Are you going out for a snorkel or a scuba dive? If you’re new to either, you need to understand how to optimize the fit of your gear to enhance your experience.
Your mask is your window to the underwater world. If it starts leaking when you’re on the reef, you’ll have to cut the dive short and head to the surface.
Don’t let your fear get in the way of your dive time. This guide gives you everything you need to know to check the fit of your mask and assess its condition to ensure you never get a leak.
Lose the Stash
If you have a beard or mustache, consider getting rid of the lip area for your dive trip. If you absolutely have to keep it, you’ll need to shave the top half at a minimum. Why would you have to trim the stash? Because it interferes with the watertight seal around that area.
The facial hair raises the skirting of the mask, allowing water to enter. It might seem like you have a tight fit on the surface, but the water starts pouring in when you get below ten feet. Shaving the skin on your upper lip before your dive is the best way to ensure this doesn’t happen to you on your dive.
Don’t Wear Sunblock
Yes, we know everyone tells you to wear sunblock, but you’re going underwater, so you don’t need it till you’re back on the surface. If you lather up your face with sunblock before fitting your mask, it will affect the seal of the silicone skirt to your face.
The sunblock allows water to creep under the skirting and into the mask, flooding it. So, keep the sunblock and oils off your face until after the dive. Most scuba dives occur before the sun gets high enough to initiate a sunburn anyway.
Tie Up Long Hair
If you have long hair, a strand or two might float into the skirting when you’re fitting the mask on the boat. You might not notice it at first, descending into the depths with a compromised seal. Like the facial hair problem, the hair interferes with the efficient sealing of the mask to your face, and water comes rushing in.
Make sure you tier up long hair before you get on the boat. Check it when you arrive at the dive site, and ensure you don’t have loose strands floating around when fitting your mask. Loose hair may also snag in the head strap, pulling when you fit it to your head. It’s a painful experience, so keep your hair tied up.
Choose a Form-Fitting Mask
Choose the correct mask for your face. Mask manufacturing brands design face skirts in various styles to provide different feel and comfort on your face. You might find you can’t stand the fit of a specific brand but love the fit of another.
Try on a few masks from different brands and model ranges before settling on the right one for your dive. Your mask should offer a tight seal without placing pressure below your nose or on the sides of your eyes.
Check the Skirt
Check the skirt if you’re using a pre-owned or used mask at a dive charter. Many dive camps don’t pay attention to maintaining their equipment as they should. So, the silicone skirt around the mask perishes due to neglect. As a result, the mask loses its watertight integrity under water.
Look for signs like perished silicone and cracks on the skirting before settling on the guest mask in the camp’s gearbox. It’s common to see masks sitting on the bottom of dive sites after people knock them off their heads on the surface. However, the skirts on these masks are already almost always perished.
A Tight Strap Doesn’t Mean a Good Seal
Many newbie divers assume that a tight head strap equates to a watertight seal around the face, but this isn’t always the case. Just because the mask feels tight doesn’t mean it won’t leak. The condition of the skirting plays a role in the watertight seal, and, as mentioned, it can perish.
It’s always a good idea to try the mask in a pool before heading to the dive site. By experimenting with it in the pool, you can play around with the setup to customize the fit. If you have to make adjustments during your dive, it’s likely to flood the mask and cut your dive experience short. Working things out in the pool is the smarter choice for fitting your dive mask.
Cleaning, Maintenance, and Storage
As mentioned, the silicone skirt around the mask is sensitive and perishable. We recommend rinsing the mask with fresh water when you return after your dive.
The saltwater accelerates the perishing process if you leave it to dry on the skirt. Before packing your mask away, treat the skirt with silicone to keep it fresh and supple. Store the mask in its box out of contact with direct sunlight.
In Closing – How to Fit a Dive Mask Correctly to Prevent Leaking
- Position the mask on your face and make sure it feels comfortable.
- Breathe in through your nose, and you’ll feel the seal suck the mask into your face for a watertight fit.
- Pull the strap over the back of your head.
- Pull-on the side tabs of the head strap to customize the fit.
- Before Pulling the mask over your head, make sure your hair is out of the skirt.
- If you’re wearing a hood, make sure the hood isn’t interfering with the mask seal.
- Run a finger around the hood rim opening to ensure the mask is against your skin.
- Pull any hair out of the head strap if you’re not wearing a hood.
- Check to see if the mask is centered on your face and comfortable.
- Adjust the head strap to accommodate the fit and comfort.
- When in the water, push the mask lens inwards while breathing out through your nostrils.
- This strategy sucks the mask onto your face for a watertight seal.