Choosing the right scuba diving mask for you is essential for a great diving experience; you dive for what you see! Let’s explore together the essentials of scuba diving masks and choose the best mask for you.
** Disclaimer: I’ve added affiliate links to this post for you to easily find the right product for you. Using the links come at no cost to you and helps me run OceanVibration through affiliate commissions. **
The 5 elements of a scuba diving mask
Even though when looking at any mask, it may look quite simple and boring to you. Every element of a scuba diving mask has its importance and most importantly comes with its own hazards that can ruin your dive.
The diving mask skirt
Your scuba diving mask skirt is the most important part of your diving mask when choosing the right one for you.
A typical skirt nowadays is made of silicone rubber which is the most comfortable as it will mold to your face and provide the best fit. Generally speaking, you would want a mask that molds best to your face, and that means a thinner skirt.
Plastic skirts, in general from cheap masks, are an absolute no-go! They will leak, crack, and can cause allergies and rashes.
The thinner the skirt the more it will mold to the shape of your face. The only disadvantage is that it will also squeeze in on your face as you are going deeper due to that same flexibility. But worry not, good equalizing is a pillar of being a good scuba diver, and that’s what you are (or aim to be).
The color of the diving mask goes beyond the simple fashion aspect.
If you find that you tend to suffer from light claustrophobia, then a clear skirt will make you feel more at ease than a colored one. The clear skirt will let more light through and open up the space whereas a colored one will tend to give you a boxed-in feel. That said, a frameless mask will definitely (see below) take away this issue.
On the other hand, clear skirts can become a bit of a pain when diving in sunlight sandy tropical waters. The light reflected from sandy and coming from above can be blinding and tiring for the eyes.
The best option, in my opinion, is to go for a thin and colored skirt that is frameless. It will be comfortable on your face and provide the best fit. At the same time being frameless will reduce any potential feeling of claustrophobia.
Buy Cressi Z1 White
Buy Cressi Z1 Black
Buy Cressi Z1 Blue
The diving mask lens
Diving masks come in so many different flavors nowadays. From single lens to multi-lenses, you have a wide variety of choices but one thing is for sure, ALWAYS go for tempered glass for safety purposes. Again, don’t go cheap when it comes to safety.
Multi lenses masks
The field of view of a mask plays an important role when it comes to reducing claustrophobia when diving. A wider field of view will provide a greater feeling of ‘freedom’ and at the same time open up what you see underwater.
There are many brands that now provide scuba diving masks with up to four windows! Your two main front ones with an extra two for each side. Those multi-frame masks come with the same issue as the clear skirts though. You will suffer from glare on sunny dives.
I also had two friends of many complaining about dizziness after having dove with those multi-frames masks. This is because the angle where the side and front glass meets create a distorted effect in your field of vision. So it’s a no-go for me.
Single vs double lens masks
Those are the main types of scuba diving masks you will find on the market. The single has one unique glass lens whereas the double has two separate lenses with a nose bridge in the middle.
The single-lens offers the greatest uninterrupted field of view but more importantly tends to make it easier to clear your mask underwater. On the other side, the dual-lens masks have lower internal volume making it easier while you descend making it easier to equalize.
Tinted or clear glass?
Tinted diving masks lenses have become famous since spearfishing became more mainstream. The idea is to stop fish from seeing your eyes.
Not only we are not talking about spearfishing here, but also, being able to see your eyes is very important in diving. Your eyes will often say what you maybe can’t in a tough situation which will allow your divemaster to assess the state in which you are in. So stay safe, go for clear glass lenses.
The single-lens remains the best choice in my opinion with the only downside of having a little bit more volume. But we are not freediving here and as good divers equalization should not be a problem.
Only go for a double lens mask if you have medical issues reducing your ability to equalize or need prescription lenses.
Buy Apeks VX1, Black
Buy Apeks VX1, White
The diving mask strap
As one of the most looked over aspects of a scuba diving mask, the strap is really important; it keeps your mask where it should be!
Just as silicone mask skirts will best fit your face, the same goes for the strap. Silicon tends to be more flexible and just provide a better grip once in place. It is also more durable compared to the plastic alternative.
Neoprene mask strap
Most people who’ve been using it tend to love it. I never personally used it nor found the need for it. In general, it is most recommended for people with long hair as the rubber or silicone strap will definitely entangle in long hair. On the other hand, they will slip off, especially when doing your giant stride.
If you want it, get it. It is relatively cheap and can be ‘cool’ looking.
The diving mask frame
Framed diving masks
Framed diving masks are slowly disappearing, and there is a good reason why. Despite being the tried and tested version of diving masks, the framed mask has many downsides. The main one is the restricted view.
As I mentioned above, having a restricted field of view can cause anxiety and aggravate claustrophobia. Furthermore, they are heavier with a less flexible skirt, making it harder to clear the mask and adding pressure on the brow area.
Frameless diving masks
Lightweight, great field of view, and more flexible. Enough said!
There is no point moving backward, the frameless are much better and have great quality construct nowadays.
Buy Atomic Venom, Black and Grey
Buy Atomic Venom, Black and Red
Buy Atomic Venom, Black and Blue
The diving mask nose pocket
The nose pocket of your diving mask finds its importance in how easily you can pinch your nose to equalize. As all of the above recommendations are of soft and thin silicone skirts, that will not be a problem.
The silicone material makes it also perfect whichever size nose you have.
What is the difference between a cheap and expensive mask?
It is all about the quality of materials used but, of course, there is always the margin for branding.
A cheap mask will be most likely made of normal glass and a plastic skirt. Both of those are a real hazard underwater. Compared to tempered glass, in the case that the glass breaks, tempered glass will not shatter inwards whereas normal glass will. Another factor is that plastic material is less robust and will easily wear off and break when you least want it.
All in all, when it comes to buying a mask or anything to do with scuba diving, do not be a cheapo when it comes to the value of your life.
Is it safe to buy online without trying?
Generally speaking, all of the recommended masks mentioned above are safe to buy before trying. That is mainly thanks to the soft and thin mask skirt. The skirt molds to any type of face, whether fat are skinny, and they are all size fit all.
Now that you have the perfect mask for you, it is time to explore a new world with my first liveaboard experience.