Each month, the SCUBA DIVER test team assembles to rate and review a selection of dive equipment from a range of manufacturers. Products are split into price categories and are then evaluated for performance, comfort, ease of use, build quality, looks and value for money.

BUDGET MASKS

We take a look at masks under £45. Masks are a very personal piece of diving equipment, and finding one which suits your face is the goal of all divers. We tried a selection of masks from several manufacturers and looked at fit, comfort, ease of clearing, range of vision and price.

ON TEST THIS MONTH:

• AQUALUNG REVEAL X1
• BARE FRAMELESS
• BEST DIVERS NARVALO
• BEST HUNTER KITE CAMO • OCEANIC SITE
• SCUBAPRO VIBE 2

Location: Tested in Oswestry swimming pool

Date tested: 9/10/17 Water temp: 28 degrees C

AQUALUNG REVEAL X1 | SRP: £45

The Aqualung Reveal is claimed to be Aqualung’s most-comfortable and best-fitting mask ever. Thanks to an innovative construction system, it is the lightest single-lens (non-frameless) mask on the market.

It has a super-soft, top-quality, crystal-clear silicone skirt with an ergonomic profile, which means it moulds to your face. The buckles are attached directly to the silicone skirt and feature a quick-release system operated by a single button mounted on the top of the buckle, which is simple to use even with thick gloves on. This is teamed with a spherical silicone head band strap to help achieve the perfect fit.

The X2 version – which has two lenses instead of a single lens – is currently in Long Term Test and has been scoring highly month after month with the Test Team.

The Reveal X1 is a good-looking mask, and with it being available in various colours with the clear skirt, or a couple of variations with a black ‘techie’ skirt, as well as in single lens and twin lens versions, there is something for everyone.

It feels well made, and is light and robust. It sits comfortably on your face, and offers good peripheral and downward views. It is easy to clear, and we liked the roughened area on the nose piece to add grip when you are equalising. Nice mask, at a decent price.

VERDICT

Extremely nice mask, which fits well, is priced reasonably and is very comfortable. Plenty of colour and style options.

SCORE •••••••••

BARE FRAMELESS | SRP: £42

Bare are rapidly making a name for themselves for quality dive kit. The company’s drysuits have all faired extremely well with the Test Team, and the Frameless mask continues this tradition.

This low-volume, single-lens design mask features a very soft, supple double-flanged silicone skirt for an excellent face seal, and has a tempered safety glass lens. The flexible buckle attachment swivels with facial movements and absorbs shock, preventing buckle breakage when the mask is bumped or dropped.

The push-button buckle allows for quick and easy adjustments. It only comes in black.

The first thing which hits you about the Bare Frameless is how light it is. It really doesn’t weigh anything at all, and is ultra-comfortable on your face thanks to that soft silicone skirt. The strap is robust and has a nice feel to it, and it holds fast to the back of your head once you have it seated properly.

We liked the buckles, which release with a simple squeeze of the buttons mounted either side of it. Even with gloves on, this is easy to operate. It might only come in ‘techie black’, but it does look good in this subtle colour scheme. Belting mask for the money.

VERDICT

Well-priced, comfortable mask, that is easy to clear and has a good performance, but that look could put some people off.

SCORE •••••••

BEST DIVERS NARVALO | SRP: £35

Best Divers is an Italian firm which is making a name for itself with quality dive accessories, and especially masks. The Narvalo is a ‘techie black’ frameless model with a soft silicone skirt to enable a good fit. It is very low profile, and the distinctive shape of the single lens is designed to give you excellent peripheral and downward vision. Ridges on the top of the skirt where it sits on the lens provide grip for your fingers when mask-clearing.

It has an easily removeable strap mounted on hinged buckles, and also comes with a Best Divers neoprene mask strap cover.

The Narvalo is a very unusual-looking mask – one of the team likened it to Dame Edna ‘glasses’ – but it certainly stands out from the crowd. A Marmite-look, for sure, but the weird lens shape is for a reason, and it does afford a widened peripheral and downward vision. The skirt is very soft and pliable, making it extremely comfortable, and as it is so low-profile, it is a simple matter to clear.

VERDICT

Well-priced, comfortable mask, that is easy to clear and has a good performance, but that look could put some people off.

SCORE ••••••

BEST HUNTER KITE CAMO | SRP: £40

The Best Hunter Kite Camp is aimed at the spearfishermen, hence the name and distinc- tive colour scheme, but it will also appeal to divers wanting an extremely low-profile mask for general scuba use.

The silicone skirt is very soft and moulds to your face, and the chunky, shaped strap fits well round the back of your head to hold the mask securely in place. This strap then connects to well-thought-out buckles that release with a dual-button press – simple to go even with thick gloves on.

The camouflage finish will not be to everyone’s taste, but it does stand out, that is for sure!
The vision is not as wide as some of the competition, but this is down to the small lenses and low-profile design of this kind of mask.

The Kite Camo is unlike any other mask in the line-up, and while it is very comfortable, the peripheral vision is not that wide. However, it is very easy to clear, well made and a decent price. If you are into your freediving as well as your diving, this might be a good option, as it can double up to both disciplines.

VERDICT

Low-profile, comfortable and well-made, but the vision is compromised somewhat by the freediving styling.

SCORE •••••••

OCEANIC SITE | SRP: £29.99

Good, traditional-style twin-lens mask at a bargain price from Oceanic. The Site has, compared with others here, quite ‘dated’ buckles, but while it may not boast push-button adjustability, the clip arrangement it has does work.

The skirt is quite firm but still comfortable, and it is reasonably low-profile, so simple to clear. The range of vision is not bad considering this is quite an ‘old-school’ mask. It is available in blue, yellow and silver/grey.

The Site doesn’t break the bank at under £30, but you still get a decent mask for your money. It is very robustly made – separate internal and external structures make it very strong, which is why it can have such a narrow centrepiece between the two lenses – but is still fairly lightweight.

The field of vision is not as wide or deep as some of its rivals, but still not bad overall, and the firm skirt is very comfortable against your face.

VERDICT

Bargain-priced traditional twin-lens mask, with a comfortable skirt, robust construction and a range of colours.

SCORE ••••••••

SCUBAPRO VIBE 2 | SRP: £34

The Vibe 2 is an attractive-looking twin lens mask that has a firm but comfortable silicone skirt, ultra-clear lenses for clear vision, and teardrop-shaped lenses for wider downward, in particular, and peripheral vision.

The mask comes with the EZ Mask strap, which seems quite bulky but is comfortable enough once it is on the back of your head. The central push buttons simultaneously release both sides of the strap, so you get an even adjustment. It works well, though it does take a little getting used to. If this isn’t your bag, no dramas – a standard mask strap is also included in the box so you can just swap it out.

It is available in a wide range of colours, includ- ing with a ‘techie-black’ skirt.

VERDICT: BEST VALUE

The Scubapro Vibe 2 is a good-looking mask that is extremely comfortable, thanks both to its fairly stiff-but-flexible silicone skirt and the EZ Mask strap system. We were initially a little dismissive of this gadget as a gimmick, but it does actually work very well. We also found the device ‘cupped’ the back of your head well to hold the mask securely in place.
The field of vision is above average, and it is easy to clear as it is relatively low-profile. Well made, but equally well priced – cracking little mask.

SCUBA DIVER VERDICT 

Masks are a very personal people of equipment. Once you find a mask that fits your face, you will be reluctant to part with it. A good mask is essential to a dive being comfortable and hassle-free – no one likes to be constantly emptying their mask because of an annoying leak trickling water in.

The Best Value title went to the Scubapro Vibe 2, which looks far more expensive than it actually is. It is well made, comfortable and has a neat EZ Strap system fitted (as well as having a standard option too). At under £35 it represents great value.

The Choice away went to the Bare Frameless, which is still well-priced but oozes quality, is very lightweight, ultra-comfortable and has a neat, subtle finish. This would be perfect as a primary mask or, because it can fold flat, a fantastic back-up mask.

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