What is a Purge Mask?

Scuba diving gear is always being added to the market and you need to keep up to date with all of the new inventions and updates.

With every passing year, we get better features that make our diving experiences more pleasant and safer. 

However, the diving community does not always take well to the advancements in equipment. This can be seen with the purge mask - some people love the mask and others very much dislike it.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, let’s start at the beginning. Today we’ll be looking into everything about the purge mask and why some don’t like them. 

Purge Masks

A purge mask can be defined as a mask with a valve built into it. More specifically, it’s a purge valve which is a one-way valve. This means that water can be expelled out of the mask from the valve but not let in. 

Getting water inside of a divers mask can be very annoying and sometimes even dangerous. It can prevent you from seeing all of the interesting underwater attractions properly, which is obviously very annoying for any diver. 

Sometimes you cannot get the water out of your mask while you’re still diving and you have to resurface so that you can lift the mask and remove the water. With a purge mask, you can simply exhale through your nose and the water will be pushed out of the valve. 

Sounds good, right? So why do so many divers have an issue with purge masks?

The Potential Issues with Purge Masks

First of all, and perhaps the most pressing issue of a purge mask is the worry that it will malfunction. Valves are handy mechanisms but they aren’t invincible and they can fail to work from time to time. 

The type of dive that you’re conducting will depend on how dangerous this is. The deeper you go into the water the more dependable you want your mask to be. With any piece of gear, there is going to be the possibility of malfunction. But some people do prefer to have the least amount of features with the ability to falter. 

Another issue with purge masks is that you need to clean the valve to make sure that it continues working properly. Sand, seaweed, and other bits of debris will inevitably get stuck in the valve just like with any other piece of equipment. The issue with purge masks is that the valve is small and sometimes trickier to clean. 

Finally, the last issue with purge masks is that you cannot pinch your nose as easily with a purge mask. A lot of divers depend on pinching their noses to help with equalization, so this can be a large issue for them. 

However, if you don’t rely on pinching your nose to equalize the pressure between your ears and underwater, then this might not be a dealbreaker for you.

Looking at the Brighter Side

Okay, so we’ve just made purge masks sound terrible and you might be asking yourself why anyone would choose a purge mask over a traditional mask. Well, there are a few benefits to purge masks as well, so don’t rule them out just yet. 

One advantage of using purge masks is that they can take away the issue of water filling up your mask. You can spend less time fixing your gear and more time exploring underwater. You don’t even have to think about using the purge valve, it takes all of the hard work and does it for you. 

This is a great feature when you’re holding pieces of equipment while diving, such as a camera. You don’t have to struggle to keep hold of the camera while removing the water from your mask. 

If you have facial hair your mask can ride up and let water in easier than if you were clean-shaven. However, if you don’t want to shave your impressive beard every time you get in the water you can use a purge mask. 

The purge mask won’t stop filling with water if you have facial hair, but the valve will empty it easier even if the fit isn’t tight enough. A similar issue can arise if the diver is wearing contact lenses. 

Contact lens wearers know the risks of wearing them underwater. Various infections are more common when mixing contacts with water and the salty seawater can get stuck behind the lens. A purge mask can prevent the water from touching the contacts, making your diving experience much more relaxed and safe.

Are Purge Masks Worth It?

The answer to this question is completely down to the individual. Some divers love using purge masks and others dislike them. You should determine whether a purge mask is best for you by renting or borrowing one and taking it out for a quick test drive. 

This will avoid you from wasting your money on a mask that doesn’t work for you. You can either give it back and move on from purge masks altogether or take the plunge and buy one for yourself. 

Purge masks are not essential pieces of equipment but they can be very beneficial, particularly if your mask is not the best fitting around your face. 

The people most likely to benefit from a purge mask are underwater photographers, people with facial hair, and contact lens wearers. Your diving mask should not be ill-fitting enough to allow much water into it, but facial hair can alter the fit drastically. 

Summary

Overall, purge masks are loved and hated equally. They have their fair share of benefits and drawbacks, so it’s down to you to determine whether you think you’ll get on well with one or not.

Purge masks add an extra step into your cleaning regime after a dive and they are not the best for equalizing underwater. 

If you’re a nervous diver you might not want to add an extra risk factor onto your mask. However, purge masks can be a great addition to your diving gear if you want an easy way of getting water out of your mask without resurfacing every couple of minutes. 

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