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Hey guys,
I am looking into getting a new regulator. I will be doing almost all of my diving around Minnesota. So, i was wondering if anyone had any suggestions and/or good or bad experiences with theirs.
Thanks Much,
Mike
I would suggest an environmentally sealed regulator. When you read reviews online about regulators, keep in mind that of all the divers in America, I would guess that probably about 20% dive in water colder than 40 degrees and the other 80% dive "warm water" only. This may or may not be the correct percentage... but you get my point about the pool of people giving feedback. You are asking the right people as it relates to your question. Free flows can be a b!tch. Even if you never intend to ice dive, a cold water reg can be a nice thing to have on a deep dive in the pits or in Superior. Even after purchasing a cold water reg, you can have a good dive shop "tune" your reg to be less apt to free flow. If you ask 10 people in this forum, you will likely get 10 different favorite regs. Personally I like Aqua Lung and dive a Glacia reg. I recently lost the aluminum bezel and purge button on my Glacia octo somehow when I was banging around on a car. When I ordered a replacement I found out Aqua Lung does not make the Glacia anymore and even though they are supposed to keep replacement parts on hand for a couple years after discontinuing a regulator... They did not have any replacement bezel/purge buttons left in stock. I was told the the Aqualung Legend has the same size bezel but it looks different. I have had some free flows with my Glacia but not many. After having it tuned to be not such an easy breather, I have not had any free flows. This Glacia that I use has a series of metal fins on themid point of LP hose for the main reg and the octo and at each end of the hoses. In theory these fins are heat sinks that take the 34 degree water (which is just above freezing) and transfers that "heat" to the air in the hose and therefore help minimize free flows. In reality, most free flows start at the first stage, but because the bubbles come out the second stage, people think that the free flows start at the second stage. When I purchased it I was one of those people that thought that way. After a couple free flows, I purchased a "free flow preventer" which is an in-line slide valve that shuts off the air to the free flowing second stage so that when you switch to the octo, you would have air on that one and stop the air loss from the free flowing primary. This did not work because a few breaths after switching to the octo... that one would free flow as well. These free flow preventers could work if you installed one on both primary and secondary LP hoses so that during a free flow you could manually shut them both down and manually open them for each breath. Even though these could work... I took mine off so that when I am scraping my way through a tight spot at below the narcosis threshold, I dont inadvertantly bump the valve and shut off my air supply and be too narc'd to figure out what just happened. So if anyone wants to buy a nice used free flow preventer... I have one for sale.

                  Hey Mike,
                                Curious what reg. your using now? Give us a baseline to recommend to. Been real happy with my Apex on my last 75 jumps thru the ice. I wasnt happy with Scubapro when they stopped making parts for my Air I after 25 years, (a top end reg for a long time, starting back in the late 70s, early 80s), that did me proud both in warm and cold water. Although I'd be tempted to encourage my friend John to put that Glacia thru a plate glass window that displayed a USD symbol, from a company that didn't continue production of parts for at least, a couple years, to show them my discontent. Any high end will breathe good, but I would recommend a reg that promotes itself as cold water compatable. I used an Atomic B1, certinly an easy breather, but would freeflow on every dive thru the ice, even AFTER being serviced by two shops here in the cities, dandy in the salt but not the ticket in the real cold, although it did make me more comfortable dealing with a reg that would freeflow or radically change its inhalation resistance with each breath, (and that feels REAL funky on the wrecks in Tonka thru the ice) although there were times I needed to suck my next breath out of it, it never totally shut off, but there were a few times it felt as if it might. To help limit the discussion Mike, what regs you now considering???
I guess this is chime in time for regs, I started with an aqualung legend lx think, the glacia wasn't as good of a deal for buying gear for me at the time, I like aqualung for their mouth and lip guards, but that's about it, I've used it below 70 feet a few times and I don't like the diffference in breathing action, or at least the last time I tried I didn't, its good for a necklace secondary since its all plastic

I dive a mares abyss with the cold sealed first stage as my main and I can't Recall any freeflow problem, lots of metal on the first and second stage, makes it bulkier than other regs, the primary hose is also wonky as it has an inner pipe to bypass the threads, maybe other companies do this too? Anyway the breathing is always at an effort I find comfortable and I don't notice any difference like I can on my aqualung. A lot of my opinion I think is just from getting used to how a specific reg behaves.

Also a side note I've noticed smaller second stage (octo?) regs seem better for inversion swimming (walking upside down under ice or just uprside down swimming) as they don't drip water back into your mouth  Tongue


TL;DR mares abyss
Can't go wrong with Apeks or something like a Zeagle flathead. A good regulator setup could last you a couple decades so there is no reason to buy cheap stuff.

+ 1. I have both apeks xtx 200( which I currently dive) and scuba pro G250's which I dove for my first 5years of diving and still use. Scuba pros are not "cold water" regs, but I never had any issues with them on approx 50+ ice dives and deep dives to 150 in superior. They are both adjustable regs, which is a feature I have grown accustomed to.
Instead of using a separate octo, I will have 2 main regs with my octo being on a necklace and my primary on a long hose in a NAUI technical configuration. If I am on a dive trip and I have any issues with my primary reg, its an easy switch and I'm back diving. It also extends my service time on them. When one is getting in need of a tuneup, I will switch it to my octo and dive,dive,dive  8)
I also use an Aqualung Conshelf XIV for my 20 CF pony tank. It is not the Conshelf XIV Supreme that is made for cold water but it is a durable old reg set. Now that I am thinking about... it I should try using it under the ice and see how it acts. I always have it with but I never use it. I figured that if I need it at 175' out from the hole I would just use it and breath through the free flow. A free flow would normally be a minor issue when hooked to a big tank, but with me only using a 20 cf bail-out bottle, could become a major issue. Running out of gas twice on the same dive would be a bummer.

On a seperate note I have used the Interspiro Divator AGA full face masks with the MK2 second stage regulator built in to it for several ice dives and have not had any problems with free flows. When we used these full face masks we always carried a spare mask with us in case we had a problem with the AGA and needed to switch out to the OCTO (and the spare mask). These AGA's have their place, but I didn't really like them for several reasons: First, the hose on the ones we used came off the left side and not the right as we were attaching the AGA to our own first stages. This makes it a pain to re-route the drysuit inflator hose to the right on the first stage. Second, If the hose was too short, it limited your range of motion. Third, if the "automatic" ambient air valve was not manually shut and you inverted the mask will flood -completely and instantly. Its easy to clear a flooded AGA but to take one off underwater and put it back on with thick gloves and a heavy hood takes a bit of practice. There were many pros and cons when using it but if I had a choice... The aga wouldn't be it.

When we were diving on the van in Huntington, we talked about using the AGA on this 105' deep dive but I just didn't feel comfortable with adding to the task loading.
Another vote for Apeks - I have two ATX-200's one purchased new in 2004 and another purchased used - both have worked perfectly.  Less than 10% of my dives have been in water under 40F but never a problem in those conditions.

If you only do warm water diving they are probably a tad heavy / bulky compared to lighter smaller warm water rigs - but this should only be an issue if you are checking them in luggage that is within a 1/2lb of being overweight.

The only other quirk to Apeks is that the low pressure ports for the second stages are not both the same size. The primary second stage port is slightly larger normal. This is only an issue if you blow a hose somewhere remote and would need to swap it out. This is where the Zeagle Flathead is a bit more standardized. I think the Zeagle's were made by Apeks for many years? So they are quite similar.

I think another reason the tec divers like Zeagles and Apeks is that they can be broken down for cleaning and simple repair w/o any special tools.

Like shooter, I dive with the primary on a long hose and the octo on a necklace. I always throw the short original factory hose (with the oversized port fitting) in my luggage so I have a backup for that funky fitting size. Look up Hogarthian diving configurations for a better example of the long hose, short hose on necklace setup.

The Apeks breathes great at depth, is adjustable and has a free flow adjustment as well. 

Seconding Jason

I think this port size issue is only found on the Apeks DST first stage. I owned the DST for a few years before replacing it with the Apeks DS4 and going DIN.
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