Last Updated on March 30, 2021 by Dan
7 Things to Consider in Underwater Snorkeling Mask Design
If you enjoy snorkeling, you will know that having the right snorkeling equipment can make the snorkeling experience an enjoyable and enriched one. However, poor equipment can cause unnecessary hassles and disturbances which can negatively impact the experience.
Some of the features to look into while selecting a snorkeling mask are:
- The fit
- The material
- The design
1. Fit of the Mask
This is the most important criteria while choosing a mask. It is important that the mask fits correctly on the face of the snorkeler.
If the mask is too big, it will not form a tight seal on the face. If it is too small, it must be pulled to fit and this can affect the longevity of the mask.
The rubberlike portion (usually made of silicone) that makes contact with the face of the snorkeler is called the ‘skirt’. The purpose of the skirt is to make a tight seal against the face of the snorkeler. If the seal is not adequately formed, it can lead to leaking, fogging, and tiredness.
Even a small volume of leakage might mean that the snorkeler must constantly empty the water out by swimming to the water’s surface. Swimming vertically saps more energy than floating, thereby tiring the snorkeler.
Also, removing the mask can lead to fogging. When the mask is removed, warm, moist air comes in contact with the cool layer of the mask, thereby condensing the vapors causing fog to build up on the mask.
Hence, it is imperative that the mask fits correctly and snugly.
Following are a few guidelines that will help in choosing the correct fitting mask:
- Hold your breath. Gently place the mask against your face. The mask with the right fit will stick to your face without having anything holding it in place.
- Hold the mask against your face. The area of the mask must comfortably cover the face.
- Try the mask with the strap on. The strap must not need to be fastened too tightly. The mask is not kept in place by the strap, but the skirting.
- Always try your mask on, keeping your hair out of the mask.
2. The Material
The material that the mask is made of is an important factor that determines the quality of the mask. Masks made with plastic skirting are not very flexible and can cause leakages, and rubber skirting can be brittle.
Silicone based skirting sits comfortably on the face and is more durable. It is long lasting as well.
The quality of material used in the mask lenses are important as well. The lenses must not be made of plastic that causes scratches to happen easily. The material must be durable, yet aid in clear vision.
Design is an important, yet confusing criteria for many because there are a multitude of options available on the market. Some of the design considerations that are important are:
4. Mask lens design
There are several options available here:
- Classic – This mask has one big lens and the nose fits inside the lens.
- One lens mask – The mask has one lens and a separate extension for the nose. This can be uncomfortable as the mask can press against the nose, causing discomfort.
- Two lens mask – The lens is split into two (like a pair of reading glasses) giving more room for the extension on the nose.
- Three or four lens mask – There are additional lenses on the side of each eye to increase peripheral view.
- Frameless mask – The lenses do not have a frame and are directly attached to the skirting. These are very lightweight and comfortable.
5. Volume of the masks
A high volume mask means that there is more air within the mask, thereby increasing buoyancy when the snorkeler goes under water. A lesser volume mask is preferred.
6. Mask coverage
The area of the face covered by the mask.
- Partial coverage – These masks cover the eyes and nose only, and the snorkel fits to the mouth to provide air.
- Full face mask – These masks cover the entire face and a snorkel is attached to the mask. There is a separate breathing chamber within the mask where the snorkel is attached. This allows the snorkeler to breathe through the nose or mouth. The lens area is separate and wide angled which provides 180-degree panoramic view.
7. Clear vs Black Skirts
Clear skirts on diving and snorkelling masks are popular because they minimise the claustrophobic feeling some people get when they wear a mask. Nevertheless, clear skirts actually interfere with vision. Extraneous light entering through the clear skirt makes it more difficult for the eye to focus and causes reflections that obscure vision. Demonstrate this by looking out a window from a lighted room at twilight. You will see better by cupping your hands around your eyes as you press your face to the window. For these reasons, knowledgeable divers and snorkellers seeking the best possible vision prefer masks with black or dark skirts.
If you consider all of the above factors, you will be able to choose a quality snorkeling mask that will provide you with a hassle free and enjoyable snorkeling experience.