How To Choose A Dive Mask

Published: 14th November 2007
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How To Choose A Dive Mask
In this article I will explain what is important, and what is not when choosing which dive mask to buy. I will cover mask material, single/double lens masks, prescriptive lens masks, purge valves, volume and straps. I will also explain why you might need a full face mask such as the Poseidon Atmosphere.

Getting The Right Fit
The way to see if a mask fits you is to put it onto your face without the strap on, and inhale through your nose - if you feel a good seal then you have a good fitting mask!

Dive Mask Material/Skirt
Almost all dive masks have some sort of plastic frame, with a skirt that is either silicone or rubber - silicone is MUCH the more common because it is softer and provides a better seal on your face.

You generally have the option of a clear or black skirt; clear offers a better field of vision whereas black is better for photographers because they don't get distracted by light coming in from the sides. Don't even think about getting a really cheap mask with a plastic skirt, no matter how cheap they are.

Purge Valves & Volume
A few dive masks offer a purge valve under the nose - the idea being if the valve is at the lowest point (it usually is) you only have to exhale through your nose to get rid of any water that has leaked in. Personally I consider this a waste of the '5 to '10 you will spend for this - if your mask leaks *that* much, then the problem is that it doesn't fit properly.. or you have a huge moustache!

A lot of dive masks advertise being low volume, and the lower the volume the easier it is to clear of water - whilst this is true I wouldn't pay more for a mask with marginally lower volume as you won't notice the difference, and your lung volume is *massive* compared to any dive mask volume! The only exception to this would be if you are free diving - where you only have one lung full of air.

Single vs Double Lens Dive Masks
A double lensed dive mask comes with (obviously) two lenses, seperated by a plastic bit of frame, whereas a single lens mask doesn't have the plastic bit over your nose. The biggest disadvantage of getting a single lens mask is that you can't get prescriptive lenses for a single lens dive mask.

If this is not an issue for you then single lens dive masks can offer a less claustrophobic feel. If you truly want the best field of vision, then a dive mask with side windows is a great option - Apeks and Cressi both make this type of mask and I can personally recommend the Cressi Penta Dive Mask.

If you DO require prescriptive lenses, most Tusa dive masks can take prescriptive lenses.

Dive Mask Straps
Whilst this is a trivial part of the mask I can't emphasise enough how much easier things will be if you get a slap strap for your dive mask - especially if you are a girl or have long hair.

Full Face Dive Masks
A full face dive mask is one which has an integrated regulator, and covers your entire face - a lot of full face dive masks have some form of communications system integrated. The reason that these dive masks offer all of these features is they are designed for commercial and specialist use - TV divers will generally use them, and commercial divers that dive in dirty or very cold conditions.

When using a full face mask most divers will go through more air, and of course they are a lot harder to get on/off. Generally a full face dive mask is inappropriate for most recreational scuba diving
How to choose a dive mask was written by Dave Huscroft - a leading contributor to One Stop Dive - a leading website for scuba diving advice.

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