Over the years I think I’ve experienced just about every possible change and feature dive masks have had to offer.
I’ve seen them go from “port holes” with thick, black rubber skirts, to large rectangular glass boxes held together with metal framing and screws. And side windows? I witnessed them almost fail altogether as the extra material used in their construction made the mask very heavy and cumbersome, until some slick sales rep emerged with the idea that the side windows improve your peripheral vision. Then of course I watched everybody line right on up for them in the dive shop that I worked, like sheep for the slaughter, gullible as can be, having to have those side windows. They do serve a very nice purpose, but improved peripheral vision isn’t one of them. The reason for this farce will be the topic for another story on another day.
As scuba masks have progressed, the material the skirt is made from has evolved from rubber to silicone. Silicone is more pliable than rubber and able to form to more faces better than rubber, offering a superior seal. Over the years, the silicone has gotten thinner and softer but surprisingly more durable. There have also been nose purges, designed to make it more easy and convenient to clear the water from your mask. The early purges were such an over all failure that it is amazing they are still around. One company actually offered a mask with a purge that you “installed” yourself! Talk about running with scissors! Today, as I have gotten older and admittedly lazier about the way I dive, I have to admit this is one feature I tend to look for in any mask I purchase.
There have been colored lenses, that many people still find popular today, but when it boils right down to it, really don’t do a whole bunch for you. And before you argue that keep this in mind. Scuba is one of the most “in-bred” industries I’ve ever been part of. If something is amazing and fantastic and works as advertised, every single manufacturer in the industry will find a way to copy it. There are actually successful engineers and product developers in scuba who are more famous for their ability to circumvent patent restrictions than develop new products from scratch. If those colored lenses were all they are cracked up to be, you’d see about 10 different companies offering them instead of just one.
Straps haven’t been immune to all this either. There have been rubber straps, of course, that dry rotted faster than anything else and were always an important staple in every dive bag, save a dive kit, tool box, glove box and spare pocket. They gave way to silicone just as our mask skirts did. There have been fabric straps, neoprene straps and strap wrappers, all designed for comfort and ease. Their main claim to fame is the ability to not get tangled in your hair. There have been “Cue” straps, designed to make it easier to adjust your mask, eliminating the need to take it off your head to tighten or loosen your mask. And on some specialized masks there have been strap systems that were/are entire harnesses, which is especially important if you are in an environment where losing your mask is more than an inconvenience but could be a health hazard as well.
Over the years I’ve been involved with Scuba the only thing that has never changed on our modern dive masks is seemingly the one thing that might possibly make us enjoy the over all experience better. With the exception of those gimmicky colored lenses, we’ve never put any real thought into making our vision underwater more clear. And I’m not referring to prescription lenses. Those are definitely a wonderful improvement but not all that ground breaking. It really was only a matter of time before some optician with a love for diving realized he could grind a lens to fit a dive mask just as easily as he could the frames of your glasses. We have always accepted that the tempered glass in our masks was clear, clean glass and offering us the perfect view into the underwater world. After all, we could see through them, distinguish colors, and over all have very few complaints. It hasn’t been until very recently that we have been shown how much we’ve been missing. The Ocean Quest Arctic Clear HD mask uses a new lens called the Arctic Clear HD lens. The glass used in this process is optical quality and far more pure than standard tempered glass. Typically the glass in your scuba mask has been made with “float glass” and is about the same quality as an average car window. What you think of as clear actually has a slight green tint to it that you can see by placing your mask in front of a white piece of paper. This is caused by the mineral impurities in the glass. Arctic Clear HD lenses use optical quality glass similar to that used in your eyeglasses. It is far more pure offering the best possible clarity and little to no color distortion. This feature works to minimize distortion and actually enhances the available light offering improved vision (like those colored lenses only try to do) and improves visual acuity that is most noticeable in low light conditions!
Ocean Quest doesn’t quit there. The Arctic Clear HD mask uses the highest grade of surgical silicone available and boasts a low volume design that maximizes your peripheral vision when wearing the mask. It is offered in both a non-purge design as well as with a low profile nose purge for ease and convenience of clearing. This definitely isn’t a necessity, but then again neither is power steering on your car, but I’m betting you’d not buy one without it. Designed with easy adjusted swivel buckles and a design that fits just about any face the Arctic Clear HD mask is available in Blue, Black, Yellow or all Clear, and is the perfect mask for just about anybody and any type of diving.