Diving Masks Too Many To Choose From

The Scuba diving mask is the most integral park of diving equipment and usually one of dive mask 5the first pieces of equipment a diver buys.  There are no shortage of mask to choose from with a variety of options, from skirt color, number of lenses, lens colors and strap styles.  Despite all of these variations the most important feature of any mask is fit and comfort.  The fit and comfort of a mask is a personal decision but these other options for mask style can help narrow down which masks to start with when choosing a mask.

Skirt Color:

The first and most obvious variations of a mask is the skirt colors.  All mask intended for diving use high quality silicone that is made to be durable, soft and long lasting.  With clear silicone mask they allow a lot of light into the mask providing a wide open feeling, this is a very common option for starting divers.  Some diver may notice that allowing the light into the mask may cause a visible reflection inside the mask which may be distracting.  Black or solid colored mask prevent the excess of light through the skirt of the mask, this can cause a feeling of tunnel vision which may be detrimental for those that are susceptible to claustrophobia.  Free divers, spear fishermen, and photographers tend to prefer solid colored or black silicone mask because they block this light and allow for the eyes to adjust to lower light conditions much quicker.

Number of Lenses:

The lens is a very integral part of the diving mask and provides the template for which the shape of the mask is formed.  The two most common mask lenses are either a single lens design, a dual lens design and a panoramic design.  All are effective and functional as a mask lens and provide their own positive and negative aspects.  The single lens design provides an unobstructed field of vision, allowing for a wide open feeling for the user, it also usually brings the frame of the mask lower on the bridge of the nose that for some people can cause uncomfortable contact that could become very uncomfortable.  The dual lens design generally will allow more nose space because of the separation of the lenses that can be more comfortable for some, this separation of the lenses can cause a obstruction or blind spot that can be noticeable for some divers.  The panoramic design provide peripheral windows on the side of the mask and can be paired with single and dual lens mask.  This style of mask increase the field of view for divers while also increasing the air volume inside the mask.  Some divers prefer this more because of the open  field of view.

Framed or Frameless:

Frameless mask are growing in popularity, these mask remove the plastic frame from the design and have the silicone wrapped directly around the lens.  This design is popular because it reduces the volume of the mask and potential for parts that can break.  The downside of the frameless mask is in instances of prescription lenses there are only the option to have lenses bonded into the mask.  Traditional framed mask in some styles have replaceable lenses that can be installed to accommodate standard vision correction.   Some of these mask designs can be either very high volume or low volume in design covering a very wide assortment of styles.

High or Low Volume:

In diving the volume or air space in a mask is something that has evolved since its inception where mask originally had a very high volume with large windows for a greater viewing space.   As technology has evolved the mask and the rise of popularity in free diving the low volume mask has increased in popularity.  Low volume mask require a lower amount of air and effort to clear the mask when flooded and equalize the airspace, which is very important when free diving, but not so much when diving.  Because divers have a supply of air it is ok to use more air to equalize the air space or clear the mask when flooded.  Both are suitable options for divers, but those that might be looking for a dual purpose ideal for free diving might look for a mask with a lower volume.

Lens Color:

Lens colors are options traditionally taken on by spear fishermen, using colored lenses to help the eyes adjust to low light conditions, when looking under ledges and into crevices.  The most common lens colors are clear, amber/yellow, and HD lenses.  Clear lenses are the most common and virtually all mask come with this standard option.  The amber/yellow lenses are found in spear fishing/ free diving low volume mask, these mask like yellow lenses for snow skiing help the eyes adjust to low light conditions, ideal for searching for fish in holes, crevices and under ledges.  the HD lens is a pigmented lens that is used to restore color lost with depth.  These lenses often have a mirrored appearance from the front and generally have a red or rose pigment to the lens itself.  Lens color is a less common option for most mask designs and generally are specific to higher quality mask designs.

Mask Straps:

The silicone mask strap is the most widely offered standard for diving mask, some select mask offer neoprene mask straps.  The silicone mask strap commonly offers more easily adjustable straps for quick and fine adjustments, while the neoprene mask although nicer for longer hair can be adjusted but not as easily or on the fly.  With this being said any mask can be outfitted with a neoprene strap either by replacing the entire mask strap or a cover that slides onto the mask strap.

Conclusion:

With many different considerations in choosing a mask it is important to note that the fit and comfort of the mask are the most important factors.  These additional options of silicone color, number of lenses, frameless/framed, high/low volume, lens color, and type of strap these are secondary considerations when choosing a mask, there are many mask out there and a mask to fit each face.

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Zeagle Scope Mono Review

The Scope line of mask from Zeagle is their first ever release of any masks.  While Zeagle is most well known for their high quality rugged BCD’s and along with the recent release of the Zeagle Recon Fins they have broken ground into the soft gear market.

The Scope line of dive masks includes the Dual and Mono masks.  The obvious difference between the two is the number of lenses, the dual is a two lens mask while the mono is a single lens mask.  Some of the features of each mask include:

Scope Dual:Zeagle Scope Mono

  • Replaceable lenses
  • Color lens frame kit options
  • Standard silicone straps

Scope Mono:

  • Frameless mask design
  • Low volume
  • Elastic soft ski goggle style strap standard

The straps for the masks can be interchangeable using a Allen screw design similar to the Zeagle recon fin straps.

Now while I have been fortunate enough to test both mask I have much more experience with the Scope Mono Mask.  While mask are a personal fit everything said is subject to my opinion and personal experience with the mask and may be different for another person.

What I like about the Zeagle Scope Mono mask,  because of the single lens design this mask provides a very wide field of view giving the person waring it a very open feeling for a black silicone mask.  There is a very wide set nose pocket on the mask providing extra space for those with larger noses despite the single lens design, I have a moderately large nose and found only making contact from the bridge when I excessively suck air from the mask or am unable to equalize the airspace.  For those with excessively large noses i would recommend the Scope Dual.  I was skeptical of the mask strap but found it fairly easy to adjust and with the amount of stretch never felt excessively tight.

Problems I have with the Zeagle Scope mono, the first issue i noticed with the mask was that it was relatively narrow for my face.  I was still able to get the mask to seal on my face but did feel narrow at least compared to my goto mask the Oceanic Shadow.  I also found that with the Scope Mono if i had neglected to shave for a couple of days the mask would begin to leak excessively, this was a annoying problem during a dive but easy to avoid once i figured out the cause.  Another issue that was easily remedied was the attached snorkel keeper on the mask strap.  Fortunately the snorkel keeper is removable unlike some other ones on similarly designed mask straps.  I found all of these problem to be minor issues and easily dealt with.

Overall I very much enjoyed using the Zeagle Scope Mono mask, it is a comfortable low volume mask with a wide field of view that had a surprisingly comfortable strap for diving with and without a hood.  This is definitely a mask that I will be adding to my active rotation of mask.

 

Check out the Video Review on Youtube Click Here

Tips for Diving with a Mustache

A moustache or any facial hair can be a serious problem if you are a diver.  The problem generally lies with the sealing of a mask to the face.  Now if you are a person that believes shaving is absolutely not an option then there are a couple tips for diving with a mustache.

Divers Cut:  The divers cut is a simple solution of shaving the top 8th of the mustache under the nose in order to give the mask some skin to seal agains.  Because this is a way to trim the mustache unfortunately this look does not suit every diver, but it is a good solution for a leaky mask when you have a mustache.

Scuba Surface 2Chapstick, Vaseline, Silicone: For those that are unwilling to trim their mustache and sport the divers cut, this is another option.  All of these are viable options for getting a mask to seal, they will generally leave a residue on the mask and mustache after the dive.  Some divers claim that some of these options can degrade the silicone but i have been unable to find any evidence of this.  This option does work as well as the divers cut but requires a diver to remember to bring their chosen mustache sealant. Note: if you do choose to use silicone my recommendation is silicone grease used for diving related lubrication.  Most divers will have some in their save a dive kit.

O Natural:  This is probably the least appealing option, fortunately there is a natural way our body can help us remedy a leaky mask.  Im sure all divers have experienced the accumulation of snot at the end of the dive.  This is my solution for diving with a mustache.  This remedy does not solve the problem immediately and your mask will leak for the first part of the dive but once the snot builds up a bit it will seal like there is no mustache at all.  Some people do find this the most unappealing solution, but every diver comes up with mucus on their face so why not use it, and you never have to remember to bring it with you.

In conclusion there is no reason to sacrifice a well established mustache for diving, there are many solutions to ensure a well sealed mask when sporting a mustache.

 

Tips for Finding the Perfect Mask

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

IMG_0494Keep in mind that many of these features are secondary to finding a mask that fist well.

 

My Equipment

My Gear: SCUBA

BCD: Zeagle Stiletto

Cold water Suit: Bare Sentry Pro Dry Neoprene Drysuit

1st Stage: Oceanic FDXI

2nd Stage: Oceanic Omega 3

Alternate: Oceanic Omega 2

Computer: Oceanic ProPlus X & Suunto D6

Mask: Oceanic Shadow

Back Up Mask: Zeagle Scope Mono

Snorkel: Riffe Stable Snorkel

Cold water fins: Zeagle Recon

Gloves: Bare Ultrawarmth 3mm & Bare Ultra Warmth 5mm

Warm water suit: Bare 3/2 Anniversary edition

Warm Water BCD: Zeagle Express Tech

Warm water fins: Oceanic Mako fins

Pool BCD: Oceanic Ocean Pro

Pool 1st stage: Zeagle F8

Pool 2nd Stage: Zeagle F8

Pool Alternate: Sherwood Slimline

Pool Computer: None SPG only

Freediving Equipment

Wetsuit: Wettie 5mm Comercial / Wettie 7mm comercial

Socks: Wettie 7mm Socks

Fins: DiveR Carbon Fiber fins

Gloves: Bare Ultrawarmth 3mm

Mask: Seadive Seafire ultra HD mask

Snorkel: Oceanic Enzo J tube

Computer: Suunto D5

Speargun: JBL competitor/ Koah 34 reef roller

Float: XS Scuba UFO

Light: BigBlue AL1200NP