Do I need a Personal Mask for Scuba Diving?

Should I buy my own?

Due to the outbreak of the COVID 19 many divers are very aware of personal hygiene and are aware of the risk of further contamination. Although much is being done at Dive Smart Gozo to prevent cross-contamination, maybe now is the time to look into buying some of your own scuba gear.

Maybe you are travelling around completing fun dives or just starting out to learn to scuba dive. Sometimes you might wonder if it is better to purchase your own equipment or keep renting scuba gear. There is not an easy answer to this question and there are factors to take into consideration. Good quality diving equipment is expensive and if you are a beginner, the choice can be overwhelming. A guideline might be to start with things that you can afford, such as a mask and snorkel. Let’s look at some good reasons why you should get some of your own gear as early as possible.

First, a mask and snorkel maybe?

During our beginner dives and PADI Open Water Courses, we ensure that our equipment fits as good and comfortable as possible. However, while rental equipment is worn by many divers throughout the season it does eventually lose shape and form.
Your scuba diving mask is probably the most personal piece of equipment you will own. Whilst it sits directly onto your face, fully enclosing your nose, it’s good to know that only you will wear it!
An ill-fitting mask will properly leak constantly throughout the dive, which is very uncomfortable indeed. Not only does it ruin the dive, but it can also be a cause of panic in novice divers. Constantly clearing your mask is a tiresome exercise and it soon becomes frustrating. 

Ill-fitting rental equipment:

Yes, we know how to clear our masks, but when it becomes the main focus of the dive, the enjoyment soon turns into annoyance. You pay good hard-earned money to go on a fun dive, to find the dive was ruined by an ill-fitting rental mask. Ill-fitting equipment is a known cause of anxiety and stress. It may lead to an uncomfortable dive; money badly spent, or even to panic and you aborting your dive; money wasted.

Rental Equipment:

The downside to rental masks is they vary in quality, condition and comfort. Top dive sites around the world are often remote islands where scuba gear is hard to purchase. We offer good quality masks to our guests, however, I have been to some dive centres around the world where a box of mask ‘all-sorts’ is on offer. Choose one and hope it fits is the motto, and if you wait too long to decide you have to take what’s leftover! A well-fitting mask is great, providing comfort, a dry-eyed experience and it allows to have a quality, stress-free dive. These are important factors for divers as well as student divers.

Masks with no mask strap keepers and tears in the mask skirt are destined to leak. Old and cheap mask skirts become hard with use through sun and saltwater. Deformed masks and broken masks should be disposed of immediately as they provide no comfort, they leak and are a cause for concern.

Why buy a mask?

Our first reason to recommend a personal mask is down to the silicone skirt material. A high-quality silicone product is soft to touch, flexible to mould around your face and must not press on the bridge of your nose. Rental masks are often lower in price and quality. They usually have a skirt made out of a mix of silicone and rubber. These masks do not shape well therefore they do not mould around individual faces for an optimal mask seal.
From a diving centres point of view, this is a deliberate choice to make. Masks need to be replaced frequently, so high-end masks that mould quickly to someone’s face is not good, it will not fit the next person 10 dives down the line. With your own personal mask, a high-quality product will mould to your face after a few dives and will be comfortable thereafter until you decide to change it.

Ask for help if unsure:

If you are a beginner diver or a novice with little experience, ask for professional help before purchasing a mask. Ask your dive instructor what mask would be best for you, go together and try them on. Get professional advice and let them guide you through the selection process. Try not to choose that ‘one’ because the colour matches your BCD, it must fit! Considerations to be made in the highest priority first are fit, comfort, price and brand. A good quality mask has its price but it does not need to cost a fortune either. A good mask is priced between €55 – €90, anything above this price should offer something exceptional. This price range does not include prescription lenses – these are expensive, but for some, most beneficial.
Many of us Instructors have had our masks for years and they are still going strong. We are often reluctant to replace our personal masks, only when it is absolutely necessary, do we do so.
Should I buy my own mask? I would say at least take a look, try some on consider making that first investment in personal scuba gear. It is worth every penny in the end!
Stay safe everyone!