The Rundown on Masks
The mask might be the single most important thing when snorkeling, so it’s important to understand its components when shopping. It covers your eyes and nose while submerged, forming an airtight seal to your face. Contact lenses can be worn when using a mask, and there is no need for nose plugs. Let’s take a closer look at the pieces of the mask.
The frame holds everything together and is usually always made of plastic. Buckles for the strap will attach to the sides of the frame. Conventional masks have fixed plastic buckles for the strap, but more expensive masks will usually have a swivel buckle which permits a better and more comfortable mask fit. All of the mask seals are attached to the frame and may or may not be removable for cleaning and maintenance.
The rubber seal that attaches to your face is called the skirt. Most skirts today are either rubber or silicone. Silicone is the superior material for comfort, fit, durability, and longevity. Most skirts are black but some are available in clear. Clear skirts will allow more light into the mask.
The strap of the mask is usually made out of the same material as the skirt. The strap will attach via the buckles on the frame and loop around the back of the head. Straps have some give to them that help when fitting. The loosest fit possible while still maintaining a snug watertight seal is recommended. A mask that is adjusted too tight will often cause soreness on the bridge of one’s nose. The strap is also where the snorkel tube will be mounted.
The lenses may be the most important part of the mask. Lenses are usually made of plastic and are shatter resistant. Many lenses are also tempered with increases durability, scratch resistance, and UV protection. Most masks now are dual lens but there are still some single lens types and there is little difference in visibility between the two. There are some that are considered 4 lens, or “wraparound” lenses that allow for better peripheral vision. These types are generally a little more bulky. Don't forget about anti-fog!
Some masks have purge valves built-in that allow the wearer to blow out any water that has gotten into the mask. However if a mask is properly fitted and in good condition, there should be absolutely no reason for any water to get inside the mask, even during extended sessions.
Lastly, there is a actually mask that has a camera built-in! Check it out below:
It may seem like there are many choices for masks but really most of them are very similar in construction and of good quality. Choosing a mask with pivoting buckles may be the best feature for a mask to have since it makes fitting and comfort so much easier. Maintaining your mask is important for long life. Taking care of your equipment also adds to its safety.