Atomic Aquatics Venom Frameless review
Comfortable, lightweight and stylish addition to the line-up
The Venom Frameless joins a burgeoning Atomic Aquatics mask line-up as the flagship – and the newcomer ticks all the boxes.
On the ever-popular Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4, guests are allowed to take one object with them for a life marooned on a desert island. Sounds idyllic, right? Oddly, none of them ever seems to choose scuba gear (doesn’t this island have reefs?)
the ultimate version of the already-excellent Venom
If I were to be banished to a life of spear fishing on a Pacific island, I’d probably grab the first piece of dive equipment I ever bought, which was a tough-as-nails Atomic Aquatics SubFrame – an aspirational (read: pricey) choice for a new diver. The SubFrame caught the eye on the shelf for its quality and styling, and the comfortable fit sealed the deal. I became an Atomic owner (and fan), am still using the same mask many years later and it has never let me down.
Mask designs come in many guises but boil down to two: framed and frameless. Framed masks have a plastic/metal frame around the edge of the faceplate (which runs either side of the nose to support two separate pieces of glass, in the case of the SubFrame); frameless masks have no frame, and the skirt is bonded straight to the glass itself. The advantage of a frame is the extra strength, which is an asset for techie types who push their equipment to the limit. Conversely, a frameless mask is lighter with a wide field of vision, making these popular with photographers.
A decent mask with a good field of view should fit comfortably on your face. Affordability and good looks are the secondary considerations.
To take comfort first, the Venom Frameless is probably the most unobtrusive mask I’ve worn. The skirt is cleverly made up of a two silicone compounds bonded together and attached directly to the faceplate. It’s stiffest where it meets the glass, and softest where it meets your face – a technology Atomic calls ‘UltraSoft’. It may be the first mask I’ve donned that doesn’t leave that pressure-point outline around your face post-dive.
Like the standard Venom, the Frameless has a pane made from German-sourced Schott UltraClear ‘Superwite’ glass, which has an above average number of impurities removed during manufacture. The resulting glass has much less of a greenish tint than cheaper masks – and as we’re diving in the UK, less ‘green’ to look at is to be welcomed….
Visually, the stylish Venom series (original, ARC and new Frameless) has always had a pleasing symmetry on the face. Its large glass area with smoothly tapered sides somehow pulls off the trick of being high volume without looking boxy; most divers I’ve met seem to agree that Atomic’s ‘Wicked’ styling is a hit, but to set this one apart the designers have plumped for a different two-tone red/black design to the standard mask. After racking my brain, I can’t think of a more distinctive dive mask currently on sale, which perhaps explains why the Atomic Aquatics Venom Frameless has been spotted in just about every dive magazine over the last 12 months.
It’s not particularly cheap, but the Venom Frameless is the ultimate version of the already-excellent Venom. On second thoughts if you could only take one mask with you to a desert island, this surely is the one.
For more information on the Venom Frameless, visit www.atomicaquatics.com.
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