Diving Masks with Purge Valve – Are they any good?
Diving masks with purge valves aren’t the most popular addition to the scuba mask market, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of reasons to think about trying them out yourself.
If you’re considering purchasing a new mask, but aren’t sure whether to go for a scuba dive mask with a purge valve, here’s everything you need to know about such dive masks.
First of all, what is it, and how does it work?
The purge valve on a dive mask serves to clear out trapped water without having to lift the dive mask off of your face to drain it. It does this through a one-way valve at the bottom of the nose pocket that will expel air when you exhale.
Of course, in theory, masks that are fit appropriately shouldn’t have this problem at all, but as many divers will tell you, masks often do leak, usually because of normal wear and tear.
What are the advantages of a mask with a purge valve?
As with most of the fancy gadgets on the market, the purge valve mask was designed to make the diving experience less complicated.
Not only do masks that have purge valves prevent you from the hassle of clearing out your mask, but they also free up your hands for more important things, like photography or videography.
Better with a Mustache or when wearing Contacts
The purge valve mask also offers solutions for problems that come up for particular divers. People with mustaches, for instance, sometimes have trouble with their mask fitting properly, making leakages constant and irritating.
Divers with contact lenses also may enjoy avoiding the need to clear the mask, a task which often leads to irritation or displacement of the contact lenses – What is the best prescription dive mask?
Overall, the divers who use masks with a purge valve feel that it’s just one less thing they have to do underwater, freeing them up for a more focused and enjoyable dive.
You can certainly find high-quality scuba dive masks that have a valve for purging that compare to traditional masks.
You can get a purge mask with a single lens or two lenses, or even more with panoramic side windows for improved peripheral vision. The Aqua Lung Pacifica mask, for example, has a large single tempered glass lens while others, like the EVO Hammerhead+ mask, comes with two lenses and a purge mechanism/valve.
What are some drawbacks?
Of course, you may be asking yourself why this style of mask isn’t more popular. Well, there are a few explanations.
Keeping the Purge Valve clean
First of all, cleanliness. Every extra piece that is attached to your diving equipment means another thing to keep clean and free of debris.
And one of the issues that can come up with purge valve masks is sand getting lodged in the vent. When this happens, you’re at risk of the very leakage problem that the valve was designed to prevent.
Equalizing with a Purge Dive Mask
Another problem that comes up with this design has to do with equalization. Because, while many divers will pinch their nose to aid in equalizing, this isn’t easily done with the purge valve mask.
This isn’t a very commonly cited reason for opting for the non-purge valve model, but it is something to keep in mind when you’re making your purchase.
Breaks in the Skirt
Finally, malfunctions. Because the valve for purging is added to the silicone skirt nose pocket of dive masks, there is a slight risk for it to break or pop out.
Of course, you can carry a backup mask with you, but most divers would just rather not worry about a mask that can break. Also, if your mask happens to break when you’re in a more remote region, it might be difficult to get a replacement vent.
So how can you decide?
Both designs seem to have something of a cult following. Those who have used purge valves tend to love them and miss the hassle-free design when they switch to traditional masks.
Those who have never used purge valve masks think of the technology as frivolous and potentially dangerous because of the risks of breaking.
Are there any price differences?
And because the prices are so comparable, it’s difficult to know which one to buy. Like with any piece of diving equipment, it’s inevitably going to come down to your preference.
Will a Mask with Purge Valve be lower quality?
You will not have to give up on quality. The best scuba masks with purge valves are available with the same high-quality tempered glass lenses, soft silicone skirts, wide field of view, etc.
Overall, you also should not run into issues with clearing as most masks are easy to clear nowadays. They all are low-volume designs that make clearing easier.
Are they as Durable?
If you are confident in the durability of your purge valve, you’ll probably enjoy the ease of not having to clear your mask the traditional ways. On the other hand, if you’re the kind of person who would rather minimize all risks, the traditional style might be more for you.
Best Dive Masks with Purge Valve
After all you read and experiences you are finally looking for a scuba mask with a purge valve. We researched and tested the best masks available today so you can buy the best one with confidence.
Scubapro Crystal VU-Plus Mask with Purge Valve
The Scubapro Crystal VU-Plus is without a doubt one of the best, if not the best high-quality purge mask you can get right now. Yes, it’s on the expensive side, but it’s worth ever cent and penny. It comes with a single front lens that is made from tempered, low-tint glass for outstanding light transmission.
It comes with a clear silicone skirt and side windows giving you a large field of vision to enjoy the maritime life surrounding you on your dive. On top of that, it has a very well-functioning purge valve mechanism that allows you to clear the mask underwater without problems.
The mask skirt is double feathered and fits well even when you’re having a large face. The nose pocket is very well designed and there are no pressure points on the forehead or the bridge of your nose.
The adjustments even underwater are easily done with the swiveling straps and oversized buckles. Scubapro designed these adjustment elements well and they won’t tug on your hair.
Tusa M-32 Imprex 3D Hyperdry Mask
The Tusa M-32 Imprex 3D Hyperdry mask probably has the best overall skirt and a very well working purge valve. Tusa calls the purge system their Hyperdry System. It allows to clear the mask with no effort at all with exhaling a single time. It does help that it’s a low-volume mask where you will not need to exhale very hard to get the mask cleared.
To improve the overall field of visibility you get a single main lens and two side windows to increase peripheral visibility. You’re not getting a full 180 degree view but the visibility is overall great.
Another outstanding feature that Tusa added is the fantastic skirt. It features Tusa’s round-edge design which makes it super-comfortable to wear the mask and provides an exceptional waterproof seal. Most of the colors you can get this mask in come with a clear skirt. The black mask does however come with a black skirt which reduces the light transmission slightly.
XS Scuba Fusion Purge Mask
The XS Scuba Fusion Purge Mask is basically the Fusion mask with a purge valve. It’s a mask with a wide frame and 3 panes. A single front lens that is quite large and two side panes that provide you extended peripheral vision.
The downside of the wide frame is that it has a somewhat higher volume compared to many other masks. This does provide a more spacious feeling but can make it a little harder when you’re trying to clear the mask.
It is designed to fit pretty much any face size which makes it one of the more popular scuba diving masks overall. The double-feathered skirt is made from soft silicone. You’ll have usually no problem forming a watertight seal while still feeling it is comfortable to wear. Pricing puts the mask in the mid-price point and is comparable to the Tusa mask.
The XS Scuba Fusion comes with buckles that are easy to adjust and that are mounted directly onto the frame. It’s easy to tighten or loosen the straps even when you’re wearing dive gloves.
Aqua Lung Pacifica One-Window Purge Mask
Last but not least, let’s have a closer look at the Aqua Lung Pacifica purge mask. At first glance, it somewhat does look like it might have come out of a scuba diving museum. Yet, it’s a modern mask designed in a bit of a retro style. Think of the VW New Beetle which had some resemblance to the original but was a modern car!
Staying true to its vintage design, this is anything but a low-volume mask. However, many divers don’t necessarily aim for the lowest profile mask but instead want a comfortable mask that is built sturdily. You get all that with the Pacifica!
The skirt is a single-feathered silicone skirt. It forms a tight seal and works very well on wide faces and even when there is some facial hair!
The front plate is enormous compared to many modern masks. The advantage is that you get a wide field of vision. A drawback is that the finger pockets for equalizing require that you use both hands. However, you do get used to it after a while!
Which is the Best Purge Mask?
In our opinion, it’s a bit of a toss between the XS Scuba Fusion and the TUSA Imprex 3D Hyperdry. We found the TUSA mask a tad bit more comfortable and easier to purge but the XS was a bit better with the overall comfort and water-tightness. You might also get it for a few bucks less than the TUSA T-32.If you’re reducing your choice to the purge capabilities then we do think that the TUSA T-32 Imprex 3D is the mask to go for!