Snorkel mask is the most important part of your snorkeling equipment that allows you to see the underwater world. Our buying guide will help you to find the best one with tips on how to choose the right fit and how to keep it from fogging.
Table of Contents
- 1 Why do you need snorkel mask?
- 2 Snorkeling mask types
- 3 Traditional snorkel mask vs full face snorkel mask
- 4 What is the best snorkel mask?
- 5 Which full face snorkel mask is the best?
- 6 How to fit a snorkel mask?
- 7 How to defog a snorkel mask?
Why do you need snorkel mask?
If you ever tried to open your eyes underwater, there is no need to explain why you need googles. We see clearly in air environment, but in the water, everything looks blurry. This happens because of refraction which means that light waves deflect when passing through varying density medium like the air and water in this case. Wearing a snorkeling mask creates an airspace in front of your eyes making you see clearly underwater! Using a mask is beneficial even if you go swimming only. It will make you able to see so you can prevent getting injured on slippery rocks, stepping in sea urchins or swimming into a jellyfish. But the most important is, wear it to see the beauty of the underwater world!
Which snorkeling mask is good?
When you buy snorkel gear, always purchase good quality items that will last long. By a snorkeling mask, it must have tempered glass lenses and the best is if it’s made of high-grade silicone. Tempered glass lenses are safe to use and provide a clear view, cheap plastic lenses may scratch, wrap easily and are not durable. The silicone skirt (this is the part that seals to the face) provides the comfortable fit.
Tip: For the best snorkeling experience, make your snorkeling gear is complete and you have the right equipment for full comfort and safety. To help you, we published detailed guides on all topics. Read how to choose snorkel fins, get advice on snorkeling sun protection and learn snorkeling safety tips. If you want to record your underwater adventures, we answered what is the best waterproof camera and what GoPro model to buy for snorkeling!
Snorkeling mask types
When you start looking for snorkeling goggles, you will notice that there are many different products available and you might ask how do I choose a snorkeling mask from these models, what is the best snorkel mask for me? So here is a short explanation about types to clarify the differences:
Two window snorkeling mask
These type of masks have two separate lenses held together by a frame. 2-window masks may bring the lenses close to the face and help reduce the internal volume, which makes easier to clear and to equalize. If you try a two window model, make sure that the middle frame does not press the bridge of your nose.
Note: if you wear glasses you need a snorkeling mask with prescription lenses. It is a 2-window design where the lenses can be changed to corrective lenses (near-sighted and farsighted) depending on your needs.
Single lens snorkeling mask
There is no frame running between the eyes. One window snorkeling masks are popular amongst snorkelers and divers too because they provide a wider field of vision.
Panoramic snorkel mask with side windows
With the extra glass on the sides, these masks allow more light and increase the field of vision for a panoramic view. Although they have a larger internal volume because hold more air, but this feature won’t bother you while swimming on the surface, affects divers only.
Full face mask
Nowadays these types of masks are more and more popular. They cover the whole face and let you breathe naturally through your mouth and nose. They can be a solution for people who have difficulties breathing only through their mouth, putting their head underwater and therefore fail to use traditional equipment.
Traditional snorkel mask vs full face snorkel mask
The expression full face snorkeling mask was unknown until the Tribord Easybreath models entered the market. This weird-looking new design seemed to be funny at first sight, but it turned out a big success. They became popular because they made snorkeling easy for many people that afraid putting their head underwater and for those who find breathing through a snorkel tube unnatural and difficult. Moreover, it is a good swim training aid for people who suffer from neck problems. But lately, safety concerns flooded the news referring to carbon-dioxide build-up and inadequate air circulation. To learn more in the topic read our detailed post about full face mask safety problems, but to cut the story short, it turned out that the problem occurred with cheap copycat products that look similar from outside but lack proper air chamber design. Biggest manufacturers carry out breathing tests and their products meet safety regulations and EU standards. Our recommendation is: if you don’t have difficulties using traditional snorkeling masks, stay with that option. If you decide to buy a full face mask, take the time to find a reliable one. Always test it in a pool/in shallow water close to shore before heading out to the open sea. Should you feel breathing heavy or experience any difficulty, remove it straight away to avoid accidents!
What is the best snorkel mask?
To decide which is the best snorkel mask, comfort and durability are the key features you need to look for. Therefore, we recommend buying it from leading snorkel gear manufacturers who use high-quality materials that guarantee a comfortable fit and long-term use. The selection is wide but feedbacks show that some models stand out with excellent customer satisfaction rate. Good thing is that in most cases you find also a snorkel tube attached that makes your purchase decision easier since there is no need to buy it separately.
Our best snorkel mask recommendations
Cressi Pano mask with dry snorkel
The Cressi Panoramic mask and dry snorkel combo is a long-time favorite amongst snorkelers! The Cressi Pano is one of the few snorkeling googles that offers peripheral vision thanks to the side windows. Sturdy yet lightweight frame, high-quality silicone skirt ensure the maximum comfort while tempered glass lenses provide a clear view. The included dry top snorkel made with soft silicone mouthpiece and flexible tube allows safe and easy snorkeling preventing water entry even when submerged. Fully customizable fit with a quick-adjust strap system. Cressi Panoramic fits a wide variety of faces, the best snorkel mask for adults and kids too!
- Panoramic design with wide field of view
- tempered glass lenses, durable polycarbonate construction
- available in various colors both in single lens and 2-window design
- high-grade silicone skirt
- with dry-top snorkel
ProDive Premium snorkel set
Make snorkeling safe and fun with the ProDive snorkeling set! Impact and pressure-resistant, fog-free tempered glass lenses allow you a clear view of the underwater world. You don’t need to worry about accidentally gulping water thanks to the breathe-easy system that keeps the tube dry. Comfortable strap and durable plastic buckles provide full adjustability. The ProDive snorkel set comes in a waterproof bag for convenient transporting and storing.
- best-seller in the category
- impact-resistant tempered glass lenses
- anti-fog layer for clear view
- breathe-easy dry snorkel included
- with carry bag
Cressi F1 snorkel mask
The Cressi F1 is the company’s most popular model and often mentioned as the best snorkel mask both amongst divers and snorkelers thanks to the outstanding quality and good value for money rate. Against other snorkeling masks, the Cressi F1 has single lens that provides an exceptionally wide field of view. Cressi F1 mask is frameless which means that the high-quality silicone skirt bonds directly to the lens and makes it super light and foldable. The micrometric quick-adjust buckle system is mounted to the skirt. This provides streamlined design that results less drag. Cressi F1 is made with 100% silicone that is not only comfortable but also longer-lasting than cheaper rubber models.
- frameless single lens design for wide field of view
- lightweight and durable construction
- high-grade soft silicone for maximum comfort
- micrometric easy-adjust buckles
- available in various colors to match any outfit
US Divers snorkeling mask Admiral
It’s all about comfort in this US Divers snorkel set! The 2-window Admiral is the best snorkel mask from US Divers that fits a wide variety of faces thanks to the one-size fits all comfortable silicone skirts. Low-profile, expanded top-to-bottom lenses provide clear and wide field of view.
Patented buckle system allows you to achieve the best fit. This set includes an ergonomically designed hypoallergenic dry snorkel. The one-way purge valve prevents water entry and keeps the tube clear, while the full-flex section allows a custom fit. The soft silicone mouthpiece is specially designed to reduce jaw fatigue.
- one-size that fits a wide variety of faces
- ergonomic design for maximum comfort
- easy strap adjustment
- submersible dry snorkel
- designed by US Divers - Aqua Lung
Phantom Aquatics Velocity snorkel set
The company Phantom Aquatics offers equipment for water sports lovers and its snorkel gear line is especially popular thanks to the high quality and great price. Phantom Aquatics snorkel set includes tempered glass snorkeling mask and a splash-proof snorkel that eliminates the chance of water intake. The lightweight low volume mask made with the highest grade soft silicone for maximum comfort and seal. The special construction of the facial seal prevents leaking. The push-button buckle system makes strap adjustment quick and easy.
- ergonomic design for maximum comfort
- double edge skirt for best seal
- push-button buckle for easy adjustments
- splash proof snorkel included
- bright colors to match any style
Which full face snorkel mask is the best?
Full face snorkeling masks appeared on the market only a few years ago but instantly gained popularity. Safety is the most important aspect to look for to answer the question what is the best full face snorkel mask. Give yourself time to read through the reviews and feedbacks and choose one that reliable manufacturer that has patented design and meet the safety requirements!
Tribord Easybreath full face snorkel mask
The original full face snorkeling mask from Tribord (also known as Subea after the brand name change). After long years of testing, Decathlon was the first manufacturer on the market with this innovative design that allows you to breathe naturally through the nose. Nowadays, Tribord Easybreath is considered the best snorkel mask in the category thanks to the company’s efforts keeping the quality outstanding, great customer service and continuously published breathing test results. The shatterproof polycarbonate lens provides 180-degree field of vision. Double air-flow system provides you with fresh air, clears CO2 out as well as the special system keep the lens from fogging up. High-visible dry top snorkel prevents water entry while the bottom purge valve drains water if the head is raised. Learn more about Subea Easybreath by checking out our full face snorkel mask test.
Seaview 180 snorkel mask
The Seaview 180 is the Amazon best-seller full face mask that is on the market for long years and has more than 2500 customer reviews. Wildhorn Outfitters, the manufacturer is a well-known trusted brand on the outdoor market with innovative products like the Topside snorkeling fins. The Seaview 180 mask is made with high-grade silicone for a comfortable fit. It gives you a panoramic view and allows natural breathing experience providing you with fresh air thanks to the optimal air-flow system.
SEAC Unica full face mask
The Italian SEAC has just launched its full face snorkeling masks a few months ago but it seems SEAC Unica is already a success. SEAC is a leading name in the diving industry and the company’s products enjoy popularity amongst water sports lovers. When designing SEAC Unica, they followed strict principles to be able to create a product that allows the least possible breathing effort and provides below limit CO2 build-up. Moreover, SEAC developed specific tests to measure carbon-dioxide. SEAC’s main purpose is to offer a safe experience to all ocean lovers! The patented design makes inhaling and exhaling effortless. The special separated air channel system keeps the lens fog-free providing clear view. Flexible adjustable straps make customizing the fit easy and quick.
HEAD Sea Vu Dry full face mask
After news was shared in the media regarding full face masks safety concerns, HEAD, one of the leading manufacturer on the water sports equipment market joined the investigations and carried out CO2 build-up tests. According to these test results, the HEAD Sea Vu Dry is performing well even in stress situations and allows the wearer easy breathing. Like other models in the category, the Sea Vu Dry features also the experience of natural breathing. Thanks to the unique air circulation system, it will not fog up so you see the underwater world always clearly.
How to fit a snorkel mask?
People often ask “what size of snorkel mask do I need” but usually snorkeling masks are one-size fits all. The difference you need to seek is the shape, not the size. If it comes to your face characteristic, answer the questions if you have a wide or narrow face and small or big nose. These are the two main features that will determine if a mask fits your face well or not. If you are in a shop, it is not a problem to try different models but if you prefer to order from Amazon for example, we advise you to read through the manufacturer’s description and reviews because usually you find some information if the mask is a wide or narrow face design. Once you get your new mask, there is a simple process how to test the fit without getting wet:
Snorkeling mask fitting guide
- put it on your face centered without the strap
- check if there is no hair under the silicone skirt for the best seal
- men need to shave before fitting the mask, otherwise, it will leak
- see if the fit is comfortable, there is enough space for your nose and the skirt runs around your face without restricting the view
- suck gently through the nose until the mask sticks to your face. If it stays on, it is a good fit! The better the seal the less likely you will have leaks when moving your head underwater. If you can inhale easily without suction it means that the silicone skirt does not seal well. (You might fix this by putting the strap on and adjusting it to your size. If this doesn’t help and the skirt still doesn’t seal, your mask will leak so better to find a better fit.)
- if it seems comfortable, put the strap on and adjust it to your size. It has to provide a comfortable fit without pressing your face.
- the strap needs to run around the back of your head, not on your ears. Do not overtight the strap, the seal should come from the skirt, not from the strap! When putting on the strap, only tighten it to keep the mask from shifting on your face when you move your head. It is a common problem that a silicone strap pulls the hair. To avoid this, buy a neoprene mask strap cover !
How to defog a snorkel mask?
Fogging is an everyday problem in diving and snorkeling. New masks fog up because there is a residue layer on the inner side of the lenses from the manufacturing process. Some manufacturers inform their customers about this, but unfortunately, some people don’t know that they need to remove this layer and struggle with fogging. So before heading to the ocean, you need to clear the lenses.
The best ways to remove the residue layer:
- use toothpaste: put a small amount of toothpaste on the lenses, rub it around, leave it to dry overnight then scrub it off. Don’t apply toothpaste with microparticles because those can scratch the lenses (and from the other side they are harmful to the environment). The simplest is the best.
- Defog the mask with a lighter: it might sound weird, but burning the lenses with a lighter or candle is the best way to get rid off the unwanted coating on the inner side of the lens. Move the flame around until the lens gets black. Leave it to cool then clean with a soft cloth. For the best result, repeat the process 2-3 times. Pay attention not to burn the silicone skirt. Use this flame trick on tempered glass lenses only! (plastic lens will melt quickly)
Tips to avoid mask fogging
Fogging happens not only to new snorkeling masks but almost every time you go snorkeling even if you have already removed the residue layer. The reason comes from physics. When submerging your mask in the water the temperature of the lenses quickly cools that results condensation. It helps a lot if you don’t let your googles become too hot. Do not leave in the sun and follow some defog tricks:
- Saliva: the best defogging agent you will never leave at home! Just right before entering the water, spit on the inner side of the lens and rub it around. Rinse it quickly so a thin layer will stay on the lens that prevents fogging.
- defogging spray : the method is the same as with saliva. Put a few drops of defogging agent on the lens, move it around to create a thin layer. Then submerge the mask for few seconds in the water.
- baby shampoo or liquid soap: work in the same way than the previous two solutions. Baby shampoo is preferable over liquid soaps because it won’t irritate the eyes. If you will choose to give a try to befogging with baby shampoo, make sure you choose a biodegradable one!
- avoid taking it off while snorkeling. If you have a well-fitting model that seals well, you usually there is no need to take it off. The general rule is, put your mask on and leave it until the end of your snorkeling session! Every time you pull it away from your face, air enters the mask and moisture will condense on the lens
- keep breathing through your nose to the minimum. Some nasal exhalation is necessary to repressurize the mask, but don’t do it regularly because the warm air you exhale will result condensation on the lens