Wednesday, 9 January 2013


Why have a backup regulator?
A backup regulator/alternate source/octopus, whatever you decide to call it, is a secondary gas supply to be used by any diver in an emergency.  Now in theory a diver should never be out of gas underwater as all dives should be planned correctly, however accidents do happen and equipment can fail, so regardless of your equipment setup, whether you primary or secondary donate, every diver should have a secondary source of gas.

So now we’ve got a second regulator, where do we put it?  The regulator must be positioned is such a place so that it’s assessable to the intended user.  This usually means locating the regulator within the ‘triangle of access’, so that it can be seen and accessed by the diver themselves. This can mean having it attached to a necklace or a suitable clip within the triangle.

There are now 2 main considerations; visibility and access.  If we primary donate then it’s simple; go for the one in my mouth; the backup is for me.  If we secondary donate the buddy should be able to easily see and identify the correct regulator.  It is for this reason many backup regulators are brightly coloured (normally yellow) and may have corresponding hose colours too.  If the regulator is located within the ‘triangle’ it will help keep it visible if an out of gas (OOG) diver approaches from the front.  However as divers we SHOULD be in a horizontal position so locating the backup regulator in the shoulder or neck area may be more appropriate hence the use of a necklace.

Additional advantages of a necklace are that it makes the regulator instantly assessable to the diver in an emergency; you’ll need to find it fast so it’s important you know where it is.    It is also less likely to be affected by surrounding water turbulence that may cause a free flow.  The pictures below show backup regulator positioning with a necklace of a single cylinder and twinset configuration.

There are many companies such as Beaver and Lomo that manufacture rubber or silicone necklaces from as little as £5 however these are generally too big for most people allowing the regulator to hang too low.  Additionally, as the size of the mouthpiece loop is fixed so it has a tendency to pop out.  Halcyon make some from bungee which cost around £7 which are exactly the correct size and keep the regulator in place.

I’m going to show you to make your own for as little as 50p.  I am going to show you 2 methods; the first is very similar to the Halcyon and the second is one which physically secures the necklace to the mouthpiece.

Method 1
This is the necklace I prefer and use.  Although the necklace isn’t physically secured to the regulator, you can tighten the knot up, although if pulled hard enough could come free.

You will need the following:
1. Approximately 2.5-3ft of 5mm bungee (2mm does work but I prefer the larger diameter).
2. Scissors or a sharp blade.
3. Lighter.

For the remainder of this how to: I will describing how to do the skill right handed so if you’re a lefty you may have to reverse the skill.

The necklace is constructed using a double fisherman’s knot.  The first thing you do is form a loop with the bungee in your left hand with the end facing your right closest to you.

Next we make 1 turn over and under the adjacent cord.

We make a second turn over the cord, however this time we come back on ourselves.

Before going back over and through both loops.

And pulling tight.  This involves using both ends and working the knot tight.

Rotate the knot through 180° and size it correctly for you neck.  Repeat the same process of the opposite side allowing 1-1.5 inches for the regulator mouthpiece.

And you have your necklace.  Just a final check to see if it fits correctly.

Trim the ends.

and burn off any loose threads.

Finally fit to the regulator.  Final adjustment may be needed to loosen or tighten the mouthpiece loop.

Job done.

Method 2

This method is the simplest to construct and physically secures the necklace to the regulator making the possibility of it coming off very low; however if it does come off it will take the mouthpiece with it.

You will need the following: 
1. Approximately 2-2.5ft of 5mm bungee (2mm does work but I prefer the larger diameter).
2. Scissors or a sharp blade.
3. Lighter.

4. Spare zip tie large enough to secure a mouthpiece.

Tie a knot in one end of the bungee.

Size it up to your neck, tie a second knot then cut and burn the spare end.

Carefully cut off the old zip tie on the regulator.

Replace the zip tie carefully inserting either end of the loop before pulling tight.

Carefully cut off any excess from the zip tie.

Job done.

Regardless of which method you prefer I hope that this is helpful to some of you and saves you a few £££s.

The boring bit!
All opinions expressed in my articles are my own and may differ to other instructor’s and agency guidelines; by no means are they wrong and I would not wish to disrepute any of them.  This article is for information only and should not replace proper training.

Safe diving!

Timothy Gort
BSAC, PADI & SDI/TDI diver training
l Mob: 07968148261 l Email: l

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