Equipment: Masks

Updated: 14 Jun, 2018

The best mask you can buy – is the one that fits and seals comfortably.

It doesn’t matter if you paid $10 for it as part of a kids snorkel set from K-mart, $30 bargain sale, $300 titanium framed one, or $500 from an antique auction.

Safety is always a consideration. Make sure the glass is tempered, and the strap is in good condition.

When checking a mask for fit be aware of:

  • Face width: a wide mask will not fit as well onto a narrow face, and visa versa.
  • Nose width: many masks are not made with wide noses in mind, making them very uncomfortable for certain Asian and African ethnicities.
  • Nose bridge space: for noses with a higher bridge, normal masks may press against them, rubbing and causing pressure against the nose.

In addition to comfort, there are a few other considerations when looking at masks.

  • Field of vision – how wide you can see. Some people like “side windows” because of this.
  • Clarity of vision – how clear the masks are. Some people prefer tinted lenses.
  • Volume – a larger mask can be more comfortable, but can be more effort to equalise. A smaller scuba mask could double as a freediving mask.

That said, there are four masks which I like – for my shaped face / head.

If you’re not sure what to look for, check these out.

  • Oceanic Shadow
  • Beauchat Maxlux S
  • Hollis M1
  • Atomic Aquatics Venom Frameless

Oceanic Shadow

Cost: $80 USD

A low volume, frameless mask. It has an interesting mask strap “protector” built in, which can stop hair getting tangled & caught – making it easy to don and doff.

Fairly suitable for freediving as well.

Official website.

Beauchat Maxlux S

*EDITOR’S CHOICE*

Cost: $80 USD

Very low volume, very soft silicon, very easy to equalise (nose pinch). Fantastic range of colours to choose from. Most masks come in only one or two colours. The Maxlux S has 14 to choose from.

Fairly suitable for freediving as well.

Official website.

Hollis M1

Price: $99.99
Was: $109.95
Cost: $110 USD

Fantastic viewing range, Frameless and great clarity. Very comfortable.

Official website.

Atomic Aquatics Venom Frameless

Cost: $170 USD

Unparalleled comfort, clarity and viewing range. In my experience, the best mask I’ve ever worn. Unfortunately, the price is significantly higher than other brands.

Official website.

Final Thoughts

The Beauchat Maxlux S for me is a fantastic mask. At that price point, it is small, light (good for travel), folds up small (good for a spare in your BCD pocket). And the nose pocket is amazingly comfortable. It’s a little better on the seal when my facial hair grows in.

But… its viewing range (angle) isn’t as wide as the M1 or Venom Frameless. It can be harder to find in the USA than the similarly priced Shadow.

There is no singular “best” mask – but there are some very good ones out there.

P.S.

If you have a mustache, and use Vaseline to help create a better seal – it’s been recommended to use something else, as it can start to break down the silicon of the mask.

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