In an earlier blog post I stated that the first piece of scuba gear you should purchase is your own mask. Here are the steps that I find the most helpful for guests choosing their first mask.
Please do not try to buy a mask online without trying it on. Sometimes you do get lucky and they fit but most of the time you are wasting your money. Lots of people try to save 10 or 15 dollars by ordering from shops online. Just go support your local Dive Center and try on the mask before you buy it. Some of these shops even allow you to try to mask out in their in house pool so you can be certain it fits properly. They also might offer to treat it for you so it doesn’t fog the first time you use it!
Some things to keep in mind:
If you have a narrow face don’t waste time looking at big bulky masks. Go for smaller ones with short ‘skirts’
If you are going to try to dive with a mustache- First of all you need to be comfortable clearing the water out of your mask. While your mustache might be glorious and make you look the most manly it is also going to cause major leakage. If you can’t deal, trim the stache. If you decide you want to dive with it look for a mask that has a small skirt area nearest your mouth. The less overlap you have the less it will leak.
Trying on a mask:
1- Do Not Put The Strap Over Your Head!
2- Hold the mask up to your face. You can use two methods:
-Inhale gently and try to feel if there are any leaks around the skirt of the mask that air is leaking in.
-Gently push the mask into your face until there is suction. As long as you don’t exhale thru your nose the mask should stick to your face. Try looking down or shaking your head to see if the mask stays in place.
3- Run your fingers around the edge of the skirt and see if there are any spots where the mask over laps your hair-line, the top of your lip, or anywhere else.
4- Adjust the strap to fit around your head. Do not over tighten the strap! The mask should sit on your face but still be loose enough to pull away from your face (over tightening causes leaks). The mask strap should sit on the crown of your head always resting above your ears not on top of them!
5- While the mask is sitting properly on your face take a second to make sure it isn’t pressing too much into the bridge of your nose.
Finally- Keep in mind that even if you do all this properly several things can STILL cause your mask to leak! Things like strap wrappers/snorkels/and even smiling for a photo can cause a leak. So it is very important to be comfortable with clearing your mask. If you do have problems with the skill don’t be embarrassed, it is by far the skill the most people have a problem with. Visit your Dive Center or favorite Instructor and ask for a little help. Look at my blog for some helpful tips and practice on your own. The more you practice your skills, the more comfortable you will be, and the more fun you will have.