Why do we go underwater? For some it’s the adventure, for others the sensation of weightlessness, but for nearly all the reason includes seeing some really cool stuff. That’s why the mask is such a critical part of a diver’s rig. A good mask provides so much field of view, fits so comfortably and works so well, you forget it’s even there. On the other hand, a bad mask hurts your face, fogs up and fills with water every six seconds. Perhaps more than any other piece of gear, a mask can make the difference between an unforgettable dive experience and 45 minutes of underwater torture.
You’d think that after more than a half-century of mask development manufacturers would be running out of new ideas. But much to the glee of divers everywhere, each year we’re introduced to new lens shapes, softer skirt materials and more innovative buckle systems. We called on mask manufacturers to send us their freshest models; we received 18 new or improved designs. After checking out each mask in the ScubaLab shop, noting materials, design features and how the buckle systems worked, we took them into our test pool to measure their field of view, both vertically and horizontally. We then set out to dive each mask to see how well they fit, felt and behaved in the real world. We’ve divided our findings into three categories by mask type: single-window, dual-window, and three- and four-window.
|Skirt||Black or clear silicone|
The Recon shares the honors of having the best horizontal field of view in this category. Downward viewing is also above average. The mask fits close to the face with a soft skirt and face seal for maximum comfort. The buckle system is a mix of old school and cutting edge. It uses traditional lifting tabs to loosen the strap — not as easy as some of the newer squeeze buckles — but the buckles are mounted directly to the skirt, so it can be folded flat for traveling. The buckles swivel too, so you can get the best strap position. Bonus: The buckles also have a unique quick-release feature that allows them to be removed from the mask for easy strap swapping. We also like that the Recon is available in a huge choice of colors.
|August 2009 Issue Scuba Lab Review Quick Links|
|Single Window Masks|
|Mares Essence Liquidskin||SCUBAPRO Solo|
|Sherwood Rona||Tusa M-17 Concero|
|Aeris Duo||Aeris Recon|
|Aqua Lung Look 2||Cressi Big Eyes Evolution|
|Oceanic Pioneer||SCUBAPRO Spectra 2|
|Scubamax Spider Eye||Sherwood Eclipse|
|Three- & Four-Window Masks|
|Aeris Europa 3||Aqua Lung Infinity|
|BARE Trio C||Oceanic ION 3x|