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What is the difference between brands of full-face masks?

Discussion in 'Fins, Masks and Snorkels' started by mello-yellow, Jan 11, 2018.

  1. mello-yellow

    mello-yellow Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Gloucester, MA
    I am considering a full-face mask, and I see significant difference in price between OTS Spectrum, OTS Guardian, and Ocean Reef brand full-face masks (roughly in that order). What is the difference?

    Any other tips regarding a full-face mask would be appreciated!
  2. tbone1004

    tbone1004 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Greenville, South Carolina, United States
    Spectrum vs. Guardian
    Two main points. First and most obvious is the Spectrum allows you to use whatever second stage regulator you want. This is nice because you don't have to worry about getting the OTS second stage serviced.
    Second is less obvious, but I'd argue more important for most people is that the mask has a flexible nose pocket so you can equalize normally vs. pushing the nose blocks up to your nose. A lot of people find this to be a steep learning curve.

    For most people, I would not recommend even looking at the Guardian over the Spectrum.

    I personally don't think Ocean Reef masks are up to snuff in quality compared to OTS. @Lake Hickory Scuba is much more familiar with them and Bryan may be able to elaborate a bit more.

    My personal FFM is the Poseidon Atmosphere. It is basically the AGA Gen 2 where the mask itself was designed by the same people but I think it is a lot more comfortable than the AGA. It also uses a Jetstream second stage which matches the rest of my regulators which is convenient. I love it, but similar to the Guardian, it does require nose blocks to equalize which is not as easy as the Spectrum, and for most people, it means a new first stage is also required due to the different IP that it wants.
  3. shurite7

    shurite7 Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: MT
    Half of the guys up here use the OTS Guardian and the other half use the OR Neptune. To equalize with both you push the mask up against your nose. The Guardian has a V-shaped block to cover your nostrils. The Neptune has two rods that line up with your nostrils. I wasn't a fan of the rods. Do note, one can put in larger or smaller rods. The block in the Guardian can also be changed out with different size blocks.

    Several of the guys stated they didn't like how the Guardian splashed their face when clearing the mask after taking it off. I didn't really notice that much of a difference. Several of the guys like the Neptune because it has a wider field of view. I somewhat agree; while it does have a wider field, it wasn't all that much greater.
  4. JohnnyC

    JohnnyC PADI Pro

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: United States
    There's also the Dräger Panorama. It uses little squeezy things to equalize, external p-ports instead of internal like the OTS ones, and you can use any second stage with the use of a p-port adapter. It also has 3 ports per mask instead of one. It's popular with rebreather divers who utilize a FFM because they can plug the loop in the front, and bailout on the side, so they never have to doff the mask to get onto a bailout second stage. They're also more expensive but I find them superior to the OTS.

    The KM/Hollis is nice, but it doesn't fit me well. It uses a pod system. The OTS Spectrum is similar, but doesn't have the same capabilities as far as switching regulators goes. @RainPilot has several of them. He could tell you more.
    tbone1004 likes this.
  5. Lake Hickory Scuba

    Lake Hickory Scuba Course Director

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Taylorsville, NC

    Ford, Dodge, and Chevy all make a truck that will take you from point A to point B. Getting rid of all other features, it puts them all on the same level playing ground. Full Face Mask are the same. They protect your face from the environment, and have some type of breathing device that is integrated into the mask. The biggest concern I stress to divers who are transitioning to a Full Face Mask is, FIND THE PROPER FIT FIRST. Once you do that, then you can get the features you want. Picking a mask based off of features first then trying to fit it to your face is difficult. My face doesn't change size, typically speaking, unless I lose or gain a ton of weight on the spur of the moment. I have used pretty much all of the ones on the market, and truly like them all. As stated in other post before, my personal choice is based off of a working business relationship with certain manufactures, and the fact that certain mask fits my face better than others. The Public Safety Dive Teams that I dive on, are all mixed company, and we all dive different mask. I recently lost my salesman from Ocean Reef, but thankfully the business relationship with the company is still solid. Speaking strictly about Ocean Reef, they have 2 different sizes of mask. All the regulator second stages are built into the mask, different than the Spectrum from OTS (as mention by @tbone1004 ). The biggest appeal for Ocean Reef (from our customers who are mostly recreational divers who dive less than 50 times a year) is the fact they come in a slew of colors, different sizes, and with the new Extender Package, you can customize the mask yourself without having to take it to a technician. The professional series of mask from Ocean Reef, are very robust, and most use rubber instead of silicone skirts, and steel instead of plastic or aluminum buckles. I can pretty much state all the same facts for all the other manufactures as well. The last bit of advice I will give you is this, if you are not planning on doing your own servicing, choose a mask that you can get serviced locally without having to send it off. This is a big plus, especially for small little adjustments that you would like to have made. It's much easier for the technician to do it the way you want it while you are standing there, instead of you trying to explain it to him over the phone.

    If you are the type that dislikes buying from a shop, then I would still go by your local shop and see what they have. Learn about the mask they carry, and try several on before you buy. Then if you are still settled on buying online, base your decision off which one fit you at the shop and by what they carry, in the event you need to have it serviced.

    After responding to this, I noticed your badge says Divemaster, and I am assuming since you are one ScubaBoard asking this question, you are an independent and that you are not affiliated with a shop. Not sure how dive shops in your area do things, but we offer 25% off across the board for any Scuba related purchase in our shop for Divemasters, Assistant Instructors, and Instructors, even if they don't teach or work for us. I would ask to see if your local shop has a similar program for dive professionals. You can always affiliate yourself with a shop, and then if they are like us, you can either get keyman pricing or a price that is slightly above dealer cost.
  6. kelemvor

    kelemvor Big Fleshy Monster ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Largo, FL USA
    My wife and I bought FFM's last summer. We went with Ocean Reef because that's what local shops sell. I looked and didn't find any OTS dealers nearby so unless I wanted to risk ~$2,000 in gear that must fit to an online purchase I had to go Ocean Reef. Ocean Reef masks come with an integrated second stage regulator, where at least some of the OTS require you to use an existing second stage. That means with Ocean Reef you can put a quick disconnect on your LP hose and switch to a normal second stage in about 2 seconds if you wanted to. The IP requirements for my Ocean Reef was about the same as the IP requirements for my scubapro S600 second.

    I'm not sure about OTS, but with Ocean Reef the dealers have quite a bit of wiggle room on pricing. I paid $1600 (about $400 under MSRP) for two masks with comms and "Surface Air Valves". I didn't buy the ocean reef swivel, and just put an xs-scuba swivel on it.

    The main reason I went FFM was for the comms. Some people don't like the idea of talking while diving, but I'm not one of those people. Hand signals suck by comparison.

    Getting used to the FFM takes more effort than people selling FFM's will generally tell you about. Your SAC will probably go way up for a while.. I think it probably took me a good 20 dives before I felt totally comfortable in the mask. Mainly because there's this large airspace on the front of your head. You can feel it lifting your head slightly, and it kind of feels like the mask wants to float off. It's not going to happen, you just have to get accustomed to the new sensations.

    In my town, the shop that sells FFM was happy to let me try the FFM in their pool free of charge whenever the pool was not in use by someone else. They also provided the small amount of training necessary for free.

    They had rental masks available too, and I proposed to my wife in a cavern using one of the rentals :wink:.

    If your shop will let you try masks in their pool, or even rents masks I recommend you give it a shot before buying.
    ScubaWithTurk likes this.
  7. mello-yellow

    mello-yellow Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Gloucester, MA
    Thank you for all responses! Yes, I will make sure to try a mask on first, rather than buy one sight unseen.

    And yes, I am not currently affiliated with any dive shop.
  8. Colliam7

    Colliam7 Tech Instructor Staff Member

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Kents Store, VA
    You mention 'the Ocean Reef brand' (as a third choice). Were you looking at the Neptune, or thinking about something like the Iron or the Predator, instead of the Neptune? Just curious.
  9. Oldbear

    Oldbear Teaching Neutral Diving

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Marshall Islands and Westminster, Co
    Anyone have any experience with Scuba Pro's ffm?

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