Choosing a new dive mask can be a case of just picking the latest thing out or if you’re feeling frivolous, why not grab the fanciest one? Truth is, often the newest and fanciest are great masks and pack some really great features. It helps to know what they are for and which will suit your personal preferences.
Most dive masks now are silicone; the seal (skirt) and nose pocket, so that they are comfortable and last a long time. Clear silicone is great for letting the light into your mask, but can offer distractions. Black is the best for a long-lasting “new look” and makes sure that what you can see is very easy to distinguish.
It’s important that the shape of the mask and the silicone skirt will fit your face. It’s important to note that almost any mask will work for most people, so consider which will fit you better and try to choose from these.
Mask Features: Frame types
Some masks have a plastic or metal frame. Frames are great for supporting purge valves and make for a much sturdier mask. A sturdy mask is less likely to break in your dive bag or from say being stood on or getting under a dive tank. A “Frameless” dive mask is quite simply a large, normally one piece of tempered glass, with the moulded silicone skirt attached directly to the glass. i.e. no plastic or metal frame. These masks offer normally a superior view, are more streamlined and less bulky. Often a frameless mask will pack away easier too.
Mask Features: Twin Lens or Single Lens.
A Dive Mask will either have a piece of glass in front of each eye “twin lens”, or a larger single lens. This affects your field of view and the strength of the mask as explained above. On occasion you will find a twin lens mask that has options for prescription lenses. If you wear glasses and would prefer not to fiddle with contact lenses while scuba diving (this can be tricky by the way), a twin lens mask with prescription lenses might suit you.
Side windows & Volume
Some masks have side “windows” to increase your peripheral vision. Often popular and liked by many who’ve purchased one. The volume of your mask is the air space inside. Mostly spoken about for freediving spearfishing; having a low volume mask means that when you descend, there’s less air needing to be expelled through your nose to equalise the mask. SCUBA Divers and re-breather divers like a low volume mask sometimes also but mostly benefit from the less bulk and more streaming. Side windows generally increase the mask volume as with a purge valve but this is much less of an issue for SCUBA Divers.
What is a Purge Valve?
A purge valve on your dive mask is a one-way valve at the bottom of the nose pocket. A purge valve makes is easier to purge any water that inevitably enters any mask at some point. All that’s needed is to have your face looking forward and slightly down so that the mask is at 45 degrees. When this happens and you blow out your nose at the same time, any water in your mask will be forced out the purge valve.
Coloured & Mirrored lenses.
Believe it or not, a dive mask with coloured and/mirrored lenses do much more that make you look cool. Some coloured lenses help to bring colour back that disappears as you descend, others help to reduce glare thus increasing your visibility. Mirrored lenses will do this also. Another popular inclination is to use mirrored lenses so that marine life cannot see your eyes. This helps when working on close-up photography and when spearfishing as your eyes and eye movements increase your likeliness of disturbing your subjects or prey. A Dive Mask with mirrored lenses stops your eyes from being seen.
We hope the description helps with any of your questions around dive masks and makes purchasing a dive mask from our store a more informed experience.
For personalised advice and assistance, visit our Wellington Dive Shop. We’re open 8am to 5pm every day, one of the staff will be happy to help you select the right dive mask or anything else you need.