Tag Archives: diving

Diving Dry with Doubles

Diving Dry with Doubles
by
Matthew Mandziuk

Have you ever noticed that the most active divers on the dive site are the one’s who are Diving  Drysuit with Doubles?  Quite often its the same 10-12 divers who sign up for a lot of the same trips and who often prefer diving together with the group.  The reason for that is comfort, with their kit, with the group, with themselves in the water, whereas the other 10-12 guests are a revolving door of divers with a ranged diving background.

In this blog we are going to talk a little about the benefits of diving Diving a Drysuit with Double Tanks.

By the end of this reading you should have a clearer understanding of the partnership between diving with a drysuit and doubles, the benefits of diving with a drysuit and doubles, some of the training offerings with divers in a drysuit and doubles and where diving in a drysuit and doubles can take you.

Why Dive Drysuit and Doubles? 

At first it sounds a little much, diving a nylon or neoprene full body suit, hood, gloves and then more weight than we even used in a wetsuit?  Drysuit divers wear approximately 6-8lbs minimum in fresh water (more in salt because of the added buoyancy)  more weight than a diver in a single piece 7mm jumpsuit (or about the same weight as they’d wear with an old school farmer John and Jacket).

That added weight can be inconvenient at best.

Where does one put that extra weight?  

Most of our DDS Divers utilize a backplate and harness system which promotes better horizontal trim, posture and streamlining , it’s expandable and fully adjustable to accommodate the drysuit much easier than a jacket bcd can and is far more comfortable.

To learn more about backplates in general, please click the hyperlink above.

Divers diving in Canada with a single tank often times use a stainless steel backplate with a weighted single tank adapter, that system has a total negative buoyancy weighting of approximately 10lbs.  Nearly enough to sink anyone in a 7mm wetsuit with 2-3lbs maximum per side additional, however a drysuit diver is going to require an additional 6-8lbs minimum depending on the undergarments they wear.

In an attempt to  promote proper horizontal trim, the diver will want to re-distribute the weight evenly around the body with a maximum of 4-5lbs per hip pocket and up to that much weight on each of the single tank straps for a total of up to approximately 20lbs of weight plus the backplate system = 30lbs. Doesn’t that seem like a little much?  

In an attempt to minimize the weight the diver wears, many will go to a single steel tank which can be 2-8lbs negatively buoyant by todays standards diving with a Faber steel cylinder.  

A few years ago Worthington cylinders were preferred for their additional negative buoyancy characteristics with the X7-100 and X8-130 being the 2 most popular options.  In Faber the FX100, FX133 and LP85 are our most popular sizes.  Strangely enough the 100’s and 130’s were also the most suitable tanks for doubling up for deeper dives.  

Faber FX100 swings from -8.41lbs full to -0.59lbs empty.
Faber FX133 swings from -9.08 full to +1.45lbs empty
Faber DVB85 swings from -3.8 full to + 2.32 empty

Worthington X7-100 had a swing of -10lbs to -2.5lbs
Worthington X8-130 had a swing of -11.7 to -2lbs

Having a tank that is negatively buoyant allows divers to reduce overall weight required and keeps some of that negative buoyancy behind you which helps improve your trim rather than having all that weight on the hips, but you don’t want to overweight yourself with tanks too heavy and underwear too thin.  Try and find the balance.  Many divers will even favour aluminum tanks for shallow shore diving with thin garments.

Adding an extra tank minimizes or eliminates the need for additional weight while adding a safer configuration that builds on our progressive single tank system utilizing a long hose/short hose and spg on 24″-26″ HP hose and it gives divers  the ability to solve a catastrophic failure thanks to redundant regulators.

Aluminum twins are popular option for divers looking for a great wetsuit set that can be used with a drysuit, however, they are more suitable for use on shallow dives.  When worn with a drysuit the diver will have to wear a heavier steel plate, a v-weight with lead down the centre of the tanks and a compact and streamlined wing.  They are easy to dive with little learning curve.

Steel tanks will take the diver further through deeper dives, caves, wreck penetration and offer more reserve gas on the divers back to deal with emergencies.

Vertical Divers with all the weight on the waist in a jacket bcd with dangling everything
DDS Diver John displaying perfection with great trim, buoyancy, control and style as he swims around the Tugs in Tobermory, ON

Many divers prefer the additional gas capacity of the steel tanks as well as the larger sized tanks allow divers to dive deeper and stay longer in comparison to the standard aluminum 80 tank which is still the most popular scuba diving tank on the market.

 

Drysuit Divers and DDS Divers have better trim because a drysuit surrounds the entire body with a little bit of air (less is better).

Redistribute weight, minimize weight and enjoy easier diving.

 

As divers tend to dive more off the dive boats and spend more time on their favourite dive sites, divers start looking at how to get more bottom time.  

Diving Nitrox allows divers to gain up to 50% more bottom time on sites around 100′ and deeper, while yielding even more bottom time shallower, however, the limiting factor at that point tends to be their breathing rates and the sizes of tank they use, so a steel tank will in fact increase their bottom time an allow them to achieve their dive plans up to the Nitrox NDL most dives.

For divers who find even on Nitrox, the NDL isn’t always long enough, extending their range into decompression diving often is the trick, as a diver learns how to properly and safely plan their dives with a little bit of decompression utilizing advanced nitrox mixes to accelerate decompression times.  This is where doubles are most beneficial.

DDS Divers practicing bottle handling

When a diver combines the drysuit for maximum exposure protection and comfort along with a set of twin tanks, they no longer have to worry about switching out their tanks on that rocking dive boat in between dives, they no longer have to worry about adding weight to their hips or anywhere usually on their body, and they can certainly benefit from the increased balance and comfort that doubles offer.

You’ll also find divers enjoy just going out and working on foundational skills is easy to observe as our divers are always out in open water honing their skills.

Diving Dry with Doubles allows for more even balance in the water as the tanks are placed over top of each lung rater than down the spine like a single tank, while giving the diver a more comfortable suit to don and doff.

Drysuits are easier to put on than a 5-7mm wetsuit.

Drysuits are more effective for warmth retention.

Crushed neoprene or trilaminate Drysuits don’t compress with depth like wetsuits which get thinner with each atmosphere making the diver heavier because of the initial weight they start the dive with, as well as making the diver colder because those thick suits become much thinner every 30ft/10meters they descend.

Are Doubles For You?

If you can carry them on your back, reach your valves and dive with them comfortably, the answer is yes!

DDS Divers working on valve shutdowns on dry land getting the sequence down.

Look at the number of accidents that have happened in recreational diving situations with single tanks, especially on deeper dives.  Most recreational diving accidents occur in a single tank with no redundancy (pony bottle, sidemount, h-valve, doubles) or lack of training.  

A diver breaths their tank empty, their buddy runs out of air and they didn’t reserve enough gas for them and their buddy to ascend, they went in cold water and the regulator froze up, they hit the regulator or tank valve off a shipwreck or overhead environment creating a catastrophic failure, the BCD freezes, their dive computer blows off the end of their high pressure hose (another reason to wrist mount your computer) so they panic seeing bubbles streaming out of the high pressure hose, etc….

Minimize the risk, Increase the Fun and Learning and be more mentally and physically prepared with more advanced training.

If you’re interested in diving deeper than 80′, cavern or cave diving, technical diving, ice diving, mixed gas diving or wreck penetration, you should do it on doubles.  To many people did it wrong and it cost them their lives.

Be the best diver you can be.  Get involved with DDS and we’ll make you the best diver you can be with our training, experience dives, trips, charters and exploration offerings.

We’ve found these factors to be some of the most beneficial tools to extend your diving into a more fun and exciting world:

Dive Planning: Plan Your Dive, Follow Your Plan, Have an overplan, bailout plan, but don’t deviate from the main dive plan

Gas Management: 1/3 down and around, 1/3 back, exiting water with 1/3 of your gas supply 

Redundancy: Doubles allow the ability to shut down your regulator in the event of a failure, free flow, freeze-up, burst disc failure etc. Isolation manifold allows to shut down and switch over by isolating and shutting down the offending post or just shutting down the offending post.

Narcosis Management: Don’t Dive Deep On Air.  You’re narc’d at 130ft/40meters whether you know it or not.  Don’t dive deep on air, it’s silly, outdated and unsafe with education and helium training available now.

Team Diving: Serious Diving requires divers you can trust in an emergency and in an pinch. Don’t just dive with the randoms you find on a boat down south, they’re usually once a year divers with horrible habits and inferior training.  Dive with divers you have a positive history with or as ask us and we can refer you to more progressively minded shops

No Solo Diving on Deep Dives: Solo Diving is popular now, we’d likely choose this option if diving south with random divers instead of having to buddy up with people that we don’t feel comfortable diving with, however, deeper dives require piece of mind, extra equipment and a proper plan with lots of “what-if’s” to be safe guarded against.  It’s not worth solo cave, solo deep (exceeding NDL) or solo overhead environment without buddies

Analyze Your Mixes: Always, Always, Always analyze your mixes when you pick your tanks up, make sure they’re labelled and if diving with a fill that was “just filled” and you have to grab and go, analyze it again before your day of diving begins.

Practice , Practice, Practice: Complacency Kills.  Work on trim, buoyancy, bottle handling, dealing with simulated emergencies, smb deployment, alternate fin kicks, etc.  Be the most polished and best diver you can be.

Fit is Everything

Don’t just jump into drysuits and doubles blindly.  It requires the right fitting suit and undergarments first and foremost.  Many brands of drysuits are inferior in fit and quality, even the brands offering “custom fit”.  

You’ll notice most shops try and pedal the cheaper suits that are like garbage bags or garbage bags wrapped in lycra to cover up the garbage bag look. This is like buying a drysuit from McDonald’s!  Don’t Waste Your Money

If you truly want to LOVE your drysuit and want to enjoy using it, take the time to get properly measured and properly fit.  Don’t just let the dive store hand you a suit off the rack and tell you that it’ll fit you perfectly, we’ve had that happen to several students from out of town that couldn’t complete their required skills during Intro to Tech Training and ended up renting suits from us to finish the class, then ultimately buy a brand new suit from us.

Do it Right.

We are partial to Diving Unlimited International because they offer the best quality, service, workmanship and there is an actual after sales service with them.  They are our top choice for hard to fit people too.  It’s all about comfort and fit with them.

DUI have great value priced suits with their Coronado, San Diego and Yukon II suits and the new Cortez (2019) suits obliterate most brands “top of the line suit” for quality, features, performance, as well as coming with user replaceable quick change ZipSeals, meaning you don’t have to send the suits away for service unless you damage the suit or zipper!  No brand can compete with that!

DDS Divers enjoying a winter getaway to Muskoka

Santi offers a great quality and great looking suit.  We do their stock and modified stock suits.  You’re allowed up to 4 alterations at no extra cost with them and they do offer custom too.  Suits are very tough and stylish with a beautiful Euro look of elegance and colour.  They do take some time 2-3 months typically (sometimes less sometimes more).

Fourth Element offers the most flexible drysuit on the market.  It’s durable and looks great and they’re using technology to their advantage instead of dive stores who can miss measure someone by using BIOMAP technology to digitally create an image of the person to cut the suit for.  Great suits for a great price with great service…it might just take a bit more time to get the suits made 2-3 months typically.

BARE offers a great stock suit at a good price depending on what you get with the suit from your LDS.  Just but it from DDS and you’ll be happiest.

The Drysuit Underwear is as important for fit and mobility as the drysuit itself.  Santi offers modified stock and custom underwear, DUI offers DuoTherm ultra stretch polartec suits for custom fit as well as a great selection of stock sizes in up to an XM450 material which is exceptional underwear for cold water.  Fourth Element offers an amazing range of suits for a range of conditions made with some of the nicest feeling and fitting materials.

Learn more about diving doubles by stopping in or sign up for a Discover Doubles NTEC night with us.  

NTEC will introduce you to the doubles configuration, foundational skills you should master, emergency drills and more. It’s a perfect prep-workshop that introduces divers to the principles that will help lay the groundwork moving forward towards more regimented training with the right guidance, education, exercises and more to help ready you for our NAUI Intro Class.

Our NAUI Intro to Tech Course is a Rudimentary Elements of Diving Course that will highlight the foundational skills and develop them from a recreational perspective that will dovetail into more advanced and technical diving activities and show recreational divers a preview of what their diving can be like by testing and honing a divers finesse, comfort, trim, buoyancy, effortless skills, problem identification and reactions, team diving, smb deployments, buoyancy refinement, fin techniques and so much more.

wreck-diving-lake-michigan-1
Matt exploring the Car Ferries James W. Curran and John A. McPhail in Lake Huron

NTEC and Intro are the 2 most exciting, modern, challenging classes that will help improve your skills and enjoyment in the drysuit the most. Tie in NTEC and your PADI Drysuit Specialty Course together and see diving with a  different mindset than what you’d hear/see/learn in a traditional PADI system of diving education.

Diving Dry allows for longer bottom time in cooler water or more dives per day. A more comfortable gear up experience from a boat.

When you look at our DDS dive trip pics on Facebook or Instagram you’ll notice aside from a pool or an open water course weekend, the majority of the divers you see on our trips and con-ed classes are all in drysuits and you’ll notice that a lot of the same divers come out year after year on our charters and trips because their level of enjoyment is substantially higher than a wetsuit divers.

A friend of ours had a shop in Massachusetts and they trained their divers exclusively in drysuits.  They offered by far the most expensive open water course from NY-Maine and everywhere in between, yet their continuing education rates were 400% vs a national industry average of about 25% of divers who go diving and train after open waters.

So they found enormous success training their divers and promoting colder water diving trips because like DDS, they realized the best diving in the world was around the Great Lakes, Atlantic wrecks, Florida and surrounding areas. They were right.

In Closing

Drysuits will last you longer than a wetsuit, will give a diver buoyancy control that is easier to maintain when you where a little “squeeze” on the suit vs a wetsuit which compresses and changes depth the deeper or shallower you go.

Drysuits will allow for colder water immersion and more dives per day, while in between dives the divers will warm up faster, so the energy that is rejuvenated is much higher, especially with todays’ warmer Thinsulate’s and heated systems.

Combining a drysuit with a set of doubles sets a diver up for a lifetime hobby where anything is achievable.  

The divers can spend more time under the water enjoying their hobby.  They don’t have to change tanks awkwardly on the boat in between dives like single tank divers do.  They add a larger gas source to deal with emergencies such as low on air or an equipment failure, while also adding redundancy in the event of a regulator or valve failure.  

Aside from a little extra weight on land, there isn’t much difference between a single tank and a lot of lead to sink a recreational diver and a set of doubles.  

For divers who can’t wear a set of doubles, try Sidemount!  Sidemount is a great option for divers who don’t have the ability to reach back to shut a valve down or who have had back surgery or a physical limitation that negates the ability the wear doubles on their back.

At Dan’s we believe in a more fun progression, so training our divers the right way from the very beginning is so imperative and gives them so many more options moving forward beyond Open Water, Advanced, Drysuit, Rescue, Divemaster and Instructor.  Don’t get caught in the boring progressions that the recreational agencies endorse, there is a much more fun, challenging and enjoyable progression ahead.

Experience more in the world of scuba diving instruction with Dan’s and let us show you a better way to do things that makes more sense and creates better divers.

Dan’s is an innovator of progressive recreational and technical diving, bringing the most modern skills and philosophies forwards before anyone in Canada as we continue to lead and offer the highest standards and most exceptional dive training for recreational and technical diving and have helped shaped some of the finest explorers in the world of scuba diving too.  Train with Dan’s and see a brighter diving future.

 

Wednesday Night and Local Diving Schedule for 2017

Wednesday Night and Local Diving Schedule for 2017

The Wednesday Night and Local Diving Schedule for 2017 is well underway.  Get involved and get diving some of the best dive sites in the area this summer. 

All of our trips are full for the season now, so spend less time driving and more time diving shipwreck sites that are even better than most of the Tobermory shipwrecks by sticking around Lake Erie and Lake Ontario this summer.

We have some phenomenal end of season dives too which are shore based and some amazing DPV dives too, so lets get diving.

Charters and weekend dives require advanced sign up.  There is a charter form that will need to be filled out. Please book well ahead, many dives are already full or filling up.

dds-divengers

Divengers Age of Ultra Diving Wednesday Night Dive Schedule 2017

May 31st Ontario Rd. Bridge (Welland)

June 7th International Train Bridge (Ft. Erie)

June 14th Navy Hall (Lower Niagara River)

June 21st The Barge (Upper Niagara River)

June 28th Netherby Rd. (Upper River)

July 5th Swing Bridge (Welland)

July 12th Kings Bridge Park to Boat Launch
(Chippawa Creek)

July 19th Boat Launch to Stanley Ave. (Chippawa)

July 26th Peace Bridge/Thompsons Hole *

August 2nd International Train Bridge

August 9th Frenchman’s Creek

August 16th Ontario Rd. Bridge

August 23rd Barge (Upper Niagara River)

August 30th Netherby Rd. Drift

September 6th Swing Bridge (Welland)

September 13th Kings Bridge Park to Boat Launch

September 20th Boat Launch to Stanley Ave.

September 27th Navy Hall

October 4th Thompsons Hole *

October 11th International Train Bridge

October 18th Swing Bridge

October 25th Frenchman’s Creek

November 1st Navy Hall

Wednesdays require you to be on site by 6:30pm, gear up and dive in by 7pm, most dives are an hour in duration followed by a “Debriefing” at a local establishment.

A * Denotes Advanced Dive.  A ** Denotes Technical Dive. Charters have a Charter fee.

Gratuities for staff and boat personnel greatly appreciated.

DDS Weekend Charter Dives, Trips, Events 

Sunday May 28th DDS DEMO DAY & BBQ @Welland Scuba Park $15/person. 

June 11th Tiller Wreck Charter AM & PM * (Sold Out Waiting List in Effect)

June 18th Father’s Day Tiller Wreck Charters * (Sold Out Waiting List in Effect)

Thursday Night June 29th Lyman Davis/Sligo Charter off of Humber Bay, Toronto *

July 2nd Lake Erie Carlingford/Benson *
July 3rd Lake Erie Crystal/Tradewind *
July 7-9 Tobermory Dive Extravaganza 2017 * (Sold Out Waiting List in Effect)

Thursday Night July 13th Tiller Wreck 2 Dives *

July 22-29 Newfoundland Trip Wrecks, Whales, Mines and More!

July 23rd Lake Erie Acme/Stone Wreck *

August 6th Tiller Wreck Charter AM & PM *

Civic Monday August 7th Lake Erie Finnie/Niagara 

August 11-13 Rockport Thousand Islands Dive Weekend (Sold Out Waiting List in Effect)
August 20th St. James/Arches Technical Charter or Picton Wrecks **

August 24th Oakville Wrecks Birmingham/Barge *

September 1-4 Northwind Expedition 2017 (Sold Out Waiting List in Effect)

September 17th Tiller Wreck Charter AM & PM *

September 22-24 Tobermory Dive Extravaganza 2 *

October 15th Tiller Wreck Charter AM & PM *

October 19-21 Brockville Dive Exposé *

October 28-November 3rd Blackbeards Bahamas Liveboard Dive Vacation (Sold Out Waiting List in Effect)

October 29th Underwater Pumpkin Carving Contest 2017

Friday November 3rd DDS RENTAL GEAR SALE

November 5th Rockport Wall Shore Dive

November 12th Waome Dive Carter Gravenhurst*

November 19th Bon Echo Park Scooter Dive (DPV’s available for rent with DPV Cert)

November 25th– December 2nd Mexico Cave Trip

December 3rd Brockville Daryaw *
December 8th DDS Christmas Party

December 29-January 6th New Years Mexico Cave Trip **

February 11-17 Florida Springs Trip (Intro to Tech, Cavern, DPV Training) *
February 18-24 Florida Springs Trip (Cave 1 Training) *
February 25-March 3rd Florida Springs Trip (Cave 2 Training) **

Dive Sites subject to availability. Locations subject to change. Please register in advance for all charters and weekend dives.

 

 

Unmasked A Modern Look at Scuba And Snorkel Masks

Unmasked A Modern Look at Scuba Masks And Snorkel Masks

Today we’re going to talk about Scuba and Snorkel Masks, which also hold true for FreeDiving applications.

Many Divers and Snorkels ask us “What’s the Best Scuba Mask?” Our answer is simple….The one that fits you best. Read on and learn the additional features that will make your dive mask the best.

Question For You:

Have you ever been to a resort where someone just hands you a snorkel mask our a dive mask out of a bucket and tells you to go and enjoy the water?  For some that can be a wonderful eye popping experience and for others it can be painful, irritating, uncomfortable or downright unnerving.

Today we are going to discuss some of the key features, technologies, materials, styles and levels of comfort you can come to expect from a good quality scuba or snorkel mask. 

Hopefully this will help you pick out the best scuba mask or snorkel mask for your every day water related activities.

Key Features

Some would argue that the more expensive the mask is, the better it will fit you or the better quality it is.  This isn’t quite the case.

The best mask on the market is the mask that fits your face first and foremost.

Factors that affect the fit of the mask are face shapes, facial hair, buckle or strap design, single or double lens, type of mask skirt material, lens glass and frame shape to name a few.

Generally speaking the bigger the face the larger the mask skirt and frame will have to be.  Someone with a narrow face like a woman or small child can fit a small to mid size frame, while most average size faces would benefit from a standard fit, larger faces may require a wide fitting mask.

There are a handful of brands who offer small/medium fitted masks, as well as wide fitting masks, while the norm is to make a mask for the average face.

Once you’ve determined the size of mask you may need its time to weigh options, for example, if you have facial hair, you may favour a stiffer mask skirt with a frameless designed that will sit slightly higher above the moustache versus one that lays across the hair preventing a full seal against the upper lip and under the nose.  

The Moustache: Moustache divers or snorkelers can be one of the more challenging people to fit, so we often gravitate to a few good “moustache masks”.  These masks are shorter and stiffer in the upper lip area and aren’t as affected by the facial hair which can break the seal of a softer skirted mask.

The BARE Frameless Mask, Atomic Frameless Mask, Mares X-Vision standard and TUSA Powerview have been some of our most successful options. 

Avoid The Dreaded Purge Valve!  Rather than going for a proper fit, some people choose to go for a mask with a purge valve in the nose that allows you to simply blow out to evacuate water, which is great, when they work, however, we believe a purge valve mask is an excuse for an ill-fitting mask.  

Purge masks also tend to fail over time having the valve curl or simply falling out causing the mask to fill up with water, so for this reason we simply don’t recommend or endorse the use of purge valves in masks, but are happy to add one into any mask you desire should you want one.

Wearing a Skirt?

Guys and girls both wear skirts when wearing a mask.  So what’s the difference in mask skirts?  Mask skirts can be made of a number of different materials including Rubber, TPR (transparent rubber), PVC, Silite, Silflex, Silter, Silicone, Crystal Silicone, Liquid Silicone, Liquid Crystal Silicone, Gummybear Silicone and more.

Rubber was the most common type of material throughout the infancy of snorkeling and scuba because it was inexpensive, created a seal, was black which helped the person see clearer without glare and refraction of light, but it was not a product that had offered a lot of longevity, however, in the late 1970’s silicone started to become more popular due to the fact that it didn’t break down in the sunlight, was more comfortable and chlorine resistant.

Alternatively TPR, PVC, Silite, Silflex, Silter are all harder skirted alternatives that cost less, are replaced more and are often found in the department stores.  Some manufactures promote a silcone mask/snorkel combo, however, a mask can be class as “silicone” with as little as 5% in the skirt.

You can tell how much silicone is in the mask vs. plastic or other materials by holding the clear skirt up to the light.  If the mask has an opaque colour that looks “clumpy” or more white it isn’t pure silicone.  If the mask skirt has an odour the smells like chemicals, its not pure silicone.

Many of our dive mask brands offer both “sport” quality and “dive” quality. Both can be suitable for snorkeling and in some cases diving too, however, fit and comfort are the 2 most important factors affecting your decision to purchase one over the other.

Pure Silicone mask skirts are still the most comfortable, last the longest, do not break down with repeated saltwater or chlorine immersion and are UV resistant.

Silicone masks can come in skirts that are acid washed to be perfectly transparent or they can be coloured black or other unique colours.  At DDS we prefer black silicone because it offers better vision through the process of eliminating excessive amounts of light which flow in through the normally clear skirt and then cause glare and refraction of light when compared to their black skirted brethren who provide eye and glare protection and less overall strain and eye fatigue.

Clear Skirted Masks Yellow over time.

Black skirted masks also age better maintaining their black colour, whereas clear skirted masks only stay clear for a little while, that is until the uv rays, dirt, sand, rubber and other factors start to cause a yellowing of the skirt and they become opaque over a rather short period of time, meanwhile the black skirted mask is still looking as fresh and good as it did the day it was purchased.

Regardless of the mask you choose it’s all about fit and comfort.  You can read review after review, but the mask should be fitted by a professional who understands your needs, wants and has a good selection.

We sell virtually every brand of mask, but have cherry picked among our entire staff the masks we feel to be the best fitting masks on the market.

Keep the gimmicks to a minimum.

The Fit

Make sure when you’re wearing your mask you can equalize your ears by squeezing your nose pocket, this will ensure you can get to the nose pocket when you need to.

Make sure the mask strap isn’t too tight.  A proper fitting mask only needs to have the strap snug, not tight because the water pressure is going to keep the mask on your face for the most part too.

Make sure the mask doesn’t sit against the brow area putting pressure on it if its a 2 lens mask (men generally have a protruding brow).

Make sure the nose pocket doesn’t dig into the bridge of the nose.

Wear the mask strap just over top of the ears centering it around the middle 1/3 of the skull.  Wearing it too high can cause the mask to push up under the nose causing chaffing and making it raw over time, so really pay attention to centering it and keeping it adjusted comfortably.

When wearing the mask you can check for proper width by looking in a mirror.  You don’t want to see the skirt too narrow that it sits on the eye, but you also don’t want it so wide that it lets water in through the top or sides.

Breath in through your nose without using the strap, see that the mask sits comfortably on the face.  If it does, put the strap on, snug it up comfortably and with the mask against the face exhale.  The exhaled air should go out the bottom of the mask not the top of the head by the temples or above the eyes.

High or Low Volume?  Which is Better?

Low Volume is always best.  The lenses sit closer to your eyes.  There’s a smaller airspace to equalize the masks internal airspace which is something you’ll notice when you go down on breath hold or on scuba.  With increased pressure the mask will suck to your face more and more and more eventually causing pain and discomfort.  To avoid this you’ll need to equalize the airspace by simply blowing some air through your nose into the mask to keep it from squeezing down.

tusa_panthes_mask_for_sale_online_in_canada
Black Skirted Masks maintain their colour and help eliminate light glare

Lower volume masks are more comfortable and are easier to clear water out of as well.  Imagine a big round window shaped mask and how big and how much water can fill that mask up.  Now picture a streamlined mask that has a similar surface area to that of a pair of swim goggles but with an enclosed nose so you can blow into it.  

Which mask is going to be easier to clear the water out of ?  The one with more or less water in it?  If you guessed less water in it you’re right.  The smaller the masks overall internal volume the easier its going to be to blow the air out of it.

Frame or No Frame?

Divers have long gravitated towards plastic framed masks that press the glass, plastic and frame all into one package with a lens retainer.  They’re durable, comfortable, most popular.

Frameless masks are a more modern concept that has less overall parts and simplified construction by simply moulding the silicone frame over the tempered glass lenses and bonding the silicone to the skirt.

The Different Mask Lenses

The market for different dive lenses have changed a lot since the initial introduction of simple tempered glass or polycarbonate lenses.

Tempered Glass lenses are still the industry standard because of their durability, relative cost effectiveness and the fact that they don’t shatter inwards due to pressure.  They can break like anything else, but generally the glass will stay together.

Tempered Glass is durable, they aren’t affected by scratches in the water, but they do have a greenish tinge to the glass which cuts back on light transmission.

Polycarbonate is plastic, scratches very easily and not suitable for scuba diving or much more than pool playing.  They’re typical of your department store masks which are cheap and not designed to last.

Ultraclear Glass Lenses introduced by Atomic Aquatics

Ultraclear glass is an optical quality glass with exceptional clarity and high light transmission, with no colour distortion.

Standard float glass (tempered glass) lets through approximately 86% of the available light but UltraClear lenses can allow up to 92% light transmittance. Combine that with the increased colour vibrancy and clarity and you’ll never want to dive with a standard lens again.

ARC Lenses or Anti Reflective Coating Lenses Introduced by Atomic Aquatics

Between 4-14% of light can be reflected back or “lost” by the standard “green float glass” mask lenses used by the more traditional mask makers.  ARC technology lenses are especially important for SCUBA divers underwater, where available light is quickly absorbed by the surrounding water because they help amplify available light.

Atomic Aquatics ARC Technology to reduce reflected light and actually increase the amount of available light transmitted to a diver’s eyes. The result is a greatly improved transmission of 98% of available light, compared to a loss of more than 14% of light with standard green “float” glass used on the majority of masks on the market.

ARC uses a multi-layer metal oxide coating process applied to both sides of the UltraClear lenses. This allows more light to enter the mask by reducing light reflections off the inside and outside surface of the lens. The metal oxide coating is only a few microns thick.

Anti-Reflective Coatings or ARC is a multi-layer metal oxide coating process applied to both sides of the Ultraclear lenses. This allows more light to enter the mask by reducing light reflection off the inside and outside surface of the lends. Clearer, crisper vision.  Reduces eyestrain, glare and prevents ghost images on the viewing area of the lens. A must for night diving and limited visibility conditions and underwater photographers.

Mirrored Lenses

Some Divers like the idea of mirrored lenses, however, they reflect back at the fishlife and can cause unwanted confrontations.  They also hide the divers eyes, which are essential when assessing diver comfort underwater, so for this reason we’d suggest staying away from mirrored lenses.

Types of Mask Straps

DDS Neoprene Mask StrapMost mask straps are made of the same material as the mask.  They’re designed to fit comfortably, not overly tight around the back of the wearers head and have side adjusters that allow you to often times pull the mask strap by tabs to tighten it.  

The straps can pull hair or can tend to be uncomfortable.  One way we fix this is by adding a neoprene mask strap backing or replacing the entire strap with a neoprene adjust-a-strap which uses Velcro on the sides and neoprene on the back of the head. 

You don’t need hair to enjoy a neoprene mask strap, they’re the best option for ease of donning or taking your mask off, plus they also float a little bit, so if you drop you mask into the water you may have faster response as it may not sink immediately .

Prescription Lenses

We can get a number of masks with prescription lenses.  We carry lenses in + or – diopters, as well as custom ground lenses for people needing lenses for different pupil distances and special features. 

The costs of lenses for negative diopters are very reasonable.  Positive diopters are more expensive.  Standard bio-focal lenses are also available.

We generally recommend TUSA or Atomic for prescription lenses.  They’re easy to install and the masks are the best quality you can buy.

Replacement Parts

When purchasing a mask consider the fact that this product will last you 20-30 years if you look after it.  My personal TUSA mask is one I’ve had since 1996.  Dan had a 30 year old TUSA mask.  When you buy quality products from reputable manufacturers who make their own masks (NOT OEM with a Log slapped on) you purchase a product that is going to have parts and service around for years (or decades) to come.

Mask clips can commonly break if dropped or stepped on.  Lenses can chip, mask skirt scan rip, lens retainer clips can break if you’re cleaning the mask and mask skirt on a regular basis.

Brands like TUSA, Atomic Aquatics, Mares Diving, Problue and Scubapro keep a range of clips and replacement parts in stock.

Pre-cleaning Your Mask

Pre-clean your mask with toothpaste rubbed on the inside of the glass and take a toothbrush with mild abrasive and brush the inside glass to remove a protective silicone residue that is tacked on the inside.  You can also carefully burn it off with a flame if you have a steady hand and trust yourself around silicone.

Pre-cleaning the mask will help prevent fogging and will give you a better chance of fog-free diving.

Defogging Your Mask

Mask defog is your friend.  Not because we’re a dive store, but because you don’t want bacteria ridden saliva in your mask that you may or may not fully rinse out.  We’ve seen divers with eye infections from using the communal “spit bucket” on the dive boats down south where 10-20 divers are all spitting in their mask and then rinsing in a communal bucket.

Commercial Mask Defog is awesome!  It lasts years and years despite the small affordable 2oz bottle it comes in.  McNett Sea Drops and McNett Sea Gold are the best defogs we’ve used.  No bacteria or eye irritation and you also don’t have as much black mould or bacteria growing in your mask after 6-12 months of using it vs. spit.

Spitting in your mask is a good temporary solution, but defog will prevent things from growing in the mask and give you the best fog free solution.

To use your defog properly though follow these steps. 

  1. Apply defog to mask lens dry 2-3 drops per lens or 5-6 drops overall if single lens max.
  2. Leave defog on the mask until you’re ready to hit the water
  3. Rinse defog off with your finger and water
  4. Put mask directly on your face or keep filled with water until ready to wear
  5. Keep mask on face, do not take off and let it air dry
  6. If taking mask off fill it up with water and leave lenses wet, don’t air dry

Maintenance For Your Mask

Your mask over time may get dirty, mildewed or saturated with salt crystals or sand which can get between the lenses.  Every 1-2 years or sooner, you should consider taking your mask apart and with hot water, some dish soap and a toothbrush, gently rinse and scrub every bit of the mask frame, skirt, lenses, and lens retainer clips (This isn’t possible with Frameless masks which do not come apart).

To learn more about care and maintenance of your scuba and snorkeling gear take our PADI Equipment Specialist Course.

In Closing,

The best mask on the market is the mask that makes you feel like its a part of your face, it fits naturally, it doesn’t hit off the brow, press on the bridge of the nose and doesn’t need to be overtightened.  It can come with a range of different lenses and price points, but at the end of the day its the mask that feels the best and has the features you want that’s the right one.

While technologies change, the fit criteria should all the same.  Comfort, ease of adjustment, ease of clearing because its low volume and it should look quasi-stylin’.

Matt Mandziuk
Recreational, Cave & Technical Diving Instructor
NAUI Cave & Trimix Instructor 45416
TDI Trimix Instructor 4767
PADI MSDT 207233
SDI Instructor 4767
IDREO Rebreather Instuctor (CCR)
Owner
Dan’s Dive Shop, Inc.
www.dansdiveshop.ca
matt@dansdiveshop.ca

Our Services

Our Services: Scuba Diving Services Available through Dan’s

What We Can Do For You

Finding out what Scuba Diving Services a dive store can offer their customers is very important as you progress in diving many divers can outgrow their original store, but at Dan’s Dive Shop we are able to offer the country’s largest range of scuba diving equipment repairs from bcd’s, regulators, drysuit repair and maintenance, Transport Canada approved Hydrostatic Testing, scuba dive training, scuba equipment sales, a fully stocked scuba diving showroom or online store with the largest inventory of scuba, snorkeling equipment, metal detectors and swimwear, survival suits and more.

We are a Full Service Padi 5 Star Dive Training Facility (Canada’s First, Canada’s OLDEST PADI Facility #23) and are an affiliated with an SDI/TDI Technical Diving Facility, (Canada’s First) NAUI Tech Training Facility,

Dan’s offers a tested and approved compressed Air Fill Station offering modified Grade E Breathing Air and the most experienced and accurate gas blenders of Nitrox, Trimix,  and Argon in the country.

Scuba Diving Equipment Rentals

project halcyonWe are proud to offer higher learning at all levels of recreational and technical scuba diving, but part of that exceptional learning stems from the implementation of state of the art scuba equipment rentals, which is yet another thing that sets us above the competition, we have the best gear you can buy in our rental fleet, rather than cheaper, lower performance equipment found elsewhere.

Traditional gear is also available for the traditional scuba diver who wants to rent a jacket bcd and short hose regulators, however, we recommend trying a backplate system to compare how much more streamlined you and the system are in the water and how much better your trim and buoyancy can be.

Project Halcyon Diving

As one of North America’s Top Stocking Halcyon Dealers we’ve chosen to offer single tank Infinity or Eclipse MC Systems, Double Tank Explorer and Evolve Systems, Halcyon Contour Sidemount bcd’s, Divers Alert Markers, Defender Spools, Pathfinder reels and more in our rental fleet and regularly host workshops and demo days in Halcyon Gear.  Join us for a Project Halcyon Diving Demo Today or as part of a Higher Education Training Course today.

Rental Gear Packages:

Scuba Equipment Rental Package: includes a full tank of air, 7mm wetsuit, regulator, bcd, hood, gloves, weights, dive bag.

Progressive Scuba Diving Equipment Rental Package: includes backplate, long hose DIN regulator system, wrist computer or digital bottom timer, tank of air, 7mm wetsuit, hood, gloves, weights, dive bag.

We use only the highest quality and performance rental equipment.

We pride ourselves on featuring the most modern and progressive scuba equipment available from Halcyon Mfg., Diving Unlimited International, Atomic Aquatics, Dive Rite, Shearwater Research, Fourth Element, Mares Diving, White Arrow, BARE, Santi Diving, Scubapro, Hollis, xDeep, Light & Motion, TUSA, Light Monkey, Zeagle, Stalhsac, Suunto, Problue, Henderson, NeoSport, O’Neill, Pinnacle Aquatics, Oceanic and more.

DDS is DUI’s Canadian Premier Dealer

dui premier dealerOnly Dan’s Dive Shop offers brand new divers or experienced divers the opportunity to scuba dive in the worlds best drysuits…..DUI Drysuits.

We have a full range of most Mens and Ladies standard sized drysuits and underwear, drysuit socks, drysuit fins and more!

Complete your PADI Open Water or PADI Advanced Open Water Scuba Diving Course in a DUI Drysuit, or sign up for a PADI Drysuit Specialty course with us today.  Immerse yourself in comfort and warmth, sign up today.

Progressive Gear Rental with computer: 1-Day $55.  2-Day $75.00 Drysuit rentals $50/day $75/weekend.

Traditional Scuba Equipment Rental:  Jacket bcd/short hose regs (no computer) are available for rent from $45 1-day, $65.00 2-day rental.

We have Underwater Cameras for rent, and SUEX DPV’s for certified technical DPV divers from $50/day and up.

For Technical Divers and our Tech Students we do offer steel and aluminum doubles, stage/deco bottles, sidemount tanks and harnesses, drysuits, rebreathers and supplies.

Compressed Air Fills:

Modified Grade E Breathing Air Fills are offered for scuba diving at only $6.00 & up for DDS VIP member price. $8.00 & Up for non-VIP members.

 We offer SCBA fills, High Pressure air fills up to 4500psi for air rifles or paintball tanks and more.

We participate in quarterly air tests to meet all current air purity testing requirements.

“FREE Air Fill” Program

We take pride in helping shape our customers diving careers and nothing gives us a greater sense of accomplishment than seeing our divers aspire to be the best they can be in the water and above the water, so we encourage our clients to dive as often as they can.

We are pleased to offer our most active divers “Free Air” which is another DDS exclusive.
Once our DDS Divers reach their annual local diving total of 50 logged dives, we will comp their air fills for the rest of the current dive season.
Must be a cylinder with a current DDS hydro (or purchased from DDS within the last 4 years) and visual inspection sticker. Nitrox divers are also eligible and would only pay for the oxygen or helium, or use of the booster if trans-filling gas.

Gas Blending: Nitrox, Trimix, Argon Fills

Nitrox, Trimix, Argon Gas fills, Dan's Dive Shop
Gas Blending Air, Nitrox, Trimix, Argon

Oxygen, Trimix, Argon readily available by the cubic foot for mix by Experienced, Certified, Qualified NAUI/PADI/TDI Gas Blenders. Nitrox Fills from $12.00.

Oxygen $0.65/ft3
Argon $0.80/ft3
Helium $1.35/ft3

Hydrostatic Testing:

We are a Transport Canada TC approved Hydrostatic Test Facility offering both SCUBA Tank & SCBA Tank Hydrostatic testing for the Niagara Region and surrounding areas. ($50 and up with VIP and Air Fill). We can handle scuba tanks, paintball tanks, industrial k or t-bottles.

Visual Inspection:

Visuals are done by the Industry’s Leading Inspectors PSI Certified and Trained VIP Inspectors. Tank Visuals From $20.00 includes air fill & new tank neck o-ring. Certified Visual Plus/Visual Eddy – Electronic Eddy Current inspections are done by Factory trained and certified cylinder inspectors on Staff.

We suggest doing a tank valve overhaul and burst disc replacements for recreational single tanks every 3-5 years, doubles every 2 years including burst disc replacement.

Niagara’s Highest Quality Oriented Scuba and SCBA Repairs:

Our regulator repair and BCD repairs are simply the most thorough, professional, honest and complete SCUBA and SCBA repair services offered in the country from the most knowledgeable and experienced service technicians.

scuba repair
Expert Regulator Repairs

We are not a regulator rebuilder. We are highly experienced Service Technicians who have the proper training, experience, manufacturer sanctioned tools, and the repeat traffic into our store to stay proficient at working on your life support breathing apparatus.

We see many of the same regulators year in and year out and never compromise our level of quality in scuba equipment service by using the strictest due diligence.

We only charge for the work we do and we are happy to work on regulators and BCD’s from all brands. After over 60 years collectively between Matt and Dan we have seen it and serviced it all, including Atomic Aquatics, Scubapro, Halcyon, Mares, Diverite, Poseidon, Zeagle, HOG, Oceanic, Aeris, Hollis, Edge, Beuchat, Sherwood, Genesis, Apeks, Aqualung, US Divers, Dacor and more.

Isolation Manifold repair for doubles
Manifold rebuild for doubles

We give you your old parts back to show you we changed the parts we billed you for, so you never get billed for work without us showing you what was done.

Recreational, cave, technical divers have trusted our regulator service work for over 40 years, which is amazing in this ever changing industry where fly-by-night companies come and go on a regular basis. Have peace of mind in knowing Dan’s Dive Shop will be here to service your scuba diving equipment for many years to come.

Shipping Your Gear to Us

Divers ship regulators in from all over Canada and seek out our expertise. There simply is no one more experienced to whom to send your regulators, so you might as well ship them to us.  We service every major brand of regulator and do the best work in the business.

Oxygen Cleaning

Oxygen cleaning of tanks, regulators, manifolds, Oxygen clean systems, rebreathers and all scuba related items are something we do quite a lot of to ensure you get the cleanest, safest equipment possible.

Drysuit Repairs

DDS Drysuit repairs
Quality Drysuit Repairs

We do Quality Drysuit Repairs to all makes and models of drysuit.  Our store staff are DUI factory trained and authorized drysuit repair technicians, or we can send your suit in handling all of the issues with freight, duty and brokerage ourselves, saving you time and money.

Suits can/will be sent out to the appropriate manufacture for factory authorized service to maintain your suit warranty.

Only DDS offers a FREE Loaner DUI drysuit for our DUI Owners who have purchased their DUI Drysuits from us as a courtesy.  We offer the same courtesy on Santi Drysuits as well.

We even have multiple change rooms for comfort, privacy and convenience of trying on our high quality exposure suits, swim wear and more.