You are a newly certified scuba diver. Maybe you are even about to complete your open water certification and you want to get your first piece of equipment. So where do you start? One of the most essential pieces of kit is the scuba mask. With so many options out there though?! Where do you begin?
Why buy a mask instead of renting one?
With so many options on the market it can be overwhelming looking for a mask. It is easy to rent one when you get there as well right? But each style of scuba mask fits differently and if you don’t have one that fits you well, it will leak. Now that is no fun for a whole dive. Imagine having to clear your mask constantly, it can ruin your dive or snorkeling experience.
What are you looking for in a mask?
Are you looking for a scuba mask or a snorkeling mask. For scuba diving, it needs to have strong tempered glass that can withstand the pressures of diving. When scuba diving you need to equalize your ears and other airspaces. The mask for that, needs to have a skirt that then encloses the nose as well.
How do you fit a scuba mask?
One of the common misconceptions when fitting a scuba mask is to place it on your face and breathe in through your nose. The problem with this method, is that it will allow a number of masks to work, that may in reality, not be the best fit. The best way to find a mask that really is a good fit for you is to do the following;
Firstly to have someone to help you.
- Secondly, lean your head back and then place the mask gently on your face. Do not breathe in.
- Now, have your trusted companion check the seal of the mask from all sides against your face. Are there are gaps? If so, it’s not the mask for you.
- Repeat this until you get the mask that has no gaps and sits nicely on your face.
- This will be the scuba mask for you.
Fit vs Colour
Fit and comfort takes a priority over color and look. Believe me. You may be desperate to have the James bond style all black mask, or the pretty in pink one but if it doesn’t fit right don’t do it!
You can get many different styles in lots of different colours so you want to pick something you like, after you have chosen the right style. The color of the skirt is normally a choice of black silicone of clear. Personally I like black as I find it allows me to focus more. Some people prefer clear as they say it feels less claustrophobic and can let more light in.
High vs Low volume
There a a few main styles of scuba mask out there and there are pros and cons to each.
Each masks design is loosely based on how many windows it has. You would also want to look at whether a mask has a high or low volume. This can tell you how easy a mask is to clear.
A low volume mask would be easy to clear of water as it has a low internal volume. A high volume mask would be harder to clear but may have a much wider field of vision. So, if you are completely comfortable with clearing your mask this may be something you want to consider.
- There is basic one window which is good for people with a prominent forehead. These can be relatively low volume like the Aqualung Visage or could be high volume like the Tilos Titanica.
- The standard two window comes in a number of shapes and styles, from square windows to elongated tear drop (for better viewing looking down?).
- The three and four window masks have a much larger field of view but have the issue of being higher volume so more difficult to clear.
Preparing your new scuba mask
So after all of this to wade through, you have now picked your new scuba mask. How do you prepare it for the open water? A couple of quick tips before you head out to the ocean as if you use it straight out of the box, you will find that it fogs. This is because all new scuba masks have a protective film on them.
To eliminate that fog I have a couple of suggestions. First up, you can buy a standard defog. Some of the ones on the market work okay but to be honest, I haven’t found one that I love. Straight up spit “the greener the cleaner” works fine for me after the mask has been prepped.
To prep it, I find that burning the lenses with a flame works really well. To seal the deal, wipe the lenses afterwards with a “mr muscle” magic eraser sponge or a slate eraser sponge. That, to me on all of my masks through the years has worked the best. Once this is done you can juts spit in the mask before every dive or use defog if you would like. If using defog, try and go for a reef friendly biodegradable kind.