There’s no doubt that having the right kit is essential in order to enjoy scuba diving. The best scuba diving masks all feature innovations and design elements that will enhance your dive.
Given that you’re going diving to see the delights of the deep, it figures that missing out because your mask keeps fogging or filling or is uncomfortable, is just not on.
As is having a mask that is too small and that you can't equalise - as a friend of mine found out when he came to the surface with two whopping black eyes. Not a good look.
To ensure you don’t miss a thing on your dive, literally, check out this guide to masks.
It's not designed to be brand specific. It’s more of a review of available features currently offered by some of the different masks on the market.
Scubamax Spider Eye
This is a good price mask with high quality features, representing great value.
Large dual windows offer a wide field of vision supported by a soft skirt that is available in black, good for clear water as it blocks refection, or clear silicone, which adds to the feeling of openness and is good for darker water.
Mares X Vision Liquid Skin Mask
Courting the latest technology in silicone, this mask gets consistently good feedback on comfort.
Living up to its name, the liquid silicone in this product means the skirt of the masks is super soft and stays that way. This, alongside the cleverly positioned buckles, is what makes it such a delight to wear and keeps you safe from leaks.
The lovely wide field of vision via its two windows structure tops it off. But this does mean you may want to consider a block colour skirt as the translucent/ pale colours may let in a touch too much light.
Frameless masks offer many advantages. They are light and flexible making them easy to pack. They are easier to clear and equalize with and offer a wide field of vision.
You're likely to see some of these masks in the dive locker of whichever company organises your scuba diving holidays; Scubapro frameless has been around a while and that’s because it always delivers. It has a more classic rectangular shape but still provides excellent vision. Its skirt is durable yet still soft and comfortable. The wide strap and no nonsense buckle further explain why this mask has been around for nearly 15 years and remains universally loved.
Cressi Big Eyes Evolution Crystal
Although it sounds like a character from a futuristic sci-fi, the main feature to talk about here, unsurprisingly, is the wide range of vision.
This is made possible by the teardrop shaped dual windows and a low profile, meaning it sits lower on your face than some other masks.
The amazing downward visibility is aided by antifog lenses and supported by instantly adjustable buckles.
Tusa M2-11 Freedom One
Whilst I remain a little bemused by the product branding of some scuba gear, particularly those that sound like a truckers CB call sign "come in freedom one, do you copy?" you cant argue with the good reviews.
The mask Features their uber 2012 'freedom' technology and design that incorporates varying thickness around different parts of the skirt impacting skin surface contact and reducing friction. The pattern and ridges in the silicone enhances the fit, the effectiveness of the seal and overall comfort making this a top performer and one to watch.
Atomic Aquatics Frameless
Tipped for innovative design and one of the widest field of vision on the market, the lens on this mask was digitally designed to enhance your view whether upwards, downwards or side to side. Because it is frameless this further maximises your vision.
Another great feature is the UltraClear lenses. Normal dive masks can develop a tint as a result of iron impurities in the glass and this can distort colours and affect light. According to Atomic Aquatics “Ultraclear is a new development in optical quality glass offering fantastic clarity, no distortion and high levels of light transmission.” Brilliant for spotting those shy nudibranchs and camouflaged stonefish on scuba diving holidays and tropical dives - especially handy for low light conditions.
A popular mask, the Allure (another example of interesting branding) appeals to divers who like a low volume mask. It is specifically designed to provide a large volume of ambient light thanks to the clarity of the silicone.
A key feature of this mask is the raised contact points along the frame, promoting easy clearing, which we all like. Don’t forget, as with all new masks, you need to clear the chemical residue on the lens using toothpaste or a mask pre-cleaner before you use it and for the first few times.
Continued care of your mask will enhance its life and mean it performs better. So, clean your mask lenses of sunscreen, sweat and salt residue before each dive, preferably with something other than bacteria laden saliva. To help prevent fogging, keep your mask immersed in fresh water between dives or at least rinse it thoroughly.
We know that fit is the most important factor when choosing a mask and the Mantis fits a variety of medium to wide faces. It’s all about the rubber with Riffe. This mask is designed to give full support to the face by varying the thickness of silicone. The plastic and silicone mould is excellent quality, which is apparent when handling the mask.
Riffe have also patented the process of heat-treating the silicone rubber to reduce fogging. There is also a choice of two lenses available, clear standard lens, or amber for increased light, higher contrast and better separation, especially in low visibility.
XS Scuba Fusion 3-Window Scuba Dive Mask
This is a new patented Panoramic View Mask dramatically increases your peripheral field of vision, particularly to each side providing glorious underwater vistas.
You can also buy a self-purge add on. For some, this may make equalisation a little more challenging, but for others is a small price to pay for never needing to clear the mask by other means.
Tilos Hawk Eyes
The large dual-window design was developed to increase downward vision, all the better for spotting sharks I hear you say. In addition to great field of vision, this mask is comfortable and easy to clear and is great for divers that might need bi-focal lenses.
One of the most attractive features is the optional E-Band strap. This patented device sets the adjustment features of the strap squarely in the back of the head, where it rests on a comfortable, hard-plastic band.
Available for a nominal additional cost, the band makes the mask super easy to adjust. The benefits of which is not to be underestimated. Wouldn’t want to miss those sharks you’ve just spotted because you’re fiddling around with a loose mask would you?