Diving masks can be considered one of the most important pieces of equipment in a divers life. You want to have a good quality mask that fits well on your face. As the pleasure of diving comes from being able to enjoy the mesmerizing underwater scenery, there are many factors to be taken into consideration when choosing the right diving mask.
In order for a diver to pick the right diving mask, one must first get acquainted with each of the individual components that are part of a diving mask and the exact purpose for which the mask is going to be used.
Choosing the right mask
Masks are a very personal piece of equipment for a diver and it should be chosen accordingly. If a mask fits one person, it might not fit you because each person is unique and the shape and size of the head differ from one to another.
There is one simple way to test a mask before going into the water. Simply position the mask on your face without strapping it to the head, breath in through your nose and then stop holding it with your hands. If the mask stays perfectly fit on your face and you cannot feel the air going in or out, then that is the right mask for you. If you feel that the mask is not 100% sealed on your face and there are spaces where you can fit your finger around the skirt, means that the mask is not suited for you.
One other factor worth mentioning when selecting a mask is the volume of air that can fit between the lens and the skin. The higher volume provides with a wider field of view, but it takes longer to remove the water in case it gets in. The lower volume provides a more focused view and makes it easier to remove the water if it gets in.
There are other options to consider when choosing a diving mask. Besides the factors mentioned above, one can decide to select the mask based on the color of the frame, the opaqueness of the skirt, producer and so on.
Cleaning and maintaining the diving mask
Here are few tips and tricks on how to clean and maintain the mask. After purchase, to prevent unwanted fogging while diving, the interior of the mask can be scrubbed with toothpaste or a non-abrasive cleaner. But remember, if you tighten the mask too much, it will cause leakage.
There are many defogging solutions on the market that can be applied before each dive. In case you are missing them or you ran out, the traditional solution is your option. Simply use your saliva to rinse the interior of the lens and dip it into the water after that.
To always have your diving mask ready for use, always clean it with fresh water after use, be familiar with the stripe and the buckle to always be able to adjust them and make sure to store your mask in a container where light and other plastic/silicone deteriorating factors cannot enter.
Diving mask components
This is a simple breakdown and explanation of each component that is part of the diving mask. Knowing this will make your decision much, much easier.
Lens specification and configuration can be one of the biggest decisions to make. Masks most commonly have either a single or a twin lens build. Single lens diving mask does not have a frame construction across the bridge of the nose which makes it easier to equalize and can seem much more open, but it is not possible to get replacement prescription corrective lenses. Twin lens masks are often compatible with replacement prescription corrective lenses and are easy to install, following the partial or complete removal of the frame.
Multiple lens diving masks feature a window plane to either of the sides, that makes the mask feel more open and brighter, but it does little to increase the field of view as the front lenses generally provide ample peripheral vision.
The lenses on a dive mask should be made out of a tempered glass or a high-grade lightweight plastic. Standard glass shatters when under pressure that can do irreparable damage to your eyes. Tempered glass, on the other hand, is a type of safety glass that has been heated or treated chemically to withstand pressure.
The mask skirt is a simple but critical component of the diving mask. Its sole purpose is to keep the air inside and the water outside. When choosing a mask, you should make sure that the skirt is made out of high-grade silicone for the best level of sealing and comfort on the face. Silica or other plastic-based diving mask skirts are not so flexible, they are destined to warp and are less comfortable to use.
The evolution of diving brings the necessity for the diving equipment to be innovated. One feature that can be found on all the good masks is the secondary skirt. It increases the surface of sealing, comfort and significantly decreases the possibility of leaks.
Diving masks come in two formats: framed and frameless. The framed masks have a rigid frame that pieces together all the other components: lenses, skirt, buckles, and straps. They are in general bigger in dimensions, but they have the advantage that they can be dismantled for cleaning, maintaining and replacing parts.
For the frameless masks, the silicone skirt is molded around the other components to join them all together. That makes them slimline that can be very well used as backup masks since they can be easily folded into a pocket.
Straps and buckles
Straps and buckles are used to fix the mask as the size and shape of the head differ from person to person. Most of the time, the strap is made out of the same material as the skirt, but there can be exceptions. One of them could be the neoprene strap that can provide more comfort and avoid hair entanglement if you are not using a hood.
The buckle system is simple and attached to the frame of the mask. It is used to tighten or loosen the mask, based on your needs. There are numerous types of buckles made out of different materials and with different systems to prevent the strap from getting loose.
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