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REGULATOR Apeks AT20

Why do we buy things we dont need We have washing machines full of electronics when all we need is hot water and an electrically-driven drum. We have cars with tremendous off-road or high-speed performance capabilities when all we do is commute on gridlocked motorways. We have televisions which give us an infinite number of channels when all we would want to do is watch the news.
When it comes to our hobbies we are even worse, and when it comes to diving I believe that many of us get more pleasure from visiting the dive-shop than the seaside.
Regulators are a case in point. We all want to own and use a regulator that will go as deep as John Bennett would wish to go, and at the same time perform faultlessly in Arctic conditions and be the first choice of US Navy Seals. So we tend to buy the most expensive we can afford.
Apeks makes some of the best-performing regulators you can get, and every so often the company improves its top-of-the-line model. We have seen the TX40 and the TX50 with an extra knob. We have seen the improved TX100 and now the Advanced TX (ATX) range, which have improved second stages.
The best and most expensive of all is the ATX200, with its all-new first stage. All these regs have a dry-sealed diaphragm first stage which has proved ideal for diving in polluted and cold fresh water.
Now, whether you hardy every-weekend-of-the-year divers like it or not, the majority of divers out there have no intention of throwing themselves into water that is anything less than blue, warm and inviting.
Many of them read this magazine, and it does not besmirch their characters if I reveal that the British oggin is not for them.
But they still go out and buy regulators that have performance capabilities more in line with what they need in a flooded slate quarry in winter than the Maldives. The hardier among you should be grateful for this, because it keeps the price down.
Warmwater divers do need performance in terms of air-flow - the popular Maldives, for example, have plenty of exceptionally strong currents that can cause a diver to puff and blow. But do they need the coldwater characteristics of top regulators I decided to take an Apeks AT20 on a trip to the Indian Ocean to find out.
The AT20 is the Cinderella of the Apeks line-up. The company describes it as its warmwater regulator, but dont be ashamed to ask in the dive shop for one, if thats all you need. Warm water means anything over 10ÂC!
The second stage looks very much like that of the ATX40, but without the heat-exchanger on the hose connection. It comes with a choice of Comfobite or standard mouthpiece. Like the ATX40 it has only the venturi  switch, which operates easily even with a gloved hand. This is used in pre-dive or dive mode.
There is no breathing-resistance adjustment knob to turn up the cracking pressure of the valve and make breathing less easy, should you prefer it that way.
The balanced-diaphragm first stage is a squat turret design just like that of the ATX40 and ATX50, but without the main chamber dry-sealed, so it is that much more compact. Like its more expensive brothers, it has two high-pressure and four medium-pressure ports, arranged around the rotating turret.
You cannot tell how good a regulator is, just by looking at it. So reads the Apeks brochure, and I agree with this sentiment. I worked the AT20 hard for a week. As I get older, my air consumption goes up. This became very evident when I needed to get across a Maldivian thila in the face of an ocean flow. I never felt I wanted to make the breathing less easy. In fact I am starting to think that one day I might find a regulator that cant keep up with me.
The Apeks AT20 was never wanting in this department. I would guess that, with its simplified air routeing, it is in fact one of the companys best performers! Swimming into currents that were too strong, it let me breathe as naturally as I would have done running up Scafell Pike. It gave no indication of any tendency to free-flow, as can happen with some other regs.
It proved dry and comfortable even after an hour at a time on dives like this. I cannot give it higher praise.
The Apeks AT20 costs£191.

  • Apeks Marine Equipment, 01254 692200, www.apeks.co.uk


  • Divernet Divernet
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    + High performance


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    - No coldwater capability claimed