The Best Regulators for Cold Water Diving [Includes Buying Guide]

Regulator, Guides

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In this guide, we are going to look at the best cold-water regulators, as well as what you need to know before buying one.

While all scuba regulators can be used in warm water, not all are designed to cope with the harsh conditions of cold water diving. 

If you’re planning on diving in water temperatures cooler than 15ºC/60ºF, you will need a regulator that utilizes special features to prevent freezing. 

For this reason, many scuba gear manufactures have models of regulators specifically designed for cold water diving.

In the post, we will also review these regulators and what makes them great for diving in these conditions. 

Let’s get started … 

If you dive in water cooler than 15ºC/60ºF, you will need a regulator that's specifically designed for Cold-Water Diving

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What Is The Best Cold Water Regulator?


The best cold water regulator for you will greatly depend on your style of diving, preferences, and budget. After reading countless reviews and ratings we have come up with a list of the best regulators for cold water diving. We have arranged them by price to make your choice much easier. 

If you don’t know what to look for in the ideal cold water regulator read our detailed buying guide below. 

Best Cold Water Regulators For 2021: Comparison Chart

Below is our pick for the 10 best cold-water regulators for 2021. They are listed in no particular order, you can also you the chart to easily compare the key features of each regulator to find the one that right for you. 

Image

Regulator Name

Key Features

Best Price

The Best Regulators for Cold Water Diving [Includes Buying Guide] 1
  • Compact, lightweight, and comfortable
  • Diver adjustable air flow and Venturi lever
  • Large heat exchanger and metal 2nd stage for added thermal conductivity
Aqua Lung Leg3nd Elite Regulator
  • easy work-of-breathing 
  • Environmentally sealed to keep-out contaminates
  • Large heat sink fins helps prevent freezing
Apeks MTX-R Cold Water Regulator
  • Tough, Rugged, Military Standards
  • Designed for cold water performance
  • Over & Pneumatically Balanced 1st & 2nd Stages
Mares Abyss 22 Navy II
  • Environmentally sealed first Stage 
  • Metal second stage for added thermal connectivity
  • Reliable 2nd stage downstream demand valve
Atomic M1 Scuba Regulator
  • Perfect for diving in cold water and extreme conditions
  • Automatic Venturi system with adjustable Air Flow
  • Balanced 1st stage and pneumatically balance 2nd stage
Aqua Lung Core Supreme
  • Environmentally sealed auto closure device
  • Lip shield to keep lips warm
  • Balanced diaphragm 1st stage and pneumatically balance 2nd stage
Cressi T10-SC Cromo Master  Regulator
  • Hyper balanced diaphragm 1st stage, pneumatical balanced second stage
  • Adjustable air flow/Venturi lever
  • Environmental cap
Sherwood Blizzard Regulator
  • Dry sealed chamber environmentally seals the 1st stage 
  • Metal heat sink in 2nd stage prevents freezing
  • Balanced 1st stage, pneumatically balanced 2nd stage
Cressi Compact Pro MC9 SC Dive Regulator
  • Lightweight and compact design
  • Environmentally Sealed 1st Stage and Metal heat sink in 2nd stage prevents freezing
  • Venturi lever to prevent free flow on the surface

Compare Scuba Regulators

Compare the key features and price of over 20 different Scuba Regulators to find the right one  for your diving needs

Do You Need Regulator Specially Designed Wold Water?

PADI describes cold water diving as temperatures cooler than 15ºC/60ºF, diving in these harsh conditions require special diving equipment, one of the most important being the Scuba Regulator.

All regulators can be used for warm water diving, but not all of them can be used for diving in cold water.

When diving in cold water, your regulator can freeze. Ice can form on the internal mechanisms preventing it from working properly, creating an unstoppable free flow — in severe circumstances cutting off your air supply altogether. 

You don’t necessarily have to be Ice diving for this to happen:

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.

 In the video below, Alic Pierce did a great job of explaining why regulators freeze and use a typical refrigerator to explain the process. 

All scuba regulators can be used for warm water diving, but not all of them can be used for diving in cold water.

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Choosing The Best Cold Water Regulator: A Buying Guide

When choosing the best cold water regulator, there are a few things you will want to know. Below are essential components you would want in the perfect cold water regulator.

Environmentally Sealed

 If you are planning on diving in freezing water, then it is recommended that you get a regulator that is environmentally sealed. When the first stage is environmentally sealed, the internal components do not come in direct contact with the cold water, which in turn 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. A metal second stage has more thermal conductivity. The metal retains warms, which in turn warms the expanding gasses.

Heat Sink

These improve the metal surface area. They observe heat from the surrounding water and prevent the metal surface from getting too cold. You tend to find heat sink fins on the exterior of the regulator where gases expand on the first and second stages, as well as inside some second stages.

Diaphram or Piston?

Piston first stages typically deliver a higher flow rate. This is great for diving in warm water because it delivers a better breathing experience. However, in cold water, this is a disadvantage because it’s more prone to free flows.

To increase their cold-water performance, the internal parts of the first stage are coated in antifreeze material or environmentally sealed with oil or lube. 

Diaphragm first stages are predominantly preferred because they have a lower flow rate compared to piston regulators. They are also inherently environmentally sealed by design, but some manufacturers use a flexible end cap to further increase cold-water performance.

The only drawback is that they can be a little bit harder to breathe from, but this is what makes them less prone to freezing and unwanted free flows. 

Scubapro Mk17 First Stage

Diaphragm First stage Regulator 

Atomic z3 Factory Sealed First Stage

Diaphragm First stage Regulator 

DIN vs Yoke?

When choosing the best cold-water regulator you must also consider whether or not you will use DIN or Yoke first stage. 

With the DIN System, the regulator first stage is screwed directly into the tank valve. This creates a more reliable and secure seal while keeping your regulator system more streamlined. This style is generally preferred by divers who do a lot of cave and wreck diving as well as technical divers because of the secure connection. And, is the preferred choice for cold-water diving. 

Yoke on the other hand, while being the most popular of the two in North America, is the less secure system. With this method, the regulator is mounted over the tank valve to make a connection with an o-ring that sits outside of the tank valve. 

If you do decide to go with a DIN system, you can always buy a DIN to Yoke adaptor so you can regulator on a yoke valve. 

Din vs Yoke

Number of Ports

When diving in cold water you also want to make sure that your regulator has enough ports for your peripherals.

Most scuba regulators come with 1 high-pressure port (for gauges and dive computer wireless transmitters) and 4 low-pressure ports (for second stages, BCD inflator, and dry suit). But, in warm water diving, the port for the drysuit is normally plugged.

Most divers also prefer regulators with 2 hp pressure ports when diving with a wireless transmitter, and uses the second port for a redundant pressure gauge. 

Adjustable Flow Rate and Venturi

On more high-end scuba regulators, you can adjust how much air you get on each breath, as well as how the air is directed in the second stage. These can be used to adjust the airflow rate and prevent free lows. 

Adjustable Flow Rate Knob is located on the side of the second stage and controls the amount of gas you receive on each inhalation.

The “MAX” position will deliver the most gas and the best breathing experience but is more prone to free flows. In the “MIN” position, breathing is more labored but it greatly reduces the chance of free flows. 

A Venturi Switch creates a vortex in the second stage that pulls on the diaphragm when you inhale, increasing the ease and responsiveness of each breath. The switch can also be used to direct airflow against the diaphragm preventing free flows on the surface.  

Since you will be diving in cold water and wearing think glovers, you want make sure the knob and switch are big enough to grip and manipulate.

Pro Tips For Cold Water Diving:

  • Don't breathe from or purge your second stage if your not underwater. This can cause free flow because there is no resistance on the diaphragm. 
  • Set your second stage berating resistance to minimum. While your breathing will not be as responsive the changes of a free flow and freezing are greatly reduced.  
  • Expose all metal parts of your regulator to the water by removing hose protectors. This will increase the thermal conductivity of the regulator and help to prevent free flows and freezing.
  •  Slowly inflate your Scuba BCD, use small sharp burst, and try not to overwork the fist stage. 

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 regulators and some of the technology they use to fight the cold. They are arranged in price group

Cold Water Diving

Budget-Friendly Cold Water Regulators

Budget don’ts necessarily mean less performance. The cold water regulator listed here are still high-quality choices and may perform just as well as most mid-to-high-end regulators.  These are great for beginner divers or session divers looking for a great regulator for a redundant system.

Sherwood Blizzard Pro

Sherwood Blizzard Regulator

Manufacturer: Sherwood Scuba

Specification:

First Stage Type

Balanced Piston

Number of Ports

2 HP | 4 LP

Environmentally Sealed

Yes

Second Stage Type

Pneumatically Balanced

Venturi Switch

Yes

Adjustable Flow Rate

No

I highly recommend the Sherwood Blizzard, it's an excellent cold water regulator. I owned the previous version of this regulator and they are legendary under the ice. I purchase the newer version because I like the shape of the first stage, two high pressure ports, and adjustment switch. 

View Product on Recommended Retailers Site:

What We Like

  • Patented dry sealed chamber environmentally seals the first stage with out using messy greases and oil. 
  • Metal heat sink in second stage prevents freezing
  • Affordable Price Point

What We Don't Like

  • No diver adjustable air flow knob 
  • Plastic second stage

SUMMARY

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 their performance in extremely cold water conditions. The new version carries this tradition but with new enhanced features. 

It now features a new vertically aligned balanced piston 1st stage with a dry sealed chamber that ever mentally seals the first stage without using messy greases or oils.  

The 2nd Stage is also now pneumatically balanced to deliver better breathing performance — a feature found on more expensive regulators. 

While the housing is made from plastic, a metal heat sink in the 2nd stage captures heat from your exhalation to warm up the operating parts, preventing them from freezing. A Venturi switch enhances breathing underwater and prevent free-flows on the surface.

The Sherwood Blizzard is an excellent choice if you’re looking for an affordable cold water regulator that breathes easy.

Cressi MC9-SC Compact Pro

Cressi Compact Pro MC9 SC Dive Regulator

Manufacturer: Cressi

Specification:

First Stage Type

Hyper Balanced Diaphragm

Number of Ports

2 HP | 4 LP

Environmentally Sealed

Yes

Second Stage Type

Unbalanced

Venturi Switch

Yes

Adjustable Flow Rate

No

I am now a Cressi fan all the way. I've tried many other regulators to be sure, but came back to buy this one for its durability and ease of use. 

View Product on Recommended Retailers Site:

What We Like

  • Lightweight and Compact Design, Great For Traveling
  • Environmentally Sealed 1st Stage and Metal heat sink in 2nd stage prevents freezing.
  • Venturi System enhance Berating performance underwater while stopping free flow on the surface.

What We Don't Like

  • Unbalanced second stage, may sacrifice breathing performance
  • Plastic second stage

SUMMARY

The Cressi MC9-SC Compact Pro offers excellent cold-water performance is a compact and lightweight package.  The MC9-SC first stage utilizes a hyper-balanced diaphragm design that offers consistent performance over a wide range of depth and tank pressures. 

An environmentally sealed first stage and heat exchange fins in the second stage ensure that this regulator with not freeze even in the coldest conditions.

The Compact Pro second stage is also very lightweight with an easy to use purge cover. It also uses a simple but reliable unbalanced demand valve with Venturi assist to increase performance and stop unwanted free flows on the surface.

This regulator is a great choice if you’re looking for a great all-around regulator, that is more suited for traveling but won’t break the bank.

Best Mid-Priced Cold Water Regulators

Moving up from the budget options, these are great if you’re planning on diving more often. In this price range, you can expect a few more features from your regulator.

Mares Abyss 22 Navy II

Mares Abyss 22 Navy II

Manufacturer: Mares

Specification:

First Stage Type

Balanced Diaphragm 

Number of Ports

2HP | 4LP

Environmentally Sealed

Yes

Second Stage Type

Unbalanced

Venturi Switch

Yes

Adjustable Flow Rate

No

I have had this for 3 years now, about 150 dives on it. Even in cold water I have had no issues with it. (35-45 degree water) Easy breathing and reliable. It has held up to being dropped a few times, only scratched the finish a little. Friend borrowed it one weekend and traded off his reg to get this one.

View Product on Recommended Retailers Site:

What We Like

  • Environmentally Sealed First Stage 
  • Metal second stage for added thermal connectivity 
  • Reliable 2nd stage downstream demand valve

What We Don't Like

  • Unbalanced second stage 
  • No diver Adjustments 

SUMMARY

This Mares regulator is specifically designed for cold water use and is made to pass the US Navy test requirement for cold water diving, making it robust in the most extreme dive condition.

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. This also increases the surface area of the metal first stage, increasing it’s over thermal properties. 

The Abyss second stage housing is also constructed from metal for its thermal conductive 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.

This regulator makes a great alternative to the more expensive cold water regulators and the lack of any user adjustment makes it a really easy regulator to dive with.

Read Full Review: Mares Abyss 22 Navy II Review: Navy Approved For Cold Water Diving

Atomic Aquatics M1

Atomic M1 Scuba Regulator

Manufacturer: Atomic Aquatics

Specification:

First Stage Type

Balanced Piston

Number of Ports

2HP | 5LP

Environmentally Sealed

Yes

Second Stage Type

Pneumatically Balanced

Venturi Switch

Automatic

Adjustable Flow Rate

Yes

I've dove with the Atomic for the last 5-6 years making about 200 dives per year. I works very well, even in demanding water conditions, and diving around the world. I will easily recommend this regulator to anyone who dives with air or Nitrox.

View Product on Recommended Retailers Site:

What We Like

  • Perfect for diving in cold water and extreme conditions 
  • Automatic Venturi System with Adjustable Air Flow.  
  • Balanced 1st Stage and pneumatically balance 2nd stage delivers excellent breathing performance

What We Don't Like

  • Might be too pricey for some divers
  • Plastic second stage

SUMMARY

The Atomic M1 Regulator is Atomic Aquatics’ response to the perfect all-around regulator that great for cold water, caves, and deep dives.

This feature pack scuba regulator utilizes a balanced piston that environmentally sealed for better cold water performance and to keep contaminants out of the first stage. 

The second stage uses exotic metals like Titanium to increase reliability and reduce its overall weight.  It also uses Atomic Aquatic patented AFC system that automatically interrupts free flows before they occur, and a large knob allows you to adjust the airflow on the fly.

A thermal heat sink in the send stage also reduces the chance of freezing, and a surge protected front cover makes diving in rough water carefree.

This is the perfect choice for recreational divers who would like to extend their capabilities to cold cold water diving, or if you’re a specialty or Tech diver.

Best High-End Cold Water Regulators

These are top of the line, and often the flagship regulator of the brand. They are generally designed to deliver the best performance in any dive condition, and great for specialty diving like Cave, Wreck, Cold, or Technical diving. Serious recreational divers will benefit from a scuba regulator that delivers the best breathing performance while progress in your diving career. 

Scubapro MK17 A700

The Best Regulators for Cold Water Diving [Includes Buying Guide] 2

Manufacturer: Scubapro

Specification:

First Stage Type

Balanced diaphragm

Number of Ports

2HP | 4LP

Environmentally Sealed

Yes, with XTIS system

Second Stage Type

Balanced

Venturi Switch

Yes

Adjustable Flow Rate

Yes

Top piece of kit. I have been using and abusing it for three years now and it has worked 100% flawlessly. Seems totally indestructible. Use includes Technical diving to 70m, funny gasses, ice and tropical diving, heaps of rough travel, limited access to servicing facilities.

View Product on Recommended Retailers Site:

What We Like

  • Compact, Lightweight, and Comfortable
  • Diver Adjustable Air Flow and Venturi Settings
  • Environmentally Sealed, Metal Second Stage, and first stage heat exchanger for added thermal conductivity

What We Don't Like

  • Priced on the high-end  

SUMMARY

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 diving.

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 equipped with heat exchangers around the first stage to help prevent the regulator from freezing up.

The A700 second stage is crafted from metal, offering excellent thermal conductivity which helps prevent ice crystals from forming.

It also features an adjustable inhalation knob for fine-tuning your breathing on the dive.  A venturi switch to help prevent free flows on the surface and delivers better performance on the dive. Both can easily be operated while wearing thick gloves. 

If you’re looking for a rock-solid cold water regulator that compact and easy to travel with, this is the one to consider.

Read Full Review: Scubapro MK17 EVO A700 Review: Designed for Extreme Exposure

 

Aqua Lung Leg3nd Elite

Aqua Lung Leg3nd Elite Regulator

Manufacturer: Aqua Lung

Specification:

First Stage Type

Over-Balanced Diaphragm

Number of Ports

2HP | 4LP

Environmentally Sealed

Yes

Second Stage Type

Pneumatically Balanced

Venturi Switch

Yes

Adjustable Flow Rate

Yes

This dive regulator breathes smooth across a wide range to temperatures and depths. It gives plenty of air on demand with out free flows. The purge button is easy to press although it's solid and large. The Venturi lever is a great addition. The DIN first stage is strong and light weight for its features. A superb piece of dive gear.  

View Product on Recommended Retailers Site:

What We Like

  • Environmentally Sealed to Keep-Out Contaminates
  • Over-Balanced 1'st Stand and Pneumatically Balanced 2'nd Stage delivers easy work-of-breathing
  • Large Heat Sink fins helps prevent freezing

What We Don't Like

  • Priced on the high end, this is not a cheap regulator
  • Heavier regulator, not the ideal travel regulator

SUMMARY

The Leg3nd Elite Aqua Lung’s new flagship regulator. In its third iteration, the Leg3nd has been redesigned and updated with new cutting edge features and ergonomics to make any serious diver’s dream come true. 

To fight the cold, the Leg3nd Elite is fitted with heat exchanger fins situated throughout the regulator to keep the air as close to ambient temperature and reduce the effects of Freezing.

The Leg3nd Elite features an overbalanced environmentally sealed the first stage with 2HP and 4 LP Ports. It also comes with the 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 outfitted with an independent Venturi lever and Air Flow Knob allowing you to make micro-adjustments to fine-tune your breathing to your personal preferences. 

This is a great choice if you’re looking for a regulator that can handle the harsh conditions of cold water diving without sacrificing performance.

Read Full Review: Aqua Lung Legend  Review

Scubapro Mk25 A700

Scubapro Mk25 Evo A700 Regulator

Manufacturer: Scubapro

Specification:

First Stage Type

Balanced Piston

Number of Ports

2HP | 5LP

Environmentally Sealed

No, XTIS system

Second Stage Type

Balanced

Venturi Switch

Yes

Adjustable Flow Rate

Yes

Excellent for cold-water. Took this on a deep ice dive no free-flow and no change in airflow. The manual air control has been great for increasing my bottom time.

View Product on Recommended Retailers Site:

What We Like

  • Designed for heavy-duty use 
  • Enhanced cold efficiency by 30% over MK25
  • User Adjustable inhalation efforts and Venturi Switch

What We Don't Like

  • Very Pricey 
  • Not environmentally seal, XTIS works great at preventing freezing. 

SUMMARY

The Mk25 Evo A700 is Scubapro’s flagship regulator. It pairs their best performing MK25 Evo first stage with the all-metal A700 second stage to make a system that delivers ultra-responsive, high-performance breathing, even in Cold Water Conditions. 

The mk25 Evo is considered to be one of the best performing balanced piston first stages on the market today. Although it’s not technically environmentally seal, like most other cold-water regulators, a new “XTIS” makes the regulator up to 30% more freezing resistant than previous versions.  The mainspring and piston shaft are specially treated and protected to help prevent ice crystals from forming that could lead to a freezing first stage.

The A700 second stage is the perfect match for the Mk25 Evo with its high-performance balanced valve, adjustable inhalation, and venturi control. It’s all mental housing metal housing offers excellent thermal connectivity and help dissipate the cold generated by the compressed air as it expands in the second stage.  The venturi does a great job of managing free-flows on the surface and the diver inhalation adjustment allows you to customize the breathing to your own personal preference and needs. 

The Scubapro MK25 Evo A700 is a great choice if you’re looking for a high-performance regulator that works flawlessly in cold water conditions. 

Read Full Review:  Scubapro MK25 EVO A700 Review: Unparalleled Performance and Reliability

 

What is your favorite Cold Water Regulator? If you dive with any of the regulators above or have a favorite that’s not on the list, share your experience in the comments below. 

Continue Reading

Do you want more scuba diving gear recommendations? continue reading these articles below:

Dive Computer | Scuba Regulator | Wetsuits | Scuba BCD | Dive Knife | Dive Mask | Scuba Fins

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