Choosing the best full face snorkel maskThis article will show you:

  • What a full face mask snorkel is
  • The benefits of using a full face mask
  • Its drawbacks
  • What to look for when purchasing a full face mask
  • Some of the most popular full face masks on the market, and how they compare with one another

 

The best way to learn to snorkel

The first time I snorkeled, I hated it. I was in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, off the coast of Maui, swimming in a tropical part of the Pacific Ocean—but all I could think of was how uncomfortable I was. An awkward mask was suction cupped to my eyes, blocking out the view in my peripheral vision, making me feel claustrophobic, as if I was swimming in a narrow tunnel. The snorkel in my mouth would shoot cold saltwater down my throat unless I clamped down on the mouthpiece just right. Because of this, my jaw was aching and inflamed by the end of my snorkel session.

 

The best way to learn to snorkelSnorkeling is one of the most fun and rewarding activities you could ever try. Not many things combine the freeing feeling of moving gracefully through the water while opening you up to a beautiful world that is normally invisible to us surface dwellers. With snorkeling, you’re able to see things you normally would never be able to see.

 

Unfortunately, snorkeling has a steep learning curve, as evidenced by my first unfortunate trip out in the water. Snorkeling takes a long time to reveal its nuances to people. It took several sessions for me to become comfortable with a mask restricting my field of vision, to find out how to carefully breathe through a mouthpiece, and to just generally become comfortable with saltwater in my face.

 

Little did I know that there was an easier way to learn snorkeling techniques and to become comfortable with being underwater. The easiest way for anyone to become proficient with snorkeling—to dip your fin into the water, so to speak—is to use a special type of snorkel mask called a full face snorkel. If I had used a full face snorkel mask the first time I had ever gone out in the water, I would have avoided an unpleasant day of saltwater getting down my throat and may have actually enjoyed myself.

 

With this article, I’d like to introduce to you exactly what a full face snorkel is, as well as point out its benefits and drawbacks when compared to a traditional snorkel setup.

 

What is a full face mask snorkel?

The best way to learn to snorkelWith a traditional snorkel set up, the face mask and the snorkel itself are separate. The mask basically protects your eyes and nose from the water by creating an airtight seal around the edges of the mask. The snorkel’s mouthpiece fits into your mouth, upon which you clamp your teeth down to create a seal around the edges of the mouthpiece, repelling any water, which ensure only air can enter and exit your windpipe.

 

The key difference between that and a full face mask is that the full face mask combines the snorkel and mask into one unit. The traditional setup requires a seal around your eyes with the mask, and around the mouth with the snorkel. With the full face mask, there is only one seal around the edges of your face. There is not a mouthpiece with this type of mask; instead, the snorkeler just has to breathe out and in, whether from the mouth or nose, just like on dry land.

 

Why choose a full face mask snorkel?

The design of a full face mask snorkel offers many benefits to the snorkeler:

  • The mask ensures that no water gets onto your face. This is nice, since the feeling of water on your face can unsettle the novice snorkeler. The feeling of water surrounding your mouth can arouse panic, as it tricks your brain into thinking you might be inhaling some water with your next breath! With the full face mask, your entire face is protected from this.
  • You don’t have to have to clamp down on a mouth piece. Many people, myself included, suffer from a fatigued and achy jaw at the end of a snorkeling session. There’re no achy jaws with a full face mask, which is really nice. You can breathe like normal.
  • You can breath through your nose, which is a nice way to remain in a calm, relaxed mood throughout a swim.
  • It offers a wider field of view than a traditional face mask. This is perhaps the thing I like most about full face masks. A normal mask restricts your field of view, especially in your peripherals, since the lenses are so small. The full face mask is much bigger, which expands the amount of area you’re able to see at one time. Not only does that make it for a less stressful snorkel (after all, we evolved to fear predators who attack at the edges of our field of vision) but it also offers up a more aesthetically pleasing experience.

 

What are the downsides to a full face mask snorkel?

Why choose a full face mask snorkel?You might be thinking at this point, full face masks sound great! Everyone should get rid of their traditional snorkel setups and go all in on the full face mask.

 

Not so fast. While there are a lot of things to recommend about the full face mask, it does have a few downsides:

  • They’re not good for diving below the surface of the water. This is the biggest drawback. Because face masks are pressurized In traditional snorkeling, you need to equalize the pressure in your ears with the pressure in the mask. The only way you can do this is by pinching your nose and sort of expelling air out your ears. Well, the full face mask covers up your nose, making it impossible to equalize pressure—a big bummer. Most full face mask manufacturers don’t recommend using these masks to dive below the surface. So if you buy one, you’ll be confined to the surface of the water.
  • They’re generally bulkier than traditional masks. They just won’t fit into your bag as well the smaller traditional snorkels.
  • The lenses used in the full face mask tend to scratch easier than traditional lenses, for whatever reason. Maybe the manufacturers use a different material to construct these lenses. Whatever it is, you need to plan on being a little more careful when transporting your lense, otherwise you could end up looking at the underwater world through a patchwork of scratches!

 

If none of these downsides are dealbreakers for you, read on and find out what to look for when shopping for a full face mask snorkel.

 

What should I look for in a full face mask snorkel?

A cursory glance at Amazon shows a lot of similar models of this type of snorkel—they all seem to look the same and many of them can be bought a nearly the same price point. Are they all the same?

 

No. While there are many similarities, and most of them are so well made that you probably can’t go wrong when purchasing one of them if you find a good deal, there are some differing features of these masks that you should keep in mind:

  • The color of the skirt. The skirt is the soft silicone part of the mask that comes in contact with your face. The only functional difference the color makes is whether it’s a clear skirt or one with a solid color. Most full face masks come with solid colors, but some snorkelers prefer a clear skirt, which gives your peripheral vision a sense of openness, as if you can see further than the mask allows. Aside from that, it only matters if you like to express your personal identity through color (might I suggest hot pink?)
  • Shape of the lens. Most full face masks have a flat lens, which is optimal since it won’t distort your vision too badly under water. However, some lenses on full face masks are curved slightly—enough to distort your vision. Distorted vision is a serious thing while snorkeling, since your vision is already badly distorted by the rippling water already. Ideally, you’ll want a perfectly flat lens. Find out what type of lens the product has before you buy it—I’ve listed this information in my product reviews below.
  • Size of mask. Be sure to find a mask that fits your head. This is mandatory; don’t just buy an extra small mask for your extra large head, just because you found a good deal. A poor-fitting mask won’t adhere to your face, and water will get in. Most manufacturers of full face masks have handy sizing charts on their websites you can consult before you buy.

 

Product reviews

Before you go off and purchase a full face mask snorkel of your own, I wanted to list a few notes I’ve taken of the masks I’ve personally tested. Like I said in an earlier section, most of these masks are very similar and most will work for just about anyone. But just like any product, some are simply better made and perform better than others.

 

Octobermoon Second Generation 180°Full view Panoramic Snorkel Mask

Octobermoon Second Generation 180°Full view Panoramic Snorkel MaskPros

  • No or little leaking and fogging
  • Mount for GoPro available
  • No view distortion at edge of lens
  • Reasonably priced, considering quality
  • A lot of colors to choose from

 

Cons

  • None

 

Conclusion

My pick for the best full face mask on the market. It performed the best perhaps, and it can be found for the cheapest price compared to other models

 

Seaview 180° Panoramic Snorkel Mask

Seaview 180° Panoramic Snorkel MaskPros

  • No or little leaking and fogging
  • Very comfortable
  • A lot of colors to choose from

 

Cons

  • Distorted view in the peripherals
  • No GoPro mount

 

Conclusion

A solid choice if a slightly distorted view isn’t a dealbreaker for you

 

Vaincre 180 View Snorkel Mask

Vaincre 180 View Snorkel MaskPros

  • Mount for GoPro available
  • No view distortion at edge of lens
  • Reasonably priced, considering quality
  • 3 colors.

 

Cons

  • Slight issues with lens fogging

 

Conclusion

When you factor in price, it’s one of the best choices out there

 

Tribord EasyBreath (Latest Model)

Tribord EasyBreath (Latest Model)Pros

  • No or little leaking and fogging
  • Very comfortable
  • 3 colors.

 

Cons

  • Distorted view in the peripherals
  • No GoPro mount

 

Conclusion

 

A solid choice if a slightly distorted view isn’t a dealbreaker for you.

 

ASIBT 2nd Generation Snorkel Mask

ASIBT 2nd Generation Snorkel MaskPros

  • Mount for GoPro available
  • No view distortion at edge of lens
  • Reasonably priced

 

Cons

  • Slight issues with lens fogging

 

Conclusion

Another great choice, combining value with reliable performance

 

HEAD Sea VU Dry Full Face Snorkeling Mask

HEAD Sea VU Dry Full Face Snorkeling MaskPros

  • No view distortion in the peripherals

 

Cons

  • Issues with leaking and breathing tube being clogged by water
  • One of the most expensive masks on the market

 

Conclusion

There are better masks for your money.

 

Ocean Reef Aria Full Face Snorkel Mask

Ocean Reef Aria Full Face Snorkel MaskPros

  • GoPro mount available
  • No or little leaking and fogging

 

Cons

  • One of the most expensive masks on the market
  • View distortion in the peripherals

 

Conclusion

There are better masks for your money