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Need scuba gear, but have no Idea? Part 1: The Mask and Snorkel

Scuba Gear

Scuba Gear: The Mask and Snorkel are vital bit of kit, choose wisely!

Need scuba gear, but have no Idea? Part 1: The Mask and Snorkel. Scuba Gear choices are huge. It’s a big old blue world out there and if you are new to scuba diving then maybe you have started thinking about buying your own scuba gear. The amount of options out there are countless and it’s easy to get lost under a mountain of choices.  Don’t Panic! Between your instructor, dive center and this series of blogs, you will be educated and confident to make the right decisions for your life underwater.

When buying scuba gear it can be helpful to break it into 2 phases:

  1. The basics: needed for your scuba classes (masks, fins, wetsuits etc.)
  2. The major pieces of life support which you are allowed to buy after you become a certified diver. (Regulators, BCDs dive computers etc.)

The following blog entry is the first of many. This series will give you all the information that is required when making an educated purchase.

Scuba Gear Part 1: The Mask

Cost: €20-€200

Scuba masks have evolved since the times of the old James Bond movies. Gone are the single pane oval shaped masks, and they have been replaced with a huge variety of shapes for every face. Find yours!

Scuba Gear: Why do we need a mask: What does it do?

A mask is an essential piece of scuba gear. If you want to see the underwater world clearly. Our eyes need air to focus: opening your eyes underwater without one gives us a fuzzy unsharp view of all the glorious things to see. For this reason, the mask is considered as one of the ABC’s of scuba gear; it is one of the first things a new diver buys and gets the most use of (after all – its small enough to pack into even the smallest carry-on bag.)

What 6 things should I look for when selecting the perfect mask?

As with all scuba Gear, Fit is essential. Do not look at the price tag. Let your face decide!

  1.   Place the mask skirt on your face, but without the strap. It should fit without gaps. Make sure there isn’t any hair trapped under skirt of the mask.
  2.   Try this again with a regulator mouthpiece in your mouth. Does it still fit without any gaps?
  3.   Look forward and inhale gently. The mask should now seal onto your face and should stay there without having to hold it.
  4.   Try this again with a regulator mouthpiece in your mouth. Does it still make a seal?
  5.   Now you can place the strap around your head. Does it feel comfortable? Your nose should not touch the end of the nose pocket and it should also feel comfortable on your upper lip. If it doesn’t feel comfortable then select a softer material for the skirt: Liquid skin latex is a great option.
  6.   Lastly – try a regulator again. Can you reach the nose pocket easily for equalizing?  If so then this mask is the right one for your face.

There are also options for increased field of vision – some have additional panes above or below the main lens are completely up to the diver. There is also colour to consider, and masks come in an ever increasing variety of colours, but please note that colour should be the last thing that you consider. Fit is of primary importance for comfortable dives in full high definition vision.


Scuba Gear Part 2: The Snorkel

Cost: €10-€50

What it does:

The snorkel allows you to breathe with your face in the water and without using your tank air. It is a hollow tube that attaches to the left side of your scuba mask. In theory it is a very simple piece of kit – but technological advances have made even this piece a little daunting when selecting the right one for you.

What am i looking for?

As with all scuba gear, comfortable fit is what you’re looking for in a snorkel. It should fit nicely in your mouth and you shouldn’t feel like your mouth is being overly stretched. It should breathe dry and easy.

Modern snorkels have purge valves near the mouthpiece to make clearing easier, and some have features that boast extra dry use. Both are great, but as you add features the overall drag of your snorkel will increase and may distract you when you go underwater completely for you scuba dive. If you are only planning on using a snorkel while diving then you can happily be content with the most basic snorkel. If you plan on using it for snorkeling alone then maybe you should think of a modern one with all the bells and whistles.

Scuba Gear: Mask and Snorkel Combos

When buying scuba gear a combination set is also an option. Some retailers offer better prices on mask and snorkels together. As long as you get to try on both using the advice from this blog and they tick all the boxes then go for it. This is where colour can be matched and make you look like the true Diving Diva that you are when under the water.

Above all being safe and comfortable is the best thing for your peace of mind while scuba diving. Having your own scuba gear means that you are dedicated to your diving and most dive centers will give you a discount for every piece that you already own. A good investment will always give you the most return – so start with the basics and enjoy yourselves!!

One happy diver in her new scuba gear

One happy diver in her new scuba gear

Come back next week for more scuba gear top tips when buying a set of fins……

Ciao for now!

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