Scuba masks are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes each offering a varying field of vision. The two most common styles of scuba masks offer either a 3-pane or a 4-pane lens. The 3-pane lens offers a single front lens with left and right side windows. A 4-pane scuba mask separates the front lens into two pieces and includes the left and right side windows. The style of scuba mask you choose will depend on your level of comfort with your field of vision while wearing the scuba mask. Some scuba divers prefer the single front lens because the frame does not impede their vision while looking side to side; other scuba divers prefer the 2-pane front lens because the style and comfort is similar to wearing sunglasses.
The shape of the scuba mask and the silicone skirt on the mask must conform to the shape of your face to provide you with a comfortable fit. Ensuring the silicone skirt is a high-grade, flexible silicone can help to ensure the scuba mask conforms to the shape of your face and the long life of your scuba mask. Some people are allergic to different types of rubber, if you have an allergy to rubber, be sure to choose a silicone scuba mask because silicone is hypoallergenic. Always talk to your scuba diving gear retailer about the alternatives available to you.
When trying on scuba masks you will notice the different shapes of the nose pockets. The nose pocket protects and cushions your nose, helps to keep your scuba mask from fogging during a dive and helps you to maintain equalization. Ensure the size and shape of your nose pocket is comfortable; not too tight and not too large. This will improve not only the comfort of your scuba mask, but your ability to purge your mask efficiently.
There are increasingly different styles of scuba mask straps on the market. You may like the factory issue strap on your scuba mask or you may want to purchase a separate strap. Scuba mask straps are available in a single strap or a double strap design. The single strap should wrap around the centre of the back of your head. The benefit of the double strap is that you can position the top strap on the upper part of your head and the bottom strap on the lower part of your head to offer extra stability and comfort. Most scuba mask straps are rubber or silicone and fasten with a post-hole belt enclosure. Newer scuba masks offer a slide-lock type enclosure, which allows you to adjust the scuba mask quickly and easily when wearing the mask.
Scuba masks are constantly improving. If you wear prescription glasses or contact lenses on a daily basis you can purchase a scuba mask without having to wear your glasses or contact lenses under your mask. Many manufacturers will create custom scuba masks which include your prescription in the front lens.
A good sign you have chosen the right scuba mask for your face is when the mask stays on your face comfortably without using the straps to hold it in place. You should try this simple test with each scuba mask you try on for the first time:
- Place the scuba mask over your eyes and mouth ensuring the mask is in the correct position.
- Take a quick, light breath in through your nose and immediately start to breathe through your mouth as if you are scuba diving. This will create a slight suction between the scuba mask and your face. The scuba mask should stay on your face. If you must push the scuba mask against your face, or inhale repeatedly to help the mask stay on your face, the mask is not a good fit.
- Keep the scuba mask on your face for approximately one minute. This will help you to determine how tight the seal is and how comfortable the mask is on your face.
- Exhale gently through your nose to release the seal on your scuba mask and remove the mask from your face.
There should be no mark on your face from the scuba mask. If there is a red line around your face from the seal of the mask, the seal was too tight or the mask is not the proper size for your face. Try the test a second time. If you still have a red mark on your face after you remove the mask, you need to continue your search for a scuba mask. Remember, a good scuba mask is one that’s comfortable, doesn’t leak and is easy to use.