A leaking mask is possibly one of the most irritating things that can affect a diver or snorkeller. Following a few simple steps can help ensure you get a great seal and prevent water from entering your mask. Here are my top 10 tips on getting a good fitting mask.
- Buy a good quality mask. Although all masks look similar, the quality of a mask is usually evident in the quality of the skirt.
- Make sure when you buy your mask, that you check the seal by moving the strap out of the way, placing it on your face and sucking in through your nose. Whilst you are sucking in, the mask should pull onto your face. If it doesn't choose another mask.
- Avoid masks that don't have a silicone skirt. The higher the quality of the silicone skirt, the softer and more flexible it is. This means it will mould to creases in your skin more easily, ensuring a better watertight seal.
- Don't smile! If you smile, the muscles in your face change the shape of your mouth (obviously) but this introduces new skin creases that the mask has to mould to.
- Use the correct size mask. For children or women with narrower faces, use a mask that has a narrower width fitting.
- If you have a moustache, ideally, shave it off. Alternatively if that seems a step too far, try putting some lubricant like petroleum jelly on it to help it become more solid so the water does not come in via the gaps between individual hairs.
- Gentlemen, a clean shaven appearance all over your face, will help the mask fit flush against your skin improving the seal and reducing the chance of leakage.
- Make sure the strap is not too tight. A really common error with a leaking mask is to keep tightening the strap in the hope it will force it to seal. It won't, it will just deform the skirt causing more leakage.
- Make sure you don't have hair from your fringe in the top seal (or any other) as the water can travel in the gap between your skin and the hairs.
- If you have an old mask, consider replacing with a new one, as over time the skirt will degrade and become less flexible and supple. This in turn reduces its efficiency sealing and in turn keeping the water out.
FINDING THE RIGHT FIT...
Fold the mask strap over the front of the mask to keep it out of the way.
Make sure all your hair is clear from around your face where the mask will seal. Even one strand of hair can break the seal.
Offer the mask up to your face to create the seal, double checking no hair is caught underneath the silicone skirt.
Breathe in through your nose to test the seal.
If you can feel any air flowing in around the skirt or the masks instantly falls off then it's probably not the mask for you. Try another until you find the perfect fit.
Remember - A bad fitting mask can really ruin your diving or snorkelling experience.
MASK FEATURES & WHAT THEY DO...Skirt Material: Very cheap masks use Silita or PVC which is hard and rarely seals well. Silicone is much more flexible and comfortable. Some brands use 'Supersoft' silicone with special additives to help prolong the skirts life.-
Silicone Colour: Most masks are available in clear or black silicone. Clear silicone makes the mask seem more open and light whilst black silicone provides a focused view and reduces glare which is great for photographers.
Frame Type: Framed masks often allow for prescription lenses to be fitted but are slightly heavier. Frameless masks allow the silicone skirt to be formed around the lenses to give a lower profile and lighter feel.
Prescription Lenses: Some masks allow off the shelf corrective lenses to be fitted in place of the standard lenses. These are made by the mask manufacturer but fitted and tested by our staff to ensure the mask does not leak.
Profile: A low profile mask (low air volume) will usually be lighter, more compact and easier to clear water from.
Lens Type: Single lens masks will often provide a better field of view without the frame section above the nose but twin lens masks are more likely to allow prescription lenses to be fitted.
Side Panels: Side panels do two things, allow extra light into the mask and help to improve peripheral vision.
Tear Drop Shape: Some masks use a frame design that drops to a point underneath each eye. This improves lower vision without the need to tilt your head. This is great for snorkelling.
Narrow Fit: Narrow fit or mid size masks will often have a normal size frame but a slightly narrower skirt to accommodate the face shape of ladies and children.
Special Lenses: Higher value masks can sometimes feature higher specification glass or specially coated lenses to allow extra light through, improve clarity or reduce internal glare.
Purge Valves: One way valves can be found in some masks to aid clearing of water without the need to follow normal techniques. The water is purged by tilting the water towards valve and breathing through the nose.
-If you have any other tips please share them here on the blog in the comments.