In addition to last year comfortable Viper mask, the Company part of Head Group this year has launched the New Mares X-Free, a mask who’s design recalls the Micromask, but that, as we will see, in fact evolves considerably on different key aspects, that make the new Mares X-Free certainly, at least on paper, a net step forward compared to the most famous of the spearfishing and freediving masks.
It must be said that Mares with the Viper had dared more, while the Mares X-Free has a known design and point of reference for many manufacturers. This does not mean that with this last product the choice has been wrong, and actually it seems to be the opposite. Probably, with this solution, Mares has launched a net improvement compared to the Viper, surely regarding field of view and internal volume parameters, as we will see at the end of this article.
Frameless, compact, very refined, with surfaces of the facial which are matt and glossy and studied in each detail, new comfortable and fog reducing silicone, excellent field of view and internal volume, indicated by Mares equal to 80 cubic cm, the new Mares X Free mask has been optimized in each detail.
Measures of the X-Free (considering the hard part of the chassis) are 14.9 cm large and 7 cm high.
For best on-line price guaranteed of the Mares X-Free click (and wait a few minutes) here.
Facial (skirt) and chassis
The facial is, at least at a visual level, very well integrated and fused with the chassis, and represents a very refined element. It is interesting to notice the attention to matt and glossy surfaces, where the new born mask by Mares has both on the exterior and interior surface a matt look, so to avoid alarming fish (no reflexes on external surface of facial) and cancel any disturb to the view of the diver (no reflexes in the internal surface of the facial). In particular, the internal surface is made with a soft touch treatment which improves comfort and vision in the backlight and with grazing sun rays. But, all of this is done with a key additional care, often “forgotten” by competition, which is to maintain the internal border of the skirt glossy, as this is key for water tight solution. This border is generally double, except for the Viper where a single lip is present to improve comfort and leave no signs on the face even after hours of diving. In fact, even though the matt surface is smooth, it is still more porous, and so has lower water seal capacity than the glossy one.
In the nose area the facial is thinner to help equalizing using fingers, and rough, to avoid the eventual nose clip utilized to move once positioned.
Still analyzing the facial, key is the use of a new softer and fog reducing silicone.
Colours available for the Mares X-Free are: green skirt and black chassis, brown skirt and black chassis, white skirt and black chassis, or total black and total blue.
The chassis, designed to permit the mounting of particularly large lenses, is made of glass loaded Nylon.
Lenses are double with tempered 3 mm thick glass, and maximum dimensions internally to the chassis equal to 5.2 cm horizontally and 5.6 cm vertically. These important dimensions, together with the frameless technology that permits to have the face and eyes very close to the lenses, offer on paper an excellent field of view. We will verify this point soon in the Super Test. In the test in the water we will then verify how well Mares has managed to optimize the production process of the mask, to avoid excessive contamination of the lenses, contamination that would lead to fog production, an aspect that is critical especially for frameless masks.
As for all frameless masks, it is not possible to mount optical lenses, but indeed one can refer to specialized shops that glue optical lenses to the standard ones.
The buckle is quite thick and has the colour of the facial. As usual, the connection of the lace to the chassis is key, and in this case it is made with two strips of the facial connected directly to the chassis. This gives the possibility to pull the mask directly from the chassis instead of the facial, a situation, the latter, that would lead to deformation of the skirt and loss of water tight effect.
The adjustment system for the strap works well and is the traditional double button solution on the regulation clip.
Again we have an important measurement for masks, the internal volume, measure with a 60 ml siringe and the Mares X Free mounted on the standard dummy head. This value is key for a frameless mask, as the aim of such solution is to obtain a more compact design, and so, by the way, a reduced internal volume.
Final result, in 3 different measures has given the avarage value of 99 ml (99 cc), an excellent value that permits deep diving without much need of equalizing the mask, a very useful aspect. As all frameless masks, with very reduced internal volume given by compact deisgn and lenses close to the eyes, one must absolutly try the mask and verify if the forehead does not push too much on the mask (could caurse pain in long hours of spearfishing) and eyelashes are not touching the lenses.
Field of view
Another paramer in which frameless masks excell is field of view, thanks to the mm taken off from the distance between the lenses and the eyes. We have used our well tested system for the measure, making a shot with go-pro camera positioned in a standard dummy head. Measures taken in 8 different directions are as in the picture below.
North: 75, North-East: 90, East: 60, South-East: 55, South: 75, South-West: 60, West: 70, North-West: 75, for a final vote equal to 560, extremely high. The field of view seems to be excellent in all the upper directions, perfect for an incoming fish from above, and very good all around, maybe with some slight limitation between the eyes, that should though generate no real problem.
For the complete technical chart of the New Mares X-Free mask click here.