Oceans of Opportunity

10Bar mask with flip frame | a review

Living through years and perhaps decades of stagnation in any real innovation coming out of the underwater world, what’s become increasingly clear is that progress may best be made with the little things – after all, the devil’s in the details and it’s those details that we are all striving to perfect to improve our interaction with and within the sea.

I’m one to make an incremental change or adjustment on every dive – be it as an experiment, or an evolution towards an improved configuration or tool set. When many of us make these types of incremental changes in parallel, it can be difficult to arrive at anything standardized and the result is overwhelming confusion with mixed bags of parts and pieces. This is true of accessory items, right on up through full life support systems.

Like does tend to find like however, and so I was fortunate to spend a short time with colleagues from 10Bar this week as we evaluated an emerging cooperative rebreather development project. Our stylistic philosophies are similar, and so I believe it’s a good cooperative endeavor. Where 10Bar excels is in those little details, with expertise in precision machining. What you’ll find at 10Bar are several accessory items, primarily for photo/video applications. This includes arms, strobe and light mounts, small camera trays, various other camera and accessory brackets, and similar. While having a delicate appearance given the precision machining, everything is built tough just the way I like and need it.

10Bar MF Mask with Flip Frame

10Bar released a new mask recently, the MF with optional flip frame, and I have just started to work it into my routine diving regimen. The basic features are consistent with other masks on the market – soft silicone skirt, and low volume with dual lenses. The magic is in the frame – it’s aluminium! I can’t tell you how may mask frames I’ve cracked over the years, so having an aluminum frame is a welcomed change. The real innovation is the foresight of including two 1/4-20 threaded bosses at either top corner of the mask frame. Instantly, my mind reeled with possibilities of all of the little accessories, tools, and instruments that I’d love to have immediate access to at eye level without rustling through a goodie bag – I’m thinking HUDs, lights, various color correcting filters, laser pointer, magnifiers, and it goes on. Using the 1/4-20 thread is a very smart design since this is common on things like ball mounts and other accessory items,.. it really should be the defacto standard thread in use for diving accessory items. Stainless steel 1/4-20 bolts or machine screws can be sourced anywhere, even Home Depot or West Marine.

Then the real eye opener is the addition of a Go-Pro style mount at the top center of the frame. I’m not partial to wearing cameras on my head since the resulting video can be like watching tv through the eyes of a bobblehead, BUT that’s not the intention here. 10Bar went on to produce a series of flip frame prescription lenses. This takes all of the guesswork (any high cost) out of a prescription mask, which is very exciting for someone like me that burns through equipment. The ability to flip the lens away when not needed is also a really exciting feature. I experimented with a +2 which put objects at up to 18″ away from my eyes in sharper focus. That may be useful for something as routine as reading gauges, to as complex as ‘surveying’ incredibly cryptic critters up close that would most likely go overlooked. If only I had these on my last deep expedition, I would’ve come home with a dozen new species instead of just one! I think the flip up lens magnification could be a game changing scientific tool for those studying the subsea macrosphere.

So, while it’s always great to think big and dream big, I really to believe that it’s the little things – done well and correctly – that will bring us all together for an improved life beneath the sea. In this case, it’s as simple as making good use of unused real estate (mask mounts), and helping to provide us with a first sneak peak into the macroscopic world that we’ve all trampled on and over a thousand times rather than just take the time for a closer look – there are new worlds out there right beneath our feet.

The author with a 10Bar flip mask during an RD! oxygen rebreather pool demo session.

Specifications:

  • Optional ±2.00 – ±6.00 prescription lenses can be fitted onto the Flip Frame.
  • Top corners of the dive mask frame and the flip frame have 1/4″ thread for attaching small accessories like dive lights or action cam.
  • Flip frame can be detached from the flip mechanism and attached magnetically onto the dive mask.

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