Summer’s here, and that means new adventures and explorations. And one of the most popular hobbies in the summer to pick up is scuba diving. There’s a lot of equipment, a lot of training, and a lot of information to understand and absorb, though, so some might get a little intimidated.
We want to help with that. We’ve heard the questions on which regulators are best, how to take care of them, what other equipment is necessary to purchase, and generally what this sport is all about. And to answer that, we’ve pulled together a ton of information, and paired it with a basic review for one of the most critical pieces of equipment: a diving regulator.
We’re looking first at scuba diving as a whole, breaking down the facts on some of the equipment needs, and then taking a look at the Cressi XS2/AC2 to better help you understand this incredible water sport, scuba diving.
What is Scuba Diving?
Scuba diving is a type of underwater diving that requires the use of a breathing apparatus, like a regulator, that is not attached to a surface supply of breathing gas. This means that the diver can breathe underwater. Divers carry their own air, in the form of compressed breathing gas.
This independence from a surface source allows the diver the freedom to move about under water freely, exploring and investigating without the restraints of an attached tube.
Scuba diving gives divers a much wider range for exploration, and enables folks within careers like public service, military, and scientific study to explore, search, and move about freely enough that they can conduct their work successfully.
Scuba gear allows divers to go deeper, and to stay under water for much longer than those who go snorkeling, for example.
Open circuit scuba systems discharge the breathing gas out into the water as it is exhaled by the diver. The system consists of one or more diving cylinders that contain the breathing gas. These cylinders are often referred to as scuba tanks.
The breathing gas in the scuba tanks is contained under high pressure. The breathing gas is then supplied to the diver through a regulator.
There are other types of scuba systems that may be closed, or semi-closed circuit, which are rebreathers that recycle exhaled air. These are attractive to media divers, and those doing more delicate operations, such as people studying marine life and do not wish to disturb the animals as they swim nearby.
There is a minimal level of fitness required for scuba diving. Those with asthma and other breathing difficulties may be advised not to participate in this activity.
What Equipment is Required for Scuba Diving?
Your scuba gear set up is one of the most critical aspects of your enjoyment and safety out on the water.
To better know what equipment will serve you best, we’ve pulled together a list of items that help keep you safe, and capable of enjoying the wild adventures of swimming with dolphins and sea turtles in the wild.
If you’re scuba diving and not snorkeling, you might not realize how vital a snorkel is to your safety in the water. The snorkel enables easier breathing at surface level of the water.
It allows you to avoid lifting your head to breathe in air at the surface, which comes in critically handy if you’re injured, exhausted, or otherwise indisposed while in the water.
A snorkel can also help alert boats or rescue teams of a diver’s location at the surface of the water.
Owning your own high-quality snorkel is recommended for the best scuba diving experience.
Your mask is probably the most important piece of scuba diving equipment to own yourself, rather than renting.
You need your mask to fit your face perfectly. Otherwise, you will have leakage issues, which leads to major problems with vision and comfort.
Take your time choosing the right mask for yourself, and guarantee that it truly does fit properly and comfortably.
One of the other main things any diver should own him or herself is a pair of fins. There are many different styles that can affect how you feel underwater. We’d recommend renting a few different pairs of varying stiffness and styles to see which best suits your preferences before purchasing.
4. Dive Computer
Dive computers are beneficial for tracking and calculating your no-decompression limits, and for reducing your risk of decompression sickness. These computers are worn on the wrist like a watch, and have a number of features that help to ensure your safety as you dive.
5. Buoyancy Compensator
Buoyancy compensators are necessary for diving stabilization. They’re usually bulky and heavy, so many divers rent this piece of equipment rather than buying their own.
If you travel to your own dive sites, you’ll need your own weights. Otherwise, weights are generally a part of the dives through diving tours, companies, and boat trips. These are necessary to help you sink down and get low enough that you can actually stay well beneath the surface for exploration.
7. Wet Suit
For anyone who stays in the water for long, a wetsuit is necessary. Staying in the water too long can cause hypothermia and other health issues, unless you’re protected against exposure. Wetsuits are ideal for helping keep your skin drier and warmer, which may prevent these health issues.
8. Diver Down Flag
The diver down flag is not a piece of equipment on your body. However, it is a critical piece of safety equipment that alerts those around your diving area to your presence.
The diver down flag not only notifies boats passing through of your presence beneath the water, but it can lend you or another diver a visual aid for location purposes.
A diver down flag can also be useful for any kind of potential rescue situation wherein you or your boat have drifted for some reason, and others have come looking for you.
Scuba tanks are usually provided by the dive company as well. The set up that they provide will determine how many tanks you need, as well as which type. These tanks are the cylinders that hold the breathing gas, and they tend to be bulky and awkward to manage.
Scuba tanks may difficult to refill properly, and store appropriately, which are two more reasons that many divers rely on diving rentals for their supply.
Finally, the diving regulator is a critical piece of equipment for any scuba diver. These tend to be very expensive, though there are some budget-friendly models – we’ll be looking at one of those below, the Cressi XS2/AC2. Many divers opt to rent regulators as well as the tanks and the rest of the set-up.
Regulators are not custom-fit items, so renting may be a decent option, if you’re not ready to invest money into owning one.
What is a Regulator?
A diving regulator is the pressure regulator that reduces pressurized breathing gas and delivers it to the diver. This gas is what a diver breathes while under water, and is supplied from a scuba cylinder that’s carried by a diver.
A gas pressure regulator has at least one valve, which reduces pressure from the source of the gas – i.e. the tank or cylinder – and uses the downstream pressure as feedback to control the rate at which the flow of air, and the delivered pressure, lowering the pressure at each stage.
The term “demand valve” and “regulator” are often uses synonymously with each other, but they’re different parts of regulators. The demand valve only delivers gas while the diver is inhaling, and reduces gas pressure in the ambient.
Demand valve is the second stage in single-hose regulators, and is held in the diver’s mouth by a mouthpiece, or is attached to the full face mask or diving helmet.
The demand valve is included in the body of a regulator if it’s a twin-hose regulator. The demand valve is included in the body of the regulator, and that’s attached to the cylinder valve or manifold outlet.
There are other types of regulators as well, including a pressure-reduction regulator.
The performance of a regulator is measure by the work of breathing, the capacity to deliver breathing gas at peak inspiratory flow rate, and the cracking pressure.
How to Care for a Diving Regulator
There are a bunch of things you can do to take care of your diving regulator to help make sure it functions safely while you’re diving, as well as lasts for a number of years between dives.
1. Connect to the Tank
As you prepare your gear for the dive, you need to connect your regulator to the tank. Take a few breaths from the regulator and check the submersible pressure gauge. This should ensure everything is on target.
2. Slide Hose Protectors
If you use hose protectors, you should slide them away from the first stage and check beneath them. Look for any corrosions on the first stage as well at this time.
Check for cracks in hoses, or obvious corrosion on any part of the regulator. These will need to be fixed by a professional. If you notice any of these issues, do not use your gear.
3. Inspect All Regulator Hoses
Visually, do a check of all hoses. Make sure there are no cracks, tears, holes, or other damage in any of the hoses or the mouthpiece itself.
4. Disconnect from the Tank
Now, disconnect your regulator from the tank, and replace the dust cover. Inhale forcefully on every regulator being used, and a hold a vacuum to fully test. Each regulator should let in either a tiny trickle or air, or none at all.
5. Check Second Stages
Now, you’ll check every second stage on your gear for any housing cracks.
1. Rinse Your Regulator
As you rinse out your regulator with clear, clean water, be sure the purge valves in the second stages don’t get depressed. Secure the dust cover on the first stage.
2. Dunk the Entire Octopus
Next, dunk the whole octopus, and then rinse the second stages by running warm water through the mouthpiece and out the exhaust diaphragm.
3. Rinse the Fitting
Finally, rinse the fitting that connects to your low-pressure inflator. Slip the coupling back and forth as you hold it under warm running water.
Scuba Review: The Cressi XS2/AC2
The Cressi XS2/AC2 has been ranked as one of the ten best diving regulators of 2018 by The Adventure Junkies. It’s also received 4.4 out of 5 stars from users at Leisure Pro, and 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
Over all, the Cressi XS2/AC2 is a highly regarded, high-quality diving regulator that’s rated well for safety, functionality, and performance.
Our Verdict: The Cressi XS2/AC2 is a Great Beginner Regulator
The reviews show that the Cressi XS2/AC2 is a great beginner’s regulator. It’s a budget-friendly option for people just getting started with their equipment. It’s not great for significant depth dives, but works for both warm and cold dives.
If you’re needing a budget-friendly regulator, the Cressi XS2/AC2 is a great option. If you’re looking for a high-end regulator, however, you should probably keep looking. This one will do the trick, but it’s not the top of the line.
Over all, it’s a quality regulator that does what it’s supposed to do for a long time.