Solid breathing performance and reserve capacity –– the ability to deliver gas smoothly and easily even at extreme depths and breathing rates –– is what counts when choosing a tec regulator. All mainstream regulators meet the needs of recreational diving, and many exceed them. There is, however, a small group of regs that can go beyond that. These are the muscle regs — four rugged breathers that offer peak performance under the harshest conditions at depth.
| | Apeks Tek 3 Regulator SetDesigned to be used with double tanks, the set comes with two overbalanced-diaphragm, environmentally sealed, Tek 3 first stages (one left-handed, one right-handed), two pneumatically balanced XTX50 second stages, a 2-meter hose, a standard hose and a reg necklace. First stages have three low-pressure ports and one high-pressure port each. Second stages are equipped with breathing resistance control knobs and venturi control levers. Performance: The Tek 3’s right- and left-hand first stages face inboard and minimize drag while allowing for tangle-free hose routing. ANSTI breathing-machine tests show the Tek3 XTX50 to be a true power breather. Earning the maximum scores possible in our standard breathing tests, it easily ventures beyond that for above-average performance. Ergo tests show the reg to be a smooth, dry breather in all positions with easy-to-operate controls. $1,195 complete, $850 for first-stages only www.aqualung.com | | Atomic Aquatics M1The M1 has a unique blend of materials that make it tec friendly and is nitrox ready to 50 percent. The first stage is a balanced flow-through piston design made of brass and Monel, known for its strength and corrosion resistance. It has two high-pressure fixed ports and five low-pressure ports mounted on a swivel. It’s also environmentally sealed for cold-water use with a heavy-duty metal DIN handwheel. The second stage incorporates zirconium-plated brass and titanium parts, and has a thermal heat sink. Automatic Flow Control, a depth-activated venturi, self-adjusts with depth and protects against free-flow. There’s also a breathing-resistance adjustment knob. A specialty cave ring kit for the front cover is sold separately. Performance: The M1 is one of the easiest breathing and driest regulators we’ve ever tested. Setup on doubles is clean and streamlined, thanks to the swivel-turret first stage. The M1 offers a lot of reserve capacity, acing all standard breathing tests then keeps right on trucking into the higher breathing rates and deeper depths. $699 www.atomicaquatics.com | |
| | SCUBAPRO MK25/A700Take one look at the new A700’s all-metal design and nostalgia sets in. That’s because this rig is only half-new. The MK25 first stage has long been a favorite among tec divers. Its balanced flow-through piston design sports two high-pressure ports and five low-pressure ports on a swivel turret. What is new is the second stage. It has a full-metal body and metal internal components to transfer heat more efficiently, and offers a breathing-resistance adjustment knob and a new VIVA venturi control lever. Performance: The A700 is smaller and lighter than the chrome-over-brass breathers of the past, and the combo delivers silky-smooth and bone-dry breathing. Second-stage controls are also easy to operate. The MK25/A700 wasn’t around for our muscle reg tests, but after scoring top marks during recent new reg tests, we cranked up the breathing rate just for fun and it maintained easy breathing down to some extreme test depths. $775 www.scubapro.com | | Zeagle Flathead 7The Flathead 7 is a dry-sealed, balanced-diaphragm first stage fitted with two high-pressure ports and five low-pressure ports. Engineers chiseled nearly three-quarters of a pound of excess material from the Flathead 7’s predecessor, the Flathead VI, making the 7 lighter with more surface area for better heat transfer. The new pneumatically balanced Z second stage is compact and lightweight. It comes with a dive/predive switch and breathing-resistance adjustment knob. Performance: In-water tests found the Flathead 7 a dry, smooth breather, and the included Miflex hose offers noticeable flexibility, which enhances hose routing and really ups the comfort quotient. The dive/predive lever is easy to find and operate, and the breathing-resistance knob provides about two rotations of adjustment. Unofficial breathing-machine tests show the Flathead 7 to have every bit the breathing power and reserve capacity as its predecessor, which was a high-performing muscle reg. $699 www.zeagle.com | |