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What Makes a Mask Great?

A mask is your window to the underwater world so you'll want to find the right one for you.

Scuba Diving Mask
Clownfish in Anemone, Komodo, Indonesia

Just like faces, masks come in all shapes and sizes and colors. And as many different face shapes and dimensions that exist (we are all unique!)– there are an abundance of options to choose from. A great fit is the first thing that comes to mind when I think about investing in a new mask.

Before we get to finding that great fit, let’s back up just a bit. Where does one get a new mask? Surely it’s just an Amazon click away or maybe even an eBay click. Yes. And maybe you can save a few dollars. I personally would never buy a mask without trying it on because fit it so important. Our All Star Liveaboards recommendation is to go to your local dive shop. Experts in their field, local dive shops have access to most any manufacturer in the industry and will have a significant variety for you to try on first hand. You can walk in and get assistance in selecting the right mask for you. Shops are used to helping people find a good fit. They’re familiar with the different product lines and offerings to match the mask to the face.

There are several things to think about when shopping for a mask. How do you know if the mask is a good fit? First I would start with a simple test that I learned back when I started diving. Place the mask on your face, without using the strap and inhale. Does the mask stay on your face? If so, it means you have a good seal. If it falls off your face it’s obviously not a good fit. It’s can be as simple as that. If it stays on, is it comfortable? Use it with the strap. It should fit firmly to your face but not so tight as to make uncomfortable. If not keep trying them one until one feels right.

The next thing I look for is can I see through it? Since it’s made of clear glass, yes I can see through it. But think about it in the larger sense. What about the volume of the mask, the mask material and the size of the viewing area. Is it darkly colored, shallow and small? Could that be interpreted as “claustrophobic” while underwater or does the view feel comfortable? Does the mask have wide lenses and clear silicone sides? If so you get lots of light into the mask while diving and have more peripheral viewing ability. One lens, two lenses – find your preference.

If your mask is all about function, you can stop reading here. If not, read on!

Next, I consider color. Hey, who doesn’t want to be color coordinated? It might sound girly but also when you’re out diving on a boat with lots of divers, that bright yellow, blue, pink or red mask is easy to find in a sea of wet gear! If you’re doing any underwater modeling for your dive buddy with a camera you’ll want to be color coordinated.

Lastly, look at the price. Does it fit into your budget? If I’ve found what I believe to be the right mask, for me the price doesn’t matter too much. If taken care of, kept clean and stored correctly, a mask can last for many, many years. Consider it one of the most important investments for your sport. A mediocre mask can not only ruin a dive but an entire scuba diving vacation. A great mask is as they say…priceless.