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Welcome to Dive Gear Reviews, a comprehensive guide to scuba diving equipment. Scuba diving is an expensive pursuit, so looking up reviews for a particular article of equipment is a wise precaution before investing any hard-earned money in it. However, consumer reviews may or may not be written by an experienced diver, and magazine reviews could be suspect due to the advertising ties of the publication in question. Dive Gear Reviews provides cross-referenced reviews assembled by an expert, making it possible to see at a glance what multiple sources said about a particular piece of scuba equipment. If one magazine loved a scuba regulator or a dive computer, but the consumers hated it, that information will be found here.

Product Guide: How to Fit and Buy Dive Masks

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Product Guide: How to Fit and Buy Dive Masks Posted in: Dive Gear Tips, Dive Masks, Scuba Product Guides
dive mask

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A dive mask is often the first piece of equipment a scuba diver adds to his kit for a handful of reasons. A good mask is relatively inexpensive, making it easier to acquire than a dive computer or scuba regulator. Also, a poorly fitted rented dive mask can easily ruin a dive trip, and a dive mask is easily put to use  in casual snorkeling. Essentially, it is a cheap piece, flexible of dive gear that helps ensure enjoyable dives. However, just like any piece of scuba gear that a diver buys for his own kit, a dive mask needs to be carefully chosen.

The Fit
The foremost issue for any dive mask is how it fits. A poor fit means not just an uncomfortable mask, but a mask that leaks. Too many divers who completed OW training at a cracker jack course on vacation have not received basic pointers on how to test a dive mask for a good fit, buy a poor-fitting mask, and try to compensate by tightening the mask straps. To test the fit of a dive mask, place it on your face without placing the strap behind your head, and inhale a little air through your nose. The point is to see if the mask stays on your face without the strap by virtue of just a little pressure, so do not suck hard and pull in a lot of air, since only the worst fit will fail the test if you do so. If the dive mask stays put, then it will stay put with just a little underwater pressure. I’ve seen casual divers who were unaware they had bought the wrong mask or size of mask for years, so this fitting test is not as elementary or as well-known as it might seem.

Because the fit is so important, Dive Gear Reviews urges you to not buy dive masks from an online retailer. You really do need to go to a brick and mortar store and try a new mask on in person, and preferably buy the very same mask you tried. No online discount is worth the risk of buying a mask that fits poorly.

Features and Accessories
Many scuba diving publications emphasize extra features, such as purge valves or side-view lenses. These widgets are nice if you want to pay for them, but these extras are entirely secondary concerns. With a good fit, your mask shouldn’t need a purge valve.  The improvements to viewing that so many magazine reviews trumpet are all in the realm of peripheral vision, so in terms of a diver’s overall real ability to see, the range of vision is really improved by a tiny fraction. These things are nice, but not worth spending an extra $50 on, especially if you are on a budget.

The dive mask strap pad, on the other hand, is an accessory worth every penny. This inexpensive item improves your mask in two ways. If you dive in warm water, the pad prevents your strap from becoming entangled in your hair, and in general the pad stops the mask strap from becoming twisted as you put it on. The mask also has a larger surface area, which establishes more grip against a neoprene hood. Before acquiring a strap pad, I sometimes suffered having my mask strap wash up and off the back of my hood after going over the side of a boat, and later discovered that the only thing keeping my mask on my face was its fit (see how important a good fit can be in the field!). Since adding a strap pad, that hasn’t happened. For many divers, the strap pad is one of those little, understated things they swear by. The dive mask strap pad really is one of those accessories that once you have it, you will wonder how it is you ever got by without it.