Product Review: IST M88 BlueTech Dive Mask

For 2010 IST Sports has introduced a half a dozen new dive masks to its already extensive dive mask line. In my opinion one mask, in particular, that is destined to become quite popular is the new M88 BlueTech.

The mask has a number of features that combine to make this a top quality dive mask. None stands out more in my mind, however, than the strap buckle system. The strap tightens with a pull of the end–easy and common enough, but the way the strap loosens is ingenious. Two small buttons on the top and bottom of the buckle just need to be pushed and the strap loosens. It is that easy! Fine-tuning is simple and quick. I have quite a few wetsuits and hoods in my possession, used for different diving temperatures. Those hoods, with their varied thicknesses translates into an ever-changing mask adjustment. This adjustment was a piece of cake easily done, in the water if needed.

While the buckle attachment is not on a swivel like some masks, it is attached to the mask at a direct extension of the mask skirt. This allows for greater range of motion on the mask assembly: up/down, in/out, even twisting.

Another excellent feature of the BlueTech is its ultra-low volume. Simply put, the closer the glass is to your eyes the better wide-wide angle vision range (peripheral vision) will be. And this mask has some of the best peripheral vision of any mask I have ever dived with. Another advantage of this ultra-low volume mask is with less air in the mask, the better it will sit on your face while diving. In addition, a low-volume mask such as this is easier to equalize and clear of water. Finally, a low volume mask is more streamlined and won’t snag on kelp quite as easily.

My first dive with this mask was in a cavern environment, which pitted me up against a fairly strong surge. Before the surge whisked me out of the cavern, it pushed quite strongly against me and my face. The mask never moved and stayed very comfortably on my face. I concentrated on the cavern and the surge, not if my gear would stay in place.

Another important contributor to the full vision of the mask is the configuration of the glass; the BlueTech also does this well.  One look tells you these are large lenses, particularly toward the bottom, that makes gazing at the gauges easy and without strain. Yes, I am getting older and I have not given in to the bi-focal lenses yet. So, a lot of my gauge viewing is at arms length or at least waist length. This mask with its full-view lenses allowed me to look down at the gauges at my side and still view them comfortably.

But all of this would be unimportant if not set into the right kind of silicone skirt. For a mask skirt to be effective it must be firm enough to not collapse against your face yet soft for comfort, fit and sealing. The BlueTech strikes just the right balance. Finish that off with dual featheredges and you have a mask that fits well, seals out water effectively, is very comfortable and fits a wide variety of face sizes and shapes. The crystal silicone of the material is very clear allowing the maximum amount of light to reach the face (important for a balance of light to the eyes and for modeling for the underwater photographer).

If preferred, the mask is also available with a black silicone skirt and is available in a variety of frame color configurations. For more information, visit www.istsports.com.

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