Home Tech Tips Scuba Tech Tips: First Stage Swivel – Is It Worth It?

Scuba Tech Tips: First Stage Swivel – Is It Worth It?

Alec showing a swivel

Hi guys, Alec Peirce Scuba with Tech Tips once again! I’m back here at Simcoe Diving in Barrie, Ontario. Make sure you drop in if you’re up this way – good diving in Lake Simcoe so ask them about it. I just wanted to spend a couple minutes answering a question from one of our viewers. Thanks for your comments, guys; keep them coming. I answer every one if I possibly can.

From this particular viewer, I got a question about swivel stage. He asked me: “My local dive store, my LDS, is showing me regulators and some have swivels and some don’t. He’s saying I should get one with a swivel on it. It’s more money so is it a good idea or not?”

I thought I’d take a minute and talk about the swivel first stage. Bottom line is that I think it’s a good idea – sure, why not? It’s a little bit like tinted glass on your automobile. Do you need tinted glass? That’s questionable. If you move up from the very basic regulator and get a balanced regulator (a balanced regulator with an adjustable second stage), somewhere in there one of those regs is going to have a swivel on it. They tend to package the features just like on cars: if you pay 300 or 800 bucks, 800 dollars is going to have a whole list of features: some are good and beneficial; some nice but not necessary.

The swivel is not necessary, but it is nice. This particular one has a din attachment on it. It goes into the valve like this; here it is behind your head. The difference between this and non-swivel regulators is that all these hoses fasten on top and swing around like that. Nice, huh? What’s the benefit? The benefit is two-fold. First of all, if you mount it this way, it’s upside down (or rightside up), and you can swivel the hoses around so they’re on the right side.

The real practical benefit is this: I’m sure that all of you at some time or another has been using a regulator, whether it’s your own or a rental or in training, and you’re swimming along in open water. You turn your head suddenly, and the reg is tugging. An issue I’ve had personally is just the opposite: if you turn to the right, the hose is quite stiff (this is before flex hoses), and it pushes out the left side. It’s a bit of a nuisance. The swivel allows you to swing your head left and right – the hose stays right where it was. Suppose I wanted to look at something on my left – I’m looking for my buddy or something – and the swivel moves with you. There’s no hose tug; no hose pull or push on that. That’s the singular, practical benefit.

Alec with swivel

There’s usually not a high cost. This is not a high maintenance item; they’re very simple with an o-ring or washer. These usually come with three or four low pressure ports. Some of them, and this particular brand from SCUBAPRO, has another low pressure port on top.

For that viewer who asked me, “Should I get a swivel or not?” I answer, as I often say, is that if you have a little extra cash laying around and no plans for it, and the swivel is only a few dollars extra, get the darn swivel. You really can’t be unhappy with it. If you’re saving up every penny you have to get a nice computer, don’t spend it on a swivel; it’s not that important.

The last point I want to make is about the mounting of the swivel. Some mount it up like this on the regulator so the hose, as demonstrated, goes in and swings around. One small disadvantage of the swivel is that it’s a little bit higher: by about three-quarters of an inch. If you’re less than, say, 5’8’’, there’s a slim chance that if you put your head up like this to look up, that it’s never going to touch the back of your head. It can happen. If you’re tall, 5’9’’ or taller, it’s not likely going to happen. It happens in the pool – because the pool is shallow, it tends to be more horizontal. If you’re more horizontal – if you’re head is here – you’ll crane your neck back and it might bang on there. In open water, you tend to be more vertical and the likelihood of you bumping your head is slim. If you’re short, then this could be an issue. What do you do? Turn it over. You’ll have to change the hoses so they’ll go in the right holes. Now the swivel is at the bottom; the single disadvantage is that you’ll lose the swivel effect because this hose can only go to your shoulder.

There you go. All you need to know about swivel first stages. Ok, guys. That’s it. Alec Peirce Scuba Tech Tips from Simcoe Diving. Talk to you again real soon!