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How do I choose a scuba and snorkeling mask?

Your basic scuba masks consist of a silicon seal that acts as a suction on your face preventing water from entering.

What are the MOST IMPORTANT things look for in buying a scuba mask or snorkeling mask?

The mask is a long term investment. With the right maintenance and care, it can last a long time.

We are not talking about cheap mask that you buy for $10.00 that will continually leak on you. A good quality mask will run anywhere from $40.00 to $150.00 depending if there are any special features or not. We will talk more about the special features later in this article.

However, your basic mask MUST cover the following.

When you buy a mask there are several extremely important features to look at. The first feature is the seal to you face. Most masks have a good quality silicon rubber seal. The mask should fit snuggly on your face. A good test to test fit is to hold the mask up to your face and suck in the air through your nose. This will remove the air in the mask creating suction to your face. Hold your breath and do not let any air back into the mask through your nose. While holding you breathe, try to pull the mask off of your face. The mask should pop off sounding off a popping noise. This tells you that there is a good seal. If the mask falls off very easily, the mask is probably slightly to large for you. The last thing you want while diving or snorkeling is a leaky mask.

The second feature that you should look at is the accessibility to your nose. While the mask is on, try to pinch your nose. By pinching your nose we mean that both your nostrils can be closed. This is essential if you are scuba diving as you need to pinch your nose to equalize the air pressure as you are descending deep into the waters.

If you have difficulties pinching your nose or can not even reach your nose at all, that mask will not work for you.

Another thing to look for but may not be as important is the visibility. You should have adequate peripheral vision and not tunnel vision with the mask. A good method of checking your peripheral vision is the following:

With your mask on, point your arm straight out in front of you with the palm of your hands together as if you’re about to diving into a swimming pool. At this point you should see your hands.

Next, while looking straight ahead, slowly open your hands and arms apart moving them away from each other. Keep going until you no longer see the hands and arms. That angle in which you can no longer see your arms is the angle of peripheral vision.

A good range is between 100 degrees and up. Normally your peripheral vision without the mask is close to 180 degrees.

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