If you’re planning to dive in cold water (below 75º F), you’ll need a regulator built to take a beating. Icy waters are among the most challenging conditions you can take on as a SCUBA diver, and not just any gear will do. Cold water regulators utilize special features to prevent freezing and freeflow and are often made from more robust materials than their warm water counterparts. Keep reading to learn about the best cold water regulators on the market, and the top features and considerations to keep in mind while shopping.

For more of our top scuba gear recommendations, check out the Best Scuba Regulators

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Quick Answer - The Best Cold Water Regulators

  1. Cressi Ellipse Titanium MC9
  2. Scubapro MK2 EVO/R195
  3. Sherwood Blizzard Pro
  4. Mares Abyss 22X
  5. Hollis DC7 500SE
  6. Atomic Aquatics M1 Regulator
  7. Aqua Lung Legend LX Supreme
  8. Apeks MTX-R
  9. Scubapro MK25 EVO/A700

Comparison Table - Best Cold Water Regulator

PictureNameFirst Stage TypeWeightPortsPriceRating
Cressi Ellipse Titanium MC9Balanced Diaphragm2 lbs4 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure$4.8
Scubapro MK2 EVO/R195Unbalanced Piston2 lbs4 Low Pressure, 1 High Pressure$4.7
Sherwood Blizzard ProBalanced Piston3 lbs4 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure$5.0
Mares Abyss 22XBalanced Diaphragm3.8 lbs4 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure$4.6
Hollis DC7 500SEBalanced Diaphragm2.4 lbs4 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure$$4.8
Zeagle F8Balanced Diaphragm2.6 lbs5 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure$$4.8
Atomic Aquatics M1 RegulatorBalanced Piston2.3 lbs5 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure$$4.9
Aqua Lung Legend LX SupremeBalanced Piston2.4 lbs4 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure$$4.8
Apeks MTX-RBalanced Diaphragm2.6 lbs5 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure$$$5.0
Scubapro MK25 EVO/A700Balanced Piston2.4 lbs5 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure$$$4.8
PictureNameFirst Stage TypeWeightPortsPriceRating

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Reviews - The Best Regulators for Cold Water

Cressi Ellipse Titanium MC9

Specs
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Ports: 4 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure
  • First Stage Type: Balanced Diaphragm
Features
  • Ultra Light (2.1 lbs or less)
  • Wireless Air Integration (an extra port for Bluetooth transmitters)
  • Extra Ports for Dry Suits and Accessories

BEST FOR: BUDGET 

If you’re shopping on a budget, don’t worry. The Cressi Ellipse Titanium MC9 sets a high standard for cold water regulators, and it won’t break the bank. This entry-level model features an easy-to-adjust flow of air, high and low pressure ports for all your extras and accessories, and a super lightweight exterior. Plus, it’s perfectly suited to diving in all climates, so there’s no need to buy more than one set of “regs.”

Scubapro MK2 EVO/R195

Specs
  • Weight: 2 lbs
  • Ports: 4 Low Pressure, 1 High Pressure
  • First Stage Type: Unbalanced Piston
Features
  • Ultra Light (2.1 lbs or less)
  • Adjustable Flow (allows you to control how much air you receive in each breath)
  • Pre-Dive Switch (reduces flow to conserve air on the surface)

BEST FOR: BEGINNERS

The Scubapro MK2 EVO/R195 is ideal for newly certified divers exploring in cold climates. This regulator has absolutely everything you need and nothing you don’t, with very few moving parts and pieces. And, while it won’t win any points for style, it’s one of the best values on the market dollar for dollar. If you stick with diving, this regulator will make an excellent backup and is a top pick for deco tanks, too.

Sherwood Blizzard Pro

Specs
  • Weight: 3 lbs
  • Ports: 4 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure
  • First Stage Type: Balanced Piston
Features
  • Pre-Dive Switch (reduces flow to conserve air on the surface)
  • Environmentally Sealed (so it has an insulating and protective exterior)
  • Wireless Air Integration (an extra port for Bluetooth transmitters)
  • Oversized Knobs (for use with thick gloves)

BEST FOR: PRO PICK

The Sherwood Blizzard is one of the best selling cold water regulators of all time, and a top pick for instructors and safety divers. This regulator is environmentally sealed against cold and contamination. It’s also “easy breathing” at every depth and temperature. Other pro-friendly features include a self-warming second stage (to prevent freezing and keep your lips comfortable) and oversized knobs that are easy to operate while wearing gloves.

Mares Abyss 22X

Specs
  • Weight: 3.8 lbs
  • Ports: 4 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure
  • First Stage Type: Balanced Diaphragm
Features
  • Adjustable Flow (allows you to control how much air you receive in each breath)
  • Environmentally Sealed (an insulating and protective exterior)
  • Turreted First Stage (more versatile than a traditional valve)
  • Wireless Air Integration (an extra port for Bluetooth transmitters)

BEST FOR: DURABILITY

The Mares Abyss 22 is a sturdy and stable regulator, perfect for divers who are hard on their gear. Its brass and nickel first stage is environmentally sealed against cold and contamination, and its second stage features an internal heating element (to prevent freezing and freeflow). These features prevent freezing and freeflow, so you’ll feel comfortable diving in super cold climates. And, while the Abyss 22 is heavier than most models, it’s hard wearing exterior won’t wear out like its plastic counterparts. Best of all, this regulator only needs to be serviced every 2 years or 200 dives.

Hollis DC7 500SE

Specs
  • Weight: 2.4 lbs
  • Ports: 4 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure
  • First Stage Type: Balanced Diaphragm
Features
  • Travel Weight (2.5 lbs or less)
  • Environmentally Sealed (an insulating and protective exterior)
  • Can be Configured for Sidemount or Doubles (two back mounted tanks)
  • Lightweight Braided Hoses Included

BEST FOR: UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHERS

Underwater photography is challenging in perfect dive conditions, so why buy a regulator that will make taking perfect pictures more difficult? Unlike most regulators, the Hollis DC7 500SE utilizes a side exhaust for exhaled gas, so your bubbles will stay well out of frame. But, this sturdy and reliable option isn’t only for taking pretty pictures. The DC7 is rated for cold climates and technical diving, and weighs far less than similarly designed models.

Zeagle F8

Specs
  • Weight: 2.6 lbs
  • Ports: 5 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure
  • First Stage Type: Balanced Diaphragm
Features
  • Adjustable Flow (allows you to control how much air you receive in each breath)
  • Pre-Dive Switch (reduces flow to conserve air on the surface)
  • Environmentally Sealed (an insulating and protective exterior)
  • Turreted First Stage (more versatile than a traditional valve)
  • Wireless Air Integration (an extra port for Bluetooth transmitters)

BEST FOR: VERSATILITY

The Zeagle F8 does it all. This regulator features a robust design packed with diver-friendly features, and it still weighs less than most models in its class. The F8’s first stage is sealed and insulated, with a watertight exterior to prevent corrosion. The second stage has built-in anti-freezing features, yet is still compact and lightweight. And, its large easy-to-grip knobs (to customize airflow) were designed for divers wearing thick gloves.

Atomic Aquatics M1 Regulator

Specs
  • Weight: 2.3 lbs
  • Ports: 5 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure
  • First Stage Type: Balanced Piston
Features
  • Travel Weight (2.5 lbs or less)
  • Turreted First Stage (more versatile than a traditional valve)
  • Wireless Air Integration (an extra port for Bluetooth transmitters)
  • Extra Ports for Dry Suits and Accessories
  • Requires Less Frequent Servicing

BEST FOR: DIVE TRAVEL

The Atomic Aquatics M1 has all the features you’d expect from a cold water regulator packed into a travel-sized package. It features plenty of ports (for wireless air integration, dry suits, and accessories) and an easy to customize airflow. And, it can support a higher blend of oxygen than most models, so it’s a favorite among technical and specialty divers. Plus, this regulator only needs to be serviced every 3 years or 300 dives.

Aqua Lung Legend LX Supreme

Specs
  • Weight: 2.4 lbs
  • Ports: 4 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure
  • First Stage Type: Balanced Piston
Features
  • Travel Weight (2.5 lbs or less)
  • Wireless Air Integration (an extra port for Bluetooth transmitters)
  • Lightweight Braided Hoses Included
  • Oversized Knobs (for use with thick gloves)

BEST FOR: OVERALL VALUE

The Aqua Lung Legend is an excellent regulator, no matter what climate you’re diving in. It’s got all the perks you expect from a midrange regulator, but it’s outfitted for the cold. This model is robust enough for daily use in extreme climates, but compact and lightweight enough for travel, too. The Legend also features Aqua Lung’s unique first stage auto-closure designed to close your dust cap in case you forget to do it manually, so you’ll never flood your filter while washing gear.

Apeks MTX-R

Specs
  • Weight: 2.6 lbs
  • Ports: 5 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure
  • First Stage Type: Balanced Diaphragm
Features
  • Environmentally Sealed (so it has an insulating and protective exterior)
  • Turreted First Stage (more versatile than a traditional valve)
  • Wireless Air Integration (an extra port for Bluetooth transmitters)
  • Lightweight Braided Hoses Included

BEST FOR: EXTREME ENVIRONMENTS

Diving in cold water requires sturdy, rugged equipment, and some regulators are tougher than others. The Apeks MTX was built based on a military design, featuring a nearly bulletproof sealed and balanced brass exterior. It’s rated for extreme cold and can be used safely for demanding immersions like ice diving. Plus, it’s an easy-to-service “reg” that doesn’t require special tools, and is easy to work on in the field. If you are planning to take on the planet’s coldest underwater environments, this regulator is your best bet.

Scubapro MK25 EVO/A700

Specs
  • Weight: 2.4 lbs
  • Ports: 5 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure
  • First Stage Type: Balanced Piston
Features
  • Travel Weight (2.5 lbs or less)
  • Turreted First Stage (more versatile than a traditional valve)
  • Wireless Air Integration (an extra port for Bluetooth transmitters)
  • Can be Configured for Sidemount or Doubles (two back mounted tanks)
  • Extra Ports for Dry Suits and Accessories

BEST FOR: TOP OF THE LINE

When it comes to cold water regulators, the ScubaPro MK25 EVO/A700 is the best of the best. This regulator is preferred by wreck, cave, and cavern divers, thanks to its sturdy construction. And, it’s rated for even the coldest of climates. The MK25 offers plenty of ports for all your accessories on an ergonomic swiveling turret, compatible with traditional and sidemount configurations. Best of all, this regulator is so lightweight and compact that it will take up no room at all in your travel bag.

 

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THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A COLD WATER REGULATOR

TEMPERATURE

Plenty of regulators are suitable for diving in cold climates. But if you are planning to take the plunge in extreme cold or icy conditions, you should choose a regulator specially designed to prevent freeflow and freezing over. Keep in mind that a regulator rated for extreme cold will perform just as well in tropical climates. So, it can’t hurt to be over-prepared.

 

DIN OR YOKE VALVE

When shopping for a cold water regulator, there is a big difference between a DIN or Yoke valve first stage.

DIN valves screw directly into the dive tank, to form a highly stable seal. Technical divers, cave divers, and wreck enthusiasts prefer this style because it is so secure. And, for this same reason, the DIN valve performs better in extreme cold. While this valve type might require more frequent service and thorough cleaning, it’s worth it if you’re planning to dive in icy conditions. Keep in mind that a DIN valve will fit on any SCUBA cylinder, using an adapter.

Yoke valves attach to the tank using an external rubber O-ring. This type of seal is less stable than the DIN valve, so it is better for warm water diving and less challenging conditions. This valve type is easier to set up and break down and requires less maintenance, but is best left for immersions in temperatures over 75º F.

 

BALANCED OR UNBALANCED

Simply put, if you’re diving in cold water you should use a balanced regulator.

The most noticeable difference between balanced and unbalanced regulators is how they “breathe” when you are low on air. Balanced regulators deliver the same amount of air per breath until your tank is empty. Unbalanced regulators becomes more difficult to breathe from as your tank has less air. This change in flow can serve as a good reminder to check your pressure gauge and can prevent out of air emergencies while diving in warm water. But, a dramatic change in flow is impractical for cold climates. Balanced regulators also perform better during deep dives.

 

PISTON OR DIAPHRAGM

The difference between piston and diaphragm regulators is the mechanism by which your air is delivered. Gas from your SCUBA tank passes into the regulator’s first stage, where it forces either a piston or diaphragm open and closed with each breath. If you’re diving in warm water, you won’t notice much of a difference in performance between the two. But, in cold climates that might not be the case.

Piston first stages offer a higher flow rate and are “easier breathing” than their counterparts. But, this can make them slightly more prone to freeflow. This regulator type is easy and affordable to service because it has few moving parts, but may require specialized tools to open.

Diaphragm first stages offer air at a lower flow rate, so they are less likely to freeflow. But, some divers feel that they are harder to breathe from. Some diaphragm first stages are environmentally sealed (in an airtight, insulated exterior) which makes them less likely to freeze over and protects them from contaminants and corrosion.

 

WEIGHT

If you’re hoping to buy a cold water regulator that’s light enough for dive travel, you’re in luck! These days, there are plenty of options weighing in at less than 2.5 lbs. While most travel regulators use titanium and carbon fiber to cut down on weight, these are not the best materials for cold climates. Choose a regulator made from a sturdy, insulating metal like brass or nickel instead. And, even lightweight options should feel strong and stable, with no flimsy plastic pieces. This is especially important if you’ll be diving in extreme cold and using thick gloves.

 

NUMBER OF PORTS

If you learned to dive in warm water, you might be wondering why it’s important to have so many ports on your regulator’s first stage.

Most regulators built for warm water include 4 low pressure ports (for second stages, BCD inflator hoses, and dry suits) and 1 high pressure port (for pressure gauges and computers with wireless transmitters). But, if you’re diving in cold climates, you may need more attachment points. Many divers use multiple gauges for redundancy in challenging environments. And, for some climates a dry suit is mandatory.

Extra ports cannot be added to your regulator’s first stage, so choose a model with more ports than you need.

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

ADJUSTABLE FLOW

Regulators that feature an adjustable flow rate allow you to increase and decrease how much air you get with each breath. This helps fight fatigue while diving under challenging conditions and prevents you from feeling “air starved” when diving in cold climates. Because you’ll likely be using thick gloves, it’s essential to choose a regulator with a knob large enough to grasp and adjust easily.

PRE-DIVE SWITCH

The colder the conditions, the more likely our second stage is to freeflow on the surface. This can waste a lot of air and cause stress on the surface. A pre-dive switch allows you to reduce your regulator’s flow to prevent this issue while entering the water or waiting to begin your descent. You may be wearing thick gloves during your dives, so you’ll want to choose a regulator with easy-to-use switches and levers made from thick durable plastic.

ENVIRONMENTALLY SEALED

An environmental seal is a protective outer casing around your regulator’s first stage. This extra layer insulates your regulator’s internal moving parts, preventing freezing. And, it prevents outside contaminants like silt and sand from working their way inside.

TURRETED FIRST STAGE

A turreted (vertical tower shaped) first stage offers many advantages over a traditional horizontal valve, especially when diving in cold water. You may prefer this setup, as it is more comfortable and ergonomic for routing your hoses, especially if you are diving with a dry suit. Turreted regulators are also compatible with technical and sidemount diving.

WIRELESS AIR INTEGRATION

Wireless air integrated dive computers use a transmitter attached to your first stage that relays tank pressure to a wrist-mounted screen. It is advisable to dive using a backup pressure gauge for redundancy, especially if you are diving in a cold climate. So, to utilize this new technology, you’ll need a regulator with 2 high-pressure ports.

 

 

READ MORE

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