Scuba diving and snorkeling open the underwater world to first-hand exploration by anyone who can swim and has the desire to see fish and other underwater denizens in their natural habitat. Seeing clearly requires the use of a dive mask. Buying the proper dive mask is the first step into underwater experiences.
Your scuba mask provides your view to the vast underwater world of the ocean. All scuba diving masks are not created equal. They are designed to fit different face shapes and sizes, so it is essential to try on masks before purchase. Scuba masks come in an endless choice of style and colour, but there are many things to consider when purchasing your first, or tenth, scuba mask, including: field of vision, a high-grade silicone skirt for a lasting and comfortable seal, comfortable nose pocket and a high-grade, flexible silicone strap and strap fasteners.
Buying a high quality scuba mask and its proper care will ensure the longevity of the mask. When choosing a mask, three sets of criteria are critically important: fit, fit and fit. As no two faces are alike, proper mask fitting needs to be a careful undertaking. A poorly fitting mask will flood and raise stress in your diving experience.
Bring your regulator and snorkel on your shopping trip because these can affect the mask’s seal. Once you’ve made your selections, check the fit of a mask you’re thinking about purchasing Most important, don’t fall for the old method of inhaling to see if a mask fits. Creating such a vacuum can provide a seal on even an improperly fitting mask. Instead, with your regulator and snorkel in place, tilt your head back and rest the mask in place without inhaling. Look for any gaps between the skirt and the skin. Next, make sure the mask is comfortable, there’s nothing worse than diving with a mask that digs into the bridge of your nose, eyebrows or upper lip. At depth, these pressure points can make you feel like you’re wearing a coffee can. Make sure you can reach around the second stage to pinch your nose. Last, if your retailer will let you take it into the pool, take the plunge and make sure the mask doesn’t leak and that there are no issues with comfort. If you can’t do an in-water test, check the store’s return policy.
Because the field of view you get through a new mask in your dive store is not what you’re going to get viewing through it underwater it’s important to keep that in mind when trying on masks in the store.
A mask with side windows has two additional characteristics. On the surface, when gazing from the front windows to the side windows, you see an uninterrupted, panoramic view of your buddy, the dive boat and the dive site. But underwater, shifting your gaze from front to side can be like stepping into a house of mirrors. At the point where the side windows and front lenses meet, you’ll hit a blind spot. Side windows do, however, provide a huge amount of extra peripheral vision, bringing a lot more of the dive site into view. Some divers learn to compensate for the refraction factor because the extra view off to the side is worth dealing with the distortion; others find the effect more distracting and choose not to buy a mask with side windows. It’s a personal preference for each diver, but worth understanding the refraction factor before buying a mask to decide what is best for you.
There are many scuba masks available. Take the time to choose the right scuba mask for you. Your eyes will appreciate it and you will enjoy the beauty of scuba diving that much more.
- The joys of a good mask: ScubaPro Scout (learntodivetoday.co.za)
- Go diving for the very first time in Puerto Vallarta (bestpuertovallartatours.wordpress.com)