Regulators, Technical Report 2019
We have decided to publish an evaluation of the diving regulators available on the market in 2019. The following tables have been drawn up on the basis of our exclusive technical evaluation, in full autonomy and without any constraint with the named brands.
Each brand has many models of regulators in their catalog; our intent is not to evaluate every single article but to express a general judgment, divided by topics, of the production of the brands with which we deal daily; obviously there are differences between an entry level model and a high-end one, but the production (and assistance) standards can be considered the same for the whole catalog: a basic-range regulator will be simpler, less “performing” and probably less aesthetically finished of a top of the range, but only this is the difference.
We have taken into consideration only the brands with which we work daily as a Service Center (Apeks, Aqualung, Cressi, Mares, Scubapro, SeacSub), so that our evaluations are supported by an effective statistical sample.
We direct our evaluation on the construction aspects, the quality of the materials, the simplicity of the project and the related maintenance costs. These are laboratory technical assessments that exclude “performances” in water, these can be easily deduced from the technical data sheets on the manufacturers’ websites, or in the various comparisons that you can find on the web, with graphs and user ratings.
We sincerely find it hard to believe that the average of recreational divers can appreciate such “fine” differences in diving as those reported in the “flow”, “cracking effort”, etc. We therefore advise you to try and compare yourself (where possible) different models from different manufacturers, basically we go to the water for the joy of discovery, and even in this field we may have some interesting ones.
However, there remains an incontrovertible point: to each his own dispenser (and brand), according to his own choice.
Okay, let’s start taking a closer look (also inside).
We evaluated the quality of the metal parts, the turning and the design, external and internal.
In the first place we find APEKS, which stands out for the care of the mechanized, from the materials to the design to the construction, particularly cared for and clean. Despite being the same production line as Aqualung, we have noticed a slight difference that brings Apeks to the top step of the podium, above all for the simplicity of the project. The aesthetic factor is subjective, we analyze only the technical part, and Apeks seems to us that it has some points more than the parent brand.
We assessed the quality of the plastics, their processing, molding, resistance and durability to mechanical and thermal stress typical of the underwater activity.
As regards the plastics used, we find APEKS in the first place on an equal footing with AQUALUNG and SCUBAPRO. The two French / English brands come out of the same production line, and here we note; in some respects Aqualung is even superior: being able to break a body or a second stage cover is really difficult, even with a commitment. Scubapro uses excellent plastics for the second stages, unfortunately some parts used for the first stages (mainly for aesthetic use) are a bit weak and easy to break.
CRESSI also uses good plastics but we have noticed that on the low-end models some components are weak and the breaking point can be easily reached.
We assessed the quality of the tires, their processing, molding, resistance and durability to mechanical and thermal stress typical of the underwater activity.
Speaking of rubber parts, CRESSI definitely ranks first. The experience gained in the molding field is now a guarantee of brand quality, with a truly remarkable catalog and a production made in Italy. However, we noticed a qualitative difference which, while remaining of a good level, often “loses something” in the low-end models in the catalog.
The rubbers used by Apeks / Aqualung are also excellent, whose production previously Made in Italy (Technisub) has gone beyond the Alps. Scubapro rubbers continue to be produced in Italy and of excellent quality.
We assessed the quality of the chrome plating, their resistance and durability to mechanical stress resulting from use.
The chrome and finish of the APEKS regulators are decidedly of excellent quality and beat the competition in various lengths. Aqualung, although leaving the same production line, does not have the same yield, perhaps thanks to a more refined and less “spartan” aesthetic project of the UK brand. The chrome plating is done well and remains where it must be even over the years and ultrasonic washing cycles.
Unfortunately, despite its prestigious reputation, Scubapro has disappointed us: a light and weak chrome plating, very easy to remove even on new dispensers, with a simple ultrasonic cleaning.
One of the things that are often not considered when choosing a regulator is the cost of maintenance. Each regulator should be overhauled at least once a year, according to use, so a recreational diver can go to an authorized technical center at the end of the season, while a professional diver or those who dive all year round, will need more frequent assistance.
We do not underestimate this aspect, it is always good not to let this run, for our safety and for our wallet: a regularly overhauled regulator will make us feel more comfortable underwater and will save us in spare parts.
Here is our evaluation, in which the score is assigned in reverse form: higher score = lower maintenance costs (read: spare parts and maintenance kits).
As regards the cost of maintenance kits and spare parts, CRESSI and MARES are the cheapest, and not the least, compared to the competition. This is surely a factor that decrees its widespread use in diving centers and diving schools, where the cost of managing the equipment must be budgeted.
The cost of APEKS maintenance kits and spare parts are decidedly expensive, although it must be admitted that the brand’s choice to offer a single first stage and second stage kit, common for the whole range (except for the “cool” Flight / XL4), is a great help for service centers. This philosophy is not to be taken into account, it means that Apeks started from a project of extreme engineering and construction quality but “simple” (which does not mean absolutely “poor”, on the contrary), on the basis of which it has continued with improvements not radical but mainly aesthetic. After all, “the team that wins does not change”.
Scubapro remains, in our opinion, the tail light on the list. The maintenance kits are expensive, a little less than Apeks, but the individual spare parts, even the most banal, are really expensive (and they are not palladium but the usual brass or steel like all the others). The internal design is often very complicated, with first stage models that can count even more than 20 individual pieces.
The Final Technician Judgment
Here we are at the point where many will ask themselves: “So, which one is the best?”
We are sorry perhaps to disappoint your expectations but, as we have already said at the beginning, it is impossible to say which is the best, there are too many variables to consider, in addition to the personal choice and “trust” that everyone has in a given brand.
We say, however, that all the brands we have analyzed – which are among the major manufacturers of diving equipment – are good and reliable: their products are all certified and nobody creates safety problems in the water, so from this point of view you can choose to closed eyes.
Remember that proper maintenance and regular overhaul can save you a lot of money over time: even the best regulator, if not subject to scheduled technical assistance, will almost certainly require the replacement of various components (oxidized or blocked), with a its significant outlay of money. We can guarantee you that spending a day trying to take apart a “calcified” first stage is not a technician’s favorite pastime …
We hope that the reports prepared by our laboratories will help you in choosing the right equipment for you, however, remember that the main difference, underwater, is the responsible diver with the equipment in perfect condition, whatever the brand is: safety and awareness of the limits are our best diving buddy.
If you still want more information about specific dispenser models, you can contact us by email by writing to email@example.com and we will be happy to answer you.
P.S. We specify that in the evaluations of this article the new Mares 2019 models have not been taken into consideration since they have not been delivered to the laboratory, therefore it was not possible to express a judgment on these products.
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