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by Bill Mills
In early 2000, Diablo Direct began showing prototypes for the new mask from Aegis Armor, the Skul. Diablo Direct is the exclusive distributor for this mask which began shipping later in the year. Unfortunately, with the mask not shipping in large volumes until late in the year, it was somewhat lost in all the excitement over the launch of the V-Force product line, also distributed by Diablo Direct.
The most prominent feature of the Skul is its one piece molded design. The goggle frame and mask are molded out of a single piece of semi flexible material. The mask is flexible enough to discourage paintballs from breaking on impact, while ridges in the design provide the rigidity needed for proper protection. From a safety standpoint, the design removes the "idiot factor" of players and spectators who want to remove their mask from their goggles, not realizing that the mask is necessary for eye protection as well, as paintballs can deform the cheek, and enter unmasked goggles causing severe eye injury. The single piece design also makes for a lower cost at the checkout counter.
The Skul is available with both single pane and thermal lenses. A number of players, having tried the Skull pictured here have commented on the remarkable image clarity provided by the Skul thermal. Deluxe and low end versions of the mask vary with the inclusion of the single or dual pane lens, and the high end model features an open cell foam which, while not as durable as closed cell foam is noticeably more comfortable.
The Skul strap is adjustable with dual buckles and features a triple silicone bead to prevent slipping on the head. It attaches easily into the mask with a "C" shaped clip that loops through each end. The mask includes mount points on the top, and sides for "idiot proof" straps designed to prevent inexperienced players from reflexively removing their mask on the field.
The Skul lens fits in a channel around the mask, while 7 lock tabs fit through holes in the frame. The top center tab can prove a bit tricky. Because the area to which it connects is hidden by the logo medallion on the front, the user must be very careful to make sure that pin is fully locked into the mask.
While one may question the advertised effect of the angled vents designed to direct moisture laden breath away from the lens, testing of the Skul in the extreme climates of Florida and Arizona has shown it to be fully effective at preventing lens fog with the thermal lens. The Skul mask is widely available in standard black, and a semi-clear "bone" color, with the green mask and gradient lens shown here planned to be fully available in mid 2001.
The Skul represents yet another option
for players choosing their eye and head protection systems. With
solid protection for the forehead, temples, eyes, ears, chin and mouth,
the Skul combines an aggressive look with a reasonable price tag.
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