Full-Face Mask Review; Ocean Technology Systems “Guardian”

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Posted by Divebum Don on June 15, 2010 at 16:53:30:

Full-Face Mask Review; Ocean Technology Systems “Guardian”

Volunteer Ocean Defenders Alliance divers recently received a donated O.T.S. Communications Deck Station from Steve Ladd at Ocean Adventures Dive Shop in Venice, California. This generous gift led us to finally establish a working relationship with John Hott at Ocean Technology Systems.

OTS then rapidly got behind our Ocean Defenders Alliance efforts and offered us state of the art full-face masks and U/W Comms transceivers at Public Safety Diver prices, WOW! We immediately got 4 masks and got them in the pool for training.

The first pool session was about 1.5 hours. The design and fit of the Guardian is comfortable, simple to use, and easy to grasp. The integrated regulator easily removes from the “Guardian” mask via a “button catch” and hangs like your standard Reg off your first stage, leaving the mask separate as normal. After donning the mask, the Reg is lifted naturally toward the mouth and “snapped’ into the mask. Very handy.

The universal fit is great, 4 divers got the same mask and had absoulutly no fit issues, a full beard could be a factor, but we three with “goats” were fine. A conveniently mounted Ambient Air Valve on the side of the mask saves gas and lets you breathe fresh air on deck, and on the water’s surface. Don’t worry if you forget to close it, it won’t flood your mask U/W. Screw it tight when you remember.

The first two things you notice when descending are it seems a little claustrophobic, and it’s noisy when inhaling. The “claustro” goes away rapidly and the ability to relax and breath through your (now open) nose slows your breathing and the noisy rumble. The best thing you now notice is you’re not biting on anything, a very nice treat.

We all enjoyed the new “freedom of speech” with no Reg in mouth, but we had to get to the new “skill drills” required to dive this mask safely. A back-up standard or pocket mask now needs to be carried on every dive. Doffing and donning the “Guardian” mask is a learned skill set. Clearing the mask is similar to standard procedure, but a little more complicated. After holding the mask at the forehead and exhaling, tip forward and purging the reg is next, and then a slow nose inhalation through the (now hopefully empty) mask. Practice, practice, practice. First reviews from the pool were an overwhelming thumbs up! OTS spent almost a million dollars in R&D on this generation mask, and it’s nice to take advantage of their hard work.

The first OW dives were good too. The first beach entry seemed a little “claustro”, kicking through the surf was a little “stuffy”. Surface swims can be the same way as well, but I always surface swim with my mask off, and Reg out anyway. Upon descending, the integrated and adjustable nose block (for equalizing) worked great. The lack of skin exposure and cold water all over my face made it VERY comfortable. I Solo’d, giggled and sang a little ;~) I DIG this mask! It’s still a little noisy if you’re huffin’ and puffin’, you need to relax at depth.

After a dozen dives in this Fool Face rig, I’m sure I won’t return to a standard Reg and Goggles anytime soon, just seems too archaic now.

Next review will be on the SP-100 Deck Station and the OTS D-2 Underwater Transceivers.

Don Robarge
Dive team Coordinator
Ocean Defenders alliance

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