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An All-round Guide to Buying Your Next Scuba Mask

Updated: Jun 12, 2022

Check out our advice for buying your next best dive investment – aka, your mask!

Scuba mask guide
Scuba Mask (photo by J C Falcon)

Buying your first scuba diving mask is an important rite of passage. For most, it is the first piece of gear you will buy when you start out diving. Masks are the most personal of all dive gear. Of course you can always rent your equipment in most dive centres, but not every mask brand is made for every person’s face. Make it a priority to get a mask that works for you.

There are several key elements and features you will want to look out for when buying your next mask:

To point out the obvious:

A scuba diving mask must be able to cope with the pressure that you find at depth. This normally means tempered glass lenses, so no, swim goggles or masks won’t do the trick here. Secondly, you need to be able to equalize the airspace created by your mask as the pressure changes over the course of a dive. That means you need a mask with a skirt that covers your nose.

Function over fashion:

While it can be tempting to go for the mask that might look more fashionable, the fish really don’t care what you look like underwater. Function should win every time when it comes to your dive gear. Find something that fits your face and feels comfortable.

How to test if a mask fits well:

1. Move the mask strap away from the mask.

2. Press the mask to your face and breathe in gently through your nose.

3. The mask should fit snugly without you holding it in place with your hands. If the mask drops or if you can feel air moving in or around the skirt of the mask, try the next model.

4. Is it comfortable on the eyebrow ridge, your upper lip, your temples, and your nose? If any of these feel tight or pinched, try the next mask!

5. Finally, can you pinch your nose sufficiently well through the nose pocket? If it feels like a struggle, move on to the next model.

Silicon skirt:

All masks are made with a silicon skirt that creates a seal around your face. These can come in many different colours, or totally transparent. There is really no right or wrong answer here – it’s a personal preference at the end of the day. Transparent masks tend to let more light in but this can lead to a glare. If you’re looking to get into underwater photography, opt for a dark opaque skirt as these will do a better job of blocking out any reflective light.

Mask straps:

I would strongly recommend going for a neoprene strap or getting yourself a neoprene strap cover for your mask. While the silicon strap won’t slip, it is also very prone to getting stuck in your hair. A neoprene strap is also a fun way to personalize your mask and stand out from the crowd.

High vs. low volume masks:

High volume masks do exactly what it says on the tin – they capture a larger pocket of air in the mask. This can be great for creating the impression of more openness and will possibly sit better with folks who are prone to feeling claustrophobic; however, it will take longer to clear if your mask leaks. Conversely, low volume masks will sit closer to the face and can be cleared quicker.

Finally, do I go for the reflective lens or keep it clear?

I would recommend going for clear lenses in your mask. We rely solely on non-verbal communication under water and our eyes speak volumes to our buddies.


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