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Dive Equipment: Scuba Mask.


Purpose: It’s not earth-shattering news that you need a mask to see underwater. WHY you need it is that light behaves differently in water than in air, and your eyes focus according to how light behaves in air. That’s why water makes everything blurry. The mask creates an air space so your eyes can focus.

As you learned, the mask creates an air space you must equalize during descent to prevent mask squeeze. That’s why the mask must enclose your nose. Goggles, which cover only the eyes without enclosing the nose can’t be equalized. They’re fine for surface swimming (like snorkeling) but they’re not acceptable for diving.

When buying a mask, don’t skimp. Get a good one specifically designed for scuba diving that fits you properly. If you think about it, in warm water you can have a lot of fun with ONLY a mask, but if you had every piece of dive gear BUT a mask, there’d be no reason to get in the water. So.. your mask is important!

Styles: Mask styles range from simple round or oval-shaped models to more modern styles with lower internal volumes and wider fields of vision. Wraparound masks feature two panels along the sides to improve peripheral vision. The vast majority of masks you’ll choose from are lower-profile masks, which have a notched face plate and a nose pocket to allow your nose to protrude past the lens. This gets the lens closer to your face, for a wider vision field, plus makes it easy to pinch your nose for equalizing. Many wraparound type of masks incorporate low-profile design.

Features: Masks intended for scuba diving have these features:

1. Tempered-glass lens plate. If broken, tempered glass is less likely to shatter into fine, hazardous slivers.

2. Comfortable skirt with a close fit against your face and a  good seal.

3. Nose or finger pockets. To make equalizing your ears easier, a mask should have some way of letting you conveniently pinch  or block your nose.

4. Low-profile. The lower the profile of the mask, the less air you need to equalize it and to clear of it floods, but the main benefit is that it gives you a wider vision field.

5. Adjustable strap that can be locked in place.

6. Wide field of vision. This is accomplished through low profile and/or wraparound design.

Materials: Masks for scuba diving are most often made from silicon rubber. Silicone rubber is usually translucent, through manufacturers sometimes add coloring agents to make it black, or a translucent color, which is primarily to make the mask look better. Why not be stylish and functional?

At one time you could find masks made from black or colored neoprene rubber, but these have all but vanished, even in inexpensive models. This is because silicone lasts three to four times longer than neoprene, is generally softer and more comfortable, usually looks better, and doesn’t usually irritate sensitive skin. You may see neoprene masks in use, but they tend to be the exception rather than the rule.

Selection and Purchase. When buying any equipment for scuba, your two most important selection factors are fit and comfort. This is particularly true for your mask, because a mask that doesn’t fit well will leak and/or irritate you and take the fun out of the dive. You needn’t suffer for style. Dive equipment comes in enough variety that you can accommodate fit and comfort first, yet still look good.

To test a mask for a proper fit, use the ‘sniff test’. Place it gently against your face without using the strap and inhale through you nose. A properly fitting mask will pull into place by suction and stay as you inhale. if you have to push or twist the mask to make it seal, try a different one. After finding some that fit, try pinching your nose with each on to see which is easiest.

If you need visual correction, some masks accept prescription lenses. You’ll want to think about this when buying a mask, because not all masks do this readily. Talk to us to understand more, or simply call +6017-345 DIVE (dive), we can help you pick out a mask that’s right for you!

Preparation for use: Manufacturers coat new masks with a protective chemical that you need to scrub off or you won’t be able to defog the mask. To remove the film, use a soft cloth to gently scour the glass inside and out with a non-gel toothpaste or other low abrasion cleaner with fine grit that can remove the film without scratching the glass. Be sure to do this before your confirmed water dive.

Next, adjust the mask strap for a comfortable fit across the crown of your head. The strap should be snug, but not tight and make sure to close the locking device (they differ a bit from one mask to another) so it doesn’t slip.

Maintenance: Three general maintenance procedures apply to caring for all dive equipment, including masks.

1) Rince thoroughly with fresh water after each use (even in a swimming pool)

2) Keep out of direct sunlight

3) Store in a cool, dry place.

The freshwater rinse removes salt, chlorine and/or minerals that contribute to corrosion and deterioration. Rinse thoroughly as soon as possible after diving, if you can’t rinse your gears right away, it’s generally better to keep it wet that to let salt water dry on it because it’s much harder to remove salt after it dries.

Sunlight damages silicone (and especially neoprene) so avoid leaving your equipment in direct sunlight. If it has to stay out in direct sunlight at a dive site or on a boat, you can throw a beach towel over it. Dry your equipment thoroughly before storing it in a cool, dry place away from hydrocarbons and ozone.

Keep masks and other dive equipment made from silicon out of contact with neoprene. The neoprene leaches into silicone and discolors it, which doesn’t harm it functionally ,but makes it look less attractive.


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