Garth loves camping under the stars with his Arb III, scuba diving, snorkeling, and also tanning. His favourite snorkel spots include Alanya (Turkey), Koh Rong (Cambodia), and Maui (Hawaii, USA).
He also loves to visit the cenotes in Mexico and he recommends everyone reads the book, “The Soul of an Octopus”, because, he says “they are sensitive, just like me”.
For those who enjoy swimming, and are curious by nature, snorkelling is a great way to pass the time. It can be both relaxing and also an adventure all rolled into one.
Once you have the right equipment, including a quality snorkel mask, the coolest part about snorkelling, most would agree, is that you now have access to an underwater world that you didn’t have access to as a regular land-walking person.
So, instead of holding your breath, or becoming a full on scuba diver, the amazing apparatus of the snorkel allows you to peruse underwater scenes for an extended period of time, exploring the unknown without interruption, without any of the dangers of deeper dives.
But before we continue our discussion of snorkelling, and reviewing various snorkel masks, we must identify the important distinction between snorkelling and scuba diving, and cover some of the background safety information that you need to know.
Table of Contents:
- The Difference Between Snorkelling and Scuba Diving
- Safety Considerations
- Feature Picks (Editor’s Choice)
The Ultimate Snorkel Mask Buying Guide – What You Need To Know
- How to find the right snorkel mask size that fits you
- How tight should a snorkel mask be?
- Different parts of a snorkel mask (diagram)
- What is a skirt and why pay attention to skirt edges?
- What are snorkel masks made of?
- Why does my snorkel mask fog up?
- How to prepare your snorkel mask for the water
- What is a vision enhanced lens?
- What does “low volume snorkel mask” mean?
- Should I get a full face snorkel mask?
We review the best snorkel masks here!
Alright, let’s dive right in!
The Difference Between Snorkelling and Scuba Diving
Snorkelling is simply the act of swimming with a snorkel on your face. So what is a snorkel, you say?
Technically speaking, a snorkel is a mask-like apparatus with a tube protruding forth from the mask portion, that allows the swimmer to breathe while their head is submerged underwater and see what is going on around them.
You can dive underwater fully while snorkelling, but your time is limited to how long you can hold your breath.
The main advantage of a snorkel mask is to help you see underwater, and take in all of the amazing sights there are to behold in certain underwater locations.
Scuba diving involves actually swimming fully underwater at various depths, sometimes very deep, and using devices to help you breath and time your dive, etc.
It’s much more of an involved underwater activity, and requires more gear and know-how to do it, since it can be more dangerous to dive deeper.
Of course, the sights that scuba divers behold can be that much more interesting.
When going snorkelling, there are a few safety considerations that one should take into account before participating in this activity, to minimize the chances of harm.
These are just general rules, and you should of course use your own discretion and common sense at all times.
- If you’re just going out on the fly, make sure that you go snorkelling with a friend, and create a buddy system of some sort.
- Don’t go out into deep water if you aren’t a particularly strong swimmer. In other words, if you don’t know how to swim, don’t overestimate your abilities and find yourself doggy paddling in the middle of the sea. Don’t be this dog!
- Do not try to go into any water that contains unusually strong currents or riptides, as they can and will sweep you away if you are not careful!
- Don’t go snorkelling at night, unless you’re with an experienced guide or you yourself are very experienced. Yes, there are definitely amazing night snorkelling adventures, but you just have to be that much more organized when you set out.
- Make sure that you aren’t snorkelling too far out from shore. That is unless you’re going out with a tour group or group of experienced snorkelers who can keep an eye on you.
- Do not go snorkeling under the influence. Yes, people have done it. No, it’s not a good idea, for obvious reasons. Whether it’s boating, tubing, or any other water sport, including snorkeling, your chance of getting hurt is much higher if you add alcohol into the equation.
- If the waters are shark invested, do not go snorkelling there! At least, unless you are there with someone who has lots of experience with sharks and it is in fact their area of expertise. Going out looking for sharks yourself, as an amateur snorkeler, is not a good idea.
- Do not go snorkelling in inclement weather. It raises the chances something bad may happen. Watch this video showing some scuba divers discussing what happened when they were out in a tsunami.
- Speaking of wild weather, watch out for weirdness out at sea, including currents, big waves, and anything that looks out of sorts on the sea. There are times to avoid going out snorkelling, and this involves those “nice days” where there is a storm rolling in. Storms like this can happen quickly, and then what??
- Make sure that you go snorkelling in an area where there’s someone keeping an eye out for you, whether it be a guide, a lifeguard, or a friend who is part of your snorkelling group.
The rules could go on and on, but the general principle remains: if you’re new to snorkeling, only go snorkelling in fair conditions during the day time with a friend or expert, make sure someone knows medical procedures or they aren’t far off, and ultimately use your common sense!
Snorkel Mask Buying Guide – What You Need To Know
To ensure you get a snorkel mask that fits you properly and doesn’t hurt your face after prolonged wear, it’s important to do a bit of research before making a decision for what to buy.
Even after you purchase a quality snorkel mask, you will need to know how to best wear it for most effective results, and also how to maintain it.
Therefore, in this guide, you will find:
- How to properly fit a snorkel mask
- What is a skirt and why pay attention to skirt edges
- What are some of the most common materials you should be looking for
- How to enhance the visibility of your mask
- What is a volume and which volume type do you need
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced snorkeler – stick around as we guarantee this guide will help almost everyone out there.
How To Find The Right Snorkel Mask Size That Fits You
Therefore, the first and the most important thing to do is to find the right size for your face shape.
But how do you size up a snorkel mask? Are there snorkel masks for different head sizes and shapes? Not exactly, but most manufacturers offer small up to XL sizes, and it’s up to you to decide which one will fit.
Even though there is no official sizing available based on, say, the shape of your skull, – it’s pretty easy to find a mask that will fit you properly, especially if you are there at the store and have the mask in front of you.
Simply try it on, at first, without the strap holding it in place. Once you’ve done this – gently inhale through your nose.
If the mask stays in place without the strap, then it should be even more effective with the strap in place (more on the strap in a moment). If possible, try on the mask with the strap holding it in place.
If the mask doesn’t feel right, much like trying on any clothes, if you don’t feel good about it, try on some other sizes or even styles or brands.
How Tight Should a Snorkel Mask Be?
Now, how tight should a snorkel mask be? The truth is the very opposite of what people think. The snorkel mask doesn’t need to be tightened too tightly. In fact, it should be a bit loose.
In most cases, people tighten their masks when they experience water leaks. However, most of the time, this doesn’t fix the problem, and yet it increases it.
Instead, if you experience water leaks, try loosening the mask a bit.
The reason you can go snorkeling with a slightly loosened mask is the result of a proper fit, where water will keep the mask perfectly in your face throughout the activity.
Weird, but think about it like this – an aeroplane flies mainly due to aerodynamics, with the air keeping the plane securely in place.
Similarly, your snorkel mask it being held in place by the water, not just because the strap is yanking it forcefully on your face.
Hence, wear it a bit looser (but not too loose) and let the water help keep it in place.
Here is a video that talks about fitting the mask properly, which brings us to our next section on the edges of your mask and the seal that’s created there.
With this in mind, let’s talk more about the skirt and what it does. But first, here’s a diagram of the different parts of a snorkel mask.
Different Parts of a Snorkel Mask
Good to know, right? Now on to the skirt…
What is a Skirt and Why Pay Attention to Skirt Edges?
The skirt is a rubberized part of the mask that goes all the way around the mask and is the primary part of the mask that gets in direct contact with your face.
If you’ve tried on a snorkel mask before, you would notice that the skirt has a tiny edge that spread all around the mask.
It’s such a tiny part, how important can it actually be? Turns out, very.
Since the skirt is a primary part of the snorkel mask that comes directly in touch with your face – it’s important to ensure the skirt’s quality and proper placement.
Also, when you’re fitting the mask, you want the skirt to be gently pressed onto your face – without causing any pressure on your face.
This way, the skirt will provide a proper fit, ensuring a mask sticks to your face without having to hold it in place.
The reason you don’t want to over-tighten your mask is that skirt edges might be disrupted from the pressure of pushing them too hard, resulting in a water leak.
What are Snorkel Masks Made Of?
Most inexpensive snorkel masks are made of, not surprisingly, a cheaper plastic material. In the event that you have an old mask, you will find out that older masks were made out of neoprene (a synthetic rubber).
However, if you plan to invest in a quality snorkel mask, you should always go for masks made at least partly out of silicone. Particularly, when it comes to the skirt.
Silicone provides a better seal on your face, adds more flexibility to the skirts, and it lasts a lot longer than plastic masks.
Therefore, we highly recommend investing a bit more into a proper mask since it will definitely provide more quality.
Also, it’ll last longer – and if you’re a snorkel enthusiast, a high-quality mask is a must-have.
Why Does My Snorkel Mask Fog Up?
Whenever your snorkel mask is fogging up, it can mean only one thing – moisture. Whenever your mask fogs up, it’s the moisture sticking to the lens.
You should understand that moisture likes to attach itself to something and that moisture attaches easily to the imperfections in the glass. This brings into question the quality of the glass used in the viewing lens. Cheaper and poorly made masks are likely to fog up more, because they are made to be flawed in this way.
If you’ve been snorkeling before, and are a more experienced snorkeler – you might have noticed one odd thing.
If you’ve ever seen someone spit inside their mask (on the glass), there’s only one reason for it: to prevent the mask from fogging up.
Here’s a video that might make you cringe, but you’re going to learn something if you’ve never tried this trick.
If you didn’t catch his explanation, you might still be wondering…how does spit prevent the mask from fogging up?
Spit acts as surfactant which reduces the surface tension of condensing water. This makes the fog less likely to stick to the glass.
However, what also works instead of the spit is a baby shampoo which you can use before your snorkel trip.
How Do You Prepare a Snorkel Mask for the Water?
Depending on the quality of the mask you purchase, other than fitting, you’ll have to prepare the snorkel mask lens to prevent fogging.
If you’re purchasing a higher quality mask, you might not need to do this step as they already come with anti-fog lenses. These type of lenses already have a surfactant that prevents fogging.
But if your snorkel mask doesn’t come with this feature, you will have to prepare it by yourself. Instead of using a spit or baby shampoo, there is another technique that you can do right away.
What you will need is a thimble-size of a white non-gritty and non-mitty toothpaste so you can rub it on both sides of the lens. However, ensure that the lens is dry before rubbing the toothpaste.
Also, we highly recommend you to ensure your fingers are clean before rubbing the toothpaste in circular motions across the lens.
Once you have covered both sides, you will have to rinse your mask with clean water in order to wash away the toothpaste.
And other than that, you’re all ready to go!
If you would prefer a different surfactant rather than a toothpaste, you can go for some of the commercial defog appliances which are suitable for glass.
This video shows some of these techniques in detail.
Up next, more snorkel tips that you might find useful.
What is a Vision Enhanced Lens?
Other than a regular lens, you might also come across vision enhanced lens which serves to improve down and side, or peripheral vision. They often come in different colors and provide a better viewing angle.
If you plan on purchasing a quality mask, we highly recommend finding a mask with this feature.
And while you can’t wear prescription glasses along with the mask, what you can do to ensure you have a proper snorkeling experience is to have your prescription added in the mask.
This is something which is available only in higher-quality models, for masks that are sold by quality brands.
And, if you’re someone who snorkels a lot or can’t see a whole lot without prescription glasses – we highly recommend investing a bit more money to get this feature done.
What Does “Low Volume Snorkel Mask” Mean?
Every snorkel mask has its own mask volume which refers to the amount of air space available inside the mask.
You might not have seen this information being mentioned when shopping – but if you have a look at any quality mask manufacturer, you will see clearly a noted mask volume.
Most common snorkel masks are low volume (also known as low-profile masks) which sit close to your face.
The great thing about low volume snorkel masks is that you can clear them easily, even when you’re inside the water – in case you get a water leak.
On the other hand, we have high volume snorkel masks which offer better peripheral vision and they provide a better feeling of openness.
However, they’re a bit harder to clean, and in case you get a water leak – you will have to re-submerge to clear it out.
Watch this video for an extra tip – how to put on a diving mask underwater:
One last thing before we get to our reviews – the question of whether you need a full face snorkel mask or not.
Should I Get a Full Face Snorkel Mask?
Rather than a regular snorkel mask, you might have seen full face snorkel masks which might make people look a bit like astronauts…or aliens.
That said, they’re ideal for beginners since they cover the whole face, allowing no learning curve since you aren’t required to breathe only throughout your mouth.
With a full face mask, you can breathe normally – and we find these masks to be very suitable for people who have jaw or mouth issues from holding a snorkel.
However, full face snorkel masks might not always get well accepted by the professionals. But we find the reason for this is that these type of masks are considered less utilitarian. Sort of like people who love driving stick shift, and reject automatic transmission.
All in all, they’re 100% safe and we find that 85% of beginners choose full face snorkel masks due to one of the biggest benefits which is a natural way of breathing.
The choice is up to you, but we highly recommend trying out both types of masks.
Best Snorkel Masks – Our Review
Now that we’ve given you all of the background information that you need on snorkelling, we’ll present to you our list of the best snorkels available on the market today.
We picked these snorkels based on certain fixed criteria which are; usability, aesthetic value, and available features.
Octobermoon Snorkel Mask
Coming in at #5 on our list of best snorkel masks, the Octobermoon Snorkel Mask is a great purchase for anyone that is new to the activity of snorkelling and is looking to get their feet wet, pun intended.
The mask features a blue and black color pattern, which is very attractive. The colors are well-blended with the natural tones of the sea and the beach.
It also is a full facial mask, ensuring that you will be able to see clearly underwater with 180° degrees of visibility around you without impediment.
The angle of the snorkel itself ensures that breathing will not be a problem, and it is also equipped with anti-fog and anti-leak technology to ensure that your vision will not become obscured, and water will not fill the mask while you’re swimming.
For those who have never snorkelled before and are looking to dive into the activity immediately (pun intended), then this mask may be the one for you.
Watch this video of the Octobermoon Snorkel in action. Not bad, right?
Tribord Easybreath Full Face Snorkel Mask
Sliding in at #4 on our list of best snorkelling masks available on the market today is the Tribord Easybreath Snorkel Mask.
This unique mask comes with a very cool aesthetic design that is sure to make you look like a snorkeling pro out there on the water!
Like the Octobermoon Snorkelling Mask, it is optimized in a way that allows individuals to see 180° degrees around them while in the water.
It also comes equipped with anti-fog technology, and ventilation features to ensure that your vision does not become obscured while you are out in the water.
An additional perk with this mask is that the snorkel top can be seen at a distance four times further than that of traditional masks!
So, if you ever find yourself in trouble, then you will be much more identifiable by lifeguards and buddies, than you would with other snorkelling masks on your face.
Watch this video review which features the Triboard Easybreath. We think it shows why it made the list!
SeeReef Full Face Snorkel
Coming in at #3 on our list of best snorkel masks is the SeeReef Full Face Snorkel.
This snorkel mask is a definite upgrade over the previous two on our list, and the additional features included make it a surefire purchase for anyone who is considering elevating their snorkelling experience.
As with the Octobermoon Snorkel Mask, it features a color palette which matches the natural tones of the sea.
It also has comfortable straps to ensure that you can snorkel for hours without hindrance. There is also a technology instituted in the mask that ensures that it will be easier for you to swim uninhibited.
In addition, there are 4 valves that are connected to this snorkel in order to make breathing seamless, and as easy as it’s ever been with a snorkel!
Easy Snorkel Mask
Coming in at #2 on our list of best snorkel masks, is the ‘Easy’ Snorkel Mask. This mask will redefine the way you go snorkelling for sure.
Aesthetically, this looks like the type of mask you would expect professionals to use, if they decided to go out snorkelling.
As with the other masks on our list, it is designed with technology in the screen of the mask that ensures that one will be able to see with absolute clarity within 180° degrees of their line of sight, and that there will be absolutely no fog or leakage.
The mask is also built with very soft and high-quality fabric straps to ensure that you will not feel discomfort while snorkelling with the mask on your face, ensuring a snug fit.
There also isn’t a mouthpiece on this device, which means that you can breathe normally! A huge benefit.
Seaview Snorkel Mask
Coming in at #1 on our list is the Seaview Snorkel Mask. This bad boy easily represents the pinnacle of snorkel masks available on the market as of 2019.
Aesthetically, the mask looks very advanced in its design, and is very sleek as well, ensuring that you’ll look like the flashiest snorkeler alive.
One of the greatest features of this mask is that it is compatible with GoPro technology, which means that you’ll be able to capture all of your snorkelling adventures on film!
It also is designed with dry snorkel technology, which is a new feature that ensures that water will not accidentally get into the breathing tube, subsequently choking you while you’re out on your missions.
Not only is this convenient but it also makes the mask way safer!
Watch this video and you can probably see why this mask made it to #1 on our list of top picks!