Your mask is a vital piece of snorkelling and diving equipment, creating an air space in front of your eyes and allowing you to focus underwater. They also enclose the nose in a pocket, so you can equalize your ears as you descend underwater. It is imperative to have a comfortable watertight mask to enjoy your time in the water or dive, and is a mandatory piece of personal equipment.
You have a choice of a clear skirt or a black skirt. Clear skirts increase your field of vision, are less claustrophobic and are generally preferred by new snorkellers. Black skirts can help you focus on a particular task such as photography without distraction.
There are also different designs of skirt to consider:
Feathered skirt edges - On the higher quality masks the rubber skirt thins towards the edge, this makes the portion touching your face much more flexible for a comfortable fit.
Double skirt - Almost all masks have this nowdays, a second inner skirt that runs around the inside of the mask which provides a double seal making the mask less prone to leaking.
Some users find that a mask with only one single lens as opposed to two (a left and a right) gives the feeling of a more open, spacious mask. Hovever these single lens masks generally cannot accept corrective lenses.
Twin Lens Masks
Most masks use a twin lens constuction as it allows for easy removal of the lenses for cleaning and fitting of corrective lenses where available.
Multi Lens Masks
You may prefer a mask that has additional lenses, often to the side of the mask to offer extra peripheral vision. This is purely a matter of personal taste.
Special Lens Masks
Some masks that are now available have special coatings to stop fogging, or coloration on the actual lens to make colours appear more natural underwater. The coloured lens masks are popular for underwater photographers.
An excellent example of a mask with a different stlye of lens is the Atomic ARC mask.
What is ARC?
Anti-Reflective Coatings or ARC is a multi-layer metal oxide coating process applied to both sides of the Ultra-Clear lenses. This allows more light to enter the mask by reducing light reflections off the inside and outside surface of the lens. The metal oxide coating is only a few microns thick.
Why do I need ARC lenses?
Between 4-12% of light can be reflected back or lost by the standard green float glass mask lenses used by most mask manufacturers. ARC lenses are especially important for Scuba divers underwater, where available light is quickly absorbed by surrounding water.
What will ARC do for me?
Clearer, crisper vision. You will see more clearly underwater and objects in the distance will become more defined and acute.
Increased contrast and clarity.
Reduces eyestrain, glare, and prevents ghost /Images on the viewing area of the lens.
An absolute must for night diving, limited visibility conditions, and underwater photographers
Some masks have a purge valve to make clearing water from the mask easier. This is especially useful for those with a moustache or those that smile alot underwater as these both may cause persistant leaking.
All you have to do is ensure that the valve is at the lowest point and exhale through your nose whilst holding the mask against your face to force the water out.
If you normally wear glasses, we can provide masks with prescription lenses fitted. We offer minus, plus and bifocal lenses for most of the TUSA range of masks.
The lenses we supply for TUSA masks are in half diopter increments. Should your prescription fall between two lens strengths, go for the weaker of the two as the water itself offers some magnification.
These lenses replace the glass lens in the mask and are not just bonded to the mask, making the mask much lighter than traditional bonded solutions (and better looking as there is no glue). If you purchase a mask and lenses from us, these come pre-fitted.
Generally avoid plastic skirted masks (similar to those you purchase in Swim shops, which look the same as our masks but are a fraction of the price, you are not buying like for like and although it would seem like a great deal you will only end up throwing it away) they often cause face rashes, are uncomfortable and leak.
Once you are happy with your choice of mask, to help avoid fogging you should consider purchasing some Absolutely Clear de fog solution and when the mask is new rub normal toothpaste on the inside of the lenses and rinse off (only do this if your mask has glass lenses). This removes the protective film over the inside of the lenses that can cause fogging.
To protect your investment of purchasing a good quality mask you should also purchase a Padded Mask Bag which can store your mask when not in use. They are inexpensive and will extend the life of your mask.
For a large range of Masks for all conditions visit our Masks department in Simply Snorkel.