In one of my previous blogs I explained the mechanics of a mask clear, however choosing the correct mask to fit your face obviously has to be the starting point.
It is the one piece of diving equipment that can completely make or break the enjoyment of a dive! A mask that is consistently leaking or fogging or hurting you during a dive, will without a doubt make it a horrible experience.
You will often found once a diver has found a mask that works they will hold onto that piece of diving equipment like it is gold. Often we see divers with mask that looks like it comes from 19 voertsek but they swear by it!
Choosing a mask involves a lot of factors and there are so many different brands and types that it can become confusion. Thus be very careful. At Scubaversity we realise how import this choice is so we will let you change and try as many different masks as you want, because we understand fitting a mask in the showroom is not the same as wearing it in the water for 30-60 minutes.
So here are a couple of tips;
Single lens vs Double lens - This really only affects us a divers in regards to volume. Double lens masks typically used to have more volume (ie fills up with more water) than the single lens. As designs have changed these days the difference in volume is not that big a problem anymore. With a single lens mask you can clear one side at a time (whoop-whoop). Sometimes a double lens tends to be kinder to those with high nose bridges. Choosing between the two is really a matter of fit – which one feels more comfortable on your face?
Black vs Clear silicon - Personally I have always insisted that black silicone feels softer on your face. My face gets really tender after spending a day in the pool so a soft silicone is absolutely essential! The manufacturers dis-agree strongly and even I these days find it difficult to spot the difference. Other than that black silicone does help in shallow water to reduce glare from the sun which is why it is so popular with instructors and freedivers. Oh… and it used to be the cool thing to own a black silicone mask.
Buckles and straps – This is usually where you start paying a bit more – fancy and easy quick release buckles however does make it a lot easier, especially when it comes to learning how to do a mask clear skill. If unsure rather invest in quick releases, you will not regret it. At the same time diving without a neoprene strap to protect your hair is just silly.
Skirt – This is a major contribution to a comfortable mask fit. Once again so many choice; ridges, liquid properties etc. this comfort will only truly become apparent in the water. You do want at the very least a silicone skirt and definitely not pvc stuff they sell those pre-packed packets.
Volume – Low means little water in the mask thus easier to clear - if you are good you can clear your mask with a sneeze J. High means more water in the mask, if you are good you can clear your masks with a bigger sneeze J . Just joking, the big decision here is vision – how much do you want to see, masks that give you a wider field of vision generally have got a bit more volume. And luckily we have moved on from James Bond’s days and have a lot more sexy options like the tear drop masks.
So you are in the shop ready to purchase your mask here is what you need to do. Ask the sales person for advice; let them explain the differences to you and select masks that they think will fit your particular face. Then ask them to give you some time.
Take each mask, in your own time, without someone staring at you – close your eyes and place it on your face. You can hold it there, you can put the strap on, you can try keep holding it on your face naturally while breathing in and out of your mouth (this is a party trick if you don’t know how to do it come to me, I will give you a free demonstration).
Go into your zen mode if you have to.
Feel for the fit on your face, does the skirt touch your skin everywhere? Can you hear any air escaping if you breathe out of your nose? Do you feel pressure anywhere especially nose? Do you feel comfortable? Now open your eyes take note of your vision without moving your head – look up, down, left, right.
Good - give it a rating if it was a good experience leave it on one side, if it was a bad experience put it back on display. Keep on doing this until you find the “one”. Speak to sales assistant again, ask their advice on your choices, then it is really a decision between budget and colour.
HAPPY DIVING MY FRIENDS!