Tips for Choosing a Scuba Diving Mask September 14 2014

All scuba diving masks are not created equal. They are designed to fit different face shapes and sizes, so it is essential to try on masks before purchase. Sample masks with different styles and features before deciding on a purchase. The picture above labels the basic parts of a scuba diving mask. These terms are used in the following explanation.

Examine the Masks Materials
  • Before trying on a scuba diving mask, examine the materials it is made of.
  • The mask lenses should be tempered glass.
  • Avoid masks with plastic lenses, which will scratch and fog easily, and will not last as long as tempered glass.
  • Touch the mask skirt.
  • It should be made of pliable silicon, not plastic.
  • The softer and more flexible the mask skirt is, the better the mask will seal to your face, and the less likely it is to leak.
Position the Mask on Your Face
  • Hold the mask against your face with your nose in the nose pocket.
  • Do not pull the strap over your head.
  • Check to see that the flexible silicon skirt of the mask is not folded over (bottom left), and lies flat against your cheeks and forehead.
  • Make sure the mask strap is not trapped between your face and the mask skirt (bottom center) and that there is no hair under the skirt (bottom right).
  • The mask skirt should lie about halfway between the bottom of your nose and your upper lip.
Check if the Mask Seals
  • Check if the mask seals to your face properly.
  • Inhale deeply through your nose and let go of the mask.
  • The mask should stick to your face without you holding it.
  • Listen and feel for air leaking through the mask seal.
  • If air leaks in, the mask does not fit your face properly, and water will enter the mask on a dive.
  • Divers with mustaches may have difficulty finding a mask that seals over their facial hair.
  • These divers should choose the mask that lets in the least amount of air near their mustaches.
  • No air should leak in through the other areas of the mask.
  • Before diving, silicon or petroleum jelly applied to the mustache will help to plug any holes between hairs and keep water from leaking in.
Simulate a Regulator in Your Mouth
  • If the mask appears to seal, breathe in through your nose again.
  • This time, open and close your mouth to simulate the position your face will be in with a regulator in your mouth.
  • The mask should stay sealed to your face. If not, it will leak when you have the regulator in your mouth.
Put the Mask On
  • Pull the mask strap over your head.
  • The mask strap should sit just above the ears, in the same position as sunglasses.
  • Examine the skirt. This skirt should not overlap your hairline, otherwise the mask may leak.
Check the Mask for Tight Spots
  • Breathe in through your nose again.
  • Notice if the mask lens or frame touches the bridge of your nose.
  • If either of these touches, even gently, it is likely that the increased pressure of the water during a dive will force the mask painfully against the bridge of your nose.
  • Check if your nose makes contact with the bottom of the nose pocket.
  • If the mask pocket touches the bottom of your nose, the mask may press painfully against the tip of your nose during a dive.
  • If you equalize your ears by pinching your nose closed and blowing, try this with the mask in place.
  • Make sure that you can easily and comfortably pinch your nose shut through the nose pocket.
Check the Air Space Inside the Mask
  • If the mask appears to fit comfortably, examine the air space between your face and the mask's lenses.
  • The general rule is that the closer the mask sits to your face, the better.
  • The less air there is between your mask and your face, the easier the mask will be to equalize and clear.
Examine the Mask's Field of Vision
  • Look around in all directions, up, down, left and right.
  • Observe your field of vision and see if you like it.
  • Check the amount of light that gets into the mask.
  • Some divers like clear mask skirts, which allow more light into the mask, and others prefer black silicon seals that allow less.
  • By following these steps, you should be able to determine if a mask will fit both your face and your diving needs.