Best 4 Scuba Regulators for Cold Water Diving
Most people get shivers and fringe when they hear the word “Cold Water Diving”, but you must remember that it’s not cold water that isn’t fun, but being Cold.
You can actually see more marine life on some cold water dives than you can on most warm water dives, with the exception of coral reefs of course.
PADI describes cold water diving as temperatures cooler than 15ºC/60ºF, and diving in these harsh conditions require special diving equipment, one of the most important being the scuba regulator.
But, What are the best cold water Regulator?
In this article, you are going to find out what you need to look for in a good cold water regulator, as well as my pick and reviews of best cold water regulators.
Looking For A Great All Around Dive Regulator?
Check Out Our Guide of the Best Dive Regulator of 2018
Cold Water Regulator Comparison Guide
Use the chart below to quickly compare ratings, features, and prices of top rated scuba regulators specifically designed for diving in these harsh conditions.
If you don’t know what to look for in the ideal cold water regulator, continue reading below.
|Regulator||Aqua Lung Legend Glacia||Scubapro MK17/A700||Mares Abyss 22 Navy||Sherwood Bizzard Pro
|Environmentally Sealed ||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Second Stage Material||Metal||Metal||Metal||Plastic|
|Nitox||Up to 40%||Up to 40%||Up to 40%||Up to 40%|
Why You Need A Specially Designed Regulator For Cold Water Diving?
Pretty much all regulator can be used for warm water diving, but not all of them can be used for diving in cold water, this is because of icing.
Icing occurs when ice forms on the internal mechanisms of the regulator, allowing it to freeze up and not function properly.
It is not the cold water that makes the regulator freeze but the drop in temperature from the expanding gas being released from the cylinder.
This effect is further explained and illustrated by the YouTube video below, done by Mares Labs, as well as some of the technology they use to combat the cold.
So, What Should You Look for In a Good Cold Water Regulator?
When choosing a cold water regulator, there are a few thing you will want to look for. Below are the most important components you would want in the perfect cold water regulator.
- Environmentally Sealed – If you are planning on diving in extremely cold water, then it recommends getting a regulator that is environmentally sealed. When a first stage is environmentally sealed the internal components does not come in direct contact with the cold water, which in turns reduces the chance of freezing.
- Metal Second Stage – In extreme cold it’s also recommended to use a metal second stage as opposed to plastic. This is because a metal second stage has more thermal conductivity. Metal retains warms which in turn warms the expanding gasses.
A few tips to help prevent your regulator from freezing up:
- Don’t breathe from or purge your second stage if you’re not underwater.
- Set your second stage breathing resistance to min.
- Expose all metal parts of your regulator to the water by removing hose protectors.
- Slowly inflate your BCD
Best Cold Water Regulators Reviews
Each dive regulator manufacturer has their own technology they use to beat the cold. It really doesn’t matter how they do it, as long as they get the job done effectively.
Below is my pick for the best cold water scuba regulator and some of the technology they use to fight the cold. They are listed in no specific order.
Aqua Lung Legend Glacia
Not only did they design a regulator that works great in cold water diving, but also boast exceptional breathing performance, similar to that of the Legend Supreme.
To fight the cold, the Legend Glacia is fitted with three heat exchanger situated throughout the regulator to keep the air as close to ambient temperature and reduce the effects of icing.
The first one completely surrounds the first stage environmental dry chamber, the second is found inline the low-pressure hose, and third is adjacent to the second stage casing.
The Legend Glacia features an overbalanced environmentally sealed the first stage with 2HP and 4 LP Ports. It also comes with Aqua Lung Auto-Closure Device (ACD). This seals the first stage inlet fitting as soon as it is removed from the cylinder. In the event that you forget to put on the dust cap, it will prevent water or other contaminants from entering the first stage.
The Second stage is also balanced and is made with an aluminum cover for added thermal conductivity. It has a user adjustable inhalation knob to adjust breathing efforts on the fly. It also comes with a lip shield to keep lips warm while diving.
To create the ideal cold water regulator Scubapro paired their popular MK17 first stage with their flagship second stage the A700. Both have a compact design for lightweight and comfort and qualities especially designed for the harsh conditions of cold water.
The Mk17 first stage is a balanced diaphragm first stage, ensuring that you get the best breathing performance at any tank pressure or depth.
It is also environmentally sealed and equipment with heat exchangers around the first stage to help prevent the regulator from freezing up.
It comes with 2 HP ports on either side and four low-pressure ports, two on each side.
The A700 second stage is crafted with precision from metal. Metal offer excellent thermal conductivity which helps prevent ice crystals from forming which would impede its performance.
It also features an adjustable inhalation knob for fine tuning your breathing on the dive, as well as a venturi switch to help prevent free flows on the surface and delivers better performance on the dive.
If you are looking for a more compact system for your cold water dives this would be a great choice. It is also Nitrox compatible right out of the box and available in a black tech version, which is much harder to scratch than the chrome version.
Mares Abyss 22 Navy Regulator
It uses the Mares 22 balanced first stage with an environmental cap, which actually keeps the cold water from interacting with the parts inside.
The odd shape of the first state is due to mares cutting away all excess metals to make it more compact and lightweight.
It features 2 HP ports, one on either side of the regulator, and 4 LP port, two on each side for optimum hose routing.
The Abyss second stage housing is constructed from metal for its thermal conductivity properties. It features an unbalanced system, however, Mares claims the 22 first stage intermediate pressure drop is so minimal that they can use a more simple and reliable valve system without sacrificing performance.
They also claim that no driver adjustments are necessary because the first stage delivers a constant airflow under the most extreme conditions.
The second stage also has a bypass tube, which bypasses air directly to the mouthpiece on inhalation. This creates a vortex that keeps the diaphragm down, which makes for very sensitive and easy breathing.
This regulator makes a great alternative to the more expensive cold water regulators and lack of any user adjustment makes it a really easy regulator to dive with.
As the name implies, this line of Sherwood regulator was made especially for cold water diving.
Previous models of this regulator have gotten rave reviews for its performance in extremely cold water conditions.
However, It has gone through a complete remake in 2013 to make an already great regulator even better.
The new first stage uses a balanced piston in a dry sealed chamber, so the internal part does not come in contact with the cold water.
It is now designed vertically for better streamlining, and also features 2 HP ports on either side and 4 LP for optimum hose routing.
The second stage is also balanced and the housing is made from plastic but uses a metal heat sink which captures the heat from your exhalation to warm up the operating parts, preventing it from freezing up in cold water.
Past models of this regulator have gotten very high ratings for cold water diving. Sherwood claims that the complete remake should make for even better performance, but the verdict is still out as this is a very new regulator and they are not many reviews to draw a definitive conclusion.
So, What do you Think?
Let me know what your thoughts are about cold water diving and what type of regulator you use by replying below. Or, if you feel there is a regulator that should make the list, let us know.