Dive Masks Let You View the Underwater World.
Dive masks are your window to the underwater world. You have chosen to scuba dive to experience life that is alien to humans. Your dive equipment allows you to see, breathe and move underwater, like a sea creature.
So it makes sense to learn everything you can about diving equipment to make the best selections. The first step is buying a diving mask. It not only allows you to see everything around you, but keeps water out of your eyes and nose.
Masks have a tempered glass plate that is durable and allows divers to see around them. There is a “skirt” around the plate that forms a tight seal against your face. The strap keeps your scuba mask in place, but its function is not to keep water out. So do not try to tighten the straps if water leaks in.
To determine if your mask is a good fit, press it against your face and inhale through your nose. This should create a tight vacuum and hold the mask to your face.
Silicone Masks are Designed to Have a Memory Fit
New divers frequently share scuba masks, use loaners or rent their equipment. Invest in a new dive mask, if you want it to fit properly and function well.
The easiest way to spoil a dive is to wear a mask that does not seal to your face. You will constantly be clearing water from your mask, or heading to the surface with irritated eyes.
The pliable skirting on quality masks is designed to mold to the contours of a diver’s face. The soft silicone material will hold that shape — unless other divers try to use the same mask.
If you borrow a friend’s mask, the mask likely will leak because the skirt won’t fit your face. You also will destroy the “memory” fit for your friend.
Description of Mask Features
All of the masks featured here at The Scuba Shop are constructed of the highest quality materials; with impact resistant tempered glass lenses and double feathered skirts that provide a larger sealing surface for an overall better fit. We carry a wide price range to fit almost any budget for both adults and children. The difference from one style to another are the features, the quality is the same. Such added features offer the benefits of easier mask clearing (Purge) and/or increased peripheral vision (Tri-View or Panoramic View).
Before The First Use
Fogging is one of the most common problems experienced by new snorkelers and scuba divers and there is a very simple solution. New masks have an oil film that was deposited on the tempered glass lens as part of the manufacturing process. This oil film causes water vapor to bead on the lens of the mask causing a significant amount of fogging which also prevents defog solutions from working effectively. The first step in preventing a mask from fogging is to remove this oil film using an effective mild abrasive that will not scratch the lens. We recommend and sell Sea Buff Mask Cleaner at The Scuba Shop.
Apply a small amount to the inside lens of the mask and scrub thoroughly with the tips of your fingers. After a good rinse the inside of the lens should be “squeaky clean.” You may need to do this more than once to completely remove the oil film. It is also a good idea to occasionally re-clean the lens depending on how often you use your mask. Oils from your skin, lotions and sun block can adhere to the lens causing the mask to be more likely to fog.
Defogging Your Mask
Once your mask has been prepared; you will need to use an anti-fog solution before each use. We recommend Sea Drops anti-fog. Of all the various types on the market we have found this one to be the easiest to use, perform the best, and leave no buildup or unsightly residue. Apply a small amount (a little goes along away) to the inside lens of your mask. Rub it around using your fingertips. If your mask has side windows be sure to get those too! Immediately rinse twice giving the mask two quick dunks. Do not rinse the mask too much otherwise you will wash away the defog altogether. Your mask is now ready to go for a fog free snorkel or dive.
If you are the type of snorkeler or diver who likes to remove your mask on the surface, keep in mind that you will have to defog your mask again because the defog solution will rinse away. It is best to keep your mask in place until your snorkel or dive is completed for the day.
Wearing Your Mask
Proper positioning and adjustment of the mask strap is very important. The strap should be snug but not tight enough to distort the soft skirt of the mask. Over tightening can actually cause a well fitting mask to leak. The widest part of the strap should be centered on the back of your head more towards the top. If the sides of the straps are hitting your ears the strap is too low. To put your mask on, it is best to fit the mask to your face and then pull the strap into place. Be sure to remove any hair that may get caught in between the mask skirt; this can cause your mask to leak. Ask your “buddy” to take a look and do the same for them. Many snorkelers and divers (especially those with long hair) find that the strap pulls their hair. A neoprene comfort cover can remedy this problem and we carry several styles at The Scuba Shop.
Mask Care And Maintenance
High quality Silicone masks should be rinsed in fresh water after each use, allowed to completely dry and stored in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight. Over exposure to sun causes fading, yellowing and discoloration. It can also cause the plastics in the the frame to crack. Transport and store you mask in a protective case for best results. It is also important to keep your mask away from sand as much as possible. Sand can work its way in between the frame and the mask skirt causing the mask to leak.
Some of the more common wet suit styles:
- Full Body: The full one-piece scuba suit, or jumpsuit, covers the entire body, with sleeves that extend to the wrists and leggings that go to the ankles. Made from neoprene, divers order them based on thickness, from 2 mm to 9 mm. Beware, that once the thickness reaches 5 mm, the suit feels heavy to wear.
- Shorties: These one-piece suits are knee-length with short sleeves. They are popular for diving in warmer climates. Surfers also use them.
- Farmer John: The two-piece is so named for the bib-style overalls, which come with a hooded jacket. The layered dive suit provides extra warmth.
Your Wetsuit Should Feel Snug But Not Tight
How can you tell if a wetsuit fits properly? First, it needs to feel snug but comfortable. An overly tight suit can hurt your circulation and impede your breathing. It won’t keep you any warmer either.
Make sure the neck and chest don’t feel too tight. Your suit should be form fitting, meaning there should be no loose folds.
Check out how the suit feels in the water. Once the suit fills, feel how the water heats and then warms your body. Try swimming around in the suit, to ensure that it does not allow too much water in, which will have the reverse effect and make you feel cold.
Wear Dive Skins Underneath Wetsuits
Dive skins are for warm-water diving. Some people even wear skins on cold-weather beaches, or at indoor swimming pools.
Made from Lycra or Spandex, dive skins aren’t designed to keep divers warm, but they are helpful in protecting skin from cuts and scrapes. Some divers wear thin dive skins underneath their scuba suits.
Dive skins can get damaged from the salt and sun, so it is a good idea to always wash your dive skin in freshwater, hang it up, and let it dry. Don’t throw it in the dryer; the heat will destroy the material. Do not try to store it wet either, or mildew will grow on the material.
Rinse the Salt From Your Scuba Wetsuit After Diving
The first thing you need to do after a dive is hose off your equipment. Salt is corrosive, so you need to protect your fins, mask and wetsuit.
Your wetsuit needs to be sprayed thoroughly with freshwater. Soak the inside and outside of the suit. This will get rid of any odors as well. Then hang up your scuba suit and let it dry. Do not store it wet. Mold and mildew will grow, which are impossible to get out. Here are some other tips for maintaining your wetsuit:
- Store your wetsuit on a large hanger, which ensures that the neoprene material will not crack or bend.
- Occasionally wash your wetsuit with special neoprene soap. Your wetsuit dealer should also carry neoprene sealer for ensuring the long life of your wetsuit.
- After your wetsuit dries, store it away from the sunlight, which can degrade the suit. You also may want to lubricate the zipper to ensure it works properly. The lubricant also can be purchased from your wetsuit dealer.
The good news about scuba fins is that there are more styles and choices than ever before. The challenge for divers is finding the right fins for their body type and diving needs.
The early-generation, full-foot diving flippers are still used by a lot of people. But there are newer, angled styles that allow for more efficient movement through the water.
Scuba divers usually prefer adjustable heel straps and a range of styles — angled, split or force fins. Snorklers often use paddle fins, which allow for leisurely swims over reefs.
Comfort should be choice No. 1. Dive fins that feel uncomfortable or awkward won’t work well for you.
Invest in a BCD That Fits Your Diving Needs
Your buoyancy compensator has many vital uses. You need a scuba BCD that fits well and is in good condition. If a BC does not fit or function well, it can spoil your dive. Consider all of a BC’s functions:
- Your BC lets you control your buoyancy underwater, even while carrying heavy equipment.
- It keeps you at the depth you want.
- It controls your descent and return to the surface.
- Your BC also is a life-saving service. In an emergency, you can inflate your BCD.
Consider a Dive Tank’s Size and Volume
Dive tanks often are the last piece of equipment that dive instructors and dive shops recommend for purchase. They are costly to buy but easy and cheap to rent. Divers who go out more than twice a month generally invest in their own tanks. But all tanks are not the same. Consider the tank’s size, volume, material, valve and weight characteristics.
Standard aluminum 80s have a working pressure of 3000 psi, pounds per square inch. A capacity of 80 cubic square feet should be enough for most sport diving. If you want more air for longer or deeper dives, you will have to go with larger or twin tanks.
Regulators control air pressure from cylinders to the diver. Gauges on the regulator let divers check and monitor the pressure. Here are features to look for in a scuba dive regulator:
- You want the regulator to be able to safely accommodate incoming gas pressure.
- The regulator needs to be able to safely reduce the gas pressure from the tank to a workable level for the diver.
- Regulators need to protect the purity of the gas supply to divers.
- If you want to measure or control gas flow, you will need a regulator that is specially equipped with a metering valve or flow meter.
Purge snorkels make it easier to clear water from your snorkel. There is a purge valve located at the bottom of the snorkel, which may enable divers to use less air to blow out water. Some purge valves are sheltered by a little cage that keeps debris out.
Some divers will only use purge snorkels, while others do not find them helpful and prefer simple snorkels. When you go on scuba trips, it’s always handy to have a snorkel. You can snorkel at the surface, for example, as you wait for the rest of your dive party to enter the water. If you surface far from the dive boat, it’s easier to use a snorkel to swim back, rather than getting a mouthful of water.
Dive lights are used for illuminating dark crevices during day dives. Lights are most commonly used for night dives. The lights are designed to be waterproof (sealed with an o-ring) and come in many shapes and sizes.
Tips for an enjoyable night dive
Make your night dive enjoyable by doing advance preparation. The prep work ensures your dive party’s safety and allows you to focus on the adventure itself. The better you plan the more prepared you are for unexpected problems, whether it is foul weather or a piece of equipment that fails.
- Pack your primary scuba light, a backup light and marker light, which should illuminate your ascent line. Bring fresh batteries.
- Organize your diving equipment during daylight hours. Make sure all safety equipment is on board the dive boat.
- Check weather and current conditions ahead of time. Make sure your dive buddy is outfitted and ready to go.
- When diving, don’t shine your strobe in your buddy’s face. It will temporarily blind and disorient the diver.
- Don’t switch your dive light off and on frequently. Equipment failure usually happens with the switch.
- Try to dim your light by covering it with your hands, so you do not over brighten the underwater area you are viewing.
- Learn light signals that divers use at night. Waving your light up and down means “Help!” Making a big circle with your light signals “OK.”
- If you surface far from the boat, shine the light on it to get attention. Then shine the scuba light on your head, so the dive boat can get to you. If you keep the light on the boat, no one will be able to see and find you.
Even if you find a dive computer with all the bells and whistles, veteran divers often rely on simple and easy-to-use dive watches.
As a diver, you want a scuba computer that is readable and easy to maintain. It may be practical to choose a dive computer that does not have too many buttons and menus to read. After all, you want to keep your focus on diving, not trying to decipher readings and gauges.
Back lighting is helpful for night diving or cloudy days underwater. Audible alarms also let you know quickly that you are ascending too fast.
Also, you may not want to spend too much on your first dive computer until you know for certain that deep diving is a regular part of your future recreation.
Check in with the experts at dive shops. Hear what they have to say. Most have impressive lines of computer dive watches. Then go online and find the best deal on the watch you want.
Choosing the best dive knives depends on the type of diving you do and how much you are willing to pay. Dive knives range in price from about $20 – $150, based on design, quality and material.
Like most dive gear these days, there is a variety of dive knives on the market, from folding knives to knives with built-in scissors. A lot of it comes down to personal choice. The bottom line is to make sure you buy a knife that is non-corrosive. Titanium is the choice material, though stainless steel also works.
- Serrated or straight edge: Serrated-edge knives are more common for diving. They are used to cut and saw rope, net, lines and kelp. Straight-edge knives cut fishing line and do other small tasks. Look for knives that offer dual blades — straight and serrated.
- Size and design: A medium-length knife is compact but has a blade length that can get most jobs done. Look for a knife handle that is 4 or 5 inches long, with a 4-inch blade. Blunt-tipped knives help you avoid any accidental punctures of gear while diving.
- Sheathing: Leg-mounted sheaths look sharp, but holders that fit on your BC are much more convenient.
You’ve made an investment in your scuba gear, so make sure you take care of it. Especially after a dive, it’s easy just to scatter your stuff. Consider buying a few different dives bags for holding and transporting your scuba gear.
Here is a checklist of dive bags that any serious recreational or sport diver will need:
- Mesh bags: These are the bags for carrying your scuba gear to the dive boat or dive site. The netting on these bags allows water to drain easily from them.The duffel bag style is standard, though the backpack style can be convenient because your hands are free. There also are tank bags and bags for holding your snorkel, mask and fins. Shop for mesh bags that have a rubber coating, which makes them more durable. It’s never a bad idea to have extra mesh bags on hand.
- Travel bags: These heavy-duty cargo bags are for trips, and most come with wheels. You can get a duffel-bag, cargo or backpack style travel bag. Look for travel bags with collapsible handles and interior dividers. Think twice before placing any kind of scuba sticker or insignia on your travel bag. While you may think the sticker will cause cargo handlers to transfer the bags with care, you are making the travel bags vulnerable to theft.