Scuba & Snorkeling Masks

Reef Tips Gear Guide | Masks

Purpose

What's the difference between a "mask" and "goggles"? Goggles are worn primarily for swimming and usually do not cover the nose leaving it exposed to the water which makes it difficult to breathe through a snorkel. A mask covers the nose and prevents water from entering your nose when you are submerged and breathing through a snorkel or scuba regulator. Having you nose included in the masks' airspace also allows for equalization at depth.

The main purpose of a mask is to allow you to see underwater. Our eyes are made to see in air, not water. So when you open your eyes underwater without a mask or goggles, everything appears blurry. The mask creates an air space allowing our eyes to focus and see underwater. It's important that the mask fits you well and provides a good seal against your face and doesn't provide any pain on pressure points such as your cheekbones, forehead, or nose.

Features

Skirt

The skirt of the mask is the part that rests directly on your face and it is important that it is made of high quality silicone in order to ensure a comfortable fit and good seal. All of our masks are made with soft or very soft silicone to ensure the highest quality. A low quality mask will have a skirt made with low quality, thicker silicone or PVC (plastic) and forming a good seal is very difficult, especially noticeable in cold or temperate waters.

Vision

Masks will have either a single window  (one piece of glass) or double window (two pieces of glass) that make up the lens of the mask. Some masks also have windows on the sides. There are no advantages or disadvantages between the number of windows, it is mostly personal preference. The size of the window will determine how much you see but will also determine the overall size of the mask, so while a larger window will provide the best vision it may not fit on a smaller face. Also with a two window mask, there will be a dividing frame between the two windows which may irritate your nose or forehead if you have larger facial features. 

Lens

Tempered glass is a type of safety glass processed by controlled thermal or chemical treatments to increase its strength compared with normal glass. Tempering puts the outer surfaces into compression and the inner surfaces into tension. Such stresses cause the glass, when broken, to crumble into smaller granular chunks instead of splintering into jagged shards as plate glass creates. The granular chunks are less likely to cause injury. Tempered glass is also more scratch and impact resistant. 

Volume

The volume of a mask is directly related to the volume of water that may enter a mask. A low volume mask will be easier to clear of unwanted water, however will usually fit closer to the face which may cause discomfort if you have larger facial features. A high volume mask will allow more water to enter, will take more effort to clear of unwanted water, but will allow for more room for larger forehead or nose features.

Type of Fit

Medium/Average, Small, or Large. Most people know if they fit in either of these categories based on how they purchase other items such as sunglasses, hats, etc.

Care & Maintenance

Even taking the best care of your mask, you may find that over time parts of your mask wear out or get broken. Prior to heading out on your diving or snorkeling excursion, check over your mask to ensure that the strap is still in good working condition. Try extending and tightening the strap to ensure the side buckles are also working correctly. Check to ensure there are no cracks in the frame by placing the mask on your face without the strap and sucking in through your nose. You should feel it suction onto your face until you breathe again. If there's air coming into the mask while you suck in, double check that you're getting a good seal on your face and check that there are not cracks along the frame.

If you find your strap or side buckles are in disrepair, you can find some replacement parts on our website. Email us a photo of your mask and a close-up of the broken part and we'll see if we can source out a replacement part for you.

After using your mask, especially in salt water or chlorine, be sure to rinse well with clean, fresh water to rid the mask of chlorine and salty residue. Air-dry, then store in its plastic case, out of direct sunlight. Prior to using your mask, clean well with a mild, non-abrasive soap. 

Prior to using your mask, you will want to apply defog to the lens to ensure it stays clear during your dive or your snorkeling session. 

Prescription Optical Lenses

Can't see the fish? Having trouble reading your gauges? Perhaps a dive or snorkel mask with your prescription is the answer. We offer a variety of masks that may be fitted with generic optical lenses that closely match your prescription. While it is not your exact eyeglass prescription, it is very close and will work very well for most people. Also available are bifocal readers, located at the bottom of the mask to assist with reading your gauges, dive computer, or working your underwater camera. Already have a mask you like? Check out the stick on lens options to meet your needs. Many of our Instructors and Divemasters use our masks with generic optical lenses and the stick-on lenses as well.