How to Choose the Right Dive Mask
As a diver, your mask is one of the most important pieces of gear you own. The simple item acts as your window to the underwater world, allowing you to see things you’ve never seen before. It also gives you the visual clarity you need to work your equipment and help your buddy in an emergency, so it’s not something you should take for granted! A mask that is ill-fitting, leaky or uncomfortable can make or break your dive. Here’s a few key factors to look out for as you shop for a mask.
The volume of a mask refers to how much air there is inside the mask when you’re wearing it. Low-volume masks have less air, requiring less breath for clearing. The trade-off for this is that low-volume masks usually are dual-lens, while many divers prefer a single-lens mask for its panoramic views. To compensate for this, dual-lenses usually sit closer to your face and are teardrop-shaped to give you a low vertical view for reaching gear.
A Convenient Strap
You shouldn’t need to adjust your strap continually, but a mask should still be easy to adjust and fit to your head. Most high-quality masks feature a quick-release buckle and push-button adjustment. Many also mount the buckle system to the skirt rather than the frame, making it easy to pack for trips. A split strap is also a good feature to look for, as it disperses pressure to a wider surface area to minimize pinching.
A Comfortable Skirt
Skirts are all made of silicone, but you’d be surprised at the way their design can make such a difference in comfort. Thickness, feathering and color can all affect the way it feels on your skin. A differentiated skirt is a good option all around — it has different thicknesses on various areas of the face to give you more comfort and a tighter seal. Although color may just seem like a matter of preference, it can play a large role in visibility. Clear skirts allow for more light to get in and are good for new divers or divers with claustrophobia, but they can also cause more glare. If you’re heading to a bright, sunny destination with white sands that will reflect the sunlight, consider going with a black skirt instead to make it easier to see.
A Proper Fit
All of these features are really important, but if your mask doesn’t fit, they’re not going to matter much. When you’re trying on a mask, hold it to your face without using the strap and breathe in through your nose normally. The skirt should easily seal to your skin. If it doesn’t, try a few different ones until you find a fit that works for you.
Bottom line: don’t get caught up in the hip features that are virtually pointless. They may seem cool when you’re in the store, but they’re not going to make much of a difference once you’re exploring underwater. As long as you have a mask that fits well and does what it’s supposed to do, you can have fun diving without any mask mishaps.