Choosing the right mask is relatively easy. As with other pieces of equipment, proper fit should probably be the primary consideration, however there are a few other details that if taken into consideration can insure that you get the perfect mask for you. Already know what you're looking for in a diving mask?
Probably so, but all the same I'm going to go over this short checklist of things to look for when choosing a mask..
Things to look for in a diving mask
Fit - If your diving mask doesn't fit properly, you will not be happy with it. There are few things in this world as annoying as a leaky mask.
The good news is that it is pretty easy to tell if a mask will fit you properly before you take it diving. Just take the following steps:
- Take the mask and pull the strap around to the front so that it is not in the way.
- Place the mask lightly against your face while looking up. Make sure there is no hair under the edges of the mask. Check and make sure that the edges of the mask rest evenly with your skin along the entire outer rim.
- Inhale slightly through your nose in order to create a light vacuum. If it fits properly, the mask should stay put despite gentle tugging and energetic head-shaking.
If you can do that, then you have a mask that fits you. Pretty simple. I should point out here that it is quite impossible to perform this test via the internet. If you are considering buying a mask online, you should first try out different mask types and sizes so that you know exactly what you are looking for when placing your order.
Style - While not a technical necessity, let's face it. If a mask makes you look like a goober, you probably won't be real keen on wearing it. Choose a mask that you like the looks of and choose a color that you like.
If you get a mask with a nice style, you are much more likely to be happy with it in the long run.
Field of View - Different styles of masks have different fields of view. Some masks have side panes or larger or un-split lenses designed to increase the field of view as much as possible.
My father and I have an ongoing debate regarding Panview masks and whether or not they are worth it. He doesn't like them, I do. The debate centers around the fact that the human eye can't see the details of anything near the edge of its field of view, but it can detect color and movement. Masks that have a wider field of view generally also have a larger volume. He would rather trade the things that he can't see clearly anyway for an easier clearing mask, whereas I like having the extra visible areas. This is a personal preference that should be taken into consideration when choosing your mask and it also leads me to my next point?
Volume - Very simply, the bigger the mask, the more air it takes to clear it should it become filled with water. Scuba manufacturers do not offer us an exact measure of the volume of a particular mask, mostly because it depends too much on the person wearing it. I can however tell you that in general, dual panel masks and masks with smaller lenses will have less volume and be easier to clear than their larger counterparts.
Purge valve - A purge valve is a small, one way valve that allows air out, but does not allow water into the mask. This improves the ease of clearing the mask. Some masks have them, some don't.
Diving masks and prescription lenses
If you normally wear prescription glasses or contact lenses, you may also find this article interesting:scuba masks, prescription Lenses, and contacts