The Best Freediving Mask – 2019 Buying Guide

How to choose the best freediving mask

One of the most important pieces of freediving equipment that you will need is a good freediving mask. Sure you can use a normal scuba diving goggles but if you are serious about pursuing this either as a sport or a hobby then you will need the best freediving mask that you can get your wet pruney fingers on. 

Just as important as this is the best freediving fins. And, just like fins, it is the size that sets the best freediving goggles apart from the standard scuba diving goggle.

Freedivers with the best masks

The Freediver on the right wears a low volume Aqua Lung Sphera mask

With freediving masks it is all about volume - the lower the volume the better. Scuba divers have the luxury of scuba tanks filled with air that they can use to slowly equalize their masks with. Freedivers, on the other hand, must equalize rapidly and do not have any excess air to blow into their masks to compensate for the loss of volume due to the increasing pressure on the descent.

In this buying guide, we will cover the 5 most popular freediving masks, their features and the pros and cons of each of them. We will also tell you what to look for in a mask so that you can be certain that you got the right one for your unique situation and requirements.

Let's jump in!

Best Freediving Mask

Winner: Aqua Lung Sphera

For freedivers who wish to look like Batman underwater, look no further. This is the mask for you. The Aqua Lung Sphera features a hydrodynamic design and 180-degree visibility. The lenses are coated with anti-fog and scratch resistant layers. It is worth noting that some divers do not prefer this mask, because the lenses are made of plastic.

The most notable pros and cons of the Aqualung Sphera are:

  • Extremely low volume
  • Curved lenses with 180 Degrees field of view
  • Anti-Fog Coated lenses
  • Scratch-resistant lenses
  • Competitively priced and great value for the money
  • Plastic lenses instead of tempered glass like the other masks on our list
  • Curved lenses distort your view which does take some getting used to

This mask has an extremely low volume, which is great for serious freedivers - more professional freedivers use this mask than any other. The extremely low volume might make some newer divers uncomfortable though. For example, a diver who sometimes experiences claustrophobia underwater may want to consider something with a slightly larger volume. Chances are good that if you are reading this then you are not one of these type of divers.

The Sphera is strong enough but the tempered glass lenses like you would find in the Mares Viper are stronger. The skirt is made from crystal silicone, which helps create a firm, but comfortable seal.

Aqua Lung masks are typically high quality and last a long time, so this piece of gear should be a good investment - especially at the current price. 

They are available in two colors, Black - as pictured below - and a clear silicone. We always recommend getting a black mask.

AquaLung Sphera

OUR RATING

The Sphera wins our top spot even though it has the same rating as our runner-up the Mares Viper.

If you don't get to dive more than once a week and if money is a factor for you then this might be the best freediving mask for you.


Runner Up: Mares Viper Mask

The Mares Viper Freediving Mask was developed in collaboration with worlds best divers and is dedicated to the most demanding free divers and spear fisherman. The most notable advantages and disadvantages of the Mares Viper mask include:

  • Great hydrodynamics which results in lowers resistance
  • Very comfortable strap with precise adjustment 
  • Ergonomic design that fits most faces
  • Tempered glass lenses 
  • Slightly more expensive than the Aqua Lung Sphera

We think that this might just be one of the best spearfishing and freediving masks on the market today. Spearos not using a low volume mask at the moment should seriously consider buying this one before their next spearfishing trip.

The low profile design of the Mares Viper minimizes resistance through the water. You’ll be able to glide through the water with a mask this hydrodynamic. 

This mask also features a frameless design and notable skirt. The latest-generation silicon is used for a strong but comfortable seal and it is designed to fit most face shapes. Many divers say that this is the most comfortable mask they have ever owned. 

The unique mask strap contributes a lot to the comfort. The strap is equipped with double-buttoned, ergonomic buckles to help you get the perfect fit. Like all specialized freediving mask the Viper is created with a low internal volume to help ease your descent.

The mask comes in a variety of colors. The new range come in Black(pictured below), brown, green and white. The white mask does stand out underwater and is not recommended for serious spearos.

Source: Mares

OUR RATING

The Mares Viper has a lot going for it and all things considered, the score is the same as the Aqua Lung mask. The former is more expensive but has the tempered glass lenses which most divers prefer. The latter on the other hand is less expensive but has the plexisol lenses which, due to the distortion that the curvature creates, does take some getting used to.

If money is not a deciding factor and you are a regular free diver then you would be better off going for the Mares Viper instead of the Sphera.

What most divers like about this Mares mask is the comfortable fit and the low volume which helps with their equalization during deep dives. 

Some divers do complain about the mask leaking around the nose area though. If you have a mustache you will unfortunately need to shave if off to ensure that you'll get a proper seal. Divers with rounder faces might struggle with a leak-proof seal as well.

We do feel that these complaints might not be a problem unique to this mask. Divers with mustaches and rounder faces might struggle a bit more finding a freediving mask that offers a comfortable and leak-proof seal simply due to the nature of these masks.


Alternative: Cressi Superocchio

This is a classic mask. The Cressi Superocchio is one of the original free diving masks. It is well tested, comfortable and reliable.

To be honest, the looks are a bit dated, but that should not be a surprise when you realize that the mask has been in circulation for many, many years.

If you are looking for a solid, low volume mask that will serve you for years to come, then this is the one for you.

Here are a couple of the good and bad points of this mask:

  • Durable construction
  • Good seal that fit almost every face
  • Tried and tested
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    Good value for money
  • Dated look
  • Not as low volume as the other freediving masks on our list
  • Limited field of view

The skirt is a strong material, so it forms a strong seal to a diver’s face. Many divers use this mask for years without any leakage issues.

The skirt is flexible and the extra depth allows the mask to contract or expand from pressure without putting pressure on your face. This mask has a completely hard frame and is pretty durable.

However, there is a depth to the skirt that means this mask is not as low volume as possible. If your top priority in a mask is to ease equalization, you should go with a different one.

The skirt depth causes another issue: distortion. When compared to other low volume masks you will see that the lens is placed farther away from the eyes. For some divers this results in a limited field of view, tunnel vision and distortion.

Some divers prefer this lack of distraction since this helps them relax, especially during static exercises. For most spearos this will be a problem though. 

Cressi Superocchio - a no frills, solid freediving mask

OUR RATING

This is a no-frills solid free diving mask that will serve most recreational freedivers very well. 

It loses points against the other masks on our list because of the dated looks, it not being as low volume as the others and the limited field of view. It does not have any fancy 3-dimensional buttons for the straps or any other bells and whistles.

It does however make up for its shortcomings with its universal leak-proof fit, long lifespan and affordability. 

If you are less concerned about looks and more about getting value for money then you won't go wrong here. This mask will serve you for many years. Some divers claim that they have used their Superocchios for 20 years while only replacing the mask strap a couple of times.


2nd Alternative: Seac M70 Low Volume Mask

For the more colorful diver, this is the mask for you. The Seac M70 is not only available in black like the Cressi Superocchio above. In total it is available in 5 different colors - a matt black, brown and green and also in a bright and clearly visible blue and red. 

Some of the Seac M70's pros and cons:

  • A wide variety of Colors
  • Semi-frameless, foldable design
  • 3-Dimensional buckle
  • High-quality 3mm Tempered glass lenses
  • UV resistant skirt
  • New and untested

The M70 is a semi-frameless mask which allows you to fold it. This makes it ideal as a travel or back-up mask. By folding it you can easily fit it into a BC pocket or small compartment. With that said, I would never leave it folded for long periods.

The skirt is made from a UV resistant silicone, which means spending all day freediving in the sun will not wear down the mask’s seal or integrity. The silicone does seem a bit firmer than those on other masks but it does not seem to have any impact on the fit and comfort of this SEAC mask

Another awesome feature on the mask is the buckle. It probably has the best buckle out of all the masks on this list. It is a 3D buckle. That means it can be easily rotated into any position. Be at your most comfortable underwater with a strap you can adjust to fit perfectly. 

Like all the other masks on our list, except for the Sphera, the Seac also sports tempered glass lenses. On the M70 this is 3mm thick.

OUR RATING

Time will tell if this mask moves up in the rankings. It is still fairly new and not many divers use them at the moment. Will they stand the test of time? We will have to wait and see.

From what we gathered it looks like it will and for this reason it gets a solid score as one of the best freediving masks available on the market today. 


Most Unique: Omer Zero Cubed

Last, but definitely not least, on our list for 2019 is the Omer Zero Cubed - also sometimes written as the Zero 3 or Zero³. The mask was designed with the help of Momo design.

This Omer free diving mask definitely wins the prize for the sexiest dive mask available on the market today.

But, it does not just have good looks going for it:

  • Very low volume
  • Wide field of vision
  • Unique and stylish look
  • New and untested
  • Expensive

Of all the masks in this guide, the Omer Zero Cubed is the most unique and in our opinion quite revolutionary. 

The lens position is unlike that of the average mask. They are placed a little farther apart and at an acute angle. Because of this otherworldly design, the Omer boasts a low volume with practically no loss in field of vision.

Where most freedivers must equalize their mask around 30 feet, the Omer Zero 3 is different. With its very low volume you don’t have to equalize it until around 60 feet, according to Omer.

There is only soft rubber over the sinus cavities which helps relieve equalization issues for some divers. The strap buckle is attached directly onto the skirt for extra hydrodynamics. The skirt has a textured matt finish which helps with your grip when pinching your nose and reduces glare. 

Source: Omer

OUR RATING

As with the SEAC M70, the Omer Zero³ still needs more divers to field test it. We have heard of some complaints about the buckles breaking off but this could have been an isolated incident. 

We are expecting this mask to move up through the rankings as more and more people start using them and sending feedback. Omer is a well-known brand and their Alien and Up masks are well received. 

It is one of the newest and unfortunately most expensive masks on our list. We can't wait to get this mask in the water and report back on the long-term test of it.


What To Look For In The Best

Shopping for the best freediving mask is more than just grabbing what looks good and fits your budget (although these are important thing to consider).

Here are a couple of factors to consider when selecting a mask for freediving and spearfishing.

Fit and Comfort

Fit and comfort are the two most important factors to consider. The only thing worse than a leaking mask is one that pinches you so hard that you can't wear it for very long. The way that the skirt fits your face will determine how waterproof the seal is. The straps and the frame of the mask will impact the comfort.

A quick and simple test you can do beforehand is to place the mask on your face without putting the straps around your head and then inhale through your nose. If the mask is a good fit for you, it will stick to your face after a short inhale without leaking any air.

Most modern freediving masks will fit most people without a problem but if you have a rounder face or facial hair then you might not get a good seal and it would be best to test the mask beforehand. Borrow one from a friend or visit a dive shop to try them out.

Volume

Equally as important as fit and comfort is the volume. For freediving you need a low volume mask since you won't have any extra air to blow into your mask to equalize the pressure on it as you dive deeper. The lower the volume the deeper you can dive before you need to equalize. 

If you have a large volume mask that you will not be able to equalize with the limited air in your lungs then the pressure on your face will become so intense that it will actually burst the small arteries in your eyes. This will leave you with sore and bloodshot eyes for days.

Color

In nature color usually acts as a warning to other animals. On top of that, the eyes and face also convey aggression. For these reasons, most divers choose black masks to be as unobtrusive as possible.

Choosing a brightly colored mask will make you more visible to your dive buddy but also to the sea life that you might want to get close to. 

If you are into spearfishing then have a look at the Mares Viper, Seac M70 and Omer masks. Apart from the standard black they are also available in dark brown and green colors.

Camera Mount

There aren't any masks on our 2019 list with camera mounting options. Not because there aren't any but because we feel that they are inferior to the best freediving masks that we've listed above.

For a manufacturer to add a camera mount to a freediving mask they need to use a mask with a full frame and the frame and mount needs to be a bit farther from the diver's face. These two factors lead to a mask with a higher volume than other freediving masks making them less than ideal.

There are some good options available though. Two of the better ones are the Rob Allen Replay mask and the Hammerhead MV3 Action Mask. Both are from reputable spearfishing equipment manufacturers so you know what you are getting

Both of these are also compatible with GoPro cameras.

We are of opinion that serious freedivers should still rather go for one of the masks on our list above and use an alternative camera or mounting option to film the sea life, their friends and themselves.


Final Thoughts

If you are still free diving with an old scuba mask then you should make "finding the best freediving mask" your top priority.

We hope that this guide was able to help you in your search. There are many more high-quality low volume masks out there and this list is not exhaustive. 

The Aqua Lung Sphera is at this moment our personal favorite as it strikes a good balance between performance and price.

But, with that said, we do expect to upgrade to the Mares Viper as soon as we start spending more time in the water and in deeper water. The Mares Viper is an excellent mask for the freediver and spearfisherman that is fortunate enough to get in the water more than twice per week.

Do you think we should have any other masks on our list...? If so, leave us a comment below and tell us your top freediving mask.

Whether you are a beginner just diving in, or are you a skilled diver interested in finding a mask for competition, spearfishing or just fun dives? We’d love to hear from you!

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