Best Scuba Mask

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Having a comfortable mask that doesn’t leak is vital to your enjoyment. It’s something that you don’t want to leave to chance. There’s not always a great variety available to hire, and that’s why it’s usually the first piece of gear divers buy.

Scuba / Snorkel Masks Under Review

ScubaPro Synergy 2 Twin Lens
This mask has been optimized for comfort. The design features two skirts; the inner skirt is soft and seals to your face, the outer skirt is firmer and provides support. This design offers great comfort for extended wear, and ScubaPro claims it will fit virtually any face. It copes well with some facial hair too.

The buckles attached to the skirt for a closer fit but this design also means it packs flat. This mask is available as a single or double paned mask. It also comes in a variety of colors has a mirrored lens option too.

Things we like:

  • Excellent Fit
  • Many options to choose from

Things we don’t:

  • None!

This is the newest model from Atomic, and they’ve not held back. The silicon is ‘Gummi Bear UltraSoft’ and divers report that it can cope with a little facial hair. Regardless it delivers optimum comfort to a frameless single pane low profile mask with very wide vision.

The tempered glass is trademarked ‘Schott Superwite’ which delivers 96% of available light, which is strikingly different compared to lower quality masks. The buckles attach to the skirt which aligns for the best fit too.

Things we like:

  • Superb Vision
  • Great quality

Things we don’t:

  • Low profile can be uncomfortable for some divers

If you love the sound of the Atomic Aquatics Venom Frameless but need something cheaper, then the Atomic Frameless could be what you are looking for. The tempered glass is ultra-clear and the silicone still soft and comfortable, but there’s no sugar candy claim.

It’s low profile with great vision and comes with a clear or black skirt. The squeeze buckles are easy to use and come with color choices too. There’s a midi version of this mask that’s great for kids.

Things we like:

  • Great value frameless mask 

Things we don’t:

  • Low profile can be uncomfortable for some divers

If you’re looking for a mask that’s easy to add optical lenses to the Scuba Pro Zoom Evo will make your life very easy. It’s been designed with vision correction in mind. You can change the lenses yourself, quickly, easily, and without any special tools. The mask is double paned and low volume.

Note that you need to buy the mask and the prescription lenses separately.

Things we like:

  • Quickly and easily change to prescription lenses

Things we don’t:

  • Lenses come separately

The Cressi Panoramic has four panes to give the extra peripheral vision, and the forward lenses have a triangle shaped bottom for great downward vision.

It has a lightweight frame, and the skirt is made from quality hypoallergenic silicone. The fit favors a wide face. The push button buckles make it easy to adjust, and it comes in a range of colors.

Things we like:

  • Great peripheral vision

Things we don’t:

  • Doesn’t fit smaller or narrower faces well

As the name might suggest, this mask has been designed to offer the optimum vision in a two-paned mask. The lenses are diamond shaped, and the mask tilts towards the face at the bottom, giving great downward vision.

Cressi trademark their silicon blends as ‘High Seal Silicone’ and couple this with a skirt that has been designed to create the best fit yet still maintain an open angle. There’s a wide choice of colors, and you can even opt for mirrored lenses.

Things we like:

  • Great vision
  • Can fit prescription lenses

Things we don’t:

  • None!

The Mares X-Vu Liquidskin has a medium to large fit. It’s a two-paned mask skirted with silicon Mares call Liquidskin. Liquidskin is a quality grade designed to give a soft, comfortable seal.

The lenses have a diamond bottom, but it’s not as low volume as some similar designs. The buckles attach to the skirt, not the frame, for a closer fit without the pressure, which means a line free post dive face.

Things we like:

  • Good quality
  • Good vision

Things we don’t:

  • Larger volume, not suitable for smaller faces

The Hollis M1 has a sleek, clean, no fuss look. It’s a frameless very low profile single pane mask with great visibility. The optical quality of the lens is superb with great light transmission.

Hollis calls the glass ‘Saint-Gobian Diamant Crystal Clear Glass.’ The glass has been manufactured to remove the green tint which reduces color distortion. It performs particularly well in low light.

Things we like:

  • Great glass clarity

Things we don’t:

  • The low profile can make it uncomfortable for some faces

If you’re looking for a panoramic mask that won’t break the bank, then this is one to consider. It comes in a variety of colors, and you can opt for a black skirt too. The buckles are easy to use; they swivel and are flexible. This style of mask isn’t the best fit for narrow faces.

Things we like:

  • Good value panoramic mask

Things we don’t:

  • Not suitable for narrow faces

This mask has been designed for children, but it will also be suitable for those with small narrow faces. Children and smaller faces are often overlooked by quality manufactures, which means kids often have to put up with cheap hard silicone.

This Mares mask is based on the X- Vision so it has two raked panes and with diamond bottoms for excellent downward vision. The buckles attach to the skirt for optimum comfort and are easy for little hands to use.

Things we like:

  • Great for kids or small faces

Things we don’t:

  • Not for wide faces

How To Choose Your Scuba / Snorkel Mask

No matter whether you’re buying your first mask or replacing one, it’s important to get it right. There’s plenty of variety and some things you need to consider. Quality varies along with the price so it’s important to understand what you should consider. Below is a summary of the main mask features and the points to consider for each.

Number Of Panes

A mask can either have one, two, or three panes. A single pane does give uninterrupted vision, but it can put pressure on your forehead and the bridge of your nose.
It’s more complicated and costly to correct vision in single lens pane masks; masks models with double panes often have this feature in mind, and many produce easy to change lenses for this purpose.

Masks with two panes do tend to have lower volume than single panes, which means they are easier to clear of water and don’t require as much equalization.

Panoramic masks have a further one at each side. These let in more light and can improve peripheral vision, but some divers don’t like them because of the distortion they can cause.

To withstand pressure and impact and be safe for scuba diving lenses must be made from tempered glass. Cheaper, snorkeling only masks, do not always use this material and, for this reason, cannot be used to dive. A quality dive mask can be used for snorkeling.

Lens Shape And Angle

A diamond-shaped lens that extends with a point at the bottom will improve your downward vision making it easier to see gauges, releases, pockets, and accessories. The downside is that they can be a little harder to fully clear of water.

A mask that is designed, so it slants closer to your face at the bottom also offers greater downward vision than a pane that sits parallel to the face. This design is often referred to as ‘raked.’

Frameless Masks

A frameless mask’s skirt is molded to the lens which means it’s slimmer, packs flatter, and has a lower profile than a standard mask with a frame. These features make them easier to clear and equalize and ideal for stashing in a BCD pocket. Given their design, you can’t change the lenses to correct vision, but anecdotally they do seem to offer a better fit.

Silicone

Quality masks use silicone for the skirts and seals; softer silicone is better quality than harder types. The softness makes it more flexible, which means they’re comfier and have a better seal.

Usually, you will have the choice of black or clear silicone. Clear does let in more light, which gives you a more open feeling; black skirts can leave you feeling like you are looking through binoculars. A clear skirt also shows more of your face, which makes for better photographs.

The downside is that clear silicone will show wear and discoloration quicker than a black skirted mask. Photographers tend to prefer black silicone masks precisely because they let in less light; this means there are no reflections, and they can focus on their subject.

Purge Valve

Purge valves aren’t that common, but there are masks available with them. A purge valve is a simple valve that allows you to clear your mask by blowing into it. If you have a mask with one fitted, it means you don’t have to hold onto your mask and tip your head back too. Purge valves are useful if you have your hands full, but they can malfunction making them an area of weakness that masks without valves don’t have.

Straps And Buckles

You need to be able to adjust your mask easily but have the confidence that it’s going to hold. The fastenings need to be durable and secure.

Clips typically secure the strap at each side of your head by your temple. Some designs have the buckles fitted to the frame and others to the skirt. Buckles attached to the skirt can offer a better fit but they’re often not as durable as buckles fitted to a frame.

You need to able to use and adjust your fit underwater with one hand, i.e., without needing to take your mask off. If you dive in gloves, make sure the fastenings are still easy to use.
Straps are typically made of silicone which can tug, drag, and tangle hair. Most divers switch these out for a soft neoprene strap or use a neoprene cover over the silicone for comfort and ease.

Color

There’s a huge range of colors available. The color you have doesn’t have a bearing on comfort or fit, but it is fun. You’re free to choose something that matches your fins or wetsuit or brings out the color in your eyes! If you have a buddy with a camera, think about how you are going to look in photographs. If you’re their regular model, maybe you want to ask their opinion too.

Fogging

In new masks, fogging occurs because the manufacturer coats the lens to protect it. There are anti-fogging solutions available to buy, but most dive pros will reach for their toothpaste. Lightly rub a non-gel non-whitening toothpaste on the inside of the lens. Leave it to sit for a while and then rinse. It’s possible you will need to do it a couple of times to make sure it’s cleared.

Toothpaste works just as effectively for older masks that have suddenly started fogging, but you can also use dishwashing liquid, baby shampoo, pineapple, or good old-fashioned spit!

Leaking

A leaking mask can ruin a dive. Most people’s reaction to a leaking mask is to tighten the strap. However, a strap that’s too tight will cause a leak. It sounds counterintuitive, but loosen the strap a little to see if it helps.

Remember, as long as you don’t look up or breath out through your nose, the pressure keeps the mask on your face — an important thing to remember if your mask strap breaks. Many divers opt not to use a strap to protect their hair. Note that, in this case, they do have a cord or lanyard connecting the mask to their BCD to prevent accidental loss.

If you have facial hair, your mask cannot seal well, and it will likely leak. There are some masks with super soft silicone that cope better with a little bit of growth, but this quality of silicone puts the masks in the more expensive bracket. The other way around this problem is to apply an ample slather of mustache wax sealer to your face where the mask sits. This grease fills in the gaps around the hair and gives the mask something to seal to. Note that you can use Vaseline but, as it’s petroleum based, it can react badly with the silicone. If you use it, clean your mask thoroughly.

Determining Fit

The best way to determine proper fit in NOT by putting the mask on your face and breathing in. You can make most masks seal by sucking them to your face.  Instead, sit down, tilt your head backward 90 degrees and place the mask on your face. Have someone else look at both the inner and outer seal and see how it fits. Gently breathing in will allow you to both feel and hear how the seals perform too.

Dive stores have a limited selection of masks, so shopping online gives you the greatest choice, but this makes it hard to determine how a mask will fit. Check the returns policy before purchasing.

Budget

Costs do vary and, as with most things, you do get what you pay for. A cheaper mask is not likely to be as comfortable mainly due to the quality of silicone used. Masks do get dropped and lost, so while you should invest in your kit and buy the best you can – don’t overspend. You don’t want to take unnecessary risk to recover a dropped mask.

Maintaining your scuba mask

  • Like all dive gear, you need to make sure it’s rinsed after every use.
  • If you have used suncream or grease to help seal your mask over facial hair, take particular care that these substances are thoroughly cleaned off.
  • Most masks come with a box which offers protection, particularly when traveling.
  • Make sure your mask is dry before storing it and keep it out of direct sunlight.

Full Face Masks

As the name suggests, full face masks enclose the divers face and integrate a regulator. Using them divers breathe normally without a regulator in their mouth.

The primary benefit of this type of mask is that, when fitted with a communication device, they allow voice communication meaning that divers can talk to each other and the surface.

For this reason, they’re primarily used by advanced divers and those needing voice communication.

Commercial divers, videographers, photographers, and filmmakers are the more common types of diver who would opt for this piece of kit.

In cold water, they do offer better thermal protection. Further, if you have problems with your jaw or dental problems, they are more comfortable than holding a regulator in your mouth. Other benefits include a wider field of vision and the reduced risk of losing your regulator.

They’re quieter too.

Because the mask is the divers air supply these types of masks are designed to seal very well to avoid leaks, this naturally makes them a larger piece of kit. They’re much heavier, bulkier and significantly more expensive.

They are specialized and require extra training to be able to use safely. Training should include;

  • how to fit and choose a mask
  • setting the mask up
  • equalizing and clearing
  • dropped mask procedure
  • switching to an alternate air source

Our advice, if you’re interested in using a full face mask, is to look for a dive training facility with experienced instructors to guide you through choice and training.

Wrap up

A mask is an essential piece of kit. It allows you to see the underwater world which, after all, is why we dive. As well as being essential, having a comfortable mask, and one that doesn’t leak or fog is key to enjoying diving.

Price is always a consideration, but the most expensive mask doesn’t make it the best one for you. It might use the best materials, be the newest on the market, and claim new technology, but if it’s not the one for you; you’ve wasted your money. There’s a great variety available; it’s important to get one that suits you.

Best Scuba Mask