Appeared in DIVER September 2006

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MASK Atomic Vision SubFrame
DONT YOU HAVE DIESELS IN THE UK enquired my friend from Floridas Panhandle. We were driving in his pick-up towards Pensacola. Theyre very economical.
I reflected that this 5.9 litre monster in the front was giving about 19 miles to the gallon. Everything is relative. In this part of the world, they like things to be solid.
I had the same feeling about the AtomicVision SubFrame mask sent to me from America. Atomic Aquatics is one of those companies that makes products up to a standard rather than down to a price. This mask reminded me of that pick-up truck!
Claimed to be almost indestructible, the mask frame hides a subframe embedded within the heavy plastic moulding and bonded directly to the silicone rubber skirt.
The maker claims that this gives incredible strength and eliminates the need for a bulky external plastic frame, though I have to say it is talking to the same sort of people who consider 19mpg economical! Its like suggesting that a Humvee is sleek.
The twin lenses are locked in place by a 316 stainless steel retainer, itself fixed with nothing less than a hexagonal nut on the inside of the frame.
Rich kids can have the mask supplied with standard optical-quality, distortion-free UltraClear lenses. These are said to give a clearer view than the ordinary tempered float glass used in other masks, which tends to be a bit green.

Ski trips
Because Atomics bosses considered that the sort of people who buy their premium-priced products were likely to have grown-up kids and their mortgage paid off, they reckoned most of them would be long-sighted. I meet more and more people who SKI during my dive trips - nothing to do with snow, it stands for Spending the Kids Inheritance!
Atomic provides the facility to factory-fit plus-dioptre lenses in half-dioptre increments up to a near-blind plus-8-dioptre strength. Mine came with plus-2.5 -dioptre lenses, which only added to the mighty weight of this mask.
Everything Atomic does in the engineering department impresses. The mechanism of the side-buckles to the strap of this mask would have pleased the Victorian engineer Brunel no end. You press down a spring-loaded button that cantilevers the side grips out to allow the tank-track strap to slip through, and release to lock.
I sat and played with this for a while, in the way I admire the fusé movement when I wind the big old clock in my hallway.
The overall effect is of a mask built like the legendary brick toilet. Its no lightweight! Luckily that weight disappears once you are under water and the buoyancy of the air in the mask takes effect. Next time someone kicks me in the face while under water, if Im wearing this mask Ill take it off and clout him or her with it. Thatll teach em!
I took the mask to the Maldives and confidently left it inside the foot-pocket of my fin for the guys from the dive centre to take care of.
My first optically corrected mask arrived in the Maldives many years ago with its frame broken. Since then, I have always been sure to carry a spare. Would I risk travelling with a single AtomicVision SubFrame, which weighs about as much as two other masks I think I probably would.
The AtomicVision SubFrame is available with clear or black skirt in five discreet colourways. Expect to pay£60-100, plus the cost of any optical lenses.

Atomic Aquatics, www.atomicaquatics.com


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