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Sherwood Mag Four Dive Mask
I have been noticing over the past year that the numbers on my air gauge and computer were shrinking and becoming blurry. Perhaps not so surprising for the gauge – it’s rather elderly – but the computer was new and had, I thought, quite large figures when I bought it last May.
The gauge was less of a problem, as I learnt the colour coding and could see the markers between the numbers, but not being able to read an accurate depth or know how long the dive had lasted was a bit of a drawback.
Eventually even I had to admit it: either my eyesight was getting longer or my arms were getting shorter. I tried a pair of stick-in magnifier lenses, which retail at around £25, but they fell out on the first dive (something to do with the fact that I use baby shampoo to prevent fogging? or my incompetence in fitting them?), leaving me slightly poorer and no safer.
Then I read a snippet about a newly-released mask, the Sherwood Mag Four, which has bi-focal lenses: tempered plain glass in the main area, with angled half-moons of magnifying glass (+1.75 dioptres) in the lower reaches. They’re not prescription lenses, which keeps the cost down, more the type of magnifying glasses you’d buy for a few quid off the shelf at your local supermarket. There was no review of it, but at just under £40 I thought it was worth a punt.
So does the Mag Four live up to expectations? Having tried it both in open water (in November at Ballachulish, in very poor vis) and during pool-training, I would say that on the whole, yes, it does.
I could do with the magnifying bits being larger – one does have to peer sharply downwards to read gauges through them – but I can now read everything I have to, and they certainly don’t get in the way of looking at what I really dive to see (clue: it’s not my gauges!). I had expected some distortion with the angled lenses, such as I’d noticed with the side lenses on my previous mask, but was happy to discover none.
The Mag Four is very comfortable to wear. It has a broad, clear silicone skirt, unless you go for the black option; the strap is easy to adjust, with useful quick-release clips; and the mask makes an effective seal against my face. The large lens area allows a good all-round view. The mask is available in six colours (blue, black with clear silicone, black with black silicone, ice-blue, pink blush and clear) to appeal to most divers.
The Mag Four is a real help to the diver who wants to see both gauges and scenery without breaking the bank. It is widely available and you may well find it at a lower price if you trawl the internet. I would highly recommend it to anyone who has the same problem I did.
[2016 update: sadly this mask is no longer available.]