This was my very first regulator and the third piece of scuba equipment I bought (after shelling out my dosh for a shorty in Cancun Cancun and a semi dry neoprene suit for the cold waters of our local lake. Classic dilemma of a scuba newbie: which regulator should I choose? Whom can I ask for guidance? Can I trust the advice of my local dive shop? I therefore did some research on the internet, asked every single diver I knew and thought about where I would use the regulator most, in colder or warmer climates. When I had realized that I needed a cold-water regulator, I narrowed my choice down to four possible pieces of equipment:
So, why did I choose the Mares Abyss in the end? The Scubapro regulator was the only one about which I got as many bad as good reports and thus was unceremoniously dropped. Most of the reports I heard about the other three models were good; I ultimately decided based on the fact that most of my instructors used the Abyss and were satisfied with it.
- Apex T 50 or TX 100
- Mares Abyss
- Spiro Arctic
- One of the Scubapro regs ( I forgot the exact model)
I think that this is the reason why most new divers choose a certain regulator. Since most commercial dive schools probably use the regs they sell in their shops, the newbie has to hope that it is a decent regulator (like in this case).
The Abyss is an Italian and "he" looks it ;-) First and second stages are beautifully designed and the console for the pressure and depth gauges has a pleasing look as well. The most important thing about the gauges is, of course, how easily the display can be read off, a point where the gauges don't disappoint.
The first stage (MR 22) seems quite solid and compact, an impression reinforced by its weight (about 1200 grams). Neither first nor second stage can be described as "delicate". The first (non swivel) stage (balanced diaphragm design) has two 7/16" high pressure UNF ports and three low pressure ports (one 1/2" UNF port and three 3/8" UNF ports). Low pressure is constant at 9,8 to 10,2 bar. The 1/2" port is for the main second stage. The bigger diameter is supposed to guarantee lower breathing effort and higher air delivery. The regulator is designed for cold water in compliance with the CE 0426 and EN 250 standards.
An additional ice-kit is also available, but since the Abyss is not known to freeze up easily (resulting in an air free-flow), I decided not to pay for the (in my opinion) rather expensive dirt cover (its second use). The Abyss can be turned into a nitrox regulator by changing the seals and other relevant parts. Beware though: This might void the warranty and in Germany it is not permitted to connect a modified regulator like this with the help of an adapter (available in all good dive stores) to a nitrox tank!
The field test
The ease of breathing through the Abyss is immediately noticeable. Amazingly, this doesn't change with increasing depth. No matter how deep you dive, the Abyss reliably delivers enough air. In fact, one might go as far as to criticise the regulator for making breathing too easy! At least I seem to have a slightly higher air consumption using the Abyss than using the Apeks CTX 100, for example. However, getting more air under water is always preferable to getting too little air, so I won't complain.
I can only confirm the well-known reliability of the regulator. Even when having to deliver a lot of air (high air consumption due to exertion at great depth), it did so without any problems. I never had any problems with it freezing. It does tend to start free-flowing when the diver jumps into water (when it is not in the mouth).
It was only the small mouthpiece that was not very pleasant, but that can be quickly changed at hardly any cost. The low pressure hose between first and second stage takes some getting used to. Due to its bigger diameter it is stiffer and tends to pull the head slightly to the right. The stiffness doesn't help with buddy breathing, either; however, the shortness of the hose is more annoying in this case. Still, with a little practice it doesn't pose a problem while buddy breathing.
All in all I have to say that the Mares Abyss really is a superb regulator! I haven't tested the newer version yet, but I know that not much has changed. I can therefore recommend this regulator unreservedly.