Notice that I said “used to”. In my role as Technical Editor I don’t get the chance to dive with my own gear too often, and am more likely to be found under water putting something through its paces so that I can report my findings on these pages.
Well, that’s the disclaimer. What about the 2013 version of the XTX200 from Apeks Marine

First Stage
The first stage has a compact one-piece body with fixed ports. There are two high- and four low-pressure outlets, all permanently angled to enable neat and unobtrusive hose
routeing options.
The hp ports are on the bottom and send the hose down the diver’s shoulder. The opposite can be said for the low-pressure ports, which are angled very slightly up and send the second stage, alternative air source and BC/drysuit inflator hoses around the diver’s body or
head easily.
The first stage is an environmentally sealed balanced-diaphragm design that keeps the inside free from debris, grit and salt crystals. It also prevents ice from forming, making it ideal for coldwater diving.
Finished in attractive satin chrome with inset livery, the robust feel and slight heft make this first stage feel and look every inch a tekkie’s dream. Apeks tells me that it has redesigned it and improved the airflow to allow the option of adding a fifth lp port and enable further
hose options for twin-tank and sidemount configurations.
All XTX models are available with either 232 bar A-clamp or 300 bar DIN connections.

Second Stage
The second stage has also undergone a revamp and has a slightly larger purge button than its predecessor. It is now made from materials that have an additive that kills bacteria, said to protect the user from e-coli, MRSA and other nasty little bugs and viruses that could ruin
your week.
As with other second stages from Apeks, there’s the facility to change from a right- to left-hand configuration for technical twin or sidemount diving.
The XTX is fitted with two user-friendly diver-adjustable controls, in the form of a venturi lever and a cracking-resistance control knob.
The slots in the front cover have been redesigned to reduce the likelihood of over-delivery or freeflow, as extra pressure is exerted on the diaphragm when in current, or riding a diver propulsion vehicle.
The second stage is supplied with two exhaust-port set-ups. One is narrow, the other wide, giving the choice of good bubble distribution or a streamlined profile. These are user-changeable at the push of a button.
Both stages are connected via a braided lightweight hose, with the option of a factory-fitted swivel at the demand-valve end allowing the whole second stage to rotate and pivot.

In The Water
I took the new model with me on a trip to Fort Myers in south-west Florida to assess its performance – and my first impression was that there was no discernable difference between the old and new models.
The 2013 version performed in exactly the same way, providing silky-smooth air delivery regardless of depth and my breathing rate.
Then I had a play with the controls, which were easier to get hold of than on my own regs.
The cracking-resistance knob could be turned easily to adjust the way the air was delivered, but the difference was that it took three full turns to go through the whole range (the older version took just one).
At its lowest setting my breathing felt laboured and tight, while at the other end it felt as if every inhalation would result in a freeflow.
I set it somewhere in between and was more than comfortable with the results.
The purge was a huge improvement over the previous model. It was easier to find and operate, and air was delivered progressively until I hit what seemed like a tipping point at which the flow rate increased substantially, clearing water from the mouthpiece without any drama or discomfort.
I spat the second stage out at around 30m to see if it would freeflow, but there was no sign of so much as a bubble.
The exhaust-port configuration I prefer is the wide version, but to test this reg out thoroughly I opted for the narrow ports. I still didn’t have bubbles in my face as I flailed away with my camera.

Conclusion
The new XTX200 has the robust build quality and possibly the exceptional reliability for which the Apeks brand has become famous. It has all the same features as its predecessor and some improvements in performance.
Most divers won’t notice the differences, which are subtle to say the least. What the majority will notice however are the new looks, and for those alone it may be worth the upgrade.

SPECS
PRICE £497 fifth port upgrade £20
FIRST STAGE Balanced diaphragm
PORTS 2hp, 4lp with an optional fifth
SECOND STAGE Venturi and CRC
CONTACT www.apeks.co.uk
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