing thermal protection.


Durability Meets Innovation

Diving the volcanic underwater landscape of the Galapagos, the Sharkskin T2 Chillproof Suit proved its resilience. Engineered for both warmth and resistance to abrasion, it stands as a testament to high-quality construction and thoughtful design. I also tried out the optional accessories, including the hood and socks, which I felt complemented the suit well, and offered enhanced thermal protection and convenience.

The feature I enjoyed most about this suit was its neutral buoyancy, significantly lightening my load underwater. I found myself needing almost half the weight I typically would with a neoprene suit, making me feel incredibly free and unburdened.

It was a dream to travel with, folding up really small and didn’t take up much room in my dive bag.  It was also super easy to get on and take off, even when wet, compared to your standard neoprene wetsuits (we’ve all been there), particularly when I used the socks with it too.

I also appreciate how Sharkskin has produced two styles, one for males and the other for females. The female fit was flattering, and it’s clear that the design team have worked hard to achieve this, all adding to the overall comfort of the suit.

A Worthwhile Investment

The suit is certainly priced in the premium segment, but I think it does justify its cost through the unique advanced features and excellent comfort. Its innovative features, such as the chest zip design and FIR technology, provide divers with a unique blend of warmth, flexibility, and ease of movement.  

My personal journey from skepticism to trust in the Sharkskin suit has affirmed its value, making it a highly recommended choice for divers seeking excellent performance in diverse diving conditions.

Find out more about the T2 Chillproof Suit and other Sharkskin products at

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Gear Reviews

Gear Review: Bigblue VTL2900PB Dive Torch: A Compact Powerhouse for Underwater Exploration




In a review written exclusively for, diver and blogger Katy Woodroffe from Katy Jane Dives takes a look at the VTL2900PB dive torch from Bigblue.

Bigblue Dive Lights has established itself as a leading manufacturer of dive lights, known for its innovative approach to underwater illumination. With a focus on creating durable, high-quality lighting solutions for divers of all levels, Bigblue combines advanced technology with user-friendly design.

Their product range, from compact torches to powerful video lights, caters to a wide spectrum of diving activities, ensuring safety and enhancing the underwater experience. The brand’s commitment to sustainability, seen in their rechargeable battery options, reflects a dedication to eco-friendly practices in the diving community.

First Impressions and Build Quality

Unboxing the sleek and compact Bigblue VTL2900PB immediately hints at its potential as a top-tier dive torch. It arrived with a comprehensive set of accessories including a Goodman glove, rechargeable battery, and charger, highlighting Bigblue’s attention to detail. While the inclusion of a dry bag is appreciated, a hard protective case might have offered better protection for this bit of gear which does come with a premium price tag.


Performance and Versatility

I tested this torch in various conditions whilst diving in the Galapagos Islands and was impressed with it’s power and range of lighting, all easily accessible at the push of a button.

Underwater, the VTL2900PB’s performance shines—literally. With a brightness of 2900 lumens across a wide beam and a 1000 lumens narrow beam, visibility in murky, or plankton filled waters like those around the Galapagos Archipelago, becomes a non-issue.

Its user-friendly interface, which allows divers to swiftly toggle between modes even with gloves on, enhances the underwater experience. I found the light’s beam distance and colour rendition to be excellent. The colour temperature sits at 6500k, or a “cool white” which does a good job at delivering a true display of colours, providing vivid visuals for photography and navigation.

Its versatility extends from illuminating vast underwater landscapes for photography to subtle communication with my dive buddies through its red light mode. I found this mode particularly useful when looking into small spaces within the rocks and coral, with the hope to not make anything stir and swim for cover.

Durably built from high-quality anodised aluminium alloy, and depth tested to 100 metres, the torch is both lightweight for travel and robust enough to withstand the underwater elements. I was quite confident that this torch would hold its own on the dive platform of a liveaboard boat without me having to worry about it too much.

big blue

Sustainable Power

Powered by a rechargeable Li-ion battery, the VTL2900PB offers up to 1.5 hours of light on its highest setting—perfect for multiple dives. This eco-friendly approach not only ensures prolonged adventures under the sea but also aligns with sustainable diving practices.

Pricing and Value

Priced at £415, the Bigblue VTL2900PB stands out in the competitive dive torch market by offering exceptional value. Its performance, durability, and included features such as a red light and blue light for fluoro diving, make it a wise investment for divers at all levels, particularly those with an interest in photography and videography. Despite the absence of a hard case, its overall quality and functionality make it an indispensable tool for any dive.

Concluding Thoughts

The Bigblue VTL2900PB torch is a reliable, versatile companion for divers, offering a blend of powerful illumination and user-friendly features.

Its construction, long-lasting battery, and thoughtful design are evidently well researched and underscore Bigblue’s commitment to enhancing divers’ underwater experiences. For those looking to capture the undersea world in all its glory or navigate the depths with confidence, the VTL2900PB is a standout choice that promises not to disappoint.

Bigblue have been in the dive light game for years, and without a doubt, will be here for many more years to come.

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