Full face masks have been gaining popularity with both snorkeling and scuba diving communities for a while now. The commercials we see online show perfectly shaped, tanned models diving in and having fun in perfect blue water. Surely, if that doesn’t make you want to try a full face mask, I don’t know what will.
Full face mask infomercials make us believe that the “claustrophobic” divers and snorkelers may prefer a full face mask because they allow you to breath through your nose. And, you no longer have to bite down on a regulator to keep air flowing to your mouth. Better yet, they claim they don’t flood, don’t fog and are nearly impossible to have kicked off your face.
So of course, we had to try it out!
Try Scuba – With a Full Face Mask
A few friends came into to do a Try Scuba session at the local dive shop. After 10-15 minute of diving with a traditional mask and regulator, they seemed fairly comfortable (as comfortable as you can be, breathing underwater). So they opted to try the next step – Scuba diving with a full face mask!
How Does It Work?
The full face mask is strapped onto your head fairly securely. The skirt of the mask fits nicely along the outside of your face and is really quite comfortable. I was concerned that the straps would yank and pull on my hair, but surprisingly it didn’t, even after it was snugged up to fit my head. The first thing I learned is that size is very important on your mask – they are definitely not one-size-fits all. If you’re going to try a mask, see if they have one close to your size.
Next, there is a air vent release that allows you to breath surface air when not hooked up to the air delivery system. The first mistake I made was not knowing how to open it. I put the mask on, took a breath and suddenly the mask was sucked onto my face and I could not breathe. At all. Should you try this and want to avoid instantaneous panic, simply open the release breathe outside air. Disaster averted.
Once the mask is secured with the air delivery system, you close the air vent and submerge. I was shocked at how quickly the mask cleared of fog once I was under the water. It was almost instantaneous. When used to a regulator in your mouth, you have an expectation of how you expect air to come from the regulator. This was different. “How?”, you may ask. You really must try for yourself because there really is nothing like it. Here you are, underwater and able to talk, yawn, stretch your jaw and breathe through the nose like you do on the surface. As a “normal” scuba diver, this seemed incredibly foreign underwater, and yet completely natural. It’s a feeling worth checking out at your local dive shop.
With a full face mask, you are long longer limited by hand signals to communicate with your dive buddy. Now, you can add a transmitter and listening device to talk to your buddy underwater.
Using a waterproof listening device, I was able to record sound directly on a GoPro. This is with the underwater housing, with the LCD attachment. Listen to the video to hear the sound quality. Considering that sound travels faster in water than in air, this seems somewhat remarkable.
Scuba Diving Over the Years
To think that scuba diving has transitioned from the open circuit in the 1860s, to the Aqua Lung in the 1920s to the demand regulator in the 1940s, it’s amazing to know that you can talk to your buddy underwater as a recreational diver. And, comparatively, it really isn’t all that expensive to do so.
With all this technology, it’s amazing to think where we could be going in the coming years. Enjoy the video of today’s technology and I encourage you to get out there and try a full face mask, or try scuba diving!