As we wrote on the post related to assemble our diving equipment, the mask is the component of our scuba gear that allows us to have a better vision underwater. Unfortunately, our eyes are not able to focus while they are in contact with water, they only can do it with air. That’s the main reason why we need a scuba mask that creates an airspace to allow our eyes to a properly vision.
Components and materials
Basically, the scuba masks have three main components:
A clear faceplate or lens. For safety reasons, the lenses must be made with tempered glass or really strong, high-quality composite materials. The faceplate can be integrated per one, two or multiple lenses:
- One lens masks: because there is no solid nose bridge dividing the front window, this lens provides an unobstructed view of the underwater world.
- Two lenses masks: the main characteristic of these masks is that the glass is closer to your eyes, which can increase field of view, and also helps keep the mask’s internal volume low for easy clearing. Probably the best option for those who may want to install prescription lenses.
- Multi-lens masks: they add side windows to the one or two lens options to increase peripheral vision and to let in more light.
A rubber sealing skirt. Nowadays, the traditional neoprene has been replaced by silicone in almost all mask skirts. Usually, divers prefer clear silicone; however some choose the black option, especially photographers because it reduces stray light when looking through a viewfinder.
A strap to hold the mask. Must be adjustable, so can be locked in place. The most common option to do it there are buckles that we can snug or release.
Styles and features
Mask styles had evolved from the old oval-shaped models to the modern ones that incorporate a combination of lower internal volume and wide fields of vision.
The best option for lower internal volume are the low-profile masks. These have a nose pocket that allows the lens to be closer to the face and, at the same time are easy to clear and equalize.
If we want a really wide field of vision, wraparound masks are our selection. They have two additional panes along the side of the mask for a better peripheral vision. The problems are that wraparound scuba masks are a little bit more difficult to clear and equalize than low-profile ones due to a bigger internal volume.
Once we have chosen the materials and style, there are a few more features that we can add to our mask.
- Feathered skirt edges to make your mask more comfortable.
- Purge valves make clear the mask easier.
- Strap adjustment to get the right fit.
- Double skirt to provide a second seal.
- Heads up displays with built in electronics.
- Special lenses to prevent fogging and/or to make colors look better underwater.
Choose our scuba mask
Finally, we have all the information about materials, styles and features and we already know which ones we prefer in our mask it’s time to choose one. At this moment, the most important is that the mask must fit properly and be comfortable, also if that means spend a little bit more money or sacrifice a feature.
The process to check if a mask fits is quite simple:
- Loop the strap in front of the face plate
- Place the mask against your face
- Inhale gently through your nose
- Turn or shake your head
- The mask should keep in place without losing suction or coming loose
Final advice, if you don’t want to spend money buying a new mask quite often you have to take properly care of it before and after every dive.