Diving in a full face mask is unlike any other diving experience. In addition to having a very high LCF (look cool factor), it also gives you more options than a traditional mask and regulator system. While normally considered as more of a commercial/working diver piece of equipment, any properly trained diver can enjoy full face mask diving! SDI/TDI and PADI both have training available for those interested in developing this skill set.
My own experience in this area is with the AGA/Divator,Guardian and EXO full face masks, on both scuba and surface supply. Of the three, the Guardian mask was my favourite, no hands down. OTS makes a good product in my honest estimation, being comfortable, easy to maintain and easy to use. The AGA/Divator is the most common full face mask I’ve seen out there; reliable, durable and ubiquitous. The EXO is my least favourite mask. The EXO is a 50/50 item, you either love it and extoll it’s virtues, or loath it and its leaking ways. I am in the latter category.
The advantages of full face mask diving are numerous for those who try them out. Increased thermal protection in cold water, verbal communications with the surface and/or other divers (who are similarly equipped), a vastly increased field of vision, being able to breath through your nose… These are all things possible in a full face mask. There are a handful of things to remember when you’re diving a full face mask though:
- it can be harder to clear while you descend and ascend, so watch your speed and clear frequently
- flooded full face masks clear differently depending on the model, learn your model
- assuming your not diving in
a hazardous environment, keep your octopus attached and carry a spare regular mask in a pocket or pouch in case of catastrophic failure
- mask squeeze takes on a whole new meaning if it happens, be sure you keep the mask equalized by clearing the regulator when the mask begins to squeeze your face
Diving with a full face mask is an amazing experience. Paired up with another FFM diver and a comms system, dives take on a whole new dimension. If you’re looking to get into underwater exploration, this becomes a key skill to develop. Personally, I can’t wait to pick one up!