A diving mask should be one of the first pieces of kit that you buy on your scuba diving journey. As the fit and style of a dive mask is so personal to every individual’s face and head shape, this is one piece of kit that you certainly don’t want to rely on renting rather than buying. With so many different options to choose from, how do you find the right diving mask for you? Let’s take a look at the main features of scuba diving masks, and the key factors to consider.
The most important factor when choosing a new diving mask is ensuring it fits correctly. This should be where you start. It’s easy to test the fit effectively by using the following 5 steps:
Bear in mind that you don’t need to have your mask strap on super tight. The pressure of the water as you descend will keep the mask tight to your face and having the strap on too tight can actually cause water to get in.
Dive masks are fitted with either a single lens, double lens or multiple lenses, all of which have an influence on your field of vision. Single lenses offer an uninterrupted view and are considered by many to be the most comfortable option as the front window is unobstructed. However, dual lens dive masks benefit from a low volume, making them easier to clear, and they can also be turned into a prescription dive mask. If you need a prescription mask, be mindful that these can take longer to order, depending on your prescription. If you’re buying one for a holiday, order well in advance to avoid disappointment. Multi-lens masks are one of the less common mask types, however the additional lenses placed around the sides, create a panoramic view. The increased vision is good for anxious divers as it can help to prevent feelings of claustrophobia.
Volume refers to the amount of air space inside the dive mask. This is an important consideration as it influences how easy or hard the mask is to clear underwater. High volume masks contain a higher amount of air. They offer an increased feeling of openness for divers, however they can be a little trickier to clear due to the higher volume of air. Lower volume masks on the other hand, sit closer to your face, making them easier to clear more quickly.
The frame is the material that holds the lens(es) in place at the front of the dive mask. Frame technology has come a long way to ensure it’s not bulky or obstructive. However you can also buy frameless masks that optimise visibility. The straps are connected to the skirt, resulting in a diving mask that sits closer to your face. Each style has its benefits. Frameless designs optimise visibility, however the benefit of frame masks is that if one component breaks, it’s easy to fix without replacing the whole mask.
Arguably one of the most important elements of a diving mask, the skirt is the material that forms a seal between the mask and your face. It’s essential that the skirt is durable and fits well against your face in order to prevent water from leaking in. Most good diving mask skirts are made from high quality silicone which is durable yet comfortable. Some masks also feature double seals to enhance protection against leaks.
Diving mask straps come in different shapes and sizes, and so make sure to spend some time trying out different options in order to figure out what you find most comfortable. Your hair type is likely to play a big role in this. Most straps are made from either silicone or neoprene. Some masks like the Apeks VX1 also benefit from quick release buckles that allow for easy adjustment, even wearing gloves.
Colour isn’t just about choosing a diving mask that looks nice (as important as this is!). The colour of the skirt can actually influence how much light is let in. For example, a clear skirt may let more light in and create a wider field of vision than dark colours. Choice of colour also applies to the lens - some lenses are tintedor mirrored to provide UV protection, which can be useful if you’re planning to go diving a lot during the summer or in hot climates.
When you buy any new mask, there will be a film of silicone over the lens, making it fog up to start with. To remove this you need an abrasive cleaner, like Seabuff; rub this over the mask and rinse to scrub off the layer. You’ll need to do this several times to effectively defog.
If you live near the Aquanauts shop in Plymouth, feel free to pop by and try on the different masks we have available, with the guidance of one of our team members. If you’re ordering online and would like any assistance at all, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
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