If you ask me at any given time what piece of dive (or snorkel) equipment I am most selective about, I will cite with unwavering certainty that it is my mask. My mask is to me what knives are to an iron chef. It’s that one piece of indispensable equipment that could provoke a full blown panic attack should I lose it or forget it at home. After all, we all know that wearing a leaky mask is a surefire way to ensure a less than stellar dive and equally terrible underwater photos.
At this year’s Beneath the Sea dive show in New Jersey, I went on a quest to find the perfect mask. I strolled from booth to booth, donning mask after mask, until I found The One.
That’s when I discovered the Scubapro Spectra Mini. Its soft silicone skirt and bold color instantly grabbed my attention, but would it perform?
I’ve now logged about 30 underwater hours with this mask, and I feel qualified to report that it is a winner. I’ve had no problems with leaking, fogging or fit. Here are some of its many virtues-
-Ultra soft silicone skirt which comfortably molds to the skin
-Low volume is great for photography
-Large nose pocket makes it very easy to clear
-Available with clear skirt or black skirt (some photographers prefer the black skirt)
-It looks super cool
I chose the Scubapro Spectra Mini which is great for small-medium face sizes. Those with wider or larger faces may want to try the original Spectra mask. It has the same look and feel with a slightly larger size. Mr. Reeftraveler uses this mask (with black skirt), and he is a big fan of its function and design.
If you are in the market for a new mask, here are some tips to help you choose the best mask for you.
-Know that human face sizes and shapes vary widely, as do mask openings.
-Go to a reputable dive shop, if possible, and try on several styles. If you do not have access to a local dive shop, make sure your online provider allows for exchanges should the mask not fit.
-Put the mask on your face, without attaching the strap in the back, and breathe in gently through your nose. The mask should mold to your face and stay put.
-Ask the dive shop sales person to assist you with your selection. Sometimes a mask may feel OK on the face, so you may not realize that it isn’t the best fit.
-Try the mask on (with the strap attached to the back of the head), and make sure that you can fit your fingers into the nose pocket to pinch your nose. Several masks that I tried on earlier this year had nose pockets so small that I could not reach in far enough to pinch my nose. What a strange design flaw? I suppose this less of a problem if you are a snorkeler who does not dive.
What mask do you use, and what do you like about it? If you are a photographer, do you prefer a black or clear skirt?