Last time, we talked about the differences in snorkels. Now, it is time to purchase your mask. You might think that as long as it matches your snorkel, it will be fine, after all, it is just a mask. Although looking good may be an important factor to some, staying safe is what we need to look at first.
In order for your mask to be safe for diving, it must have strong tempered glass. Plastic lenses can not handle the pressure that occurs as you descend into the water. As you descend, you must equalize the pressure in your ears, therefore, your mask must have a full skirt that encloses your nose.
Make sure the mask you purchase fits you well. There should be no gaps around your face and should wrap around your eyes and nose. The best way to check this is to place the mask against your face without the strap on your head. Take a breath through your nose and let go of the mask. If it stays in place, you have a good fit. To be extra sure, give it a slight tug. It should hold on well. Be sure the area that covers your nose is comfortable and you are able to pinch your nose for equalization with ease.
Mask volume is the amount of space inside the mask. A high volume mask sits further from your face, allowing more air space in the mask. This also allows higher visibility when diving. High visibility masks come in multi lenses, allowing for an amazing peripheral view. A low visibility mask may limit your peripheral vision a bit but makes the mask much easier to clear if it were to become flooded.
There are some minor things to consider as well when purchasing your first mask such as what kind of strap is best. I suggest using the strap that comes with the mask and if you find it is uncomfortable because it pulls on your hair, you can always buy a slap strap that slides right over the silicone strap it came with.
I hope this is helpful. Next week we will explore the world of fins.