REGULATOR Mares MR12 Proton Metal
NOT SO LONG AGO in these pages I gave you my impressions after using the Mares Axis Pro. I liked what it did but felt it looked as cheap as it was.
 The Mares MR12 first stage is a good diaphragm-type design. If only the ports were not arranged around its rather straight barrel, which inevitably means that some hose routes will be less than happy. Meanwhile, the Axis Pros all-plastic second stage did not look as if it would provide much longevity with hard use, and it certainly offered nothing for a diver entering cold fresh water.
The Mares Proton Metal, teamed up with the same MR12 first stage with Mares patented DFC (Dynamic Flow Control), answers those criticisms - at a price - and Id guess it aims to be the mainstay of Mares regulator sales in 2005.
 The Proton second stage is available in several guises, from lightweight plastics through to a full-blown Ice version. The all-metal Proton Metal simply takes us back to where we started with the heat-sink qualities of second stages of the 80s, when all were made of metal and free-flows due to icing in freshwater lakes were unheard of.
 With a front diameter measuring a little over 5cm across, this is a compact unit by any standards. It still has all the benefits of the Mares Bi-pass tube, so it stays correctly adjusted and no knobs or sliders are needed. It has a good broad exhaust-T that disperses exhaled air well, and the heat-sink area is increased by some finned sections. Its a workmanlike job that could become a favourite with schools.
 Strangely, it took to playing a tune to me when I reached 50 bar of tank pressure, but that soon passed and I experimented by breathing down to 20 bar to see how it performed. It did well.
 Dont confuse its performance with that of a top-of-the-range Mares regulator. Its not that good. But I was happy to breathe its air while working hard in currents, carrying a bulky analogue camera and lights down at 50m.
 It was spoiled for me only by the awful floppy Mares mouthpiece, which allowed the regulator to be ripped from my mouth each time I turned my head well to the left. If I owned it, I would fit a mouthpiece of my own choosing.
The Mares Proton Metal MR12 costs £287.
  • Blandford Sub-Aqua 01923 801572, www. blandfordsubaqua.co.uk

  • Divernet Divernet
    + Good heatsink qualities for cold freshwater diving

    - Not cheap