Interested in checking out what lives in our oceans? Snorkeling is a great way to comfortably explore what lies below the surface. With the right gear, it’s easy to stick your face in the water and see things you’ve never seen before, all while keeping constant airflow.
Traditionally, snorkeling gear consists of a mask, snorkel, and fins. However, in recent years, full face snorkel masks have emerged, which marry two pieces of gear into one.
If you’re feeling adventurous or looking for a change, keep reading to learn all there is to know about full face snorkel masks and get a buying guide on the best full face snorkel masks.
- 1 Our Picks for Best Full Face Snorkel Masks
- 2 Full Face Snorkel Masks Comparison Table
- 3 What is a Full Face Snorkel Mask?
- 4 Full Face Snorkel Mask vs Traditional Snorkel Mask
- 5 Pros and Cons of a Full Face Snorkel Mask
- 6 What to Look for in a Full Face Snorkel Mask
- 7 How to Choose the Best Full Face Snorkel Mask for You
- 8 Best Full Face Snorkel Masks: Reviews
- 9 Bonus: Other Essential Snorkel Gear
- 10 Using Your Full Face Mask For the First Time
- 11 Caring for Your Full Face Mask
Our Picks for Best Full Face Snorkel Masks
Full Face Snorkel Masks Comparison Table
For full reviews of these masks, check out our buying guide below.
Ocean Reef Aria
HEAD Sea Vu Dry
Seaview 180 V2
Seaview 180 GoPro Compatible
What is a Full Face Snorkel Mask?
A full face snorkel mask is a piece of equipment used for optimized underwater viewing. Like normal snorkeling gear, it allows you to breathe while floating on the surface of water. The difference is that it offers a more natural experience.
These masks cover your entire face, with the top portion used for viewing and the bottom half for breathing. The snorkel is built into the mask, allowing users to breathe without a mouthpiece.
Full face masks are growing in popularity when it comes to snorkeling as they offer a more relaxed experience with a wider range of vision. The large mask wraps around, giving snorkelers 180 degrees of vision versus just being able to see what’s in front of you.
A common misconception with full face masks is that you can breathe underwater if you’re using one. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Like traditional snorkeling gear, you can only breathe when floating on the surface of the water. Once you submerge completely, air won’t be able to come through the snorkel anymore.
Most full face masks feature a dry top snorkel that seals when it’s submerged, and reopens once the snorkel resurfaces. This effectively keeps water out of the mask.
Full Face Snorkel Mask vs Traditional Snorkel Mask
There are a few main differences when it comes to full face masks and traditional snorkeling masks.
The main difference between full face masks and traditional masks is the degree of coverage. As mentioned above (and clear from the name), full face masks cover the entire face from top to bottom, while normal masks only cover the eyes and nose.
The main benefit of having a full face mask is being able to breathe out of your nose and mouth as you would naturally, versus only through your mouth with a traditional snorkel.
You also don’t have to worry about keeping a mouthpiece in position due to the snorkel being built into the mask, making it more comfortable to use and eliminating jaw fatigue.
Field of Vision
Full face masks feature a wrap around design giving users a greater field of vision than they would have while using a traditional mask. Full face masks not only wrap around your entire field of vision, but they extend past the nose, creating a huge lens and optimized visuals for users.
Like traditional masks, full face masks come complete with a silicon skirt that creates a seal against your face to keep water out. Because this mask covers your entire face, it moves less and creates a greater seal, making it less prone to leakage than traditional masks.
Be sure to choose the right size for your face when purchasing to make sure the skirt creates a true watertight seal.
One of the biggest complaints with traditional snorkel masks is that they fog up. While it’s nearly impossible to entirely eliminate foggy masks, this is drastically reduced when using a full face masks.
If you’re interested in learning more about traditional masks and other equipment, check out our full snorkeling gear review.
Pros and Cons of a Full Face Snorkel Mask
There are certainly advantages and downsides to purchasing and using a full face snorkel mask.
Here are some pros and cons to help you decide if this is the best piece of equipment for your aquatic adventures.
- Full face masks are great for beginners. It generally takes some time to get used to breathing with a regular snorkel, but with a full face mask you can breathe regularly.
- No jaw fatigue! The worst part about using a traditional snorkel for a long period of time is that your jaw gets tired from holding it in your mouth. With a full face mask, there’s no mouthpiece, and thus no jaw fatigue. These masks are great for longer excursions, especially if your jaw tends to tense up easily.
- Full face masks give a large range of view. Because these masks cover your entire face, they give you a complete 180-degree view without any obstruction.
- They’re less prone to fogging. There’s nothing worse than getting in the water and having your mask fog up. However, full face masks fix this for the most part as they don’t fog up due to the unique breathing mechanism and air flow valves.
- They’re bulkier than traditional snorkel gear. These masks are notably larger and take up more space than an individual mask with separate snorkel. This makes them less practical to pack for trips.
- You won’t be able to dive deep. While with normal snorkel gear you can take a dive and your snorkel valve will close (with a dry-top), this isn’t possible with a full face mask. Diving deep will create tons of pressure inside the mask that you won’t be able to equalize without access to your nose. So if you like to frequently dive below the surface for a closer look at what’s below, a full face mask isn’t recommended.
- You may have some difficulty breathing. It’s been reported that some users have had difficulty breathing while wearing a full face mask, especially when exercising intensely. Some people have found it hard to get enough oxygen to keep them comfortable while their faces are in the water. A large part of this is that old air has a hard time leaving the mask, forcing you to breathe this in instead of fresh air. That being said, some masks have better air circulation than others.
What to Look for in a Full Face Snorkel Mask
Here are the qualities you should look for when weighing different full face mask options.
Look for a full face mask that has an anti-fog lens. Most of these nifty gadgets do, but some are more prone to fog than others. A foggy lens can ruin a snorkel experience, so it’s important to find the clearest lens possible!
Field of View
When buying a full face mask, look for ones that offer a complete 180-degree view. The best masks will have the lens extending past the side of your eyes, with the frame as far to the side of your head as possible. This will allow you an unobstructed view of the world below.
You’re going to want a mask with a silicon skirt to keep it sealed tightly around your face. A tight-fitting skirt is key to keeping water out and vision clear.
Cheaper masks feature plastic or rubber skirts, but it’s absolutely advisable to spring for one made of 100% silicon. Skirts made from other material aren’t as comfortable, don’t create as tight of a seal, and are more prone to tears or rips.
Straps and Buckles
When weighing different masks, take a look at the straps and buckling mechanisms.
It’s best to get a mask with thicker straps which won’t lose their form and stretch out as easily as thinner straps. Wider straps also tend to be more comfortable, so you’re less likely to have to adjust them while in the water.
In terms of a buckle, it’s advisable to find one that has a push release button so that you can get in and out of your mask quickly and easily.
You absolutely want to purchase a full face mask with a wave guard on top of the snorkel. This will keep the snorkel free from water when a wave comes. Almost all full face snorkel masks feature a dry-top snorkel, but look extra closely for ones with wave guards.
As mentioned above, almost all full face masks feature a dry-top snorkel; however, this isn’t necessarily a guarantee.
When purchasing a mask (especially ones that are cheaper), double check that this mechanism is in place. Otherwise you’ll have a less than ideal snorkeling experience as you’ll end up swallowing lots of salt water!
How to Choose the Best Full Face Snorkel Mask for You
Choosing a mask that’s right for you is the most important part of purchasing this piece of equipment! Here are some things to keep in mind.
The most important factor when it comes to choosing a full face mask is purchasing the right size. It’s rare to find a full face mask that comes in one size because if the mask is too large it will leak, and if it’s too small it will be uncomfortable and obstruct your view.
If you’re not sure which size to purchase, I recommend taking a quick measure of your face and then consulting the mask’s sizing chart. This should help you determine the correct size, and provide you with a pleasant snorkeling experience.
If airflow is a main concern with a full face mask, I’d go for a mask with increased air flow valves and advanced technology to keep the air inside your mask fresh and breathable.
Masks like Seaview V2 and Vista Vue offer the best breathing experience.
If you wear glasses, you should look for a mask that has the option to add a prescription lens. This allows you to enjoy all that the underwater world has to offer without sacrificing clear vision.
Best Full Face Snorkel Masks: Reviews
When choosing a full face mask, it is very important to buy from a reputable brand, because many cheaper masks haven’t undergone proper testing, posing serious risks when using them in the water.Here’s our guide to some of the best full face snorkel masks.
What We Love:
- Anti-fog lens
- Largest field of vision
- Lightweight with removable snorkel
Ocean Reef is a reputable brand that makes high quality and dependable products. Their full face snorkeling mask is no exception.
The lens is designed to be anti-fog and the breathing experience is seamless and natural in the bottom chamber. Ocean Reef claims that the Aria mask has the largest field of vision compared to competitors, so enjoy an uninterrupted viewing experience.
It’s made out of durable but lightweight materials and features a detachable snorkel, making it practical for travel.
This mask is made to give the best snorkeling experience with as little hassle as possible.
What We Love:
- Various sizes for the perfect fit
- Shatterproof lens
- Long snorkel
The Tribord Easybreath comes in many different sizes, ensuring that the individual using the mask will get the perfect, leak-free fit. Be sure to check out the sizing chart to find the size that’s best for you.
This mask features a shatter-proof 180-degree lens, providing an uninterrupted view of the ocean below. The snorkel on this mask is longer than others, allowing users to look further and see more without interrupting your breathing.
What We Love:
- Officially safety tested
- Wave guards
- Easy-to-use purge valve
This mask was officially safety tested, making it a good option if you have concerns related to mask use.
The Sea Vu has constant air flow circulation which helps with breathing and keeps the lens clear of fog. The dry snorkel also features wave guards to further keep water out of the mask, and has a purge valve on the chin to get ride of anything that does get in the mask.
The skirt is made from high quality silicon, creating a comfortable and firm seal around your face to prevent leaks.
What We Love:
- Officially safety tested
- Flowtech advanced air intake system
- Anti-fog lens
This mask has been tested safe, and features a separate breathing chamber, as well as four intake valves make sure that you’re always breathing fresh air.
This Flowtech advanced air intake system provides a 50% easier breathing experience compared to other full face masks. The 180-degree lens doesn’t fog up due to one way valves and constant airflow.
What We Love:
- GoPro Mount
- Heavy duty silicon skirt
- Nylon straps
If you’re looking to take footage while snorkeling, this is the mask for you. Not only is it high quality, but it has a built in GoPro mount for setting up your camera.
This mask provides an easy breathing experience, and is good for both beginners and advanced snorkelers alike. The purge valve at the chin allows you to easily get rid of any water that may have slipped into the mask, but don’t be too concerned about that because the silicon skirt keeps you dry.
The straps are made from nylon, creating a comfortable experience instead of cheap straps pulling at your hair.
What We Love:
- Enhanced breathing experience
- Extra wide snorkel tube
- Fog-free lens
This mask offers an unparalleled breathing experience. Not only does air leave through the top of the snorkel, but there are two valves above your ear to let air out as well. This keeps the user from breathing old air and makes breathing easier overall.
The snorkel on this mask also has an extra wide tube with a multi-purge valve, greatly increasing airflow as well. There’s a fog-free 180-degree lens that offers a great viewing experience, all without worrying about breathing.
Bonus: Other Essential Snorkel Gear
If you’re looking for more gear to enhance your snorkeling experience, here are some suggestions.
Fins are a great piece of snorkeling gear that allow you to travel through the water quickly and reduce fatigue. Besides their benefits, fins greatly vary in style and size.
We really like this pair from Cressi.
A snorkel vest is a great tool for beginners to help with buoyancy and flotation. It’s also a good piece of equipment for people planning on snorkeling for a long time as it keeps you from having to tread water and getting tired out.
Antifog spray is a great tool to treat mask lenses before getting in the water. Even if you dive deep or experience great variation in temperature, your mask should stay fog free.
It’s practical to take a dry bag with you on any water adventure, snorkeling not excluded. A dry bag seals to keep everything inside dry, no matter how wet your surroundings are. I never go out on the water without one of these!
Using Your Full Face Mask For the First Time
When you receive your mask, try it on and adjust it to your face to make sure there’s a watertight seal.
Also make sure that your mask fits correctly in the proper places. The skirt should be comfortable around your lips and nose, and shouldn’t come too close to your eyes.
Once you know that your mask fits properly, you should treat it before using it in water. This will prevent it from fogging up, even if the lens is fog-proof. Use warm soapy water and a soft cloth to scrub the mask clean of any leftover residue from manufacturing. Not only should you get the lens and frame, but wash the skirt as well.
Note: Be careful with what material you use to clean the lens as full face lenses are prone to scratching.
For additional treatment, you can also use toothpaste! This should ensure that your mask doesn’t fog when you use it in the water.
After you fit and treat your mask, I recommend hopping in a pool to practice breathing and make sure that everything is comfortable so that you can get used to it before setting off on your snorkeling adventure.
Caring for Your Full Face Mask
No matter the mask you choose, it’s important to care for it properly if you’d like it to last for a long time.
The main thing to do is to clean it after every use. Sure, this may be a pain, especially if you use your mask frequently, but it will ensure that the mask has a long lifespan.
It’s even more important to clean your mask if you wear sunscreen with it. Sunscreen and silicon aren’t exactly a match made in heaven, and if sunscreen is left on the skirt for too long, it will ruin it.
When cleaning the mask, use a cloth designed especially for lenses to keep it scratch-free. If you can’t find this kind of cloth, you can use cotton which should work just as well.
You should also be careful where you put the mask and try to keep its lens up whenever possible. A big tip is to keep it away from sand! These masks are fragile, so be sure to treat it with care.
When packing or traveling with your mask, always keep it in the carrying case it came with to avoid the lens getting scratched. If you don’t have a carrying case, wrap it in a t-shirt or pillow case.
Now you know all there is to full face snorkel masks. Always remember to follow the “buddy rule” and snorkel with a friend.
Enjoy your water adventure — the ocean is calling!
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