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Your scuba diving mask is usually the first piece of diving equipment you will buy. The best scuba mask will give you a great field of vision, won’t leak and will be comfortable to wear underwater for the entire duration of your dives. Without good vision, you won’t have fun diving.

Scuba diving masks offer various ranges in price, with some being extremely affordable. But, it’s important to remember why you need a mask and what features to look for so you make the right choice. A scuba diving mask is not the same as a snorkel mask, so don’t go for the cheapest version thinking it will suffice for both.

In this guide, we’re going to explain all the important features to look for in a scuba diving mask as well as show you a selection of the best models of the year to make your choice easier.

For more of our top scuba gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: 

Dive Masks for Large Faces | Dive Masks for Small Faces | Dive Masks with a Purge Valve

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Quick Answer - The Best Scuba Diving Masks

  1. Mares X-VU Sunrise
  2. Cressi Frameless F1
  3. TUSA Liberator-Plus
  4. XS Scuba Cortez
  5. Cressi Big Eyes Evolution
  6. TUSA Freedom Elite
  7. Aqua Lung Favola
  8. Cressi Nano
  9. XS Scuba Eagleye

 

Comparison Table - Best Diving Masks

PictureNameColorStrap StyleVolumeWindowsPriceRating
Mares X-VU SunriseClear, BlackX SplitMedium2$4.6
Cressi Frameless F1Clear, ColoredWide SplitLow1$4.8
TUSA Liberator-PlusClear, BlackSplitMedium2$4.7
XS Scuba CortezClearSolidMedium1$$4.4
Cressi Big Eyes EvolutionClear, BlackSplitMedium2$$4.6
TUSA Freedom EliteClear, BlackSplitHigh1$$4.5
Aqua Lung FavolaClear, BlackWide SplitLow2$$4.6
Cressi NanoBlackWide SplitLow2$$$5.0
XS Scuba EagleyeBlackX SplitMedium1$$$4.7
Hollis M1BlackWide SplitLow1$$$4.8
PictureNameColorStrap StyleVolumeWindowsPriceRating

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Reviews - The Best Masks for Scuba Diving

Mares X-VU Sunrise

Specs
  • Color: Clear, Black
  • Material: Liquidskin Bi-silicone
  • Volume: Medium
  • Windows: 2
  • Strap Style: X Split
  • Skirt Seal: Double Feathered, Ribbed
Features
  • Teardrop Lenses
  • Corrective Lens Compatible
  • Sold in a Variety of Colors
  • Ribbed Nose Pocket to Reduce Pressure Around Bridge
  • Designed to Fit Wide Faces

BEST FOR: DIVERS ON A BUDGET

The Mares X-VU Sunrise was first designed for the Asian market but has become a global favorite thanks to its unique features. This mask’s skirt is large enough to fit even the widest of faces. It’s so soft and flexible that you’ll never finish a dive with lines or marks left behind. And, it features a unique ribbed nose pocket to reduce contact and pressure around the bridge. The X-VU Sunrise uses oversized and inverted teardrop lenses that improve lookdown vision and are easy to exchange for prescription lenses. Plus, this is one of the most affordable models on the market, so it’s ideal for newly certified divers and budget shoppers.

Cressi Frameless F1

Specs
  • Color: Clear, Colored
  • Material: High-Seal Silicone
  • Volume: Low
  • Windows: 1
  • Strap Style: Wide Split
  • Skirt Seal: Double Feathered
Features
  • Frameless
  • Wide Field of Vision
  • Sold in a Variety of Colors
  • Molded Strap Base for Increased Flexibility
  • Folds Flat for Easy Storage

BEST FOR: LOW PROFILE

Do you ever struggle with clearing your mask during a dive? The Cressi Frameless F1 is one of the lowest profile options available, so it’s super easy to clear. Its strap is molded directly to the skirt which increases flexibility and reduces leaks, keeping water out. Plus, its frameless design offers an extra wide field of vision and folds flat for easy storage. The Frameless F1 is available in a variety of solid colors, so it blocks excess light without making you feel boxed in. These vibrant shades are also stylish and easy to spot underwater, even in low visibility.

TUSA Liberator-Plus

Specs
  • Color: Clear, Black
  • Material: Fit II Low Friction Silicone
  • Volume: Medium
  • Windows: 2
  • Strap Style: Split
  • Skirt Seal: Rounded Double Feathered
Features
  • Corrective Lens Compatible
  • Sold in a Variety of Colors
  • Designed to Fit All Face Shapes
  • Cold Water Compatible

BEST FOR: BEGINNERS

If you’re new to diving, the Tusa Liberator Plus is an excellent option. This mask is lightweight, affordable, and features a basic design that works well in challenging conditions. Plus, it fits nearly every face. Cold water divers will appreciate an oversized nose pocket, wide and rounded skirt for an airtight seal, and bulky buckles that are easy to operate while wearing thick gloves. The Liberator Plus is compatible with prescription lenses as well as stick-on magnifiers and comes in a variety of attractive colors. Best of all, this stylish and well rounded basic model will make a great backup mask someday when you upgrade.

XS Scuba Cortez

Specs
  • Color: Clear
  • Material: Silicone, Rubber, Polycarbonate
  • Volume: Medium
  • Windows: 1
  • Strap Style: Solid
  • Skirt Seal: Extra Wide Double Feathered
Features
  • Wide Field of Vision
  • Strap Attaches To Frame for Increased Stability
  • Designed to Fit Wide Faces
  • Cold Water Compatible
  • Easy Adjust Solid Strap

BEST FOR: LARGE FACES

Divers with larger faces or facial hair might struggle to find a mask that fits well. The XS Scuba Cortez was designed to seal around wide face shapes and over thick beards and mustaches. This model’s solid comfort strap is longer than most and easier to adjust too, with one central adjustment point and quick release at the back of the head. The Cortez features a skirt that is wide on top to form a perfect seal around the hairline and temples, but slim on the bottom to prevent leaks around the top lip. Plus, this mask features an oversized nose pocket and buckles, so it’s perfect for divers with big hands or thick gloves.

Cressi Big Eyes Evolution

Specs
  • Color: Clear, Black
  • Material: Hypoallergenic Silicone Rubber
  • Volume: Medium
  • Windows: 2
  • Strap Style: Split
  • Skirt Seal: Double Feathered, Ribbed
Features
  • Teardrop Lenses
  • Corrective Lens Compatible
  • Designed to Fit Small Faces
  • Strap Attaches To Frame for Increased Stability
  • Raised Nose Pocket to Reduce Pressure Around the Bridge of Your Nose

BEST FOR: PRESCRIPTION LENSES   

The Cressi Eyes Evolution is one of the most versatile mask options available for divers who wear prescription lenses. It features an inverted teardrop shaped lens for better lookdown vision, which is helpful for locating and reading gauges and computers underwater. Its double skirt is ribbed and flexible enough to fit a wide variety of face shapes, including small and narrow. And, its silicone is super soft and contoured, so it will never leave marks or rings around your eyes after a dive. The Eyes Evolution also features a mask strap that attaches directly to the frame, so you won’t have to worry about leaking and flooding if you need to adjust for tightness underwater.

TUSA Freedom Elite

Specs
  • Color: Clear, Black
  • Material: Low-friction Silicone
  • Volume: High
  • Windows: 1
  • Strap Style: Split
  • Skirt Seal: Double Feathered, Dimpled
Features
  • Wide Field of Vision
  • Sold in a Variety of Colors
  • Strap Attaches To Frame for Increased Stability
  • Designed to Fit Wide Faces
  • Low Friction Silicone Seal

BEST FOR: BEARDS AND MUSTACHES

Divers with beards and mustaches may find that finding the right mask can be challenging. The TUSA Freedom Elite forms an airtight seal, even over thick facial hair, using specially blended low friction silicone. This feature helps it grip your skin firmly without leaving lines or indentations. The TUSA Freedom Elite holds more air than most models, leaving plenty of room between your face and its extra-wide single front lens. This means plenty of space for more pronounced facial features and prevents mask squeezes. But, it will also make it a bit harder to clear water out of your mask during your dive.

Aqua Lung Favola

Specs
  • Color: Clear, Black
  • Material: Silicone, Optical Polymer
  • Volume: Low
  • Windows: 2
  • Strap Style: Wide Split
  • Skirt Seal: Narrow Double Feathered
Features
  • Teardrop Lenses
  • Female Specific Design
  • Corrective Lens Compatible
  • Sold in a Variety of Colors
  • Cold Water Compatible

BEST FOR: WOMEN

Women who dive often experience mask flooding and leaks around the cheeks and temples. The Aqua Lung Faviola features a female-specific design to combat this issue. A narrow frame, short and flexible mask skirt, and wide easy-adjust strap help form and maintain a solid seal underwater. This model offers plenty of lookdown vision, thanks to its inverted teardrop shaped windows, and it is also prescription lens compatible. The Faviola is available in a wide variety of colors, so it’s easy to coordinate with your other equipment. This mask is also a top pick for kids, thanks to its small size.

Cressi Nano

Specs
  • Color: Black
  • Material: High-Seal Silicone
  • Volume: Low
  • Windows: 2
  • Strap Style: Wide Split
  • Skirt Seal: Narrow Double Feathered
Features
  • Teardrop Lenses
  • Corrective Lens Compatible
  • Strap Attaches To Frame for Increased Stability
  • Designed to Fit Small Faces
  • Doubles as a Freediving Mask

BEST FOR: SCUBA AND APNEA

Do you enjoy SCUBA and apnea? The Cressi Nano is one of the only models on the market that works for both sports. And, while it might not win any points for style with its basic black design, this mask is loaded with diver friendly features. A narrow double feathered skirt helps this mask form a seal on even the smallest of faces while maintaining a super low air volume. This makes it comfortable, flexible, and easy to clear. Plus, the Cressi Nano offers excellent lookdown vision, and it is prescription lens compatible. This mask is extremely low profile and uses small hardware, so divers with large hands or thick gloves may find it challenging to adjust underwater.

XS Scuba Eagleye

Specs
  • Color: Black
  • Material: Silicone
  • Volume: Medium
  • Windows: 1
  • Strap Style: X Split
  • Skirt Seal: Double Feathered
Features
  • Wide Field of Vision
  • Designed to Fit All Face Shapes
  • Reflective Anti-Glare Lens Coating
  • Purge Valve

BEST FOR: PURGE VALVE

The XS Scuba Eagleye is a utilitarian option, designed with a focus on function, not fashion. But, what it lacks in looks it more than makes up for with user-friendly features. This mask is available with an optional purge valve that allows you to clear water from inside by exhaling rather than performing a traditional mask clear. The Eagleye also comes standard with a reflective anti-glare lens coating. This protective film lets plenty of light in, so it won’t affect your vision underwater, and it blocks harmful UV rays on the surface. So, it’s a top pick among divemasters and instructors as well.

Hollis M1

Specs
  • Color: Black
  • Material: Matte Silicone
  • Volume: Low
  • Windows: 1
  • Strap Style: Wide Split
  • Skirt Seal: Narrow Double Feathered
Features
  • Frameless
  • Wide Field of Vision
  • Designed to Fit All Face Shapes
  • Folds Flat for Easy Storage
  • Cold Water Compatible
  • Flat Black Finish Reduces Glare and Improves Distance Vision Underwater

BEST FOR: TOP OF THE LINE

If you don’t mind spending a little bit extra on your mask, the Hollis M1 is well worth the investment. This is one of the lowest volume single window masks available, so it offers a wide field of vision and is also easy to clear. Its short flexible skirt fits nearly every face shape comfortably and seals well over facial hair. A frameless design makes it easy to fold flat, so it’s perfect for dive travel. And, its solid matte black silicone finish reduces glare and improves distance vision underwater. The M1 also features oversized and easy to grip buckles, making it ideal for use in cold climates.

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THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A SCUBA DIVING MASK

FIT

No matter what scuba gear you’re shopping for, a good fit should be your top priority. But, when shopping for a mask, it’s vital that you choose a model that fits your face properly. A mask that doesn’t seal well will leak and flood, creating undue stress underwater. And, one that’s too tight or the wrong shape can cause a painful mask squeeze. No matter what shape or size your face is, you’ll want to follow the same simple procedure to ensure proper fit.

First, hold the mask over your face, without using the strap, and see how the skirt (the rubber edge that sticks to your face) fits you. If the skirt overlaps with your hairline or sits too low on your top lip, it will leak. If your mask’s skirt is the right size, move on to testing the seal it creates around your face. To check for a watertight seal, continue holding the mask in place, and inhale gently through your nose. This should create suction inside the mask, holding it firmly in place without using the strap. If the mask moves up and down or slides around, it will leak underwater.

Your mask’s window shouldn’t press against the bridge of your nose or forehead. The mask’s internal pressure will increase once you are underwater and can cause headaches or pressure in your sinuses. If you have very pronounced features, consider a mask with special features like a raised or ribbed nose pocket to reduce pressure around the bridge of your nose.

 

SKIRT COLOR

SCUBA masks come in a variety of skirt colors. And, while you may prefer the look of one over another, these options aren’t just about style. Different skirt colors perform differently during a dive, and the best way to know which one you prefer is to dive with a few different styles.

A transparent mask skirt lets more light in, giving you better peripheral vision and a more “open” feeling while diving. That’s why divers who sometimes experience claustrophobia often prefer a transparent mask skirt. The one major drawback to a clear mask is that it can allow too much light to enter. Extra light inside your mask can cause distracting visual distortions underwater (reflections of objects outside your field of vision). Some divers find this effect irritating.

A black mask skirt lets less light in. But, the contrast it creates between light and dark clarifies your vision and helps you see further underwater. Underwater photographers, technical divers, and spearfishers often prefer this style because it improves their vision underwater. This is especially true of matte black finishes. However, a solid black mask can create the illusion of “tunnel vision” and create mild feelings of claustrophobia. This issue usually affects newly certified divers, and will typically pass with time and experience.

Some masks are available with solid colored skirts. These vibrant options offer the best of both worlds, blocking unwanted light and reflections without giving you a boxed-in feeling. Some lighter colors like pink, white, and yellow are easy to spot from a distance. This extra pop of color underwater can help other divers in your group identify you, even in low light conditions.

 

VOLUME

A mask’s “volume” refers to the size of its internal airspace. How much air a mask holds determines how difficult it is to clear, and how close it sits to your face. Many divers prefer a low volume design because it’s easy to push water back out of if some trickles in during your dive. But, divers with prominent foreheads, deep smile lines, or very narrow faces may struggle to find a low volume mask that fits well. Remember that fit is the most important factor when you’re mask shopping, and you should never make a purchase solely based on style.

 

WINDOWS

Masks for SCUBA diving are sold in 2 primary styles, one and two window.

One Window

One window masks use a single piece of glass for a lens. This style is compact and travel-friendly because it folds into a flat shape that can easily slide into a BCD pocket. One window offers a broader field of vision than multiple lenses, but it holds a larger volume of air too, which makes it harder to clear. So, many new divers prefer a more traditional design. Keep in mind that one window masks don’t always fit narrow faces, and may leak around the temples. And, most single lens models can’t accommodate tinted or corrective lenses.

Two Window

Two window masks use separate pieces of glass for their lenses. These styles are bulkier and less compact, but they offer plenty of benefits. Two window masks often feature teardrop-shaped lenses. This feature provides better “look down” vision, helping you to see your gauges easily. Teardrop lenses are also helpful for entering and exiting the water, as they provide a clearer view of your feet. Dual window masks fit a wide variety of face shapes, are the easiest models to clear, and can be used with prescription and colored lenses, too.

Some masks use more than two pieces of glass to create side windows for added peripheral vision. These styles don’t fit well on small faces because they use a wide frame, and they are more difficult to clear because of their high internal volume. These models are highly prone to visual distortions underwater due to reflection and refraction of light between their multiple panels of glass.

 

STRAP STYLE

Your mask’s strap keeps it secure, and in place throughout your dive. And, while most straps seem identical at first glance, they do have some small differences. A split strap may slide around less than one solid piece of silicone, and a wide x shape fits well over a ponytail. A strap that attaches to your mask’s frame or a molded silicone base will last longer and feel more secure than one that attaches to the mask’s skirt.

 

SKIRT SEAL

All masks use a silicone skirt to create a seal around your face. Extra sealing features like a “feathered” or multi-stage skirt, ribbing, ridges, bumps, and a textured “low friction” edge can all help the plastic form a more watertight bond. You won’t feel the extra grip of these tiny pieces of plastic, but they do keep your mask from slipping. Skirts also come in widths, ranging from narrow to wide. How much of your face the skirt covers is especially important if you have an uncommonly narrow or wide face or facial hair.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

FRAMELESS

Frameless masks don’t use a rigid piece of plastic or frame to attach the skirt to the lens. Instead, the window bonds directly to the mask skirt using a thin, flexible silicone seal. This makes frameless masks more lightweight, compact, and moldable than other models. Frameless masks also make great backups because they are easy to fold up and slide into your BCD pocket. No matter what mask style you opt for, you should try it on before making a purchase. But, this is especially important for frameless designs, as they don’t fit well on all face shapes.

TEARDROP LENSES

Teardrop shaped lenses let you look down toward your own body while diving. This added “lookdown vision” helps you find and read gauges, and fasten and adjust equipment like BCD straps and buckles, and your weight system. Increased downward vision is also helpful for entering and exiting the water because you can see where you are putting your feet and fins.

WIDE FIELD OF VISION

One window masks offer a fuller field of vision than designs with two windows. They don’t help with “look down vision” like teardrop lenses but instead expand your peripheral vision. This allows more light to enter the mask and enables you to see what is going on around you in the water. Masks with side windows offer an even wider field of vision but are also prone to distracting reflections and refractions.

FEMALE SPECIFIC DESIGN

Some masks are designed especially for female divers. These models are usually shaped and sized for feminine features, and fit well on narrow faces. Masks for women also feature wider bottom skirts to accommodate deeper smile lines and rounder cheeks. Some female specific designs include details and decorations like crystals, decals, and feminine pops of color.

CORRECTIVE LENS COMPATIBLE

If you wear glasses or contact lenses, you might benefit from prescription lenses for your mask. A two window design with teardrop shaped lenses is the most compatible style for lens replacement and “stick on” magnifiers.

PURGE VALVE

A purge valve makes it easier to push water back out of your mask if some leaks in during your dive. To use the valve, simply hold the mask in place and exhale hard. The purge, found inside the nose pocket, will automatically open and release the trapped water.

READ MORE

For more of our top scuba diving gear recommendations, check out these popular articles:

5 Responses

  1. Michelle

    Perfect timing! Since we started diving in Roatan, I realized I might need a mask that accepts prescription lenses. So now the hunt to find the perfect mask becomes more difficult. 1. It has to fit well (I’ve noticed the skirt on some is too low below my nose, and it causes discomfort with the reg in) 2. It has to accept prescription lenses and 3. It can’t completely break my budget.

    • Antonio Cala

      There are so many cool things underwater that you want to make sure you can actually see them properly.
      Another option is to dive with contact lenses if you have them. It’s a bit tricky at the beginning but it becomes second nature after a while. I use my contacts to dive, so don’t need prescription lenses (which can make your mask quite pricey).

  2. Jenn

    My husband really wants the Riffe Mantis LV after one of our diving experiences. I would love it if we could afford the Octomask GoPro. Thank you for compiling a great list of reviews, so he can do a little more homework before he picks one!

    • Antonio Cala

      Amanda uses a Riffe mask, not the Mantis LV but a frameless, and she absolutely loves it. I know many people that would dive with a different mask now!

      I love diving with my GoPro but I prefer to have it on a stick (GoPole type) rather than on the mask, so I can play with different angles, but that’s just my personal preference I guess.

  3. Danielle

    Hello Antonio,
    how is your experience with mirrored masks? I am entering the world of scuba diving and would like to buy a Scubapro Synergy, and I saw they have normal and mirrored masks… but as I have no experience, it’s a bit tricky to know how I would see things underwater.
    Thank you!

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