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.
The Pioneer has the rugged look of a commercial diving helmet with a bolt-on aluminum frame. It also shares the honor of having the widest horizontal field of view in the dual-window category. Its vertical view ain’t bad either. The black silicone skirt is a bit thicker than other mask skirts in this review, but it’s soft nonetheless and provides a good seal against the face. The buckles are huge so you can easily handle them with thick gloves, plus they’re soft-mounted so they’ll fold flat for packing. The 3-D split strap is wide and has textured dimples that prevent strap slip.
|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|