HERE’S THE THING… IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO CHOOSE THE PERFECT DIVING MASK ONLINE
So, why do we sell them on this website?! Well, some people know exactly what they need. They’ve tried some on and know how to check if a diving mask fits. If you’re feeling a bit stuck then Jim is here to help you choose the perfect scuba diving mask! Here’s the honest truth.
GET IT ON, GET IT WET…
The bottom line is, if you’re not sure about a mask, you need to try it on. Get yourself down to your local dive centre and try the good old suck test. Jim shows you how to do it in the video above. Even the suck test isn’t perfect – your face changes shape as you’re doing things like putting your regulator or snorkel in your mouth. As you move, it can let water leak in. But this is as close as you’re going to get staying dry.
TAKE IT FOR A TEST DIVE
If you get the chance, the best thing to do is jump in the water with a mask that’s passed the suck test. If you’re local to us (or you fancy a trip to bonny Northumberland!) you are more than welcome to jump in our training tank. We’ve got demo units of all the kit we sell, including masks so you can get in the water and really put them through their paces.
DON’T OVERTIGHTEN IT
Beginner divers often make the mistake of overtightening their masks. This can cause leaks just as much as a loose mask can! It also proper knacks the bridge of your nose and you’ll get the mick taken out of you for having a red mark where the mask was! The best thing to do is to get in the shallows, start off with your mask strap nice and loose and put your face in the water. If your mask has an amazing fit, you can pretty much dive it without tightening it at all! If you find there’s some little leaks as you move your face, then gradually tighten it up, one click at a time – make sure you’re keeping it even on both sides. Do this until the leaks stop and you’ll have your perfect setting.
IF YOU CAN’T GET IT WET…
Then we can give you some hints and tips to help you find a good fitting scuba mask.
FORGET ABOUT THE PRICE TAG
Easy for us to say, we know. But the honest truth is that cheap scuba masks are cheap quality and in order to choose the perfect scuba diving mask, you need to ignore the price initially. Cheap masks have uncomfortable silicone and compared to more expensive models, we’ve found they don’t fit as many faces. So, you could risk it for a biscuit and buy a cheap mask online. If it fits then you’ve scored – buy another one as a back up quick! But in our experience, when we buy cheap, we buy twice. If you take it underwater and it starts leaking, you’ll not be able to enjoy the dive. And because it’s been in the water, you won’t be able to return it. We find that those who buy higher-end masks have more chance of a good fit, even if they’ve taken a punt.
WHAT’S YOUR FACE SHAPE?
If you know you’ve got a narrow face, keep an eye out for masks that specify they’re small or midi. These will be much better for you. Some of our divers even opt for kids masks!
If you’ve got a wide face or a bigger nose, look for larger framed masks that tend to have more volume. There are exceptions to this of course! Some manufacturers have somehow captured the best of both worlds and managed to get wide masks with low volume.
Find masks with a double skirt. This makes it more likely to create a good seal and fit more faces.
It’s hard to come buy a mask that fits everybody. Whenever we’re asked for recommendations, we always go for the Apeks VX1. All The Honest Diver team wear it from Nic with a pea head to Harry and his big heed. When we give the VX1 to our students at The Fifth Point, 9 times out of 10 it fits like a glove and it’s one of our best sellers because of that!
WHAT ABOUT ALL THE FEATURES…
There are so many different features that manufacturers rave about. Some of them are a bit gimmicky, but that’s for you to make up your mind! Let’s talk about the most important ones.
There’s two main designs when it comes to lenses on scuba diving masks – framed or frameless. Then we get fancy features like side panels to give panoramic views. If you wear glasses and need a prescription, you’re pretty much stuck with the framed masks. With this design, it’s easier to pop out the glass and replace it with your prescription. If that’s not an issue, then your choice is purely down to personal preference. People bang on about the pros and cons of each design, try it on and see how it feels!
Look for buckles that are simple to use – especially if you’re diving in cold water. Billy big buttons are the king when you’ve got to try and operate them using thick gloves!
There’s two main types of silicone you can get – clear and solid colour. Just like with lens choice, divers love to argue over which is the best option. Again, it’s personal preference. We honestly don’t notice much difference – clear silicone lets a little bit more light in, whereas a solid skirt blocks it out. Which you prefer is up to you and you’ll find out when you try it on!
This is more a consideration for the lasses (and lads with long hair of course!). You might want to think about investing in a slap strap to make it a bit comfier. The silicone strap can pull your hair a bit as you’re taking the mask on and off. If you’re cold water diving and wearing a hood then it’s not an issue!
A MASK CAN MAKE OR BREAK YOUR DIVE…
It’s worth spending a bit of time finding the right one for you. There’s nowt worse than an uncomfortable, leaky mask underwater. You can’t enjoy the dive because you’re distracted.
We hope our little guide has helped you choose the perfect scuba diving mask, if you’ve got any more questions then get in touch! We’d love to help.