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low volume mask + big head?

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Shallow Water Whiteout
May 29, 2004
Just how important is a low volume mask?

I've been diving freshwater springs for years to about 60ft. I recently decided to get more serious - I got a wetsuit, longblade fins, and a low volume mask. I intend to go a bit deeper in the near future.

Here's the problem.

I've now tried two low volume masks (Sporasub Samurai and Cressi Big Eye) and both leak a bit no matter how tight I make the strap. The leaking doesn't get in my eyes TOO much, although that is a problem. The main problem, however, is the small amount of water that gets in while floating and breathing up, is enough that it "pools" on the lense (always in the same place too, a vertical stripe-type pool directly in front of my right eye) and obscures my vision pretty bad. Makes the whole dive pretty unenjoyable, and when I turn around to ascend, the pool drops into my right eye, and now all of a sudden I'm holding my breath 60 ft deep and worried about losing a contact lense! And if I don't "reset" the mask between dives it just gets worse.

For the past several years I've just used a cheap "U.S. Divers" mask I got from Wal-Mart. It says low volume on the packaging I think, but it's not nearly as small as the Samurai or Big Eye, obviously. But that mask always worked perfectly. No leaks, and crystal clear vision without the "stained glass effect" these unwanted pools of water are giving me.

I've always known I have a big head. I'm wondering if this is my problem with the 2 low-vol masks I've tried. So has anyone else out there had similar problems? Any low-vol masks out there you would recommend for the big-headed?

1- Cressi big eye is not seriously low volume mask but this does not mean you can not dive deeper with it. Its just harder.

2-Using low volume mask makes equalization much more better when you dive deeper. My technisub luna mask need to equalization up to 50 feet. Bigger the volume more air is needed to equalize it.

3-Don't make the mask strap to tight otherwise it gives serious headache and it leaks to if you put it too tight. Just be sure to it just tuch your face;) Latest silicon masks provide great seal...

4-Go to shop put your favorite mask to your face without wearing it, just push the mask to your face and take little air from nose, if it stays on your face then its fits ok...
No help at all I know but I have a similar problem with a small face. Low volume masks just arent in many dive stores, so its really difficult to try them on, I know how you feel, Im still using an old Typhoon scuba mask I bought about 15 years ago :)
Originally posted by Murat

2-Using low volume mask makes equalization much more better when you dive deeper. My technisub luna mask need to equalization up to 50 feet. Bigger the volume more air is needed to equalize it.


Murat, can you explain this ,because when I equalise I pinch my nose and do a " Valsalva" manoevre to equalize my ear drums and therefore the mask is out of the equation; I must admit I have found no difference between ease of equalisation between my cressi minima ( ultra low volume) + my cressi super ochio.
I believe he is talking about mask equalization. Which is generally pretty subconscious for me since I equalize hands-free and I guess a bit of air leaks out each time. Although last week when I was busy cranking my mask down SUPER tight, I managed to get it so tight that at 30 feet it felt like something was eating my face, and I had to blow HARD to break the suction and clear it, which kinda ruined my dive.

Maybe I actually had it *too* tight all along... I'll have to try making it a bit less tight this weekend.
Use the mask that is comfortable and doesn't leak. You will get more benefit from a mask that doesn't annoy you, because you'll be relaxed and happy.
Diving to 20 metres or so will allow just about any type of mask without making too much difference on your bottom time. Ultra-low volumes like the Minima are not a necessity for these depths.
If you are going to try out a new mask in the store as Murat suggested, do it WITH your snorkel in your mouth. Masks fit very differently with a regulator or snorkel in. Especially since you're getting leaks during breathup.
I've seen guys with moustaches use vaseline to help seal their mask when scubadiving.
Erik Y.
You should also look into a SPHERA, FALCO, or an old Dacor BANDIT to try and fit a large head.

They are all low volume and fit a wider face.

Originally posted by The111
I managed to get it so tight that at 30 feet it felt like something was eating my face, and I had to blow HARD to break the suction and clear it, which kinda ruined my dive.

Maybe I actually had it *too* tight all along... I'll have to try making it a bit less tight this weekend.

Its nothing to do with the straps. I had same problem with technisub look mask. They are bigger volume and needs more air to equalize. If you don't equalize it pop out your eyes and gives pain. Then i switched to luna and had no problem with it up to now...

Initially you have lots of air in the mask, but when you do deeper the air inside will drop dramatically and pressure will increase to balance it. This why you have pain when you go deeper. But with low volume mask you have very less air at the begining so when you deeper there won't be huge volume change thus presure change will lower, and as i said before you will need less air to blow in to offset the presure..
sorry, I was getting confused between ear and mask equilisation!

well explained !!
Originally posted by Murat
Its nothing to do with the straps.

I understand the idea of mask equalization - in THIS case it did have to do with the straps. I regularly take my large cheap mask to 60 ft with no problems. I don't make the strap too tight and equalizing happens subconsciously. With my new Samurai (much lower volume), I was trying to prevent leakage so I kept making it tighter and tighter... eventually on one dive I had the straps VERY VERY tight, so much that my "subconscious equalizations" weren't enough to break the seal I guess, and I didn't notice until about 30 feet when it started getting bad.
for what its worth.. i have a wide face and deep eye sockets {unibrow,herman munster,neanderthal lol } i tried countless masks ... finally tried on a RIFFE mask in yellow tinted lenses , Awesome fit ,Awesome mask
I use a Cressi Matrix and Omer Alien. The bigeyes leaks on me too. My Cressi tends to leak a bit if I change facial expressions when I've got my snork in - so it will accumilate a little on the surface sometimes - but it seems to pool in the nose pocket - have to be conscious of my face - then no probs. The Alien will only leak if I barely put the strap on and swim real fast on the surface :) Not over equalizing both seems to help them seal better.

I've actually used the alien with no strap at all.

Both seem to leak less or not at all with a loose strap. I wear them both just tight enough to keep the mask on. I would agree that, if anything, tightening the straps seems to somehow distort the mask and cause it to leak.

The Omer (as I've said elsewhere) gets the medal for most robust fit - really soft silicone on that one.

Another approach is the Omer aries 45 - which claims to be ultra compressible. That is it's a sort of high volume mask - but it collapses to half it's surface volume at depth and so doesn't need much equalizing.

Looks interesting to me.Omer Aries 45

The Aries - it's larger Cousin - works the same way but is a bit larger.

Masks really easily get to be obsessive :) But there are some extremely cool ones made for the freediving/spearfishing community.

My only gripe with the Omers is the nose pocket is angled up a bit too much - I just have to wear my alien a little lower - which is no biggy since it fits very close so the upward view is still good.

Wish I could try a few more freediving masks - but it's scuba country around here.
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The111 said:
I have a goatee/mustache too, if it matters...
Yes, that probably matters. Obvious really. My dive partner has a similar affliction (goatee) ... it makes getting a good seal more problematic and unreliable.

For low volume, the Cressi Matrix & Lince are lower volume than the big eyes. Lince is lowest volume but some people have sealing problems; for spearfishing, I reckon the Matrix may be better -- similar design, slightly higher volume but more comfortable & better field of view. Could also try the Omer masks (Alien, Abyss, Bandit).

Alternatively, sticking with the cheap & cheerful chain store approach, I find the kiddies size silicone masks fit me (and I am a large adult) with a good seal & are fairly low volume.
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