Considering buying a full face snorkel mask? Great! These futuristic-looking masks popped up a few years ago, and have been growing steadily in popularity ever since. For good reason. They are a great alternative to traditional snorkel masks for many people.
The first time I tested out a full face snorkel mask while on vacation in Panama, I was blown away! Breathing was easy and comfortable; my vision was unobstructed, and I could actually open my mouth and relax my sore jaw.
Since they were introduced to the market in 2014, full face snorkel masks of varying quality have been popping up all over the place. It’s important to purchase a high-quality full face mask with a good reputation, as low-quality models may fog up, leak water or scratch easily.
Quick Answer: 5 Best Full Face Snorkel Masks
Is a full face snorkel mask right for you?
So should you buy a full face snorkel mask? It depends on what you are looking for in a snorkel mask. Traditional snorkel masks have their limitations and full face snorkels can be a great alternative or addition to your snorkel gear.
Where Full face masks excel:
- Visibility. There’s nothing better if great visibility is what you’re after. Full 180-degree panoramic visibility is one of the best features of these snorkels. Traditional snorkels have a limited field of vision and prevent you from using your peripheral vision while underwater. Also, unlike traditional snorkels, these tend to fog up much less, which means you will save time defogging and cleaning the lens.
- Ease of Use. Another key feature of the full face snorkel is how easy it is to use. Because you can breathe naturally, no learning curve is necessary. You can breathe through your nose or your mouth as you normally would above the water. No more swallowing salt water or tired jaw from biting onto a mouthpiece!
- Waterproof Seal. The watertight rubber seal which surrounds your face is usually better than with traditional snorkel masks. Also if you sport a mustache, you can still get a perfect seal with one of these masks, which would be near impossible with a regular mask.
Where Full Face Masks are lacking:
- Freediving. Full face masks are not ideal if you do a lot of freediving. Because of the amount of air that is contained inside the mask, the pressure inside the mask can become an issue when diving too deep. Also, due to the one-piece design of the mask, equalizing the pressure in your ears is not possible as you would with a standard mask by holding your nose and blowing air into your ears.
- Size. The design is bulkier than your typical snorkel and takes up more space in your luggage or bag. So if space is at a premium, consider a regular snorkel.
How Do Full Face Snorkel Masks Work?
The one-piece design is quite an impressive engineering achievement. The mask is divided into two sections, a breathing section which covers the nose and mouth, and a viewing section for the eyes and upper face. The two sections are divided by a silicone skirt with one-way valves which allow air to flow into the breathing section, but not back out into the viewing section. This prevents fogging and condensation buildup, which normal snorkel masks often suffer from.
Most one-piece masks also have a dry top snorkel incorporated in them. This prevents any water from getting into the snorkel and ensures you don’t accidentally swallow any water.
The dry top system has a floating ball inside the snorkel itself. When the snorkel is above the water, the snorkel valve remains open and you can breathe normally. When you descend below the water, the ball blocks the snorkel valve and no water or air will enter the mask until you come back up.
Many regular snorkels also have these dry top valves incorporated in them as well.
5 Best Full Face Snorkel Masks in 2019
How to pick the right full face snorkel mask?
Now that we have reviewed some of the best masks out there, how should you decide on the best one for you?
Flat Lens vs. Curved Lens: All off the full face snorkel masks in this review feature a flat lens. This design is superior to the curved lens design which distorts your view and can cause disorientation. Pick a model with a flat lens.
Fit: Fit is extremely important when buying a mask. If the mask fits poorly, water will leak in, and you will be constantly clearing the mask of water. In order to determine the right size mask, measure the distance from the top of your nose down to your chin. Most masks have a sizing guide which will tell you the right size to buy.
If possible you should try the mask on before buying to make sure the fit is right. Definitely try it on and test it out locally before you take it with you on a trip.
Anti-Fog: Most full face snorkels have some form of anti-fog coating. Look for one with a good anti-fog coating.
Skirt: The waterproof skirt is one of the most important components of the mask to consider. This is where your face makes contact with the mask. Having a comfortable skirt is important so you can use the mask for hours without discomfort or pain. Silicone is the best material and preferable to rubber or plastic.
Quality: Buying a good quality full face mask is very important. Poorly made masks are prone to malfunction, leak, fog up, and not properly vent C02.
There are a lot of full face snorkel masks on the market and many aren’t great quality. Many Chinese made knockoffs of good designs are sold online, and it can be difficult to tell if you are getting a quality product. Stick with solid brands like the ones reviewed here to avoid buying an inferior product.