One of the best parts of diving is being able to see all of the beautiful creatures and scenery around you, and in order to be able to do that you need to have a well fitted mask. As those of you who have had leaky masks know, there is nothing worse than having to constantly clear your mask. In order to help you make an educated decision on the best mask for you, we will be discussing the main parts of masks, the different types of masks, how to make sure your mask fits, and our top mask recommendation!
Most masks have four main parts, and each serves an important purpose.
The lens on a mask can be made of either plastic or tempered glass. Within the mask lens there are a series of differences, for instance some of these differences are lens shape, lens size, window style, and tint. Every diver has their own preferences for each of these parameters, and lens style is one of the biggest things that can affect a mask selection.
Another consideration when selecting the correct mask for you is the nose pocket. The nose pocket is incredibly important in any dive mask as it is primarily how divers equalize their ears. You want to make sure that you have plenty of room in your nose pocket for the mask to sit comfortably on your face and that you are able to use it to clear your ears.
The next important part of a mask is the skirt of the mask. This kind of skirt is not the kind you wear on your waist, but the kind that keeps your mask from flooding with water. Usually made of silicone the mask skirt creates a seal to your face while your dive. The skirt is also where you can add a more aesthetically pleasing aspect to your dive, as silicone comes in many different colors to allow for more personalization.
The final important part of a mask that we will be talking about is the head strap. This is a very basic part of a mask, but it is one of the most important parts of the mask. The head strap is what holds the mask onto your face and what you need to adjust to make sure that the mask properly fits you and is comfortable so that you can have a safe, fun dive. The head strap should fit loose enough that it slides a bit over your hair and does not feel overly tight. Most masks head straps can easily become tangled in hair and can be slightly uncomfortable for some divers. In order to circumvent this issue, there are neoprene straps on the market, which can go around the strap to help minimize the discomfort and hair tangling.
Fitting a mask
When you have found a mask that you like, you need to be sure that it properly fits you. After our over thirty years of experience, we have found what we believe is the best way to fit a mask is to put the mask on your face, without your head strap on, and lean your head back. Without holding the mask to you face, take your finger and trace it around the edges. If you have no gaps, now breath in gently and look forward to determine if the mask creates a seal. If at any point the skirt of the mask does not lay flat on your face and gaps up, the mask does not fit, and you need to keep looking.
Other Aspects That Can Affect Choice
What we covered above are not all of the characteristics that affect your mask choices and each person has other variables that they need to account for when selecting the best mask for you. For example, divers who require vision correction might want to look into getting a prescription mask, and this can reduce the available selections.
Our Instructor Recommendations
We always recommend that divers get the mask that properly fits them, regardless of brand. However, we do recommend the OMS Tribe for a variety of reasons. The OMS Tribe sports a double skirt in order to lower the chances of your mask flooding but, if it does flood, the mask is low volume, making it easier to clear. This mask also fits closer to the diver’s face allowing for excellent peripheral vision. The OMS Tribe also comes in two versions, the Standard Tribe and the Tattoo Tribe, which fits a slightly wider face.