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 simplyscuba.com ,  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).

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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

Summary

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.

Diving Seminar May 2016

13 to 15 May this year sees an important date for all the diving community.  Equilbriomarino are hosting an open conference and “get together” to address conservation, pollution and all matters of concern to the underwater community – as well as to enjoy some of the best diving for over 100km in any direction..

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As you probably already know, the protected marine reserve right on our door step between La Herradura and Maro is of immense importance, with a wealth of indigenous fish as well as important soft corals to enjoy.

We’re really lucky with all that right on the doorstep, and with the wealth of sea life to see our shore based PADI Trial Dives are immensely popular with our clients, as they give an excellent opportunity to try diving “for real” in a safe, controlled environment.

The outline agenda is as follows:

Friday:
-Welcome meeting and free dinner

Saturday:
Free -Diving (book with partnering dive centres).
-Photography And underwater video
-Beach activities Beach for non-divers
-Group meal
-Break
-Conferences And debates:
Marine Protected Areas Management
Balancing social movement Marino
Promotion of Ecotourism & Diving
New Marine Protected Areas

Dinner and party Marino Balance

Sunday: FIRST UNDERWATER CONCENTRATION
– Inauguration: Puerto Marina del Este (The Marina)
-Boat diveswith guide, tank and weights.
-Shore dives
Group Photographs
-Draw  thanks and gifts
-Giant Paella
-Conclusions and farewell

*Prices:
Weekend. Price: 67 €, including Saturday: food, conferences, dinner, party – Sunday: scuba center from boat + guide + bottle + weights, participation concentration and paella.

Weekend. Price: 55 €, including Saturday: food, conferences, dinner, party – Sunday: diving from beach with own equipment, participation concentration and paella.

Only Sunday. Price: 27 € includes participation from diving centers boat + guide + bottle + leads and paella.

Only Sunday. Price: 15 €, for divers from beach or companions, including participation and paella.

 

More details on equilibriomarino or check out our  diving holidays in Spain.

 

SCUBA Diving in Almunecar and La Herradura

A new initiative has started to promote the area for diving, with a meeting between local councillor, Rafael Caballero, and representatives of the diving industry.

Discover Scuba Diving trial dive with Totally Sorted Sports
Discover Scuba Diving trial dive with Totally Sorted Sports

The initial meeting was held with dive clubs in La Herradura in order to start work promoting this sector of nautical tourism, to raise it’s importance and to ensure it is represented in the promotional calendar for 2016.

A promotional video  is also being prepared in conjunction with local dive centres, with a view to screening it at travel and tourism trade shows and on the internet.  This can only help raise the profile of the local area, boasting as it does some of the best diving sites for a long way (every day we get the diving schools from as far afield as Marbella, Fuengirola  & Benalmadena travelling over 100km to dive here).

2016 Dive Shows

It is planned to kick start the promotions in Jan 2016 at the FITUR show, also promoting the news that La Herradura has again been chosen to host the European Underwater Photography Championship in October 2016.  Snr Caballero continued that the Tourist Board will also make one of the areas or rooms in that tourism fair available for the presentation of this international event.

It was also announced that in February 2016, there are plans to participate in the Dive Travel Show exhibition in Madrid with a stand.  It is intended to also showcase the local area and gastronomy, as well as the larger cultural aspects of the area.  The fair is for dive professionals and is held in the “Crystal Palace” in the capital city, Madrid.  In 2014 the fair featured some 110 exhibitors and attracted more than 12,000 visitors.

New local area SCUBA Diving guide

Finally, it was also announced that a dedicated guide book for local diving will be produced, detailing the local sites, access points, technical notes, expected durations etc.  The guide will also feature a section featuring the wealth of fauna and flora that can be expected to be seen at each site.  This is especially good news as some of our best sites are within the Cerro Gordo – Maro conservation area and boast superb soft corals, etc.

It is envisaged that this manual will also be able to be used as promotional material in other exhibitions and dive fairs.  Let’s hope that, for once, the guide is produced in languages such as English, German, Danish, etc so it is useful for our international visitors.

 

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).

Summary

Absolute no brainer. Go and buy them.

Now.

More Info

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