A full-face snorkel mask is designed to make your exploration of the treasures beneath the surface of the water easier. Whereas a traditional snorkel mask simply covers your eyes and possibly your nose, this type of mask covers your entire face. A full-face snorkel mask is easy to use and is less likely to fog up than a traditional mask. It also gives you a wider view.
There are two compartments in a full-face snorkel mask: one for viewing and one that includes space for your nose and mouth. You can breathe normally with a full-face mask rather than having to grip a tube in your mouth. If you want a mask that makes it easy to breathe and provides excellent visibility then check out our top choice.
Considerations when choosing full-face snorkel masks
Before you buy a full-face snorkel mask, it's important to know about potential safety concerns. There is a danger of potential CO2 buildup in a full-face mask. You naturally exhale CO2 when you breathe, and you may breathe in some of that CO2 while snorkeling. This can be disorienting or cause you to pass out.
Full-face snorkel masks are designed with a one-way breathing system that separates the air through "in" tubes and "out" tubes. The mask should have one-way valves that pull fresh air in through the viewing area, allowing you to exhale through the bottom of the mask and get fresh air from the top.
These masks were not created to handle the breathing that goes along with heavy athletic activity. If you are breathing too quickly, you may have problems with CO2 buildup inside the mask. If you have concerns about your mask, try it on while you are not in the water, and breathe through it. Take note of whether your breathing area fogs up. If it does, the mask may be more likely to become dangerous.
Your full-face snorkel mask should fit snugly against your face, keeping out water and adequately separating your viewing area from your breathing area. It's true that these masks cover the entire face, but sizing varies. Check a product's website before you opt for a specific size to be sure you're ordering the right one.
The seal material on a mask skirt may be made of silicone, PVC, or rubber. Silicone masks are the least likely to irritate your skin. They tend to last longer and also to be more expensive. A rubber or PVC seal can still give you a good fit. If you are concerned about getting a wide view, consider getting a full-face mask with clear skirt material. This can enhance your underwater viewing field.
The quality of your view can be altered by the type of material on your mask lens. Transparent polycarbonate is a scratch-resistant option that tends to give a clear view. Plastic lenses are lower in quality and will not likely last as long. A lens with anti-fog treatment can enhance your view during your underwater excursions.
Full-face snorkel masks range in price from $13 to roughly $120. Lower-end models ($13 to $35) usually have plastic lenses and rubber skirts. Mid-range models ($35 to $70) tend to be made of better materials and are therefore more reliable. High-end models ($70 to $120) have features like camera mounts and polycarbonate lenses.
Q. How will my beard affect the fit of a full-face snorkel mask?
A. Most masks are not recommended for use with a full beard. Your facial hair will affect the seal of the mask against your face and make it less likely to function correctly.
Q. What is a "dry top"?
A. If a snorkel mask you are considering has a "dry top," that means it includes a valve that seals shut if you accidentally swim too deep and end up with the top of your snorkel underwater. The valve keeps the water from flowing into your mask.
Full-face snorkel masks we recommend
Best of the best: Ocean Reef Aria Full-Face Snorkel Mask
Our take: This is a well-made full-face snorkel mask that fits snugly without putting too much pressure on the face.
What we like: The airflow on this mask is really smooth. The mask allows for panoramic views. The flat front on the lens helps reduce distortion in your view.
What we dislike: The mask doesn't have a warranty.
Best bang for your buck: TriMagic Full-Face Snorkel Mask
Our take:The mask offers a good value on some extra features, like a camera mount. It performs well in the water.
What we like: Comes in adult and child sizes. Offers a 180° view. Holds the seal well; leakage problems are uncommon.
What we dislike: It could be easier to take off. Some users find the airflow a little stifled.
Choice 3: Wildhorn Outfitters Seaview
Our take: A solid choice from a reputable company. It's not the cheapest full-face snorkel mask, but it's still a good value.
What we like: Secure fit, great view, and a wide range of color choices. Includes GOPRO top mount.
What we dislike: Some users complain that the mask fogs up, even though the company boasts of its anti-fog properties.
Karen Ridder is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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