THE DIVE RITE FRAMELESS MASK, which comes in technical black only, is a mono-lens, low-volume model with a nose-pocket. Dive Rite is well respected in technical-diving, with its roots firmly in US cave-diving.
Seal and Comfort
When I owned a dive-shop, I used to tell customers who asked which mask ruled that it was the one that seals best and feels most comfortable.
The usual test before buying is to put the mask against your face, close your mouth and inhale through your nose, and the vacuum will stick most masks to most faces. But you don’t dive sucking in through your nose, so the real test is to take it under water.
It’s your own face that most influences how well a mask keeps out the water, and one of the things that most disturbs the seal, at least for men, is facial hair. So to test this mask, I didn’t shave for two weeks!
The other thing is laughter-lines and I have lots of those. But I found that the Frameless gave me dry dives of well over an hour.
You’ll wear your mask for many hours, and a mask that presses against the bridge of your nose will be distracting throughout your dive, but for my face at least, the Frameless felt very comfortable.
Field of View
The more you can see, the less you miss on your dives. Peripheral vision is important, of course, and an easy test is to swing your arms out level with your mask with your thumbs up, and see how far back you can reach before losing sight of them. You’ll see a bit less under water, but it’s a good indicator of how your mask performs.
The Frameless did well on this test because the glass is set close to your eyes. Because it has a black skirt there’s no blurry vision out of the sides or light intrusion – which is what people choosing black skirts are trying to avoid. It does make it harder for photographers to light the wearer’s face, however, but the glass is very pure and won’t turn a model’s face a seasick green as some do.
I also like to have good downward vision, because there can be chest releases and drysuitvalves you want to be able to see. The Frameless also scored well there.
Appeared in DIVER November 2017
The strap is tightened by pulling on the free end. To slacken it, you simultaneously squeeze two small buttons set at the top and bottom of the buckle. This was easy to do, even while wearing 3mm gloves.
It’s a nice system, because you aren’t pushing on the mask the way some adjustment designs require you to do – that can lift the skirt and cause leakage.
Sometimes, if I’m doing a high entry or going to have to descend a shot against current, I very slightly overtighten my mask-strap. Once I’m settled on the bottom, I slacken it off so that it’s more comfortable.
The Frameless buckle design means that the strap tended to automatically find the perfect tension once released.
As the mask didn’t leak, I deliberately flooded it so that I could test the ease of clearing. I found that I did need to hold it in place to evacuate the water – I couldn’t manage a hands-free clear.
It’s a low-volume mask and, if you like party tricks, you can clear it half a dozen times or more on one breath. But, if you want to maintain your buoyancy, just hold it gently against your forehead and breathe out normally on the next exhalation.
If, when you clear a mask, there’s an explosion of bubbles, you’re doing it wrong.
The nose-pocket has non-slip panels on it.
I was indifferent to these, as they solve a problem I’ve never experienced. I could easily pinch my nose closed between finger and thumb or block my nostrils from beneath, even with gloves.
As with many low-volume masks, this one might not be suitable for divers with larger-than-average noses.
The Frameless sits in a very competitive market in which it’s hard to get an advantage. But this is a mask you might well take to if you like black and like your comfort. The lack of off-the-rack prescription lenses is a disadvantage shared by all mono-lens masks, and is easily solved with a third-party prescription fitting.
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