full face mask

Full Face Masks… Not just for Public Safety Diving

by Lauren Kieren:

When you think about full face masks, you may visualize an encapsulated public safety diver entering dark water during a crime scene investigation.
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As a recreational sport diver, if this is what comes to mind when you think about full face masks, it’s possible you have little to no interest in diving them.  Yet, full face masks are not exclusive for public safety use; there are many benefits to diving one in the sport diving world.

Now you might be asking yourself, “What exactly is a full face mask and why would I want to use one?”  

A full face mask, as its name implies, is a device that seals around a diver’s eyes, nose, and face. The unit has a seal that surrounds the diver’s forehead, cheeks, and chin, and encapsulates the eyes and mouth from the environment.  Further, the diver’s regulator can be attached to the unit, or an installed second stage can be implemented as part of the demand system.

But why would that be beneficial?

  • Communication
    If you and your buddy dive full face masks with voice communications installed, being able to talk to each other can make full face mask diving a lot of fun.

    Sure, we all enjoy the silence and relaxation of diving but sometimes it’s fun to share your experience with your dive buddies in real time.  Maybe a dolphin is swimming by while you’re looking the other direction or you can’t make out that scorpion fish your buddy is trying to show you… being able to communicate can allow you and your buddy to see and experience more in the water.

    Full face masks can also provide you the ability to not only talk to your buddy but check in with your topside friends or boat crew as well, which can improve diver safety by letting the surface crew know how things are going.

  • Increased field of view
    Imagine being able to see close to 180 degrees while diving.  Full face masks offer a wider field of view since your peripheral vision is not blocked by the skirt or corners of your mask.

    This can allow you to notice things that you may not have seen wearing a traditional mask.

  • Protection from the Elements
    Are you a cold-water diver?  If so, this one is for you!

    Full face masks can offer warmth to your face in cold water since it covers your forehead, eyes, cheeks, and mouth.  Since your head is a large source of heat loss while diving, with a thick hood and full face mask, you can say goodbye to those cold water ice cream headaches.

    Not only that… you will not have to bring cold water into your mask to defog it, if and when, necessary.  When the dry compressed air you are breathing flows into the internal space in the full face mask, it naturally keeps your mask clear while diving.

  • Relaxation
    When you learned to dive, it is possible you had to make a switch in your mind to breathe in and out of your mouth versus your nose.  Did this apply to you?

    You might find diving a full face mask more relaxing since you can breathe in and out of your mouth or nose; whichever you prefer.  Also, you may experience less jaw fatigue since you do not have to hold the regulator in your mouth while diving.

What do you think, are you ready to give a full face mask a shot?

If so, contact your local SDI, TDI, or ERDI dive center to see if they have a full face mask on hand to show you in person or potentially do a try dive with an instructor.

Be on the lookout for the new ERDI Full Face Mask diving manual COMING SOON! »

Are you already a full face mask diver?  Tell us what you like about diving them below!

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5 replies
  1. Bill Hilchey
    Bill Hilchey says:

    I have been diving a full face mask (Ocean Reef Space G) for three years and would NEVER go back to a conventional mask. Not only is it more comfortable, but I actually use LESS air. Many have the misconception that more air is used thinking it
    Is constantly flowing. Not true. It is a demand regulator just like the one you hold in your mouth. In addition to no fogging, no jaw fatigue and better vision, there is also no mask squeeze or leaking. My son and grandson use them as well and when we use our radios, we increase our pleasure as well as our safety. EPCOT needs to change their policy of not allowing FFM’s in the Seas Aquarium. They permit you to bring your own mask but not an FFM.

    Reply
  2. Carl
    Carl says:

    Though the 2nd stage is a demand regulator, as normal, the interface is not as fast as when a mouthpiece is used, This leads, in my experience, to a slightly later initiation of “breath” inflow and a definitely delayed cut off of air flow at initiation of exhalation. This, over time, does lead to increased air consumption, IF all other factors stayed the same. If you factor in the enhancements in comfort, vision, communication ability, etc. it becomes possible to be air consumption neutral or better. Still, the overall pneumatics of these systems, even when well tuned, is not as “fast” as a good quality in the mouth 2nd stage.

    Reply

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