When you start diving, it’s essential that you get the right mask, so we’ve tried to list the different options available to you. We also discuss how to stop your new mask fogging up, which is always a pain when diving.
How To Select The Right Mask
Masks are typically made of silicone. A watertight skirt around the lenses seals the mask to the face, creating an air space around the eyes and nose so you can see clearly underwater. The main feature of the mask is the large lens (or lenses) made of tempered glass. These lenses have a tendency to fog up, but the chance of this happening can be reduced by following the advice below.
The best place to purchase your first dive mask is at your local dive shop, where experts can help you choose the mask that best meets your requirements. Remember that snorkel masks are not the same as scuba masks. They are inferior in quality and subjected to less rigorous testing. They are only suitable for shallow water diving and shouldn’t be worn to scuba dive.
Before you go to a dive shop, think about what type of diving you plan on doing. There are specific masks for technical diving and these days you can clip video cameras and all kinds of things to your mask.
The most important aspect of a mask is its fit. If a mask doesn’t fit correctly, your diving experiences will be ruined. You’ll spend more time clearing your mask than enjoying the dive. Masks are produced to cater for a wide variety of face shapes and finding the one that is right for you is simply a case of trying on a variety in the shop. The shape and size of the nose pocket is an important consideration that many divers overlook. It should be flexible to allow for easy equalisation, but fitted enough to prevent water entering. To check the mask fits well, hold it to your face without the strap. Breathe in through your nose. If the mask stays in place without you having to hold it, it’s the right size.
There are masks for every budget, ranging from under £50 to well over £500. Consider what is most important to you when buying a mask – is it a wide field of vision? The latest mask technology? Reduced glare? Your personal requirements will affect the price you pay. It is worth reading online reviews to find out if other divers have found certain masks to be good value for money.
Dive masks can either have one, two or multiple lenses. Single lens masks provide a wide field of view and both framed and frameless options are available. The frameless version is perhaps the better option, since the lens is closer to the eyes and clearing is easier as less air is needed. Two lens masks provide an excellent downward view which makes gear much more visible. Masks with multiple lenses also have lenses on the sides of the mask offering the broadest view of any type of mask. If you usually wear glasses, this shouldn’t stop you from being able to dive; prescription lenses are available. Some lenses also offer UVA/B filters to protect your eyes.
The mask is secured to the head with a silicone strap. Silicone provides flexibility that doesn’t affect the effectiveness of the seal. Make sure the strap is adjustable and can be altered using a buckle system, the most basic of which have a spring loaded flap that grips the strap. More advanced buckles have easier to use buttons and are attached to the skirt rather than the frame, allowing the skirt to seal better.
Some masks have a clear skirt which gives the diver a sense of openness. However, you should be aware that dark skirts reduce ambient light and shade the eyes effectively. Frames and skirts come in a range of colours to allow for personalisation. You might wish to choose a mask that matches your BCD or wetsuit.
If there is the possibility of long surface swims, it’s worth considering whether your chosen mask has a snorkel attached, or whether it is easy to attach a separate one.
Preparing Your Mask
Once you’ve purchased your new mask, there are a few things you need to do before you start diving. Crucially, you need to make sure you read the manufacturer’s instructions. Some lenses are coated with a special anti-fog coating. Cleaning these treated masks with the wrong solution can damage this coating, rendering them useless.
If your lenses haven’t been treated with an anti-fog coating, you should scrub them with a mild abrasive cleaner and rinse them well after. There are a range of commercial mask cleaners available.
Keeping Your Mask Fog-Free
Mask fogging is fairly common but can be easily remedied. You should use an anti-fogging solution before every dive. Various products are available, mostly in the form of sprays. Some products are left on the lenses and then left to dry.
If you’ve applied an anti-fog solution but are still having problems, this may be because your mask does not fit, or is not sealed properly. If it leaks, the water that enters will wash off any coating you applied. When you put on your mask, make sure no hair is trapped under the skirt before pulling the strap tight.
When diving, as tempting as it may be, you should avoid breathing out through your nose, as this will fill your mask with moist air. Over time, you’ll get better at breathing through a regulator and exhaling through your mouth, so don’t worry if you struggle to begin with.
If you are underwater and your mask fogs up, try slightly lifting your mask to let in a small amount of water. Tilt your head down and move it from side to side to shake the water around. Then use the mask clearing technique you learnt on your diving course.
After every dive, wash your mask off in warm soapy water. This will remove sunscreen residue and other debris.
Aqualogistics Dive Store
If you need advice about buying a new mask or any other diving equipment, come and speak to the expert team at Aqualogistics Scuba Diving in Manchester. Contact us now.