Equipment: My top 4 masks for fit and comfort

Updated: 6 Sep, 2022

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.

What if you’re hairy? Does that make it leak?

Nope! Even the most hirsute of divers can have a mask that doesn’t leak!

Firstly, “air goes up”, so if your forehead and sides of your eyes have a good seal, water won’t really leak in as long as your position doesn’t change. This isn’t really realistic, as we’ll all be moving around, twisting to look under things, for example. The solution is to put some grease-type stuff on your mustache.

Don’t use Vaseline.

Vaseline is petroleum based and will slowly break down the silicon skirt. If you are using a rental, where it will only be exposed briefly, it isn’t so bad. For your own mask, it will lower its lifespan.

I strong recommended to use silicone grease instead, or something similar. It can be the same thing you use on your camera o-rings!

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.

For smaller faces, it also comes in a ‘mini’ version.

Official website.

Beauchat Maxlux S


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

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.

What do I think?

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 width (your peripheral vision) isn’t as wide as the M1 or Venom Frameless. It can be harder to find in the USA than the similarly priced Shadow.

Ultimately, here the best advice I can give you:

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

One style to take a warning on though. You know those old oval style diving masks from the 70s? They are fantastic for people taking pictures of you – it really shows off your face! However, they are very difficult to reach your nose to equalise. With gloves on, it is particularly difficult. Try before you buy!

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