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.
I have recently purchased the Oceanic VTX with the transmitter in order to upgrade my current wrist computer a SubGear XP-10. Although the SubGear XP-10 as a computer worked fine it was an entry level computer and it was time to upgrade and take advantage of the many features of a high end computer. I have only managed to use the VTX for about 10 dives but as a computer it works great. The OLED screen is easy to read even during night dives with no need to press a button to get the back light to turn on, I have been keeping the brightness at 40% and it was still easy to read during a night dive. The menus are easy to navigate and a very simple learning curve for operating the computer.
- Air integrated
- OLED Color Screen
- Digital Compass
- Bluetooth integration
- Dual algorithm
- Nitrox compatible
- 3 button navigation
- Automatic altitude compensation
There are many more features, including multiple deep stop settings, and alarms, safety stop countdown timer.
This is the first air integrated computer that I have used, it appears to work very well but compared to my SPG it reads a slightly lower pressure. I would be interested to find out if there is a way to calibrate it. Overall this computer works beautifully, the screen is easy to read, the navigation is simple and it is a great choice for an upgrade if you are looking to switch to a high end computer.
- Easy to read screen
- Simple navigation
- Bright screen great for night dives
- 3 axis digital compass
- Air integrated
- Bluetooth compatible
- Downloading to computer can be a little difficult
- Battery life, depending on settings
- strap a little short if you are warring a dry-suit
Overall if you are looking for a bright colorful wrist computer with the air integration option the VTX is a great option that i suggest everyone checks out.
Check out the new video review.
Throughout my years of diving recreationally and professionally I have developed a sort of philosophy about diving. While some may think that this is a very personal, self reliant sport, that is good for people that want to be alone with their own thoughts it is actually drastically different. Although you are in an environment where communication is very limited, and you do have to have some amount of self reliance there is a very strong social aspect to diving, and that is what makes it so appealing. The greatest aspect of diving is not the beautiful environments that we are able to explore (the beautiful environments are a perk), it is the experiences that we are able to share with one another. helping another diver find a cool fish or crab or anything they haven’t seen before is one of my greatest joys. Even after the dives are done it is not uncommon to find the group of divers having a drink and sharing stories about past dives, trips, and classes. We as divers are always looking for the next great adventure or location, and the only way to really find those is to talk to other divers. The culture of diving is largely story based, the generations of divers who discovered many of the famous dive destinations today only have these stories to share. With the increasing access to internet, video and other forms of media hopefully these stories will continue to be shared. Because in a sport/hobby that limits communication we as divers yearn for interaction and sharing of our stories.
I would like to Pose a few question for any divers who might read this because I think it is one of the best you can ask. Feel free to answer in the comments, I want to know where you think I should go.
Where is your favorite place to dive?
Favorite dive site?
If you could only go on one more dive trip where would you go?
I had the opportunity recently to try something that I have not done before as a part of this night dive. Although I have done many night dives, and even a few at South Monastery beach this one was special because we decided to complete this dive off of kayaks. With the ability to travel to our site on the kayaks we were able to greatly extend our dive time and avoid the cold temperatures of 49 degrees. The kayaks allowed us to reach one of my favorite pinnacles at South Monastery its not super far from shore but much farther than i would have preferred to swim at night. It was amazing to see one of my favorite sites in Carmel at night. The dynamic changes, the rock fish begin to stir, the crabs scurry across the rocks and sand. I managed to find a wolf eel deep in a hole that unfortunately did not want to come out and say hello. The visibility was great for a night dive close to 30ft, mainly due to the recently calm north west swell. We could not have asked for better conditions to test out our first kayak night dive. The dive was beautiful and well worth the effort of the kayaks, the true test was the end of the dive. with overcast skies it was pitch black with only the light of passing cars on the highway as a reference to shore. Aside from the normal uneasy feelings of night dives, this night dive is one of my favorites of Carmel Bay and Monastery Beach.
BCD: Zeagle Stiletto
1st Stage: Oceanic FDXI
2nd Stage: Oceanic Omega 3
Alternate: Sherwood flatline
Computer: Oceanic ProPlus X & Suunto D6 w/transmitter
Mask: Oceanic Shadow
Snorkel: Riffe Stable Snorkel
Gloves: Bare Ultrawarmth 3mm
Warm water suit: Oceanic
Cold water Suit: Bare XCS2 Pro Neoprene Drysuit
Warm water fins: Oceanic Mako fins
Cold water fins: Zeagle Recon