A MASK THAT FITS is the most important factor when choosing a replacement. An ill-fitting model will cause you all sorts of problems.
That slow trickle of water that’s constantly swilling around your nose can be annoying at best, reducing dive time as your precious air is depleted through constant clearing. So getting the fit right in the first place is much more important than style, colour and configuration.
Aspects to consider include having a soft silicon skirt, which will mould to most facial contours and reduce the risk of a leak, and going for a low volume, because with a smaller air space less gas will be used to clear the mask if it does leak.
As a photographer, I prefer black silicon-skirted masks, because this stops light interference from the sides and prevents me from seeing my eye reflected in the viewfinder as I try to capture the “big shot”. Technical divers prefer these masks for similar reasons.
Enter Hollis, the technical diving equipment manufacturer from across the pond.

Low Iron-Content Glass
The masks Hollis sent me incorporate “Saint-Gobain Diamant Crystal Clear glass”, which is used to provide an attractive appearance and optical qualities.
A low iron content produces higher light transmittance, and reduces the green tint sometimes encountered in other glasses.
It’s claimed that this makes the lens distortion-free and improves colour rendition and visibility in low-light underwater conditions.

M-1 Single Lens
The Hollis M-1’s single lens is big, wide and beautifully shaped to enable excellent all-round vision. It’s set directly into the skirt without a hard plastic frame at a slightly raked angle from top to bottom.
The profile is very low, meaning that the lens sits closer to your eyes, further enhancing the angle of view. The silicon is soft and pliable, with a glossy interior and a matt finish on the exterior. A secondary seal around the inside enhances the leak-proofing and a large nose pocket should fit even the largest proboscis.
The strap is attached directly to the mask body without any swivel arrangements enhancing its flexibility and fit. It adjusts like a dream, locking tightly into place when it’s set.
A wide 3D contoured strap sits behind the head and spreads the load. Understated Hollis livery finishes off what is a classy product.

In the Water
If your dive mask is a window to the underwater world, the Hollis M-1 model made me feel as if I was looking through a set of patio doors.
When I took this mask for a test dive, I can’t honestly say that the iron-free crystal glass made a lot of difference in murky waters – in fact I had a job seeing my fins – but that wasn’t down to the mask, just a good old-fashioned algal bloom.
It felt extremely comfortable on my face, and let in only a tiny dribble when I started to laugh at my buddy’s seemingly inept attempt to navigate a course through the gloom.
I have quite a large nose, and normally end up with a sore bridge where the frame pushes against it, but this wasn’t the case with the M-1. Wearing it was a very comfortable experience.

M-3 Twin Lens
The two lenses of the M-3 are teardrop-shaped and have a slightly more raked angle than the M-1, which is good when looking down, as when you need to view your gauges and
dive computer.
The silicon is the same as that used in the M-1, with a matt finish on the exterior and gloss twin-sealed interior. An addition of ridges on the skirt sides stiffens the M-3, so it doesn’t collapse or crease under pressure.
The frame on this model is white high-impact plastic and makes the whole mask feel rigid and robust. The strap buckles are fitted directly to the frame, and swivel not only up and down but inwards as well; again, they adjust beautifully and lock tightly in place.
The same 3D contoured strap is used, sporting the Hollis logo on the upper portion.

In the Water
I’ve always used twin-lens masks for my diving, and in fact the model I own I’ve had for more than 15 years.
The Hollis M-3 fitted me like a glove, and felt extremely comfortable to use. What struck me as different from my old mask was just how much more I could see in the periphery.
It was akin to looking through a bay window as opposed to a porthole, and I found that I didn’t need to raise my contents gauge in front of my face as I had in the past – I could read it with just a slight tilt of the head.
Had the water clarity been better I’m sure I would have spotted marine life sneaking up on me from the sides, too.
The seal held for the hour I was under water, and I didn’t have to clear any water from the nose-pocket. I finished the dive wondering if I should put my old mask out to pasture.
If you’re in the market for a new mask with a black silicon skirt, check these two models out – if they fit, you could be on to a winner.

COLOURS All-black only
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COLOURS Black / white and also all-black
CONTACT www.hollisgear.com
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