Despite what you may have heard it is extremely easy to choose a diving/snorkelling mask without the need to try one on.
For many this may seem a huge leap of faith but today’s modern materials ensure the vast majority of masks will suit, the vast majority of face shapes/sizes, the vast majority of the time. Unless you have a moustache/beard or deep ‘character’ lines, a quality silicone mask will ‘seal’ on the skin virtually every time. The decision then comes down to purely personal choice and the price you are willing to pay - at the top end of the spectrum the build quality and superior silicone mask designs, as one would expect, come with the type of innovative features, design elements and longevity one would expect.
Masks are predominantly designed along the lines of one size fits all for adults and of course masks for youngsters. Some of the larger manufacturers, in more recent years, produce slightly smaller (mid size) versions of their most popular selling masks ideal for the smaller faces of ladies or teenagers. Colour choices have also grown to reflect this growing market.
Skirt: the masks we stock have 100% Silicone skirts, which are much more flexible and comfortable than cheaper masks that use PVC which rarely seal well. Masks will use either transparent (clear silicone) or opaque (usually black silicone) skirts. Clear silicone makes the mask seem more open and light, whilst black silicone provides a more focused view and reduces glare.
Frame: Framed masks come in various shapes depending upon the manufacture's design and are slightly heavier than frameless masks. Frameless masks allow the silicone skirt to be formed around the lenses to give a lower profile (low air volume) and lighter feel, are easier to clear water from and are usually more compact. Mid size masks like the X-Vision Mid often have a normal size frame but a narrower skirt making them ideal for ladies and children.
Lenses: All of our masks use tempered-glass lenses for safety and come as single lens or twin lens masks. Single lens masks provide a better field of vision without the frame section above the nose but twin lens masks may be the better choice if you require prescription lenses. Some masks have a tear drop shaped lens like the New Cressi Air or Mares X-Vu, which are very popular with snorkellers due to the improved field of vision below each eye removing the need to tilt your head to see further. Some higher price masks feature specially coated lenses to allow extra light through, improve clarity or reduce internal glare, like the Tusa Visio Pro Mask.
Once you’ve received your new mask, to try the mask for fit and the effectiveness of the seal, stand in front of a mirror so you can see what you are doing. You don’t need to use the strap, simply place the mask on to your face so the mask rests comfortably on the skin (you should not need to wrestle it in to position). The silicone skirt of the mask should seal against your skin – remember the mask skirt won’t seal on your hair. Make sure you’ve enclosed your nose and that the silicone skirt is not sitting just on the top of your lip!
Once in position simply ‘sniff’, as if you have a cold, and hold. By ‘sniffing’ the air out you create a vacuum and the mask should stay in position and seal onto the skin, until you exhale. Be ready to catch the mask if it falls off.
If you can continuously ‘sniff’ air in or hear air rushing in then it’s not sealing effectively. If this happens it can simply be the very slight differences in the way you approach putting on the mask that can make the difference of obtaining that initial seal. Check if you have the mask in position properly and that the silicone skirt of the mask is flat against the skin and repeat this process.
Your new mask is manufactured with a protective film covering the inside of the glass, which should be removed before use. We have always found white toothpaste makes an ideal substance to remove this film. Squeeze a small amount on the glass inside the mask and gently rub around the glass with your finger. Follow this with a good rinse in water and again gently remove the toothpaste by using your finger. Your mask should now be ready for use.
At Watersports Warehouse over the last 25 years we’ve sold thousands (yes, thousands) of snorkelling and diving masks. Our selection of snorkelling sets are based on our most popular selling masks, snorkels and fins and provide the best value for money. Our dive team are confident that these masks will seal and be comfortable for virtually every travelling snorkeller or diver. However, if you don’t feel the mask you’ve purchased from us is suitable remember you can always return it provided it hasn’t been used.