Fourth Element's slogan is "equipment for adventure". It was therefore only a matter of time before this manufacturer looked beyond their core product range of thermal protection and swimwear, and branched out. And the catalyst? Ironically, Covid-19.
Something good has come out of the pandemic!
In 2020, millions of people were laid off from their jobs, as coronavirus swept the world. In September 2020, Dean Martin, then Global Product Manager for the Aqua Lung group, was made redundant too.
Dean Martin had been with Apeks Marine Equipment (which later became Apeks Aqua Lung) since October 2011. He joined the respected regulator manufacturer as their British northern sales representative and worked his way up. In July 2018, he was appointed 'Global Product Line Manager ABC' for Aqua Lung.
The German's use the term 'ABC' to refer to basic dive equipment - masks, fins and snorkels. These are the first pieces of equipment that most divers buy, and they are often referred to as "soft goods" by the scuba diving industry.
One of the products Dean Martin developed for Aqua Lung was the X1 mask. When the mask was launched, Dean Martin was obviously proud of this, and justifiably so. At the time, he said, "It is mostly my baby".
With Dean Martin no longer working for Aqua Lung, Jim Standing and Paul Strike (Fourth Element co-founders) wasted no time and interviewed Dean Martin. He subsequently joined the company and the brainstorming began. Seventeen months later, Dean's expertise, combined with Jim and Paul's different approach to scuba equipment, has resulted in the creation of the 'Scout' mask.
With Fourth Element's first foray into manufacturing 'soft goods', they've certainly pushed lens development with the Scout mask. Rosemary E Lunn
The single lens, frameless Scout comes in two skirts colours, four lens options and four strap colours. As a result, you get 32 options to choose from. Simply jump onto the mask builder to play and preview your choice of skirt, lens and strap to create the right custom solution for you.
The mask we use is the most important piece of equipment for most, if not all, scuba divers. Fourth Element
Coloured lenses are nothing new, and over the years a handful of manufacturers have dabbled with them, however, this aspect of dive masks doesn't seem to have been seriously developed. I dived a mask with a coloured lens for a while, after it was sold to me by one of the best diving salesmen in the world. To this day, I still don't know how Dan Humble of Dive Tech Training in Canada achieved this!
Fourth Element has taken the coloured lens idea and invested research and development time into it. The result is a 'lens system' that is designed to accommodate different diving conditions. Divers, therefore, have a choice of four lenses. The 'Contrast', 'Shield', 'Enhance' and 'Clarity'. The idea is that you choose the right lens to suit your style of diving.
Photographers, Night Divers, Instructors
Fourth Element recommends the pure clear 'Clarity' lens for night divers, photographers and instructors. The importance of eye contact and the ability to "talk with your eyes" whilst diving, should not be underestimated. Eyes are a very useful means of communicating, especially when teaching diving. According to Fourth Element, "this lens is manufactured with the highest level of purity to deliver maximum visual acuity during a dive."
The 'Shield' has the look and feel of an astronaut's visor, and this is no coincidence. Astronauts need to protect their eyes from being damaged by the sun's glare. This lens is best suited for diving in very bright sunny conditions, ie tropical and warmer waters, where you can also find reflective white sand. Fourth Element states "UVA and UVB radiation is reflected by the lens, reducing the eye's exposure to potentially harmful rays."
Any / Every Diver
The 'Enhance' doesn't change what you see. It changes how you see. This lens is designed for diving in lower light - think polarised sunglasses that some motorists use when they drive at dawn or dusk. Fourth Element states this lens will protect your eyes, whilst enhancing your visual experience because it helps increase the contrast.
We all know that UV can damage our eyes. It's also been shown that HEV (High Energy Visible) can interfere with the lutein proteins in our eyes and alter them. By filtering out UV and HEV, we can help preserve our optical health.
The Green Water, Wreck or Cave Diver
The 'Contrast' lens has been specifically designed for temperate water diving. The green lens filters out some of the mid-range wavelengths of light in the visible spectrum. As a result, images seen through the lens seem to be more contrasting, ie brighter and darker areas are accented. This makes the Contrast mask a good option for wreck and cave divers who need to increase their perception in dimly lit surroundings. Fourth Element states "the Contrast lens provides full UVA and UVB protection from harmful ultraviolet which can damage the retina."
Your window to adventure. Fourth Element
Divers are bound to have some questions about the Scout. Firstly, this is a frameless mask. Whilst you might be tempted to, you can't buy a couple of different lenses and swap them in / out as you dive different waters. If you normally dive temperate waters but want to hop over to Egypt or the Caribbean, you'll also need to buy a shield mask if you want to cut down glare.
Alternatively, if you just buy a shield mask, and you want to dive it in temperate water, your view won't look orange/gold. Your view will seem perfectly normal to you.
Fourth Element actively uses recycled materials in many of their product ranges. The Scout mask is no exception, and it will continue to help change the perception that if you use recycled materials you have an inferior product.
It's great to work with a company that has such strong environmental ethics. It's infectious and rubs off on everything we do. Dean Martin, Fourth Element
In November 2014, Fourth Element successfully created 'grave-to-cradle' products when they utilised a nylon fabric that was made from ghost fishing net. This was the launch of the inaugural Ocean Positive range, which included a line of active swimwear and rash guards.
The fact that the Scout comes with an elasticated mask strap manufactured from recycled materials really pushes my buttons. This strap is made using rubber and recycled nylon, with the plastic clips and slider made using recycled ABS plastic sourced from the automotive industry. According to Fourth Element, the clips have been designed so that they should fit most mask buckles.
The Mask Box
In the autumn of 2018, Fourth Element announced their 'Mission 2020' commitment to eliminate single-use plastic packaging from their products. They have now taken this further with the packaging of the Scout mask for shipping to dive centres, and day-to-day storage for the diver.
We've completely eliminated unnecessary single-use plastic used in traditional dive mask cases. Dean Martin, Fourth Element
There is no plastic wrapping or packaging. Instead, six OceanPositive mask cases are packed into a cardboard box and then sent to a dive centre. The diver will receive their low profile Scout mask in a protective non-plastic case. The customised half shell has been designed so that it isn't bulky. In fact it's quite the reverse because it should fit very nicely into a fin foot pocket for easy, safe and secure storage. Brilliant! We like this thoughtful touch.
The Scout is the first mask to ever seal completely tight on my face, even when smiling. Maria Bollerup
It is going to be interesting to see what the rebreather community makes of the Scout mask. One aim when diving a rebreather is to minimise gas loss, and this includes the mask. It is possible that a stream of tiny or 'Champagne' bubbles can seep from the skirt from time to time. Apparently, this is not the case with the Scout mask.
Maria Bollerup, a Danish tec sidemount diver and rebreather instructor, dived the Scout mask prior to its launch on 1 February 2022. She stated "diving a rebreather, I often struggle with losing gas from little leaks around my mask. This is the first mask to ever seal completely tight on my face, even when smiling."
The very soft silicone skirt - available in black or white - has been optimally designed for fit and comfort. According to Dean Martin, "this skirt will fit a multitude of faces".
- Single lens frameless design
- Angled profile to maximise field of view
- Soft silicone skirt for optimised comfort fit
- Comfortable elastic headband made with recycled materials
- Easily interchangeable straps
- Low volume protection mask case