Full face masks or, more correctly termed, Integrated Dive Masks (IDMs) might seem like a complicated gimmick to the uninitiated, but to the growing ranks of converted divers, there are a surprisingly large number of reasons to dive them.
For a start you get an unprecedented field of view through the mask, it really does open up so much of your natural vision. Secondly there’s no jaw fatigue from having to bite on a regulator mouthpiece and even better you can breathe from your nose. Nose breathing feels more natural and many divers find their air consumption decreases by using an IDM, which, in turn can lead to better buoyancy control as their lung volume is more stable. In addition, by utilising the fresh air entering the mask with each breath, there’s no fogging and no need for anti-fog treatments.
IDMs are much warmer too. If you dive in colder conditions, an IDM keeps your face warm and will seal to the outside of a hood, so no need to fiddle around with the skirt of a mask and no more ice cream headaches!
Because the mask is integrated with a regulator there’s no chance of a squeeze and therefore any leakage. In fact, you can put a finger under the seal and get no water entry. This also means in the unlikely event of an out of air emergency there’s no way to aspirate water without physically removing the mask.
A huge benefit for dive pros is being able to communicate with students under the water. A buddy team or instructor and students can talk using the optional integrated communications unit. You can even talk to another diver who isn’t using an IDM by carrying an output device which essentially acts as an underwater speaker!
In addition to the above, IDMs can be used for all manner of diving styles by using a switching block which allows the plugging in of different cylinders to the same mask.
Finally, although an IDM may seem expensive, remember that you won’t need a top end mask and snorkel, which can easily set you back anywhere between £100-200, and the second stage of the regulator is integrated into the unit too.
Which unit is right for me?
The Iron mask is primarily aimed at the commercial market, featuring a metal reinforced frame and materials designed to withstand extreme cold and chemical exposure.
The Predator Extender and the Space Extender share the same material makeup but the Predator has an aluminium regulator cover for extra protection and a stainless steel regulator adjustment knob. Both masks also come with rugged bars to release the straps when removing the mask, much easier with gloves on. Both masks benefit from a lifetime warranty, and they also both come with the surface air valve which allows you to breathe air on the surface instead of using gas in the tank and a padded carry case.
The G diver mask is perfect for warm water divers and those who aren’t necessarily interested in comms units or torch and camera attachments and retails for £575. It’s possible to add an extender frame for £73.
By contrast the Space Extender retails for £739.80 and features the extender frame, the surface release valve and the lifetime warranty so this model is by far the most popular in the range and the best choice for most divers.
There are only 2 sizes S/M and M/L. The M/L fits most adults and is the most popular choice. The S/M is better for kids and those with narrow faces. To check the size that’s best for you, you can use this size chart. As a general rule, when in doubt, it’s best to size down.
Again, seemingly complicated, but in actual fact very simple, there are 2 comms units available: The GSM is the analogue model which features a single earpiece, whilst the new Mercury is digital and uses dual earpieces for greater clarity. Check out the video below to see how to fit the GSM (it’s very similar for the Mercury). For 2 or more divers to communicate both needs a comms system although the Mercury will work with the GSM and vice versa. One interesting additional option is the M101A which acts as a speaker allowing a diver with a comms system to communicate to other divers under the water.
There are a number of useful accessories worth considering: The Extender camera and torch support works as a torch or go pro mount which can be placed on top or on the side of the mask.
The standard 9/16” to quick connect fitting allows you to convert any LP hose of any length to fit the mask. When bought in addition to another quick connect you are able to fit a quick disconnect to both your second stages allowing you to quickly convert between your IDM or standard regulator without a spanner.
The Bump mask and snorkel set is a low profile frameless mask with flexible purge valve which is designed as a perfect back up set which you are supposed to carry in the unlikely event you have a problem with the IDM.
If you need glasses or use contact lenses (but would rather not) you can fit the optical lens support and optical lenses inside the mask which you can either have fitted with your own prescription or order standard lenses for. It’s the same fitting as the Aria snorkel mask and you can see it being attached here.
Finally, you can even opt for a fantastic custom paint job on the extender frame. Check out an example here. This starts from around £80 depending on design, simply contact us after your mask purchase to find out more.