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Are expensive masks worth the extra money?

Discussion in 'Fins, Masks and Snorkels' started by mbelvadi, Dec 28, 2018.

  1. Compressor

    Compressor ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: NYS
    Interesting side note: I had a cressi mask a few years ago. It kept leaking water where the silicone met the solid frame so it wasn't a matter of fit rather it was function. I made multiple phone calls to the company and finally got a replacement one sent to me. But it took a fair number of calls.
  2. noj3333

    noj3333 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Albany, New York
    As others have said fit is everything...

    In my opinion, unless you have a really odd shaped face, there will be several masks that will work for you...

    I would try to find a 'name brand' mask that fits well, and doesn't cost a small fortune. If I had an issue finding a 'name brand' mask that fit well then I'd open up my search to anything I could find. As a side note, I consider the DGX and Mako to be 'name brand'... it's not so much about the name as it is a company that cares about its product and takes care of the customer when needed...

    PS... I use an Aqua Lung Impression... great mask for people with a big/ huge head!!
    MAKO Spearguns likes this.
  3. JackOfDiamonds

    JackOfDiamonds Barracuda

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Israel
    My 30$ spare mask that i got online ended up replacing my 100$ main mask, its all about how it fits you.

    When it comes to materials , the vast majority of dive masks are tempered glass which is the same on 99% of the masks.
    The other difference is built quality around it, presumably if you dont get something for 5$ off aliexpress you should not have any problems with it.
  4. Andre_N

    Andre_N Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Seattle
    I have a DGX and I was considering the M1 for better view (wider angle and better glass). Is Hollis M1 glass that much better?
  5. AJ

    AJ Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Netherlands
    I have an Atomic mask. It was expensive, but is it better? Well I think it's a litle more clear and better build than my el cheapo mask. Would I buy such an expensive mask again? No, the gains are to small imo.
    Andre_N likes this.
  6. herman

    herman Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Raleigh,North Carolina
    I started with a Tusa Liberator mask 30 years ago because it was the best fit I could find, it is still being made, its still a great fit and I still dive one. My first mask is still divable but I am on my 3rd one simply because I have needed prescription changes over the years and since it's a fairly inexpensive mask rather than changing the prescription in it, I get a new one, which also leaves me with my old one as a back up. With the modern silicone materials and a little care most mask will last a very long time. Like the others have said....GO FOR FIT and ignore the price.
    With that said, mask straps are a different matter. I really don't like the standard silicone ones so I change the strap out for a neoprene one ASAP. Much more comfortable, stays on better and if you have long hair, it's less likely to get tangled in the strap.
  7. Sam Miller III

    Sam Miller III Scuba Legend Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: CALIFORNIA: Where recreational diving began!
    Fit... Comfort ...Reliability

    A mask should remain functionable under the constant use, abuse of a occasional modern diver. however the trend appears to be to carry a "back up" mask on every dive- which questions fit comfort and reliability

    Many years ago in an unpleasantness I sustained serious facial injury which resulted in 165 stiches and several corrective surgeries -- My face was rather sensitive for an extended period.

    I am currently using and have been using Swimaster Wide View, a company and a mask that ceased production about 40 years ago. When they ceased production I purcbsed six masks for what I though would be a life time supply. I wore one until it was no longer comfortable at about 30 years and have been using mask # 3 for about 5 years which I will probably wear out in my remaining life time ( @herman our mutual friend @Scuba Lawyer. father Bob also wore a wide view)

    My all time favorite mask and one that was custom made to my then youthful face was by the great late Charlie Sturgil and has with stood the test of time

    A rather old article from my dedicated column "The way it was" from the now defunct national magazine Discover Diving about making a dive mask in the genesis of diving, 70 years ago. It has been published several times on this board but do to its historical nature warrants reposting -- It was and is my all time favorite mask

    'The Mask,

    One of the great pioneer divers of all times was the late Charlie Sturgil. "The Old Walrus," as he was affectionately known, started his diving career in 1929 in the frigid waters off Northern California where he hunted for abalone by a method he described as "feeling for abalone." He would dive on a reef, feel until he found an abalone and pry it off, without the use of mask, fins, snorkel or thermal protection.

    Charlie began diving with a mask using a Japanese mask in the late 1930s which was loaned to him by his good friend Bill O'Conner. A few years later after the end of WW 11, Charlie, a master tool and die maker and an inventor of sorts, developed the necessary tooling to produce masks on a semi-custom basis for himself and a few close friends. I consider myself very fortunate to have been included in the latter category.

    In early years during the genesis of recreational diving the masks were either too large, too small, too stiff or after a few dives, would rapidly deteriorate into a gummy, sticky mess. This did not make for comfortable diving! After using a number of the masks of that era, the Japanese imports, and the American made Sea Net, I decided it was time to contact Charlie to ask him if he could make one of his custom masks for me.

    After checking my meager finances, found I could possibly afford one of Charlie's masks, so I gave him a call. "Sure, Sammy, I'd be happy to make a mask for you, come on over", Charlie replied to my request. Within moments I was off to the temple of Southern California diving, Charlie Sturgil's garage.

    I was met by this jovial hunk of a man with his infectious, ever-present smile. "Hey ya, Sammy" was always his cordial greeting. Alter a few moments of catching up on the diving scene it, was time to get to work. "Sammy, I'm now making two masks; the original round model for $6.00 and a new oval model for $8.00", Charlie explained. After considerable soul searching and penny counting, I opted for what I felt I could afford, the original round mask for $6.00.

    Now, Charlie's garage was something to behold. It appeared to be in total disarray, and the best way to describe it would be the day after a big sale in a bargain basement. Diving equipment in various stages of repairs, pieces of metal, lengths of stainless rods scattered about... Omnipresent was the huge metal turret lathe and miscellaneous metal working machines. But to Charlie, it was his arena, it was where he excelled in turning these seemingly scrap pieces of metal into custom spear points, spear shafts, yes, even masks.

    Charlie knew the location, size, shape and type of everything in his garage. His storage system was logical and certainly workable, but it still defies the imagination how he managed to find anything, let alone make anything, but he did.
    Charlie went to work with the speed and skill of a emergency room surgeon. He immediately uncovered a length of 5 inch O.D. soft rubber World War 11, surplus firehose, from which he cut a 4 inch piece. He placed the piece of rubber hose in the wooden mold and proceeded to his trusty bench grinder where he slowly cut a 1/8 inch wide, 3/32 deep groove all around the edge for the glass. This was followed by the rough contouring for the forehead, cheeks, and upper lip. He then went to his metal rack and withdrew a piece of 3/4 x 16 inch 22 gauge stainless steel, which he placed in his specially constructed mold and carefully, yet skillfully, forced the stainless steel around the mold forming it into a familiar round mask shape. His next step was to form the band evenly and smoothly around the mold creating the lip for the compression hand with light rapid laps of a hammer. Using silver solder, the welding process of the era, he soldered the tabs for the strap and the compression screw tabs to complete the band. A piece of pre-cut 1/3 inch glass, the same kind used for window glass, was taken from the shelf and fit into the groove; the compression band placed around the mask and the compression screw tightened.

    At last, the mask was assembled. My own custom Sturgil mask! Charlie proceeded to take some cursory measurements of my then youthful face, and returned to the grinding wheel, skillfully grinding a little here, a little there, another trial fit, a little more grinding. Finally, a perfect fit. A final hand finish with fine sandpaper, attaching of the strap, cut from a truck inner tube, and I was the proud possessor of a real genuine Charlie Sturgil Original Style Diving Mask.

    This occurred many years ago when diving as well as life was much simpler, a time when pride in workmanship and ownership were at a premium. Charlie made almost 40 of these one of a kind custom dive masks, however only three are known to have survived the rigors of our disposable society, mine, Alex Pierce's of Toronto, Canada and Charlie's widow's Laura's mask which now on loan and rests in a Southern California museum. And indeed they are museum pieces... the three remaining masks are all 70 or more years old and represent an era which was experienced by only a precious few which will never be experienced again upon this earth.

    Charlie has reverend position in the fraternity of diving pioneers; he won the world's second Spearfishing contest in 1950 with a pole spear of his own design , was a LA County Underwater Instructor and serendipity developed much of the spearfishing and SCUBA equipment which has become mainstream in todays diving.

    I will never forget Charlie, nor will anyone who ever knew him.... nor will there ever be another mask like a Sturgil Mask.
    Dr Samuel Miller,111
    (Copyright Dr. Samuel Miller,111 & Dr. Samuel Miller,IV and Lee/CCnews/TPR; may not be used with out permission of author and Lee/CCnews)

    post script;

    Charlie passed on November 15 1984, 35 years ago- long before many of you were born or were engaged in this noble activity. His devoted wife Laura passed on a few years ago at the age of 90. If Charlie knew you and liked you he always addressed you in the familiar; Ie Sammy, Bobbie, Jimmie,--Those he didn't have great admiration or didn't know well it was formal Sam, Bob or Jim. I was refreed to as Sammy

    A little about Charlie Sturgil...
    Charlie along with team mates the late Bud Abernathy and Freddie Kittles of the SoCal Skin Divers team won the 1951 International Spearfishing meet. Bud and Freddie used a Sturgil modified Champion Arbalete spear guns with Sturgil points. Charlie used his trusty legendary pole spear. Charlie Sturgil was the only person in the history of spearfishing competition to win an international meet with a pole spear.

    The Fathomiers spearfishing club has been presenting the "Charlie Sturgil Pole Spear Spearfishing meet" for about 35 years...It came full circle when Charlie's grand daughter, Laura Lee Gonta won the meet several years ago using one of grandfather Charlie's legendary pole spears.

    His daughter Laura Lee was married to Billy Meistral, one of the twin brothers who founded "Dive n Surf" and the very successful "Body glove." Billy also passed on several years ago. Brother Bobbie passed away about 5 years ago
    So now you know...

    I still have my "Custom Sturgil Mask" tucked away in a 50 Caliber US Ammo box, along with my home made snorkel constructed from a WW11 gas mask hose and a short piece of plastic aquarium tubing.

    In the genesis of recreational diving we improvised, invented or if an item costs over a dollar we made one in our garage workshop- or were fortunate to have a talented friend like Charlie

    ~~~only three Surgil dive masks have survived these many years... Mine, Charlies Widow Laura's which is in a museum and Harry Vetter's which is currently owned by Alex Peirce of Ontario, Canada and is featured on his blog about his (Vetter) Sturgil mask ( FYI @mbelvadi)

    A story of my first custom dive mask-and one of three still remaining -A Sturgil made dive mask --- many years ago when life was simpler- and divers were few in

    Sam Miller,III
  8. sbijou

    sbijou Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Ft. Lauderdale
    I do mostly beach dives and have spent between $29 and $140. on masks. The mask I remember the most- the $140. I lost in rough surf . Never again. Dive gear breaks and is lost. That's what happens so why increase your financial exposure when the benefit might be minimal ?

    Bob DBF and Sam Miller III like this.
  9. caydiver

    caydiver Manta Ray

    I am on my second mask 1000+ dives. Still consider it my new mask and still have the old one as a back up. So “expensive” is a relative term. We always replace straps with full neoprene type. Makes fit easier especially if you have lots of hair. I strongly suggest that before rushing into it you go to a good dive shop that sells several different models and try them all. As the common theme here is fit that is most important. What fits one face type perfectly may not suit another at all. It is all relative.
  10. Scuba Lawyer

    Scuba Lawyer Barracuda

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Laguna Beach, California
    I have a really difficult time finding a mask that fits my roundish face. I've been using the same silicone skirt Atomic mask for the past decade (with prescription lens inserts) because it fits so well. Also seems really well built. Trying to find an oval/round vintage-style mask that fits me for use in Sea Hunt Forever and vintage photoshoots proved very difficult. Finally located an off-brand NOS mask that worked. Love the looks of the old Swimmaster WideView that @Sam Miller III mentioned my dad and he wore but those masks came nowhere close to fitting my face. Bottom line, find one that fits and is comfortable. Price is secondary. The late Ron Merker of Aquatic Center fame used to make and sell yellow braided mask lanyards with a clip on the end. He said to me one day back in the 70's, "Mark, clip one of these to your mask and put it around your neck and you will never lose a mask again...." He was right. Been using a mask lanyard ever since and have never lost one even in rough surf entries. My 2psi. M

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