A well-fitting mask is arguably the most important accessory you have under the water. Why? Because it’s the lone barrier between you and everything you came to enjoy.
If your mask doesn’t fit right, you might be spending hours fiddling with it when you should be focused on your environment, blinking repeatedly as the water seeps in or trying to ignore the growing pressure along your forehead and temples. In other words, a mask that isn’t just right is a really annoying — and potentially dangerous — distraction.
The good news is that a mask is also one of the lesser expensive items to replace compared to your other gear. Finding a good one isn’t terribly difficult to do, provided you follow a few key steps.
If possible, ask for help from a diving pro shop — they’ll get you started on ensuring that the mask you selected is just right for your face.
Full Face Dive Mask or Partial?
Once a thing for only military and tech divers, full face masks are becoming more popular with sport and recreational divers. Now you can choose a traditional mask that covers just your eyes and nose or you can go with a full face mask. So what is a full face mask?
Full Face Mask:
Just like it sounds, a full face mask covers your whole face, including your mouth and nose. It eliminates the need for an external regulator and mouthpiece, allowing you to breathe normally, just like you would above water. Some have the second stage regulator built-in, whereas other models allow you to connect your existing second stage reg to it.
The advantages of a full face mask are ease of breathing, greater visibility, protection from cold, pollution and stings, a more secure fit — and you can communicate easily with other divers if it includes a communication device! Learn more about full face masks on our earlier post.
Full face masks cost more than traditional masks; however, if you purchase one with an integrated second stage regulator, it will be comparable to a high-quality traditional mask and regulator.
If you’re not ready for that kind of investment or you want to be able to snorkel with your mask, then stick with a high-quality traditional mask.
How To Find the Right Mask for Your Face
These tips apply to both traditional and full face masks, although you’ll want to consider the regulator and communication setup if purchasing a full face mask.
- Consider your gender and face shape first. If you’re a female, your face is likely smaller and narrower than a male’s so choose a mask that’s designed for smaller faces like this Aeris Europa 3 Scuba Mask.
- When you first put your mask on, remove the strap completely, or at least adjust it so that it’s on your head as loosely as possible. The strap shouldn’t be doing the work of keeping a mask on your face — the water pressure should. See if the mask is sealed to your face without the strap (and without having to suck air into your nose) to ensure you’re on the right track.
- Make sure the skirt sticks comfortably around your face.
The “skirt” is the rubbery part of the mask that actually attaches to your face, so when you try it on, make sure that it’s completely centered and the nose pocket fits comfortably. You should be able to pinch your nose with the mask on. Does the skirt feel too tight or too loose anywhere?
- How tight is the seal? Even the tiniest leak can mean you’ll be constantly emptying it. If you have facial hair, you may have to use a little silicone gel to create a waterproof seal.
- Consider the skirt color. Lighter colored skirts tend to let in more light and give you slightly more peripheral vision. Underwater photographers tend to prefer darker skirts because it reduces the flash they see.
- Forget looks. It’s tempting to go for the mask that’s the most eye-catching, but looks have nothing to do with how well a mask will perform underwater. Make sure it fits first and then you can concentrate on appearance.
- Consider some “upgraded” features. Yes, fit is the most important, but you can start looking at other features that can come in handy. Some have some sweet features — like a no fog lenses, vision enhanced coatings and better peripheral visibility due to multiple lenses. Frameless masks like this Atomic Venom Frameless Mask offer “UltraClear Lenses” that contain no tint like some other mask lenses.
- Replace often. At the first sign of trouble, replace your mask. Having a well-fitting mask for every dive — and not just your first one — will ensure many logged hours of underwater fun, with no distractions.
Check out our huge inventory of dive masks. If you live in the Dallas area, swing by our shop in Carrollton and we’ll help you find the best mask for your needs.
Any other mask fitting tips you can share? Let us know in the comments section below!
Finding the Dive Mask That Fits
A leaky or uncomfortable mask can ruin a dive trip. Here we provide a slew of dive mask fit tips so you can make sure you buy the right mask for your needs.