HOW WE TEST MASKS
Mask Test Protocol:
To evaluate the in-water performance of each mask, a team of ScubaLab test divers dived with them at Alexander Springs in central Florida. Using underwater slates and waterproof test sheets, divers scored each mask in five performance categories. Our team of divers also recorded comments about their experience with each mask and ranked in order their top three favorites in each of two mask categories â€” dual-lens and single- lens models.
Ergo Test Categories:
- Ease and security of adjustments, including buckles, swivels and quick releases
- Comfort of the strap, skirt, frame, nose pocket and all contact points
- Dryness overall, and effectiveness of seals and purge valves
- Field of view, both vertical and horizontal
- Mask volume and ease of clearing and equalizing
Because of the importance of proper fit, individual test divers did not proceed with in-water testing if a mask failed to fit him or her properly.
HOW WE SCORE MASKS
Shown on the graph accompanying each mask are that mask’s scores for comfort (including the strap, skirt, frame and contact points) and field of view (both horizontal and vertical, as perceived by the diver). The scoring is as follows: 5 = excellent; 4 = very good; 3 = good; 2 = fair; 1 = poor. Test divers also selected their top three favorite masks in each of the two test categories â€” dual lens and single lens.
MULTI-LENS VS. SINGLE LENS
The choice between mask types is partly a matter of personal preference and partly a function of special requirements a diver might have. Multi-lens masks, especially dual-lens models, generally have a smaller internal volume than single-lens models because their smaller size can allow them to be shaped closer to the diverâ€™s face. A smaller volume is beneficial because it makes a mask easier to clear and equalize. They also can be equipped with corrective lenses, which many manufacturers offer for their most popular masks. Single-lens masks offer the widest uninterrupted field of view because they donâ€™t have the obstruction of the nose bridge needed on a dual- or multi-lens mask. Single-lens masks canâ€™t be fitted with corrective lenses and generally have somewhat larger volume, although many newer designs have significantly reduced volumes.
Q: What factors did test divers find most important?
A: Test diversâ€™ favorite masks took top scores for comfort, with supple skirts, soft nose pockets and no hard parts contacting the face. That’s no surprise because an uncomfortable mask can quickly take the fun out of any dive.
Q: What are the pros and cons of frameless masks?
A: Molding the skirt directly to the lens gives the frameless mask a lower profile and eliminates any visual obstruction the frame might cause. Because the frameless masks’ lenses arenâ€™t removable, they canâ€™t be fitted with corrective lenses or replaced. â€” Roger Roy, ScubaLab Director