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If you have a dive trip coming up, a high-quality regulator is the one piece of gear you won’t want to leave home without. Rental equipment is usually reliable, but that doesn’t mean it will be comfortable. So why risk ruining your vacation diving with a “reg” that you just don’t like? The best regulators for travel are lightweight and compact, yet sturdy and high performance. And these days, there are plenty of excellent options to choose from. Keep reading for The Adventure Junkies’ pro picks for the best travel regulators (under 2.5 lbs) and advice on how to find the model that’s best for you!

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

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Quick Answer - The Best Regulators for Travel

  1. Aqua Lung Calypso
  2. Mares Prestige 12S
  3. Zeagle Onyx II
  4. Cressi XS Compact Pro MC9
  5. Hollis DC7
  6. Scubapro MK21/S560
  7. Atomic Aquatics B2
  8. Aqua Lung Legend
  9. Scubapro MK25 EVO/A700
  10. Atomic Aquatics T3

Comparison Table - Best Regulators for Traveling

PictureNameFirst Stage TypeWeightPortsPriceRating
Aqua Lung CalypsoUnbalanced Piston2.5 lbs4 Low Pressure, 1 High Pressure$4.4
Mares Prestige 12SBalanced Diaphragm2.5 lbs4 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure$4.7
Zeagle Onyx IIBalanced Diaphragm2.6 lbs5 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure$$4.8
Cressi XS Compact Pro MC9Balanced Diaphragm2.1 lbs4 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure$4.6
Hollis DC7Balanced Diaphragm2.4 lbs4 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure$$4.8
Scubapro MK21/S560Balanced Piston2.1 lbs4 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure$$4.7
Atomic Aquatics B2Balanced Piston2.5 lbs5 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure$$4.8
Aqua Lung LegendBalanced Diaphragm2.4 lbs4 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure$$4.6
Scubapro MK25 EVO/A700Balanced Piston2.3 lbs5 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure$$4.8
Atomic Aquatics T3Balanced Piston1.6 lbs5 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure$$$5.0
PictureNameFirst Stage TypeWeightPortsPriceRating

DIVE TRAVEL

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Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - The Best Dive Regulators for Travel

Aqua Lung Calypso

Specs
  • Weight: 2.5 lbs
  • Ports: 4 Low Pressure, 1 High Pressure
  • First Stage Type: Unbalanced Piston
Features
  • Rated for Cold Water (below 50° F)
  • 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

Are you planning your very first dive trip? The Aqua Lung Calypso is an affordable entry-level regulator, perfect for newbies. This model has been around for years and remains a top pick for recently certified divers thanks to its straightforward design and nearly bulletproof construction. The Calypso’s piston first stage is easy to maintain and repair, even while traveling overseas. Plus, this regulator features an unbalanced design, which makes it easy to tell when your tank is running low. So, while it wasn’t originally intended for travel, this regulator will make an excellent addition to your gear bag.

Mares Prestige 12S

Specs
  • Weight: 2.5 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)
  • Pre-Dive Switch (reduces flow to conserve air on the surface)
  • Lightweight Braided Hoses Included

BEST FOR: WARM WATER

If your plans for dive travel include warm water and calm conditions, the Mares Prestige 12S might be your best bet. This regulator features a basic design with everything you need and nothing you don’t. It’s simple to repair and service, and doesn’t have too many moving parts to break. And, thanks to it’s uniquely designed second stage, it’s one of the “easiest breathing” models on the market, regardless of depth or tank pressure!

Zeagle Onyx II

Specs
  • Weight: 2.6 lbs
  • Ports: 5 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure
  • First Stage Type: Balanced Diaphragm
Features
  • Rated for cold water (below 50° F)
  • 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

BEST FOR: VERSATILITY

The Zeagle Onyx is a compact and versatile regulator, perfect for dive travel in all kinds of conditions. This model’s balanced and environmentally sealed first stage is safe to use in cold water and chlorinated pools. And, its swiveling turret first stage comes with enough ports to accommodate a wireless dive computer and a dry suit. Extra features like adjustable air flow, a pre-dive switch, and the option to add wireless air integration make this a top pick for working dive pros. Plus, this regulator’s construction is stable and sturdy enough for everyday use.

Cressi XS Compact Pro MC9

Specs
  • Weight: 2.1 lbs
  • Ports: 4 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure
  • First Stage Type: Balanced Diaphragm
Features
  • Ultra Light (2.1 lbs or less)
  • Rated for cold water (below 50° F)
  • Wireless Air Integration (an extra port for Bluetooth transmitters)

BEST FOR: BUDGET SHOPPERS

When it comes to shopping for a travel regulator, more expensive doesn’t always mean better quality. The Cressi Compact Pro is affordable, lightweight, and built to last, making it a top pick for beginners and budget shoppers. This regulator has plenty of extra ports for dry suit or wireless dive computer integration, and it’s rated for both warm and cold water. Best of all, the MC9 weighs less than any other model in its class.

Hollis DC7

Specs
  • Weight: 2.4 lbs
  • Ports: 4 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure
  • First Stage Type: Balanced Diaphragm
Features
  • Rated for Cold Water (below 50° F)
  • Can be Configured for Sidemount or Doubles (two back mounted tanks)
  • Lightweight Braided Hoses Included

BEST FOR: UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHERS

Underwater photographers know there is nothing worse than ruining a great shot with your own bubbles. The Hollis DC7 is one of the few travel regulators that features a side exhaust, so your bubbles will stay well out of frame. Plus, it’s a lightweight and comfortable option that can stand up to a variety of diving conditions. This regulator is rated for cold water and technical diving, and weighs less than any similarly designed model on the market.

Scubapro MK21/S560

Specs
  • Weight: 2.1 lbs
  • Ports: 4 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure
  • First Stage Type: Balanced Piston
Features
  • Ultra Light (2.1 lbs or less)
  • Rated for cold water (below 50° F)
  • Turreted First Stage (more versatile than a traditional valve)
  • Wireless Air Integration (an extra port for Bluetooth transmitters)

BEST FOR: OVERALL VALUE

The ScubaPro MK21/S560 is one of the best regulators on the market, dollar for dollar. This scaled down version of the MK25 is rated for warm and cold water, breathes easily regardless of depth or tank pressure, and it’s super easy to service. Its turreted first stage has extra ports for a dry suit and air integration. And, it weighs far less than similar models. If you’re looking for a mid-range model designed for travel, you can’t do much better than this.

Atomic Aquatics B2

Specs
  • Weight: 2.5 lbs
  • Ports: 5 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure
  • First Stage Type: Balanced Piston
Features
  • Swiveling Joints (gives your head a broad range of motion to prevent neck tension)
  • Turreted First Stage (more versatile than a traditional valve)
  • Wireless Air Integration (an extra port for Bluetooth transmitters)
  • Requires Less Frequent Servicing

BEST FOR: COMFORT

If you are prone to jaw fatigue or headaches after diving, your regulator might be to blame. The Atomic Aquatics B2 is one of the most ergonomic options available, featuring design elements specially created to solve this problem. A turreted first stage makes it easy to route your hoses, no matter what equipment configuration you’re diving on. Swiveling joints give your head and neck a broader range of motion underwater, so you’ll never feel the regulator tugging against your jaw. And, the second stage is lightweight enough that you won’t have to bite down to keep it in your mouth.

Aqua Lung Legend

Specs
  • Weight: 2.4 lbs
  • Ports: 4 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure
  • First Stage Type: Balanced Diaphragm
Features
  • Rated for cold water (below 50° F)
  • 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)
  • Wireless Air Integration (an extra port for Bluetooth transmitters)

BEST FOR: DAILY USE

Are you hard on your equipment? The Aqua Lung Legend LX was created with you in mind. This regulator is lightweight and comfortable, yet features a nearly bulletproof design. And it’s suitable for diving in a variety of climates and conditions, including cold water. In addition to its hard wearing exterior, this model offers a unique auto closure that keeps sand and moisture out, even if you forget to close your dust cap after diving. This will keep the second stage working better for longer, and reduce the need for regular service and maintenance.

Scubapro MK25 EVO/A700

Specs
  • Weight: 2.3 lbs
  • Ports: 5 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure
  • First Stage Type: Balanced Piston
Features
  • Rated for Cold Water (below 50° F)
  • 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)

BEST FOR: CAVE, CAVERN, AND WRECK DIVERS

If you are planning to dive in overhead environments or beyond the recreational diving limits (40 meters), this regulator is one of the few travel regulators that will suit your needs. The ScubaPro MK 25 EVO/A700 Carbon offers ultra-high air flow at any depth, performs perfectly in freezing conditions, and can be configured for traditional or sidemount diving. Plus, its carbon fiber exterior is practically indestructible. Even with all these extra features, this model is one of the lightest options available in its class.

Atomic Aquatics T3

Specs
  • Weight: 1.6 lbs
  • Ports: 5 Low Pressure, 2 High Pressure
  • First Stage Type: Balanced Piston
Features
  • Ultra Light (2.1 lbs or less)
  • Rated for cold water (below 50° F)
  • Turreted First Stage (more versatile than a traditional valve)
  • Swiveling Joints (gives your head a broad range of motion to prevent neck tension)
  • Includes a Padded Travel Case
  • Requires Less Frequent Servicing

BEST FOR: TOP OF THE LINE

The Atomic Aquatics T3 is an expensive piece of equipment, but we promise it’s worth every penny. This regulator is jam-packed with diver friendly features like a turreted first stage and swiveling joints, making it one of the most ergonomic options around. It’s rated for even the most extreme dive environments, and only requires service every 3 years or 300 dives. Plus, this is the most lightweight regulator on the market today.

 

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THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A TRAVEL REGULATOR

WEIGHT

When shopping for a travel regulator (under 2.5 lbs) you should keep quality as a top priority. Even the lightest of options should feel sturdy and rugged, with no flimsy plastic parts.

Travel regulators typically use materials like titanium and carbon fiber to cut down on their overall weight. This makes them far lighter than their brass, bronze, and aluminum counterparts. Keep in mind that you can also cut down on your regulator’s weight by using lighter woven hoses and a smaller pressure gauge.

 

DIN OR YOKE VALVE

When shopping for your regulator, you’ll need to choose between a DIN or Yoke valve first stage.

The DIN valve is preferred by tech, wreck, and cave divers because it forms such a secure seal. This valve type screws directly onto your scuba tank, so it is very stable. But, the external threads on a DIN valve are sensitive to wear and tear. So, this type of first stage requires more care during setup and breakdown and thorough washing after every use.

If you learned to dive in the United States, Canada, or Latin America, you’re likely used to diving with a Yoke valve first stage. This valve type attaches to your scuba tank using a rubber O-ring, so it is less stable than the DIN valve. Recreational divers in warm water typically use Yoke valves because they are easy to set up and break down, and far less fragile than their DIN counterparts.

 

BALANCED OR UNBALANCED

If you’re diving recreationally in warm water, the only real difference between a balanced and unbalanced regulator is how it “breathes” when you are low on air. Balanced regulators deliver the same amount of air per breath until your tank is completely empty. Unbalanced regulators become more difficult to breathe from as your tank pressure drops. Some divers find this change in airflow helpful, as it can serve as a reminder to check your pressure gauge.

If you are diving in cold conditions or planning to exceed the recreational dive limits (40 meters) you should use a balanced regulator. These more challenging immersions make any change in airflow impractical.

 

PISTON OR DIAPHRAGM

The difference between piston and diaphragm regulators is simple. One uses a piston mechanism, and the other uses a flexible diaphragm. In both cases, gas from your tank enters the regulator’s first stage. There, it forces either a piston or a diaphragm open and closed as you breathe. For most recreational divers, there is little difference between the two.

A piston first stage will offer a higher flow rate of gas from your tank. That’s why they are considered “easier breathing” than their counterparts. Piston regulators are also easier and more affordable to service thanks to their basic internal design.

A diaphragm first stage will offer a lower flow rate, so it’s less likely to freeflow. This type of regulator is often environmentally sealed in an airtight, insulated exterior, making it much less likely to freeze over. That’s why cold water and technical divers prefer them.

 

NUMBER OF PORTS

Your regulator’s first stage can never have too many ports. Because extra ports can’t be added post-production, you should choose a model with more attachment points than you need.

Most regulators come standard with 4 low pressure ports (for second stages, BCD inflator hoses, and dry suits) and 1 high pressure port (for pressure gauges). This basic setup is enough for an entry-level diver. But, you may want to use more attachment points in the future. For example, it is recommended that you use a backup pressure gauge when diving with a computer that uses a wireless transmitter. This requires a second high pressure port.

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

RATED FOR COLD WATER (BELOW 50° F)

Regulators for diving in cold water include features that prevent them from freezing over and free flowing. Most cold water regulators use a balanced diaphragm first stage, and an environmental seal (air- and water- tight insulating exterior). Some cold water divers also prefer a DIN valve because it forms such a secure seal. If you are planning to dive in temperatures below 50° F, buy a regulator designed for cold climates. And, keep in mind that a cold water regulator will work just fine in warm climates, too.

ADJUSTABLE FLOW

If you’re diving in challenging conditions, you’ll want a regulator that can keep up with your breathing. Adjustable flow regulators allow you to increase and decrease your air flow by turning an external knob. A higher flow rate can help fight fatigue and will ensure that you never feel short of breath underwater. This also allows you to conserve air during less demanding parts of your dive.

PRE-DIVE SWITCH

Your regulator’s second stage is highly sensitive, and built to deliver air on demand. So, it’s prone to freeflow on the surface, especially if you are diving in rough conditions like waves and surge. A pre-dive switch allows you to reduce your regulator’s flow before entering the water, so it’s easy to prevent this issue before making your giant stride or back roll. This feature will help you conserve air while waiting to begin your descent, too.

TURRETED FIRST STAGE

Some regulators use a vertical tower shaped first stage, also known as a turret, instead of a traditional horizontal valve. Many divers find this setup more comfortable and versatile because it allows for easy and ergonomic routing of their hoses. Turreted regulators are a better buy for divers interested in technical or sidemount training, or diving with a dry suit.

SWIVELING JOINTS

If you’ve ever experienced jaw fatigue after a dive, you know it isn’t any fun. This uncomfortable condition is usually caused by a regulator hose that creates tension and tugs against your mouth. To prevent this, some regulators use a swiveling joint to attach the second stage to its hose. The rotating ball in this type of connection allows for a greater range of motion underwater and prevents tension in your head and neck.

WIRELESS AIR INTEGRATION

If you’re planning to add a wireless air integrated dive computer to your gear list, you’ll need a regulator with 2 high-pressure ports. Wireless dive computers use a Bluetooth transmitter attached to your regulator’s first stage. The transmitter reads tank pressure just like a traditional gauge. Then, it relays this information to a wrist-mounted display.

Many divers prefer to dive with both an air integrated computer and a standard depth gauge in case of equipment error or failure.

 

 

READ MORE

For more of our top scuba diving gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: 

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Dive Masks for Large Faces

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