The mask is one of the most important pieces of equipment that any diver can have, without the mask diving would be pointless because we would not be able to enjoy all of the underwater scenery.
So here are some tips to help find the perfect mask.
- When picking a mask the first step it to ensure that you have options. Find a dive shop with a large variety of masks, the more you have to choose from the better chance you have to find the right one.
- Don’t worry about the price. I know many new divers are looking to save as much money because it does add up quickly, but don’t discard a mask because it it more expensive. If you buy the right mask the first time it will be a long term investment.
- Fit is key. Don’t worry about the strap when you are trying on mask, a good fitting mask should suction to your face without the use of the strap. If it doesn’t stick to your face without the strap then its not going to keep the water out.
- Comfort. Make sure the frame of the mask isn’t making contact on the bridge of the nose or forehead. This can be more common with single lens masks. If it is uncomfortable when you are warring it in the store its not going to be uncomfortable in the water, and will leave marks on your face.
- Test it out. If the shop your are buying your mask at has a pool ask if you can test it out in the water. Testing it out is the only way to know for sure if the mask seals on your face properly and is comfortable. If the shop doesn’t have a pool ask if you can return the mask if it doesn’t fit properly.
Because every person is different, finding the right mask is not an exact science. There are also many other secondary factors that affect choosing a mask because of the great variety of styles.
- Black silicone vs. Clear silicone: Many masks come in clear and black silicone versions but not all mask so be sure to ask your dive shop what available options there are for the masks that fit you best. Black silicone mask are more favorable for spear fisherman, and photographers because it helps our eyes adjust to lower light faster, clear silicone masks are good for avoiding feelings of claustrophobia and give a open feeling letting in more light.
- Single lens vs. Double lens: Some of these options are mask specific, single and double lens mask provide different benefits, single lens mask provide a continuous view horizontally while double lens mask tend to provide more space for larger noses and avoid contact with the nose and forehead better.
- Normal vs. Low volume: Low volume mask are great for reducing effort to clear the mask and are popular for free divers and spear fisherman.
- Clear lens vs. Amber lens vs. Mirrored lens: Type of lens can be similar to ski goggles clear lenses are standard for most mask, some mask may have yellow or amber lenses that are optimal for blue water diving/ hunting, mirrored lenses are also primarily for hunting preventing the fish from seeing your hungry eyes.
- Silicone strap vs. Neoprene Strap: Straps can be changed on any mask, but each has its own benefits. Silicone straps stay in place much better than neoprene straps, but neoprene straps don’t pull hair as much as silicone straps. If you ware a hood while diving neoprene straps have a tendency to slide around more than silicone.
- Color: Color is only a cosmetic change.
All of these option I believe are secondary. I would focus on finding the correct fitting mask before worrying about any of these options. Some of these options can vary depending on the style and brand of mask.
Keep in mind that many of these features are secondary to finding a mask that fist well.