The essential elements of freediving — hold your breath and dive — are simple only to those who haven’t tried it. That’s also true of freediving gear. Whether the aim is fun, fishing or competition, choosing gear with capabilities that match your intended use and experience level will help you get the most from it.
A low-volume mask is essential for freediving, where you don’t have the luxury of a slow descent to equalize, and where the only air you have is what you take in your lungs. Some modern masks have such tiny internal volumes that they don’t require conscious equalizing. Skirt color — clear or solid — is purely personal preference.
FIND THE RIGHT FIT
1. Put the mask on your face and move it around until it feels centered, comfortable and all edges of the skirt are in contact with your face.
2. Suck gently through your nose and let go of the mask. If it has made a good seal, it will stick to your face for a couple of seconds. Don’t suck too hard; that will distort the skirt and give it a false seal.
3. Adjust the strap so the mask is just barely held in place and try Step Two again. Sucking should pull the mask toward your face. Hold your breath. The mask should stay pulled in for several seconds.
PRICE Mask $99; Snorkel $29
The semiframeless Fox Kama is made by over molding the skirt directly onto the frame for a rugged design that is still very compact. The strap buckles are hinged onto the frame so they can swing for proper alignment, and the dual lenses are shaped to provide a wide-open view.
The Seac Jet Kama’s traditional design features a PVC barrel and comfortable liquid silicone mouthpiece — what’s not traditional about the design is the camouflage pattern, with a matching mouth-piece and mask clip. It’s also an easy breather, perfect for snorkeling or freediving.
ARL stands for Anti Reflective Lenses, which allow more light to enter the mask, brightening the view. The low-volume Onyx mask has a supple dual skirt, soft nose pocket, and buckles that attach to the skirt by silicone tabs.
A classic J-shaped snorkel with a contoured barrel, the Onyx’s top half is solid to maintain rigidity, while the lower half is corrugated, enabling it to hang down from the diver’s mouth. A comfortable silicone mouthpiece is included, along with a snorkel keeper.
The frameless design keeps the single-lens Steel Pro compact and lightweight without compromising on the field of view. It has a dual-edge skirt and a textured nose pocket for a sure seal and easy clearing, and very low internal volume for quick equalization.
Billed as the world's first mask with a carbon-fiber frame, it has rugged strength and a distinctive, supervillain look. The extremely low-volume design and soft, textured nose pocket make for quick, easy clearing, and the spiderweblike strap is extremely comfortable.
The large, inverted-teardrop lenses of the Enzo sit close to the face for an unobstructed view, and to keep the mask volume small. The skirt has a long, feathered edge for smooth sealing, and the nose pocket is soft to make for quick equalization.
Almost more like goggles than a mask, the Viper encloses its minimal frame inside the silicone, which has a matte internal surface that blocks glare. The internal volume is extremely low, and the small lenses are close to the eyes for a wide field of view.
The small outer dimensions of Cressi’s Nano mask mean minimal drag through the water and low internal volume for easy clearing and equalization. The skirt is thin and soft, and has stiffening ribs at key points to form a leak-free seal.
Low volume is important for freediving, but — especially for spearfishing — so is a wide view. The frameless design puts the lens as close as possible to your face, accomplishing both.