Scuba diving is a sport getting popular nowadays. If you have tried it a few times, you may have noticed that over a handful of essential diving equipment are needed, but how much do you know about the devices you’re using?
Whether you’re a beginner or a pro in this field, it’s crucial that you know how each piece of equipment works so you can make wise decisions for yourself underwater to attend to your specific needs.
Let’s get started by knowing more about diving masks – what is it, why is it essential and how you to find the perfect scuba mask for you.
In This Guide
- What is a Scuba Mask and What is it for?
- Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Scuba Mask
- How To Try a Scuba Mask – The “Store Test”
What is a Scuba Mask and What is it for?
A scuba mask, also known as a diving mask, is a mandatory piece of equipment you have to wear when scuba diving. It’s made up of high-quality materials, including silicone and tempered glass, to ensure you get the best experience without compromising safety underwater.
Here are the two primary uses of a scuba mask:
A scuba mask is essential so you’ll be able to see clearly underwater. Excellent sight lines are crucial to catch hand signals, check pressure gauges, and follow your buddy whenever necessary.
: When you’re underwater, your body undergoes a large amount of stress due to the heavy pressure of the water above you. A scuba mask helps your lungs properly pressurize the air pocket of the mask so you can breathe at ease underwater. Aside from keeping water from getting in your nose, it also encourages proper equalization when descending and ascending.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Scuba Mask
A. Right Fit
No matter how eye-catching or stylish a mask might be, if it’s not the right fit for your face, then it might not be the right mask for you. The fit of the mask is the most important factor when choosing a dive mask. There are various types of masks in the market to choose from that accounts for different head sizes, face shapes, and nose structures.
The mask skirt is the silicone area around the lenses which make sure that the mask stays sealed into the face, so water doesn’t come in. Aside from making sure that the skirt is a perfect fit for you and that it doesn’t compromise your comfortability, it’s also essential that you choose the right color – clear, black or white mask skirt color have different advantages.
Clear mask skirts allow more light to the mask and are recommended for divers who are claustrophobic, whereas black skirts block out reflective glares and remove distractions such as light patterns from the surrounding environment. Although less common, white masks are the perfect choice for underwater photography.
The mask frame comes in all types of shapes, styles, and thickness. A mask with frame gives it more strength to counter the intense pressures underwater. Scuba masks may also come as frameless, wherein the skirt is bonded directly to the lenses. Frameless style of scuba mask is an excellent choice for a backup mask as they can easily be foldable, but they aren’t compatible with corrective lenses.
Scuba masks come in various types – single lenses, two lenses, and multiple lenses – for better vision underwater. Some masks are also available with optical grade lenses, while some are finished with anti-reflective coating to improve light transmittance into the mask. Selected masks with corrective lenses are also available in the market.
E. Field of View
A good diving mask is one that optimizes your field of view, both vertically and horizontally. It’s essential to choose a scuba mask that lets you see comfortably side-to-side and up and down while looking straight ahead, so you’re aware of your surroundings while underwater.
F. Mask Volume
When manufacturers say that a mask is a low volume or high volume, they refer to the amount of air space contained in the mask. A high-volume mask is preferred if you want to experience viewing underwater similar through a large picture window; however, it takes more effort to get cleared of water. A low-volume mask, on the other hand, is placed closer to your face and can get quickly cleared of water.
G. Buckle/Strap Systems
The buckle or strap systems is what keeps your mask in place. The latest models of scuba masks have its straps mounted on the skirt instead of the frame. This way, the range of movement for strap positioning is improved, and it’s more manageable and comfortable to use.
How To Try a Scuba Mask – The “Store Test”
With so many available scuba masks in the market, how can you find the best mask that is perfect for your face type, personal preference, and type of diving? While you’re in the dive shop, perform the following “store test”:
Place the mask on your face and look up
. Do this without using the strap and let it rest evenly on your face with no gaps. If the mask slips off, it might be too large for you. If it feels uncomfortable, then the mask might be too small for you.
Try it with snorkel mouthpiece placed in your mouth
. Take note if you see any gaps and if you feel comfortable using both pieces of equipment at the same time.
Look straight ahead while wearing the mask
. Without using the strap, you can do this by inhaling gently, but not forcefully, through your nose. This way the mask can seal itself easily on your face. Conduct the sniff test again with a mouthpiece in place and see if the mask falls off during the trial. If it does, then the mask isn’t the best option for you.
Wear the mask and adjust the strap
. Check if the mask feels comfortable while wearing it with strap on. If any part is digging into your face, for instance, the nose pocket touching the tip of your nose, then you can place it back on the shelf and look for other masks.
Find out if the nose packet is easily reachable
. Wear the regulator mouthpiece again to check if you can easily reach the nose pocket to equalize your ears.
When choosing the best scuba mask, new divers often get excited over how an item looks “amazingly cool.” However, it’s not the best factor to consider. Keep in mind that a well-fitted mask is the first priority. The fit, the form, and functionality of the mask must be regarded to ensure you get the best value of what is being purchased. Check out our reviews of the best dive masks here!