Shopping for diving gear for the first time
It’s just a fact: throughout your experience as a scuba diver, you will have to use dive masks of different sizes, models and prices. It’s not easy to get it right the first time. A mask must perfectly fit the shape of your face without being too tight, and allow for an optimal field of view with quality lenses; and the way it molds your nose must make it comfortable to equalize your ears.
These are the ideal characteristics of a mask, and the best way to test a mask is by either snorkeling or diving. Sometimes this can be hard to do unless you have a friend who owns the desired model and they can lend it to you. So you will only be able to test it by going to a shop and putting it on and inhaling, holding your breath for a few seconds to check the seal and the comfort in equalizing your ears and adjusting it to your head with the back strap.
You will also have to decide if you want a mask with multiple lenses or a single lens to get a more panoramic field of view. Once you’ve made that decision, you also need to know that every mask leaves the factory with a thin paraffin film that protects tempered lenses until their first use. You have to remove it one way or another: by using an abrasive product designed for the job, spreading toothpaste on it for a few hours or by using a cigarette lighter. Depending on the manufacturer, you may have to do this more than once to achieve an optimal result. Otherwise, the lens will fog up whenever you use the mask and diving won’t be any fun.
It is also important to wash the entire mask (like all other diving gear) with fresh water after an immersion, as residues can build up on rubber parts that are very difficult to remove and can make the mask look unattractive.
Now you’ve learned a thing or two about masks, here’s something more. Masks should never be too tight on your face. Even if a tighter mask makes you feel safer, the pressure under water will make a mask even tighter still, causing discomfort or even a facial barotrauma with visible hematomas. You can fix mere discomfort with simple equalization by blowing a little air out of your nose. However, a serious barotrauma is an injury that needs to be looked at by a doctor. Check the adjustment system of the mask. It is your responsibility to know how to use it in diving.
Lastly, let’s talk about snorkel tubes. The most important thing is for a snorkel tube to be the right length and to have a good mouth piece. Today, nearly all tubes include a water cleaning valve at the bottom, and it’s easy to clean a tube by blowing hard while snorkeling.
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