Hey guys, Alec Peirce Tech Tips here at Scuba 2000 in Toronto – beautiful dive store!
This tech tip is from comments. Some people have asked me which works well: flex hose, swivels, or so-on. Let me tell you my opinion, and once again let me reiterate that I’m not telling you what to do. If it works for you and you’re happy, why would you change? For some of these tips I’ll give you ideas – “Gosh, I didn’t know that!” – that you might want to change.
The comment was, “Which is better? Flex hose or a swivel? Which will stop the pulling and the pushing of the regulator?”
If you have the reg in your mouth, if you turn your head towards the hose, it tends to push the reg out; if you pull away, it tends to pull it out – push and pull. This is a fairly hard rubber hose, which most regulators come with. The first stage is back there, this comes around your head… it doesn’t always work really well. So, what have they done to help overcome the issue?
For many years there wasn’t much you could do: you just lived with it and were careful. When I started diving, all second stages came with a strap that went around your neck. If it got yanked or pushed out, you put it back in – no big deal. We don’t use neck straps anymore.
One thing they have come up with is a swivel – all regulators have a swivel so the hose spins. Some regulators come with a 360-swivel so the reg spins around and goes up and down, back and forth, and all over the place. The idea behind that swivel was very simple: that it would alleviate some of the pushing and pulling of the regulator while it’s in your life. A neat idea and it helps a little bit but not much.
The problem is that the stiff hose that still comes around your right side. Even with a swivel, if you turn your head, the hose has to pull. The swivel does several things but doesn’t completely alleviate that pushing and pulling. Some people love the swivel but I’ve tried them several times and I’m not a big fan of them. The reg comes out of your mouth and flops around. Now you’ve got to find it to get it back in. If you don’t have the swivel but get the reg out it stays there right in front of you. With a swivel, you never know where it’s going to end up!
That particular solution may or may not work. The question from this diver was, “If I have a new flex hose will that alleviate pushing and pulling?” My reply was, “Yeah! It’ll do a great job.” These flex hoses are extremely flexible: you can tie this into a knot unlike a rubber hose. They’re very light so it lightens your load and now if the first stage is behind your shoulder and the hose is coming around the right hand side, it’s not a big deal because the hose is so flexible it just pushes and pulls out of the way. It does alleviate, to a great deal, the pushing and pulling.
Many brands today are coming with flex hoses installed. These aren’t new and have been out for about a dozen years now. The very earliest flex hoses weren’t perfect: they had a few issues with them but they’re completely solved now. If you’ve heard from your buddy that flex hoses aren’t safe to use, tell them to catch up! If your regulator doesn’t have flex hoses, you can buy them in several colors. They’re extremely flexible… curls onto your hand for your safe second. Many octopuses come with the flex hose.
You can buy a swivel, too, by itself: they’re not inexpensive at 60 bucks or more. Before you do, check out flex hoses and see if that doesn’t make a difference. Keep in mind that with some regulators the hose and swivel are a unit and you can’t take the swivel off: so when you need to replace anything, you have to replace the whole thing and that’s not inexpensive. Swivels need to be serviced regularly: in fact, the manufacturer suggests they be serviced every year and they come with a service kit with o-rings.
The flex hoses, in my opinion, are fantastic. If you travel a great deal, they make your system lighter and I’m certain they’ll solve that push and pull. Consider it. Maybe you can get your local dive store to give you some flex hoses to try on your reg. I think you’ll be impressed with them.