There is a huge choice of dive masks out there, many different brands, shapes, sizes and colours. It can be a minefield trying to find your perfect match, and one thing is for sure: you need to make the right choice. Using a mask that doesn’t fit properly or causes discomfort will inevitably ruin your dive. Leaking will cause poor vision, it will increase your air consumption due to repeatedly clearing the mask, thus shortening your dive time, and you don’t want to spend 50 minutes underwater with pain on the bridge of your nose because the mask isn’t right for you. So don’t let these frustrations take the fun out of your dive trip, follow these steps to choosing your perfect dive mask.
• First of all you should look at what materials the mask is made from. Avoid cheap plastic or rubber, you are looking for the skirt to be made from quality, soft silicone; it will be more comfortable and will mould to the contours of your face better. The lens should be a tempered glass; this lasts longer and will fog less than a plastic alternative.
• Tilting your head back and looking to the sky, place the mask on to your face, keep the strap out the way, you don’t want this on yet. With the mask resting in position, have a friend look around the skirt of the mask, checking for any major gaps. If the mask is too wide for example, a big gap will be evident and would indicate you should try a smaller one.
• Keeping the mask in position, look ahead, and now inhale through your nose and let go of the frame. It should stay attached to your face; if it fits well, it will create a good vacuum. Listen and feel for any air making its way into the mask, this could be a sign water will enter in the same way. Ensure no hair is trapped under the skirting as this will cause leakage – guys with facial hair may wish to use Vaseline during their dives to help create a seal around the moustache.
• Fit the mask strap into position, this should sit above the ears and hold to the back of your head at the widest point. Inspect around the skirt and check it does not overlap your hair line. The skirt should be below the nose and above the top lip; you don’t want the nose to be squashed into the pocket. When breathing in through your nose, the frame of the mask should not be pressing against the bridge of your nose; this will cause discomfort during the dive.
• Pinch your nose to simulate equalisation techniques; if you normally dive wearing gloves then it’s a good idea to put them on to try this. You may find some masks offer limited access to the nose pocket which could cause you issues when equalising. Think about the airspaces in the mask, the smaller this is, the easier it is to equalise the mask airspace and the speedier it is to clear water from it. Many technical divers opt for a low profile mask for this reason.
• Field of vision is important, look around with the mask on. If you’re not happy with what you can see, there’s a few options to try. This will come down to personal preference; some people will chose a single lens over the common dual lens. Many masks incorporate lenses that sit further down the cheeks, these offer an excellent field of vision down low. Skirting is now available in black or clear, the clear option will allow more light to enter the mask and give a better sense of vision.
• With the right model selected, you can then think about colour of the mask – pick your favourite. Add-ons and options can come into play; if you are diving in bright, sunny places then you may benefit from a UV protective lens, and if you wear glasses in day to day life then many brands offer corrective lenses too. For those with longer hair, a recommended addition would be a neoprene mask strap cover; it makes light work of putting on and taking off your mask, and stops your hair from tangling with the strap.
Here’s an informative video from Simply Scuba which goes through the steps mentioned above.
Happy with your new mask, it should now last you many years with a little care. To avoid fogging during the initial uses, you can apply a little white toothpaste to both sides of the lens, giving it a good firm rub. This helps to break down the protective film applied during manufacture. Wash the toothpaste away thoroughly, and repeat this several times or until the fogging stops.
After you wear your mask in the water, it’s important to wash it well using fresh water. Salt water will cause irreparable damage to all your dive kit, so you must do this after each dive. Allow the mask to dry properly out of direct sunlight, and store in a safe place without it getting crushed by heavier items.
Follow these steps and your dive mask will not be holding you back from truly enjoying your time underwater!
‘Find Your Perfect Dive Mask’ was written by Guest Blogger Bobby