With a good scuba mask, you can see and be comfortable on every dive. The air pocket created by the mask allows your eyes to focus underwater and see the other 70 percent of the earth.
Basic components of the Scuba Mask
First, all masks must have Tempered Glass. Tempering of glass (a thermal heat treating) is important because the tempering makes the glass stronger and when or if it breaks, it will break into fragments (kind of like little cubes) and not sharp shards or slivers. Never wear a Mask that does not have tempered glass.
Second, the nose area of the mask is enclosed and large enough to be comfortable and easy to pinch when you have to equalize your ears. By blowing out of your nose you will be able to relieve pressure as you dive. Make sure when you are choosing the mask that the nose area is plenty large. Once pressure from the water is exerted on the mask it will often press on the bridge of the nose. Keep that in mind when testing mask and press down against the face plate of the mask to simulate pressure so you know how your mask will feel.
Adjustable straps to make mask wearing comfortable and adjustable for different head sizes when you are wearing a wetsuit hood or just skin diving.
Finally, any good mask will have a double seal skirt to help prevent water from leaking in as you wear it. The skirt should be soft and feel comfortable when you wear the mask.
Choosing a Scuba Mask 101
When you are at your dive store, try on as many different masks as you can get your hands on. To test to see if it fits properly, move the strap in front of the glass, put the mask to your face and inhale through your nose. If the mask fits, there will be no leaks and it will stay on you face with out holding it.
Make sure when you are choosing the mask that the nose area is plenty large. Once pressure from the water is exerted on the mask it will often press on the bridge of the nose. Keep that in mind when testing mask and press down against the face plate of the mask to simulate pressure so you know how your mask will feel under pressure.
Special Features in Today’s Dive Masks
Low volume is one of the most critical features that will make clearing your mask easy and quick to use. The lower the volume the less you have to exhale to clear the dive mask when it gets flooded. It will get flooded when you dive, it just happens.
Wide angle (wider lenses) and longer eye lenses of today’s mask are a far cry from the masks of the 1970’s that were high volume and had 3 windows. Look for long and wide eye lens that will allow you to see with out adjusting your head direction and gives you better peripheral vision.
Many masks offer prescription lens insertions so that you can see with corrected vision underwater. For the ones whose arms aren’t long enough to see the print, you can now get inserts for bi-focal or just readers at the bottom of you mask. You can find stick on reading tabs for a mask you may already own.
Some masks now offer angled skirts to allow for less volume and easier visibility looking down. Tinted lenses, earbuds and even your dive computer with a heads up display can be part of your scuba mask.
One extra that is highly recommended is a neoprene mask strap. They go on smoother and don’t grab or tangle hair as easy. A good addition to any mask purchase. Check some of the new styles to see if it is right for your scuba mask selection.