There aren't many freediving masks on the market that divide divers into two opposing groups as much as the Aqua Lung Sphera mask. There are those who absolutely love it, but just as many who despise it.
Most freediving and spearfishing gear aren't very technical. A low volume mask and pair of long freediving fins will have you halfway there as far as gear is considered.
But, just because freediving gear is "simple" doesn't mean that it's simple to choose the best freediving fins or mask to use.
Nothing can ruin a dive as quickly as a foggy or leaking mask, so it's well worth your time to do some research and choose the one best suited to you.
Our diveplan for today: to help you out by doing an in-depth review of the Aqua Lung Sphera freediving mask, list all its pros and expose all its weaknesses, so you know whether this is the best mask for you or whether you need to keep looking.
The Aqua Lung Sphera is a low volume freediving mask with a very wide field of view. It is one of the best selling freediving masks on the market which does tell you something about its popularity.
The mask is available in two colors, black - as pictured above - and a clear plastic. The clear plastic version does allow light to pass through the skirt which can be a bit distracting while diving and especially spearfishing. It is for this reason that we recommend that freedivers and spearfishers stick to the colored versions.
The most Notable Features of the Sphera Mask include:
This mask has one of the lowest internal volumes of any masks available at the moment. This is thanks to the curved, almost wrapped around frame and lenses .
The wrap-around frame and curved lenses also give you an exceptional field of view.
The bad thing about these curved lenses are that they do distort the vision a little. It takes a little bit getting used to but once you are it is barely noticeable.
The other negative thing about the lenses are that it's made from plastic.
Tempered glass like you would find in most other freediving masks are stronger and clearer. Unfortunately it can't be curved like plastic without distorting your vision.
Apparently, Aqua Lung tried everything to make the curved lenses from glass but the distortion was simply too strong and they had to resort to making it from plastic or rather Plexisol to be precise.
Since the lenses are made from plastic you do have to take extra special care of the mask to make sure that they don't scratch. This is not a mask that you just stuff into your dive bag. Fortunately it does come in a hard plastic case.
Conventional tricks like toothpaste or burning the lens with a lighter is definitely a big no-no on this mask as well. Tactics like this will probably ruin the lenses completely.
The anti-fog coating(and maybe some spit) is effective but only as long as you keep the lenses clean. A wash with something gentle like baby shampoo before a dive will get rid of any oil that might have transferred from your face to the inside of the lenses - something that can happen quite easily due to the low volume of the mask.
Cleaning during a dive is near impossible though so take care when donning the mask.
And that brings us to how it looks. Wearing this mask will make you feel like a superhero. This mask is seriously good looking. In our opinion only the Omer Zero Cubed is as good looking as this mask, but that is more of a super villian type look.
When asking other freedivers and looking at reviews online there seems to be a general consensus regarding the Aqua Lung Sphera mask:
Most agree that the mask is very comfortable and that the silicone skirt provides a good watertight seal around your face. There is also no-one denying that the mask has an extremely low internal volume and a low profile which minimizes drag - two important factors for freedivers and open water swimmers.
Some divers claim that the volume of the mask is so low and that it compresses so well that they don't need to equalize the mask until they go past 100 feet.
The curved lenses provide a very wide viewing angle which is a big drawing card for buyers. The flat lenses of other masks don't come close to the Sphera's range of view.
Some divers did mention that they prefer and rank it higher than the Mares Viper mask - also a top selling freediving mask.
When we asked the opinion of professional freediving instructors 9 out of 10 recommended the Sphera mask to their students and most of them also used it themselves.
The anti-fog coating on the lenses seem to work for all. Although the lenses aren't glass most appreciate the fact that the lenses doesn't magnify everything underwater like the glass lenses on other masks would.
Now the bad:
The most common compliant that we found regarding this mask is the build quality and durability.
A small percentage of freedivers reported that their mask tore where the soft silicone skirt and frame comes together. This would cause a leak and render the mask completely useless. Luckily the mask does come with a 2 year warranty and it sounded like they had it replaced by Aqualung without too much hassle.
It seems that the soft silicone skirt which is the reason why the mask is so comfortable and leak-proof is also the reason why the mask tears at the seams.
Some other divers reported that their lenses popped out of the frame. This could be the result of not equalizing the mask during a dive but still it is not something that should happen whether you are 6 or 60 feet under the surface.
The durability of the mask is such a big issue that some divers go through a pair within a year and even purchase a couple of them each time round just so that they always have a spare close at hand.
Is this the best freediving mask on the market..?
As with most other things the best thing for one person might not be the best for another.
There is no doubt that it is a popular mask and it is priced very competitively. This is one of the reasons why divers repeatedly buy it even after struggling with popped lenses or torn skirts.
If you are a regular diver and heavy user then you might want to go with a mask that is more durable and that you can get more value from.
If this is you, then the Mares Viper is a good alternative. With the Mares mask you will loose out on the wider field of view that the Sphera offers, but you will gain a durable long-serving mask that is just as good looking and comfortable.
If you are beginner or even experienced freediver that dive only a couple of times a month then the Aqualung could be the perfect mask for you.
With the extremely low volume, exceptionally wide field of view and competitive selling price it has got a lot going for it. It would suit freedivers at any skill level and with careful use and some post dive attention this mask can last a good while and serve you well during that time.