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.
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’ll do a search and find many known brands providing masks that have a purging mechanism. These range from scuba masks like the XS Scuba Fusion to the Aqua Lung Pacifica and many more others. You can certainly find a high-quality scuba mask with purge valve that compares to a traditional mask.
You can get a purge mask with a single lens or two lenses, or even more with panoramic side windows. 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 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 purge 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 purge valve 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 non-purge valve 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 mask. 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.