Whether you are buying your first mask or a replacement, one of the decisions that you might be faced with is whether you might like one with a purge valve or not. It is a one-way valve that allows the snorkeler to clear the mask of any water that may have come in without having to take it off. It is not new to the industry as they have been used in various styles for over 40 years.
Fit is important but even the best fitting style may at one time or another end up with a little water getting on the inside. This can be caused by improper strap placement, the strap being too tight or too loose and hair breaking the seal or even just from smiling. Whatever the reason, the result is the same, there is water in your mask and you don’t want it to be there. Taking it off to dump the water is the most common solution, though it isn’t always the best way. Ideally, you would place the palm of one hand on the upper frame of the faceplate exerting some pressure and exhale through your nose while tilting your head back.
Masks with a purge valve are cleared in a slightly different manner. Holding it firmly in place, exhale through the nose with the head tilted forward. In both instances of clearing, the air from your exhalation rises to the top and since you are not allowing that air to escape, it has to push the water out of its way to find the easiest area to exit. Most purge valve these days, have the valve located in the nose pocket of the skirt. This placement is probably the most ideal as, when you are snorkeling, this would be the lowest point.
A purge valve does require a bit more care than without, and it is important to keep it clean and free of sand and grit, which can interfere with the proper function. Also, as disgusting as it may be, we often end up having more than just air coming out of our noses when we exhale. Rather than dwell on that particular aspect, let’s just say that rinsing with using a soft bristled toothbrush will help to keep purge valves functioning well.
The size and shape of one’s nose may have some bearing on your decision between a purge and without a purge. Many of the valves used to take up some of the space available in the nose pocket which some noses need. If the mask is used for skin or scuba diving, some purge valves can interfere with the ability to equalize ears using the Valsalva maneuver or may require slight modifications on how to equalize.
Those with mustaches usually experience water in their mask no matter what but a purge valves would be more of a benefit in those instances as you would not have to keep tilting the head back. What does the staff at SnorkelingOnline, think about this feature? We vote thumbs down, it is not worth the trouble since it is only a plastic piece, in which you would have to replace if when it breaks.
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