When you're scuba diving and on the lookout for great white sharks (yes, I said great white sharks), you don't want to be looking through a pinhole. Sharks don't tell you they're coming. They just sort of ooze out of the inky-blue backdrop and suddenly, right below you... well, you've seen Shark Week haven't you?
With this in mind, I snagged an Aqualung Mythos mask ($77.00; www.aqualung.com) for a shark-diving trip in the Sea of Cortez, and I loved it mainly for its stellar sightlines. The Mythos offers one of the largest vertical view fields on the market thanks to the lenses being positioned at about a ten-degree downward angle and a frame shaped to sit low on your face, below your cheekbones, essentially giving you unrestricted views up, down, and side to side, almost as far as your eyes can roll in their sockets.
Another thing I liked was the slim (about a centimeter thick), lightweight, and low-volume frame. The construction of the mask allows light to pour through the top and the sides and, combined with the clear silicon skirt (which also comes in black) and great range of vision, it makes you almost forget you're wearing a mask. I didn't really appreciate this until I was stuck behind the bars of an aluminum shark cage with three other divers for hours on end, waiting for the Jaws music to stop humming in my brain.
Other plusses: The fit is extremely comfortableI was submerged for up to three hours straight at a depth of about ten feet and the mask never felt harsh on my nose, nor did I developed any pressure points. It was also easy to purge underwater, and the straps were simple to adjust on the fly.
There was the occasional requisite fogging issuethe lenses would occasionally film over after 15 to 20 minutes in the bathwater-warm aguabut nothing unusual and nothing a quick rinse and spit didn't fix.
On a snorkeling trip in Baja, I tried out Aqualung's Caravelle ADJ fins ($89.00; www.aqualung.com). The Caravelles are an entry-level fin, but they were all I neededthe reinforced blade was firm enough to have some power but light and flexible enough for casual kicking around the rock reefs in the Sea of Cortez. The strap and foot pocket were comfortable with booties on and easy to release in the shuffle up to shore or the hop back into my kayak. It's a nice basic fin that won't disappoint. Just figure out how to make a set that repel stingrays and you've got yourself a gold mine.
Caravelle ADJ fins, $89.00; Mythos mask, $77.00; www.aqualung.com