Looking to buy new first + second stage - recommendations for new, committed diver

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Dr_Fasier_Crane

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Full disclosure I already posted here asking for an octopus recommendation - thanks to those who shared their insights. But as I'll likely be pivoting toward getting a new rig entirely, I wanted to post again under a heading that more accurately reflects what I'm looking for now.

Currently I'm rocking an XL4+, with an octo / inflator combo (which I'll be ditching in favor of routing the primary hose under my right arm, and having a back up second stage on a necklace). As a diver determined to advance my capabilities, I figure I may as well consider getting a solid, versatile regulator that's well-suited for not only the diving I do now, but the more demanding dives I'm likely to do in the future (caverns, caves, wrecks, currents, etc.). My current diving conditions are cold water (typically around 38 - 50 in the Pacific Northwest), and I want to continue doing deep (100' +) dives as well.

Since I'm currently on Apeks I sort of started my search with tunnel vision for that manufacturer, and ended up considering getting an MTX-RC - first stage, second stage, and back up second stage. Obviously an expensive proposition. Upon reflection, while I need a reliable cold-water rig, it's unlikely I'll be doing any actual ice diving anytime soon, and view that more as a bucket list item than a style of diving I hope to do regularly. So it sort of makes me think of the MTX-RC as overkill in that department. I was told that another benefit of the MTX-RC vs. my current XL4 is performance at greater depths - while the XL4 certainly works under normal conditions, in a high-stress situation down deep it'd be possible for a diver to basically demand more air than the regulator could deliver, leaving one feel oxygen-starved and exacerbating things (if I'm wrong here feel free to correct me). My understanding is because basically it's a small second stage, the XL4 is more limited in this capacity. No such issue with the MTX-RC, I'm told. Since deep dives are a real part of what I'm eager to continue doing, I figure it makes sense to get a rig that's optimally designed for great breathability at (nearly) any depth.

But I don't want to arbitrarily feel stuck with Apeks since again, I'm going to be replacing my whole rig anyway. Some other contenders after further research would be the new Aqualung Leg3nd series, the Apeks XTX series, and various offerings from Atomic.

Ultimately I'm looking for a rig that I can use in cold water, that will "out-breathe" my current XL4 at greater depths (100'+), and is built to last so I can enjoy it for years to come.

Thanks in advance for the SB community for any input here - as a new diver with a perfectionist mentality, I find myself really obsessing over this decision so your input is appreciated!
 

Cdncoldwater

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If you are interested in Apeks, look at the DS4 and DST first stages matched with the XTX50 or higher second stages. Apeks/Aqualung are the same company. If you go with Aqualung you should look at the "supreme" as they are sealed and cold water rated. I work on both of these brands at my LDS, as well as ScubaPro, Dive Rite and Sherwood. I have no experience as a diver or technician with Atomic but you may want to consider Zeagle as they and Atomic are owned by Huish Outdoors.
 

207diver

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As already stated above if you are stuck on Apeks then an XTX50 with either the DST or DS4 would be the best choice. They are proven and well tested designs. If it were me I’d be looking at a MK17 evo/g260 or Apeks. If you want a piston first stage you can’t beat Atomic but if a sealed first stage is important to you then I would stick to a diaphragm reg. Sealing an Atomic is both expensive and messy.
 
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Dr_Fasier_Crane

Dr_Fasier_Crane

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If you are interested in Apeks, look at the DS4 and DST first stages matched with the XTX50 or higher second stages.

As already stated above if you are stuck on Apeks then an XTX50 with either the DST or DS4 would be the best choice. They are proven and well tested designs.

This is helpful, thank you both for your input. Feelin' pretty good about the XTX50 on the DST.
 

halocline

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I wouldn't overthink it. There is a great deal of hype when it comes to regulator sales. I think you will see a big improvement in comfort by ditching the octo-inflator and using the bungee necklace for your alternate, and a longer primary hose. Lots of people like the under-the-arm 40" hose on a 90 degree elbow. I personally like a 60" hose without the elbow (but the elbow would work fine too) routed under the right arm, across the chest, and around behind the head. But either option is good for sharing and much more comfortable to dive with than the typical over-the-shoulder shorter loop.

I'm not too familiar with the Apex models but I'm certain that any of them is absolutely sufficient for any recreational diving. Don't worry about the so-called depth performance, it's a non issue. All decent regulators perform just as well at 100Ft as they do on the surface. There's a lengthy explanation for this if you are really interested. If you are diving in 38F water, you should get a sealed first stage and be a little cautious about small plastic 2nd stages with poor heat transfer properties, although many divers use them in cold water with zero problems.

I personally like older, classic designs that have been around for a long time. I find that they are very reliable, easy to service, and perform extremely well in the diving that I do. Keep in mind that regulators have not really improved much over the last few decades.
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/perdix-ai/

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