Marine Masquerade: The Best Scuba Masks of 2023 Reviewed
How We Test
Test dives were conducted in 72-degree water with air temperatures in the upper 80s at Alexander Springs Recreation Area in Altoona, Florida. ScubaLab test divers were equipped with underwater slates and asked to evaluate and score masks for the following factors from 1 to 5:
(1 = poor, 2 = fair, 3 = good, 4 = very good, 5 = excellent)
ScubaLab Test Team From Left: Dave Carriere, Robby Myers, John Conley, Curt Riley, Eric Michael, Susan Dolezal, David Woods, Dan Dolezal Not PIctured: Keith Cheatham, Mary Frances Emmons, Candice Landau, Roger Roy
Ease and Security of Adjustments: How simple and effective were the buckles and strap adjustments? Were they easy to adjust? Did they stay in place once adjusted? Did the strap stay where it was placed?
Overall Comfort: Was the skirt comfortable and soft? Did the frame or other components rub on the face? Was the nose pocket comfortable when pinching your nose?
Dryness: How effectively did the seal and strap system work to keep water out?
Field of View: Both to the sides and up and down, to what degree did the mask frame or skirt block your view? What was your perception of the overall field of view compared to other masks?
Mask Volume: How easy was it to completely clear the mask after intentionally flooding it? Did the nose pocket allow you to easily pinch your nose to equalize?
Test divers were also asked to provide written comments about their experience using each mask.
If test divers were unable to achieve a workable seal with a mask or if they found it was too uncomfortable to dive with, they were asked to provide comments explaining why the mask didn't fit them properly.
After testing all of the masks, test divers were asked to select their favorite masks in each category.
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This mask’s textured black silicone skirt rests gently upon the face to create a effective watertight seal. All our divers, including those with smaller, narrower faces, were able to achieve a comfortable, dry seal. “Loved how it sealed bone-dry with only slight strap pressure,” one tester said. “Nice soft seal underwater,” is how another diver described it. The supple nose pocket is comfortable and makes for easy access. The lightweight frame—available in five colors with a black skirt— is eye-catching, but otherwise blends right into the rest of the mask. “The rare full-frame mask that doesn’t rub on my forehead,” one tester noted. The frame anchors the mask’s quick-disconnect rotating buckles, which hold the mask comfortably in place. The buckles feature a lever-style operation. More than one tester noted that the mask’s field of view was a little narrow—no surprise given its size— but still scored the tear-drop-shaped lenses very good for overall field of view. It was very easy to clear and equalize the low-profile mask’s tiny internal volume. The Cruz earned very good scores in every category and was chosen overwhelmingly as a favorite by test divers. It is our Testers Choice for dual-lens masks.
Lightweight materials and a soft, supple skirt helped this mask score very good for comfort. Mounted to the frame via flexible, corrugated tabs, the buckles feature a single large release button that is ergonomic and easy to operate, scoring excellent for ease and security of adjustment. “Smooth, secure, ergonomic and easy,” one diver said. Testers liked how the mask strap evenly distributes tension at the back of the head for a secure, comfortable fi t. Test divers scored the field of view very good overall, but it seemed especially wide and open when looking side-to-side. The frame can be removed with a hex key to install corrective lenses. The skirt earned very good scores for dryness, but a few testers reported leak issues at the temple or under the cheeks. Those who did experience a watertight fit counted the Reveal UltraFit among their favorites.
MSRP $84.95, $94.50 (with mirrored lenses)
How low can you go? That’s the question raised by the Atom, which eschews an external frame for a rigid core that is comolded to the lenses. The resulting ultra-low internal volume earned top marks from test divers, who scored it excellent for ease of clearing and equalizing. “Cleared in one breath” and “effortless” were some ways testers described it. The smooth, slightly stiff skirt edge makes it easy to seat the mask properly. Test divers scored it very good for both comfort and dryness. Placed right up to the eyes, the lenses provide a very good field of view both vertically and horizontally. Lever-style buckles attach directly to the skirt and scored very good for ease and security of adjustment. The mask strap is thin on the ends, with a thicker double-injection-molded split where the strap cradles the head. A favorite among test divers, this minimalist mask is our Best Buy for dual-lens masks.
Related Reading: Cressi F-Dual Dive Mask: ScubaLab Best Buy
With a reduced skirt size and a thinner, lighter frame, this new addition to the Mantis line was a favorite among several test divers. They described the skirt as “super soft and supple” and “like a gentle, comfortable hug.” Some divers noticed that the center of the frame put pressure on their forehead, but that didn’t stop them from scoring the mask very good for comfort. Though its dimensions are smaller overall, the redesigned skirt extends further past the frame than its predecessor, putting the skirt edge a little too close to the mouth in a few instances. This caused minor leaking for some, but overall, the mask provided a very good and effective seal on the majority of test divers. Buckles use both a lever-style release and counterpoised buttons. They scored excellent for ease and security of adjustment. Lenses feature UV and AR treatments and offer what one test diver described as a “very natural field of view.”
This incredibly tiny, low-volume mask was a bit too small for some of our divers to use, but those who could wear it scored it very good for both comfort and dryness. “Like wearing nothing,” is how one tester described the fi t offered by the Sonic’s lightweight construction and smooth hypoallergenic skirt. The frameless design is flexible enough that the mask can bend at the brow, which, depending on the quality of the fit, can either help the skirt better conform to the face or cause additional leaks. This bending can also cause some distortion if the lenses are too offset, but otherwise test divers found the field of view to be very wide and natural. Test divers liked the mask’s supple, textured nose pocket and easy-to operate counterpoised strap buckles. For divers looking for a super-low-volume mask, the Sonic is worth investigating for its lightweight comfort and great field of view.
Related Reading: How to Pick the Right Dive Mask For You
This mask’s flexible hypoallergenic silicone skirt is incredibly soft and comfortable against the skin. A two-material techno polymer frame provides rigidity, with special “soft-grid” panels at the top and bottom of each lens for additional support. “Light on face” was how a tester described it. A few divers struggled to obtain a workable seal, but that didn’t stop them from commenting on the mask’s standout comfort. Divers who could effectively wear the mask scored it very good for comfort and volume, and good for dryness. Lever-style buckles are secure, but the low-profile tabs may be difficult to operate while wearing thick gloves. The X-Wire’s twin tear drop lenses earned the highest score of the test for field of view. The view was further enhanced by our sample’s clear skirt. “I feel like I can see very well” and “bright vision” were typical tester comments.
Seascape With Ray Blocker - HD
Outfitted with twin RayBlocker-HD treated lenses designed to reduce UV exposure and cut glare while providing a brighter, sharper view, this mask earned a very good score for field of view. Although it scored very good for comfort some divers felt the silicone skirt was a bit on the stiff side, noting pressure at either the forehead or upper lip. The trade-off, however, was that the skirt was incredibly effective at maintaining a dry, watertight seal. “Bone-dry in all positions” and “super solid seal” were typical test diver comments. Despite feeling a little larger than some of the other masks here, the effective seal made it very easy to clear water from the mask. Large lever-style adjustments on our model were a bit stiff but secure and easy to manipulate. The back of the mask strap has a wide section to evenly distribute tension along the back of the head. Those test divers who picked the SeaScape among their favorites really enjoyed its enhanced vision and comfortable, highly effective seal.
Seemingly plucked right out of 1969, this reissue of a diving classic has been treated to a few modern updates, including a silicone skirt and a corrugated nose insert. Divers really enjoyed the broad, uninterrupted view offered by the large oval lens, which also has a slight magnifying effect. However, the mask offers no peripheral view. Test divers had widely varying opinions regarding the mask’s comfort and dryness, but no major leaks were reported. It scored good for comfort and dryness. Accessing the nose is done by squeezing the nose insert from below the frame, which is often blocked by the diver’s regulator. The interior volume usually takes two or more breaths to fully clear. The oldschool stainless buckles are very difficult to adjust but do feature reference numbers to help even out the length of either side. With a killer retro aesthetic and decent performance, we’d be curious to see how it performed with a few more modern tweaks.
Like the X-Wire, this mask uses a two-material frame with a soft, gridlike structure above and below the sides of the lens for support. Testers found it effective at helping the mask hold its integrity in current. The single-lens frame comes in six colors and can be user-replaced for customization. The mask’s lever-style buckles, described as “perfect” by one tester, scored very good for ease and security of adjustment. The Pure-Wire earned the highest score for comfort in our test. It scored very good for dryness, but there were a few test divers who struggled to achieve a workable seal at the bottom of the skirt. The mask scored very good for field of view and volume. Testers found clearing the mask was more difficult than expected. “Surprisingly hard for such a small mask,” one tester commented. Otherwise the mask displayed exceptional comfort and solid performance overall, and was consistently picked among testers’ favorites.
This low-profile frameless mask is available in three sizes. The extremely small internal volume is very easy to clear and puts the lens very close to the face for a very good for field of view. The skirt uses softer rubber where it touches the face and firmer materials around the lens. Testers thought it was “a tad stiff,” but were pleasantly surprised by its overall comfort, for which it scored very good. Even with three sizes to choose from, two of our testers struggled with achieving a watertight seal. Otherwise, test divers scored it very good for dryness. “Bone-dry in all positions,” one tester noted about the mask’s seal. Simple pushrelease buckles are very easy to operate, even underwater. With very good performance across the board, the Abi was among the favorites of several test divers.
Related Reading: Nex Monterey Scuba Regulator: ScubaLab Testers Choice
Constructed with two types of silicone, this mask’s overmolded skirt surrounds a large single lens of tempered glass. Shiny, slightly curved silicone is used at the skirt edge to enhance the seal, while a matte finish is used inside the mask to reduce reflections. The mask scored good for both comfort and dryness. Test divers felt the skirt was stiffer than some of the others in the test. This resulted in a solid, dry seal in most cases, but some testers did note some leaking at the temples. Testers appreciated the easy grip provided by the textured nose pocket. The mask scored good for volume. “Clears readily with a slight tilt of the lens. Stiff skirt directs the water out well,” one tester commented. Drop points on each side of the lens allow for a good field of view when looking up and down. The textured interior of the strap holds a snug grip without pulling hair.
MSRP $99, $169 (Zensee Pro)
This mask’s frameless design puts the large lens—which is available with UV 429/AR treatments in the pro version—right up against the eyes for an expansive field of view that earned the top score in its category. “Very wide, clear view,” one tester said. A few testers noted that in bright sun the lens can project a reflection along the mask interior, which may be distracting for some divers. The skirt seems stiffer than some of Tusa’s other masks, but it’s still very comfortable, and the silicone is smooth and soft against the skin. It scored very good for comfort. The combination of a stiffer skirt and narrow interior volume helps the mask clear very easily and provide a steady seal in current. One of the most impressive things about this mask is that even with its extremely wide profile, it provided an effective seal on all our divers and earned the top score for dryness. Picked overwhelmingly as a favorite, the Zensee is our Testers Choice.