Full Face Mask advice?

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vash4884

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Hiya I would like to eventually get into a full face mask. I have an Atomic B2 that I love so I was wondering if I should start with an OTS Spectra or would I be better off going with a OTS Guardian or an Ocean Reef Space Extender or Neptune 3? I do like how you can adjust the breathing on the Ocean Reefs but I wanted some other people's thoughts on them. My wife and I dive together and we're interested in having communications systems. How is the breathing effort on these masks? Also what is their service interval like? Any advice would be greatly appreciated and thank you very much.
 

Endler's

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Bryan @ Lake Hickory Scuba is an LDS owner, who also does also does Public Safety and Salvage Diving. Has lots of very well done videos.
Start with: Full Face Mask Showdown Ocean Reef Versus OTS
He has several in depth reviews of other masks as well (worth your time). ⏳
 

SpaceCat

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My best advice to you would be to talk to a shop that will let you try before you buy. Different FFM fit differently and one that may work great for someone else may not work for you. They tend to fit a wider array of faces, but they are still a mask -- they need to fit your face.

That being said, I strongly strongly recommend trying out the Guardian. I also dive with an Atomic B2 when I am not in a FFM, but I absolutely love diving FFM with a Guardian. Guardian's also have the benefit of fitting smaller faces than some other FFM (possibly a benefit for your wife) and I have found underwater communications in them to not be obtrusive at all. I cannot speak to the ease of breathing with any other FFM, but I find the Guardian to breathe easily when properly adjusted. It is nice to be able to breathe more "normally" and use your mouth and nose. I have found that it is easier for me to overbreathe the FFM more than my B2, however I also tend to use a FFM when I am working harder, so that could vary. You likely will use more air at first when you switch to a FFM, however as you become more comfortable with it, that should decrease.

They need to be serviced about as frequently as "normal" regulators. I would try to make sure your LDS is able to service whatever FFM you get so you are not trying to send it out/find someone that can service it. They are becoming more commonly used, so more shops are getting employees that are qualified to service them.

My advice as far as getting used to it would be to either take a FFM course or have the shop that sells it to you teach you how to best use it. At the very least, practice with it in confined water prior to taking it in OW. Equalizing will be different and more difficult at first, so you need to practice prior to being dumped in the middle of the ocean. Some masks come with different sized nose blocks (for equalizing), so you may need to try out a few of the included blocks in the pool prior to finding which one fits your face/nose best. Pay close attention to either your instructor (or your instruction manual) as to how to best put the mask on and tighten the straps. The straps by the chin are important for a good fit, the strap on the top of your head shouldn't be pulling the whole mask upwards. Make sure you have practiced with your buddy for OOA situations as it will be different with a FFM.

TL;DR : Try different ones and pick the one that BEST fits your face. Some shops will let you try before buy. Make sure you are comfortable with equalizing and working the mask PRIOR to any OW dives.
 

SlugMug

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Do you have Full-Face-Mask training?

As SpaceCat mention, there are skills involved with FFM diving, and dangers many divers may not anticipate. For example, getting water in the mask, also causes your breathing device to flood. So, you need to remove the mask, switch to your octo, and then retrieve your spare mask. That's just the very basics of FFM, and a single scenario and untrained, unpracticed diver might not be ready for and most non-FFM divers aren't familiar with. To add another scenario, how do you clear a partial flood, it's not the same as a normal scuba-mask.
 

pasley

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Full Disclosure. I am certified for FFM and as of June 2022 as an FFM Instructor. I have done some ocean dives and several hours of pool time in them. Not that it was hard, I just wanted to be well preacticed in the skills. So I do not have years of experience in FFM. I have dove the OTS once in a pool and I own a matched pair of Ocean Reef Neptune III mask with a communication system. So I will limit my comments to my experience (admittedly limited) with the Ocean Reef Neptune III FFM.

We agree that if you move to FFM you need to get certified in FFM and, like flying a plane, you should get trained in the same brand and model you will be diving. I can also see where with previous generations of FFM and/or with other brands, you are very likely correct on many if not all of your points. In my Ocean Reef Neptune III FFM, my experience of your water in your mask example has not been my experience. In practicing the flooded mask skill with Neptune III, the hardest part of the skill is getting any water into the mask at all!

If water should ever get into your Neptune III (good luck getting it in there so you can practice.) all you have to do is look down (12 decrees) as the regulator is located slightly under the mask, then hit the purge valve or exhale, if you even have to do that. When I fully remove the mask and put it back on, by the time it is 3/4 on, the mask is clearing and once the chin hits the pocket it is done. Yes, we do train and practice switching to the regular mask and backup regulator.

Sharing air can be done by just using the octo, if donating, it is the standard drill, If receiving the Octo, then I can lift up my mask slightly and breathe off the Octo, then switch to my backup mask. Most likely if my dive buddy is so equipped (i carry a spare) with a quick disconnect, the doner simply plugs their octo hose into my mask. I am giving thought some serious thought to purchasing a pony bottle (not SpareAir a real pony bottle) of 20CF to 40 CF for use with the FFM as my buddy air. By the way, I have tested the claim by Ocean Reef that the Neptune III redesign breaths dry in any position. Standing on my head at 60 FSW dry, sideways, dry, regular dive position, dry and upright dry. So far I am enjoying the FFM from Ocean Reef. Less likely to accidentally get kicked off, and will stay in place if I should suffer a seizure or become unconscious or paralyzed for any reason while in the water. I am evaluating the use of the FFM in my instruction of adaptive scuba diving. I can see several positive advantages to the FFM. I see one skill that may be slightly more challenging, but I think that will be a simple fix with standard training.

As yet FFM is not that common in recreational SCUBA. I am and always will be a recreational diver. I acquired my systems because my student population has in the past included students who were blind, quadriplegic, incomplete quadriplegic, walking quadriplegic, paraplegic, multiple limb amputees, and other challenges. But what has IMHO been keeping it out of the recreational market is primarily cost. That is coming down but is still several times the cost of the standard face mask. The Neptune III has also reduced the volume of the FFM and increased the visibility of the FFM at the same time. June 11 I was on the Cee Ray dive boat and there were 2 FFM on the boat, mine and another dive with another brand.

If you are in the Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside or San Bernardino County area and want to try the Ocean Reef Neptune III with its communication system over both ears, give me a shout. If you should have need of an adaptive instructor who is active in the field, give me a call to assist you or to train your student if they have need of this very niche area, call me.
 

SlugMug

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If you are in the Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside or San Bernardino County area and want to try the Ocean Reef Neptune III with its communication system over both ears, give me a shout.
If I was in the area, I'd take you up on the offer. A $2000 mask definitely is not "cheap," but I suppose sometimes you get what you pay for.
 

Valyngar

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Do you have Full-Face-Mask training?

As SpaceCat mention, there are skills involved with FFM diving, and dangers many divers may not anticipate. For example, getting water in the mask, also causes your breathing device to flood. So, you need to remove the mask, switch to your octo, and then retrieve your spare mask. That's just the very basics of FFM, and a single scenario and untrained, unpracticed diver might not be ready for and most non-FFM divers aren't familiar with. To add another scenario, how do you clear a partial flood, it's not the same as a normal scuba-mask.
Why would you not just press purge button and deflood it? I myself just trained in pool once then went to dive. It's not that hard. I am using aga divator II. Compared to charging regulators or masks quite similar. You can find yt videos of skills, if you wish.
 

WOB0.01J

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I have used OceanReef Space Extender, Neptune III, and Kirby morgan M48. Here are my thoughts:

Oceanreef space extender and Neptune III: They fit the best for me ( I have no facial hair ). However, Neptune III breathe is probably one of the best reg i have ever used, Now I dive with a A700 SP, and the neptune III almost breathe as good as my A700. But Neptune III front case was not secure when I received the product to the point where it jiggles, probably QC wasn't good. So I deceided to sell the mask and got a oceanreef space extender.

Space extender on the other hand does not breathe very good IMO. And also, I had a "close call" on one of the boat dives -- I enter the water first and waiting for everyone else to join, but the CO2 build up was so bad on the surface with a surface breathing valve open, I had to take off the mask to be able to get a fresh breathe of air. Also, my air usage went up a lot. The only benefit that I can see from a FFM is field of view, be able to add on communication and use your nose to breathe.

I also have experience on the kirby morgan M48, and this is probably by far the best FFM on the market IMO. This mask is modular, meaning you can take the bottom half of the mask off while you are floating on the surface. This gives you talking ability and no CO2 build up on the surface. M48 also breathe very very good with the reg. The only problem I had with the mask is the equalization was kinda strange, so I had to get used to that.

When dive a FFM, here are couple things might help you :)
1. Try to enter the water last in a group dive, because it is very uncomfortable to breathe through a ABV the whole time on the surface ,( both fogging and CO2 build up issues)
2. Must carry a spear mask with you, because i almost had a situation where I had to bailout from FFM. Also, practice being neutrally buoyant while switching from a FFM to a regular mask.
3. Because of the large volume inside of the FFM, you might need to adjust the weight to compensate that.
4. It is difficult to talk to your buddy with a FFM on the surface if there is a problem with your gear and your buddies gear, or just general discussion of the dive. So try your best to resolve all the issue before you put your mask on. (M48 is not a problem regarding this issue)


That's just some of my thoughts and experience with FFM, hope it helps you to decide FFM purchase. :)
 

SlugMug

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Why would you not just press purge button and deflood it? I myself just trained in pool once then went to dive. It's not that hard. I am using aga divator II. Compared to charging regulators or masks quite similar. You can find yt videos of skills, if you wish.
I learned sidemount through online resources (suidemounting.com), patience, and practice. I first learned and practiced skills in chest-high water, and once I was comfortable slowly ramped up. If I had gone straight to 60ft though, that would have been dangerous, even though I had a already been to 130ft on backmount before. I'm reminded of the Adventures With A Purpose diver who ran out of air on FFM. He had a redundant-air setup, but in his panic and lack of experience with that setup, he opted for an emergency ascent, instead of just switching to the pony-bottle.

The problem with FFM without any kind of training or practice is there are unintuitive complexities and dangers of FFM, that someone may not anticipate, if they just throw on a FFM and go diving. Sure, I mentioned clearing a flooded face-mask, but that's literally one skill, and maybe something a random person doesn't anticipate the first time they throw on a FFM. What other skills might a user need to practice? Does this random scuba-diver know what those skills are?

Most if it is probably not hard to learn, and I'm sure someone could easily create resources to learn online. Not just individual skills, but rather an a-to-z of everything one ought to know and practice about FFMs. I've never looked to see if there is such a resource like that, but if you have one feel free to share it here.
 

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