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Full-Face Masks: We've got something to say...

Written By: Taylor Lynch


Have you tried diving with a full-face mask? We interviewed two members of our shop staff about their experiences with FFM! If you are at all curious, hopefully, they can answer some of your questions and concerns. Happy Diving!



Full-face mask gear set up, courtesy of Brad Vermeulen.


Sadler Webb – Shop Staff & Divemaster

 

When did you first try FFM?

I would say it was three or four months ago when I first got certified in FFM. It’s definitely a unique experience and a luxury as far as being able to breathe out of your nose.

 

Did you get certified through Ohana? And who was your instructor?

It was with Ohana, yes. The full face we used in the certification process itself was the Neptune III. Craig DeBourbon!


Which FFM do you use and why?

I use the OTS Spectrum primarily because of its simplicity if that’s the right word for it. You treat it like a traditional dive mask but it also functions as a FFM; so instead of having to spend more money on a quick disconnect, you simply take off the mouthpiece from your primary regulator and stick it through the mask. Then, if you still need to pinch to equalize, it'll do that as well. I would say the only downside is you still have to defog the lens, but once again, that would be the only con in my eyes.

 

Any advice for those thinking about trying FFM?

Definitely do it! Even if you do it just for the sake of trying it out, do it! I didn’t expect to like it; but when I did get the certification, I was like “No, this is pretty stinkin cool, the fact that you can talk to people while underwater is kind of nuts.” I would say go ahead and try it, build your knowledge, and grow as a person!

 

What was your experience diving with FFM on the recent trip to Vortex?

It was really great and I enjoyed it a ton! I got to try out my comms for the first time, and it made all the noises it was supposed to. I talked to myself for a bit because no one else was using FFM at Vortex. It ended up functioning really well in the cooler water and kept my face warm, that’s why I tend to not wear hoods anymore. It tends to make the equalization process easier too.

 

Was everyone with you diving with FFM?

No, it was just me. There were a couple of instances where the instructors needed my assistance and the FFM didn’t hinder me at all. Had we been doing an open water certification, I wouldn’t have done FFM, I would have gone with a regular regulator and mask.



Taylor (left) and Sadler (right) after completing the FFM specialty course with

Craig as the instructor.


Craig DeBourbon – Service Technician for Ocean Reef and OTS Full Face Masks, Ocean Reef Full Face Mask accredited instructor, PADI Full Face Mask instructor, SSI Full Face Mask instructor


When did you first try FFM?

My first experience with FFM was in the summer of 2022 for the instructor course. But my actual first experience was when I had to assemble my roommate's new FFM; I tried figuring out how to put it together and then went diving with it, not knowing for sure if I had put it together correctly. I did!

 

Which FFM do you use and why?

I use the Ocean Reef Neptune III. As for the why… well the real reason is I went through my instructor training with a Veteran Affairs (VA) program, and they pay for the gear. I didn't know what set the face masks apart at the time, so I got the most expensive and most popular one available. I love it, and the Neptune III is a great system that’s thoughtfully laid out. It has a great first stage, and accessories, and is designed to be used.

 


Craig servicing a Neptune Space FFM.


Any advice for those thinking about trying FFM?

Take a class! Take a class from somebody who actually knows what they're doing, because getting the fit right is so important for having a good diving experience. The FFM system functions the same as using a regular mask and regulator, except you don't have to keep a reg in your mouth with a FFM. The only points that you're really going to have friction with is properly adjusting the FFM, like fitting the nose blocks and making sure everything seals correctly to prevent leaks. Other than that, it's can you take it off and pop in a reg, and can you take the reg out and put the mask back on underwater.

 

The benefits of the FFM, and one of the reasons I like it, is you can breathe through your nose, which allows for a natural jaw position. You can also talk and use comms, and they're fog-free in an integrated diving mask.

 

What was your most recent experience diving with FFM?

My most recent experience was actually down in Blue Grotto in Florida doing the Ocean Reef accredited instructor course. It works on refining the FFM skills; it’s a class for instructors to help me take my stuff to the next level. I haven't been doing a lot of local diving since it's a bit chilly.

 

Note from the author:

FFM is a very special and personal experience; trying it for the first time at Women’s Dive Day 2023 is one of my favorite memories. It is a great skill to have especially if you are an avid diver or a dive professional. I encourage anyone and everyone to try it!



Taylor suited up with the Ocean Reef Neptune III FFM.

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