IST Gauge Reader SCUBA Mask Review

SCUBA diving mask for long sighted vision

I finally bit the bullet and admitted that I now needed help in reading my SCUBA diving computer, compass and contents gauge!   Being closer to my pension age than my birth date I was getting long sighted, or suffering from presbyopia and needed a SCUBA mask for long sight.  Distance vision is no problem at all – but reading small print especially in darker environments was becoming an issue without some form of vision correction so a solution was required.  Obvious choices were “tailor made” prescription multi focal  lenses for my diving mask, stick in correction lenses, or  perhaps wearing multi focal disposable contact lenses.  However, the IST Gauge Reader mask popped up on an on line store flyer from ,  and  seemed to offer a solution for my long sight at a competitive price so I thought I’d give it a go..

IST Gauge Reader SCUBA Mask

IST Gauge Reader Scuba Mask
IST Gauge Reader Scuba Mask

The mask was delivered in a standard plastic storage case, along with a standard warning that it could not be exchanged if you had treated it with demister solution / done the cigarette lighter trick / stuck in the dish washer / whatever your preferred manner of anti fogging treatment.

The IST Gauge Reader mask is a pretty normal looking twin lens SCUBA diving mask with the addition of vision correction for long sighted divers at the bottom of each lens to make reading your gauges and computer easier.  It has a pretty standard twin skirt to seal it, along with the usual adjustable side straps and a good sized nose pocket.  It  does have a clear surround unlike my old Oceanic Shadow which was all black – but having dived with it a few times I kind of now prefer the clear sides (it is also available as all black or clear with a blue trim).


It’s what I’d call a medium displacement dive mask – certainly more of a blow to clear than some but nothing outrageous at all.  One thing which did taking getting used to was that sometimes if you need to let a dribble of water enter the mask to clear any slight fogging or a dried salt mark, then with a frameless mask you can simply sluice it side to side.  With this, as the nose pocket forms two distiimg_20160915_110157nct sides that is a little harder, but certainly not a deal breaker, especially if you are used to this style of mask anyway.

Fit is not as good initially as my old mask, but in all honesty I do have quite pronounced grooves at the side of my beak and the Oceanic Shadow is arguably one of the most accommodating and forgiving dive masks ever, so I couldn’t really grizzle too much.  I do find I need to “iron” or smooth out my cheeks a little when fitting it, but once on and in the right place everything’s fine, and I fully expect with more use I’ll get the knack of getting it on in one.

Picture of Oceanic Shadow SCUBA Mask
Oceanic Shadow SCUBA Mask
Picture of IST Gauge Reader SCUBA Mask with vision correction for long sight.
IST Gauge Reader SCUBA Mask

How do gauge reader masks work?

There are two panes at the bottom of each side set at approx. 50 degrees which are  +1.75 dioptre lens which give it the gauge reader attribute and makes the mask work for long sight.  If you’ve ever tried bifocals, or multifocal glasses then that’s exactly the way these work.  You simply “look down” to use the magnifying section to read your dive computer or pressure gauge, and straight ahead or up to see through the uncorrected part.

While diving the bottom parts for me are pretty unobtrusive and don’t intrude into my normal field of vision when generally looking around.  I found the first few times I needed to make a conscious effort at first to “look down” to get the magnification boost when I checked my gauges, but very quickly got the hang of it.  When looking ahead I didn’t notice the lenses at the bottom at all.

What does it actually look like for real?

Difficult one to answer, as you “look down” to use them and any photo taken will be definition not be doing that.  The following images show the mask held up against a newspaper so you can judge how much vision correction the lenses give, but please note the focusing on the phone camera didn’t want to play fair so these images are a best shot at giving some kind of indication of how much extra magnification you get.

IST Gauge Reader Dive Mask – Close Up

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These next few pictures attempt to show the effect of the lens again against print, but with the phone camera held at the back of the mask (i.e. around where your eyes would be anyway) and the newspaper around arm’s length (i.e. around where your computer would be).  Not the best shots – as the phones auto focus was hunting between the glass of the mask and the paper – but hopefully they will give you some kind of an idea of the magnification.

IST Gauge Reader Scuba Mask – arms length shots

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Will the IST Gauge Reader be strong enough for me?

The standard correction is +1.75 each side.  Don’t forget you also get a 25% increase in magnification anyway due to the differences in refraction / air gap with any mask, so this could well be enough for you.

For use in restaurants reading bills I find a pair of +2 “ready readers” work OK for me.  As regards prescriptions, if it means anything to you my last test was:
Far Right Sph: +0.25  Cil: -01.00 95 deg   Add 2.00
Far Left Sph:   +0.00  Cil: -0.50 110 deg     Add 2.00

Near Right Sph: +02.25  Cil: -01.00 95 deg
Near Left Sph:   +02.00  Cil: -00.50 110 deg


Am I happy with the IST Gauge Reader?  Yes – and will be getting one for Mrs. B as well.

Would I recommend it?  Yes.  While not a perfect tailor made solution, if you only need a relatively small amount of correction these do a pretty decent job of it and are well worth a go.

GIYO Mini Pump with Gauge Review

GIYO MTB mini pump with gauge

Not the world’s most expensive mini pump but this little fellow packs a good punch.  The stroke is around 21cm / 8″ so you can get a decent amount of air through it with each pump stroke, unlike some smaller versions.  Only just over 8″ (22cm approx.) collapsed (16.5 ” / 40cm extended) and around 3.5 oz (99 grams) so it fits easily into your back pack or pocket in your jersey, unless you want to frame mount it.

Giyo Mini pump with guage
Giyo Mini pump with guage

The body and most parts are good quality aluminium alloy, with a plastic main handle.  The schrader / presta head is the usual “unscrew the collar and reverse the collet inside” style fitting, and with an alloy lever clamp it attaches quickly and securely to the valve.

Another great feature is the built in gauge, which seems pretty  accurate every time we have used it (around the 45 – 65 psi range) but is rated up to 100 psi – though as this is a compact pump it would need a bit of time to get up to that kind of pressure.  That said, there’s definitely enough “oomph” though to easily re-inflate after a puncture and to be able to finish your ride.

Giyo Mini pump - extended
Giyo Mini pump – extended

For ease of use it is best to grasp the valve end with your left hand and also grip a fork leg or stanchion at the same time.  This helps stabilises the valve end, and you can then get a good rhythm going with the pumping without stressing the valve stem too much – it only takes a minute or so to re-inflate a tubed MTB tyre once you get going.


A good little mini pump, with the added benefit of an accurate gauge.

More Info

For more info on our cycling activities, please see either the  MTB routes or family holiday cycling pages

Shimano XC30 MTB Shoe Review

Smimano XC30s

These replaced a worn out pair of budget DHB shoes which the soles and tread had been destroyed on rocky ground.  They’re a good pair of basic three strap shoes, so no laces to get caught in chains.  Good foot and arch support, as well as being a fairly wide fitting so comfortable.  Even though just a Velcro fastening, they still cinch up tight so work well on the up stroke.  The Velcro has stood up well to dusty tracks as well as being soaked for extended periods.  Easy to open up to dry them out at the end of the day, with the foot bed coming out easily.

Shimano XC30 MTB Shoe
Shimano XC30 MTB Shoe

The standard Shimano MTB cleats fit easily (though NB these are not supplied so you will either need to refit some old ones or buy new ones at the same time).

Screws and the backing plate do come with the shoes however, and 5 minutes with an HB pencil and a bit of foot dangling over a table soon have the cleats fitted and aligned.

Shimano M647
Shimano M424

The cleats are quite recessed into the treads, which makes them easy (and quiet!) to walk in on smooth surfaces – but could possibly be a problem with some pedals.  We use them with SPD pedals like these with surrounding cages (so the pedals can be used for quick rides with ordinary shoes) and they aren’t a problem, however, but could possibly be an issue with more aggressive interfaces (though in that case you would probably be looking at more expensive shoes anyway!..)


A good basic MTB shoe and excellent value for money.

More Info

Please see our MTB routes  or our family holiday cycling pages for more details


Bungee Straps for Mares Fins Review

Mares Bungee Straps

If you have Mares Quattro, or similar, fins and are still using the old style of standard straps which came with them…

Mares fin straps (old style)
Standard Mares fin straps

… put down your mouse and get immediately along to your local LDS (or favourite on line retailer) and get yourself  some Mares Bungee replacements.

Mares Bungee Fin Straps
Mares Bungee Fin Straps

These replacements are a dead easy to put on and for ease of use make this upgrade option a total “no brainer”.

Just one large rubber loop, big enough to easily grasp when wearing gloves or even a “lobster claw” style glove. You simply grab the loop, pull it over your heel and that’s it.  Fins on!

To remove them again just grab the loop, slip it under your boot and you’re done.  Fins off!!

Absolutely no faffing around with plastic clips on hinges, or trying to squeeze two small pips with cold fingers in gloves to release them, ever, ever, again.

Fitting them

The clips have a “key hole” style fastening, which locates onto a plastic mushroom head that protrudes from each side of your fin.  Simply pivot the old clip up 90 degrees so its vertical (it will take a bit of a push to turn it) and it will then push down about 10mm and release.  Instructions are on the packet, and once you’ve done the first one, the other three sides are dead easy.  If you’re worried about the length (they are sized to match your fin & boot sizes) they do come with two screw on extenders for each pair, that can be used to lengthen the strap by around 10mm or so (shown in foreground of picture above).


Absolute no brainer. Go and buy them.


More Info

For more info on our diving activities in Spain please see our diving holidays pages.