If you are not a fan of the traditional dive mask and snorkel combination, then you should consider wearing a full face snorkel mask instead. A full face mask provides a wider viewing angle and lets you breathe with either your mouth or nose without the inconvenience of a bulky, uncomfortable mouthpiece. The all-in-one design of the full face masks are an excellent choice for both beginners and experienced snorkelers alike. They are often more affordable than a mask and snorkel combo.
In this article, we will be reviewing the best full face snorkel masks available on the market. It can be difficult selecting the right one with so many similar-looking products out there. We will clear up any confusion, and to that end, we have also written an extensive buying guide detailing all of the factors you need to consider as part of your research. Let’s get started on our review of the best full face snorkel masks.
Our Top Picks:
- Best Full Face Snorkel Mask: Recommendations
- Best Full Face Snorkel Mask Buying Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Why buy a full face snorkel mask?
- Do full face masks keep my face dry?
- Can I wear prescription glasses with them? Are there prescription full face masks?
- Can I easily pack a full face mask for travel?
- How do I wear a full face mask properly?
- Can I talk with a full face mask while underwater?
- Can I clear a full face mask like a traditional mask?
- Can I wear a full face mask to swim laps?
- Are full face snorkel masks safe?
- Can my kids wear a full face mask?
- Best Full Face Snorkel Mask: The Verdict
Best Full Face Snorkel Mask: Recommendations
Wildhorn Outfitters Seaview 180° V2
- 180° FULL FACE SNORKEL MASK- Our snorkeling gear for adults, young, and kids gives a panoramic view creating a better experience compared to a...
- DESIGNED AND TESTED IN THE USA - The Seaview 180° V2 full face snorkel mask was created by our team of experienced product designers and engineers....
- IMPORTANT SIZING TIPS- snorkel gear sizing is important to get right. Be sure to measure from the bridge of your nose (between your eyes) to the tip...
The Seaview V2 from Wildhorn Outfitters has been completely redesigned with a revolutionary new design that improves upon the traditional full face mask style.
Just by looking at it, you can tell that it stands out from other full face masks. Its futuristic design looks like some kind of space helmet from the future. At least when it comes to style, the Seaview V2 has already got it down pat. And when you look even closer at all of the changes its made, you will understand why we have rated it as the #1 mask in this review.
Here’s just a glimpse of what it offers: an ultra wide 180° frontal view, anti-fog enhanced viewing, smooth and consistent airflow, and an optimized action camera mount at an ideal location. Let’s go through each of these features in more detail.
First of all, as the 180° in its name suggests, the Seaview V2 provides an unparalleled 180° view. Many traditional snorkel masks have a flat lens and the design is such that the frame needs to extend past the side of your face so that it can support the lens in front of you. Unfortunately, this design obstructs your peripheral vision and decreases what you can see.
With the Seaview V2, the lens is flat in front but curved along the sides and allows you to have a clear 180°, unobstructed view so that you can experience the underwater sights in all of its glory. Keep in mind that there will be a slight distortion when viewing through the curved part of the lens, however it is much better than being blocked by the mask frame.
Furthermore, the Seaview V2’s dry-top snorkel is positioned on the side instead of on top which optimizes the angle of air intake when your face is submerged. This design is what Wildhorn Outfitters calls the FLOWTECH Advanced Breathing System which makes breathing feel even more natural. The carbon dioxide (CO2) is efficiently removed so that no build-up can occur. This system will ensure water stays out even in tough conditions so you can breathe without obstruction.
The dry snorkel tube eventually connects to the bottom of your mask, and this design is advantageous because of the improved airflow it offers. Humid air produced from when you exhale can easily be vented away without ever reaching the lens, ensuring that the lens will not fog up after prolonged snorkeling. In fact, your mouth and nose are sealed off in a separate breathing chamber to ensure the lens doesn’t get fogged up.
Next, the location of the camera mount on the Seaview V2 is on the side of the mask instead of the top which bucks the normal trend. With the old (top) design, your camera would be above the water most of the time which doesn’t exactly lead to great footage. The side camera mount ensures the camera will remain submerged and this means better footage of what you are actually seeing.
With the Seaview V2, you can snorkel comfortably thanks to its soft silicone skirt that seals tightly against your face. Wildhorn Outfitters have managed to strike the perfect balance between comfort and watertightness so that you can wear this mask and snorkel for hours.
If water, for any reason, manages to seep inside the full face mask, then you can easily drain it using the purge valve. To activate it, simply lift your head above water and the water will quickly drain out of the bottom.
Lastly, the only disadvantages of the Seaview V2 are problems that are inherent to all full face masks. Since full face masks trap so much air inside, it makes it hard to dive down. However this also means extra buoyancy for when you are floating at the surface, so it’s a wash. Also, if you submerge with a snorkel without a float valve mechanism, then water will enter and obviously you won’t be able to breathe anymore.
The Wildhorn Outfitter Seaview 180° V2 comes in three sizes and numerous colors. The three available sizes should fit the majority of people from children to adults without issue. There are six colors to choose from, and we recommend the brighter colors so that you can stand out more for safety reasons.
Overall, the Wildhorn Outfitters Seaview V2 offers a near unbeatable price-to-performance value which is why we are recommending it as the best full face snorkel mask. If you aren’t sure which mask you should get, you can’t go wrong with this one.
- Anatomic Design. 4 different SIZES: XS is perfect for kids up to the age of 10. S/M generally for Kids 11yr+, Tweens & Most Women. M/L for older Teen...
- DRY FREAK spare ring included. This Updated 2020 Version has a Secure Lock Snorkel to prevent the snorkel head from detaching unexpectedly.
- Exclusive Anti-Fogging Patented Design. Continuous Fresh Air Flow with a double chamber air vent valve
At one point the Tribord Easybreath was indisputably the best full face mask because it was literally the first full face mask to hit the market. Even to this day, it still holds up well against the competition and it is every bit as good as when it first came out.
All of the features that a full face mask has: the exceptionally wide viewing area, the ability to breath with either your nose or mouth without biting down on a mouthpiece, the drain valve on the bottom, the all-in-one design of mask and snorkel, etc., were based on the Tribord Easybreath’s design. So we have to give credit where credit is due; how can we not recommend the original? As we mentioned, it still holds up today, so let’s see what it has to offer.
The Easybreath uses Tribord’s patented breathing system. Its design is very clever; the breathing chamber design that allowed one to breath without a mouthpiece was revolutionary for its time. Furthermore it has a relief valve at the bottom which expels any trapped water that somehow managed to get inside without needing to remove the mask.
Furthermore, when you have a built-in (i.e. non-replaceable) snorkel on your mask, it had better be an extremely high-quality one. Thankfully, the Easybreath indeed has a great snorkel with a float valve. This valve uses buoyancy to detect the water level and will rise to the top of the tube, completely sealing it, when the snorkel tube gets submerged underwater. This prevents water from flooding in and ending in your mouth or nose. Additionally, the tip of the snorkel is bright orange which helps others see you while you are snorkeling which reduces collisions.
Next, the viewing window is large and clear. It is made from shatterproof polycarbonate. Not only is it extremely durable, but should it ever break, it will stay relatively intact instead of shattering into a million pieces. We highly doubt you’d even scratch it let alone break it. The window is a common area that cheaper masks skimp out on which is why they break so easily.
Unfortunately, you cannot wear glasses when wearing the Easybreath. As we can see with the original, and even to this day, full face masks are not designed so that you can wear glasses. Glasses will compromise the silicone skirt’s seal and allow water to enter. You also cannot get prescription lenses for the window. The closest thing you can do is to wear contact lenses and make sure they don’t wash out. In a similar vein, you cannot have a beard because the strands of hair could compromise the seal.
Another problem of the Easybreath is that it’s large. This is an inherent flaw of the all-in-one design, plus the fact the mask covers your entire face. By design, it has to be bulky. This also means it traps a lot of air in the mask which makes it hard to dive. However, full face masks aren’t intended for diving in the first place, so one could argue that the buoyancy it provides is a positive aspect. Still, its bulkiness makes it hard to pack for travel.
When the Tribord Easybreath first came out, it didn’t have a camera mount which is basically a requirement in full face masks nowadays. For this reason alone, it was outclassed by newer masks which had this feature. This issue has since been remedied because Tribord have come out with an optional mount for your GoPro camera. If you have no intention of attaching a GoPro to your full face mask, then this is a moot point.
You can get the Tribord Easybreath in numerous sizes and colors. It has four sizes to choose from which should cover a wide range of people. It comes in three colors: Pink, Blue, and Atoll. We typically recommend getting the brightest color for greater visibility, but Pink might not be an option guys would be comfortable with. We wish there were more colors, like green or red, since blue can blend in with the water.
There is a reason why the Tribord Easybreath is the full face mask that all others base their design on, kind of like what the Rolex Submariner is to mechanical dive watches. Yes, it is the original, but the fact that all the others look and function so similar to it means the design just works. If you want to own a piece of snorkeling history and love using the classics, then the Tribord Easybreath is the one mask for you. Even today, it is an excellent full face mask by any measure and is worth your money.
HEAD/Mares Sea Vu
- Full face mask allows you to breathe naturally and effortlessly underwater.
- Dry top snorkel stops water from entering in your snorkel.
- Breath ventilation system automatically defogs your mask.
Next up, one of the newest models on the market and this list is the HEAD/Mares Sea Vu. HEAD is owned by Mares, and you will sometimes see it marketed under the HEAD brand and sometimes the Mares brand. Don’t worry, they are the same product.
There’s lots to like about this mask. First, there are many variations to choose from. It comes in four sizes and five colors. That said, not all colors are available on all sizes, however the selection is still impressive.
Next, the Sea Vu has a flat lens and the soft silicone skirt sits comfortably on your face. The lens design provides great visibility at the front, and a somewhat distorted image at the curved section at the side of the lens. Made from shatterproof polycarbonate, the Sea Vu’s lens is durable and provides crystal clear views of the underwater world.
Fogging is not an issue for the Sea Vu thanks to the way air travels through this mask. There are different routes it can travel and this results in excellent anti-fog properties as well as a marked reduction in CO2 build-up compared to lower quality masks. There is also a purge valve located at the bottom to clear out any water that somehow seeped inside the mask.
Furthermore, the Sea Vu has a built-in dry snorkel. Dry snorkels are the best kind of snorkel because of their many components that keep water from entering. The splash guard protects the tube opening against rogue waves that unexpectedly splashes on you. The float valve will seal the opening shut if you completely submerge the snorkel underwater. These features ensure that water will never flood the mask and cause you to choke. The tip of the snorkel is brightly colored so that you are more visible while snorkeling.
Unfortunately, the Mares Sea Vu does not have a mount for an action camera such as a GoPro. If you were looking forward to filming your snorkeling adventures, then this mask is a bust. However, if you have no plans to film underwater and just want a reliable mask that you can use while snorkeling, then the HEAD/Mares Sea Vu is a solid choice.
Aqua Lung Smart Snorkel
- Easy Breathing - Best in class breathability comes from the Smart Snorkelâ€s unique dual chamber system that separates inhaled fresh air from...
- 180° Panoramic Visibility â€“ The Smart Snorkel Full Face Snorkel Mask allows 180 degree panoramic visibility and the unique fog-free design...
- Dry-top - 100% Submersible dry-top keeps the water out of the snorkel tube above and below the surface
Aqua Lung’s contribution to the full face mask market is their Smart snorkel. You probably already own other scuba or snorkel equipment from Aqua Lung and you shouldn’t be surprised that this renowned manufacturer produces high-quality gear. The Smart snorkel is no exception.
Comparing the Aqua Lung Smart to other full face masks, you will notice that it has a slightly different design compared to most. It has a lens that is very flat and narrow compared to others. Typically, other masks use lenses with a flat front but a wider curved side. The Smart basically sacrifices the visibility on the edges for unparalleled frontal visibility. Since the lens is closer to the face, you can get a clearer view without any distortions. Less air is also trapped, so you have the freedom to dive more easily. Lastly, the lens is made from shatterproof polycarbonate which is the standard for high-quality masks.
You can get the Smart Snorkel in three different sizes, however it only comes in one color: navy blue. Preferably, it should have more color options including bright colors to help you increase visibility. Boats colliding with snorkelers is common and having a visible snorkel can help reduce the chances of that.
If you’re worried about CO2 build-up in this mask, don’t be. One of the main selling points of this mask is how easy it is to breathe with it. There is almost no breathing resistance and it will feel as if you are breathing normally on land. This also results in incredible anti-fog properties because the warm air you exhale is quickly expelled.
Next, the Aqua Lung Smart uses a 100% submersible dry-top snorkel. This means that it will keep water out from the tube whether you are at the surface or diving down. So if you really want to get a close-up look of something interesting, this is the mask to wear if you want to dive down.
Lastly, the silicone skirt is made from hypoallergenic silicone. This is the same type of material found in Aqua Lung’s scuba diving gear that they are known for. You will find this mask to be comfortable to wear so that you can snorkel for hours in a relaxed state.
Best Full Face Snorkel Mask Buying Guide
It can be difficult selecting which full face snorkel mask to buy since it isn’t clear what the differences are between each one. Based on pictures alone, you might think that they are all pretty much the same. You’re not entirely wrong; many full face snorkel masks derive their design from the original full face mask, which is the Tribord Easybreath.
However, as major updates and innovations keep coming over the years, there are some slight differences that may sway your opinion on which ones to buy. For instance, newer full face masks have better mounts for cameras, improvements in the breathing chamber, greater field of view, better materials, and so on.
The most important factors to keep an eye on have to do with safety. For instance, you need to ask yourself if the full face mask uses a dry snorkel, and is the window made of high-grade, impact-resistant polycarbonate material or better? You’ll find that a full face mask provides many advantages over traditional masks for snorkeling, particularly if you are a beginner. Let’s examine the top factors you should consider when looking at a full face snorkel mask.
The full face snorkel design solves many issues that affect traditional snorkels and masks. To start, traditional snorkels require you to bite down on a mouthpiece just to keep it in place. It is uncomfortable and possibly unhygienic to keep this object in your mouth for so long.
Problems with traditional snorkels
Furthermore, the mask and snorkel combination only lets you breathe through your mouth. Many beginners find this uncomfortable since their natural instinct is to use their nose. There is a reason why “mouth-breather” is considered an insult which implies abnormalcy.
Another issue that many snorkels have is that not all of them are dry snorkels. Many snorkels have an exposed tube opening where water can simply flood in, causing the user to inhale water and choke. The dry snorkel design keeps water out using a combination of splash guard, float valve, and purge valve.
These components ensure water never reaches the users mouth. The splash guard angles the opening of the tube such that the majority of the water will never splash in. The float valve detects the water level and will completely seal the tube opening if the user accidentally submerges underwater. Lastly, the purge valve has a one-way valve that expels water that makes it into the tube before it reaches the mouth.
You will never have to worry about choking on water again using a dry snorkel. A common cause of drowning for beginners is when they accidentally choke on water and panic. Even if you are experienced enough to stay calm, it is still a highly unpleasant experience that you want to avoid if possible.
How full face masks address these issues
Knowing all of this about traditional masks, here is how the all-in-one design of the full face mask fixes these problems.
First, the issue of being allowed to breathe only through the mouth. Since the mask covers your whole face, the breathing chamber gives you the freedom to breathe with either your nose or mouth. This design also solves problem number two, which is that you don’t need to use a mouthpiece anymore.
Third, all full face masks have a built-in dry snorkel located at the top. The location means you don’t have to worry about the snorkel getting in the way or getting caught on something. It also provides you with most of the advantages that dry snorkels provide as mentioned above. In order to activate the purging mechanism in a full face mask, you must come to the surface.
Another benefit of full face masks is how comfortable it is to wear compared to the traditional ones. Traditional snorkeling masks tend to put a lot of pressure around your eyes and nose which can feel uncomfortable to wear. This is especially true if you are wearing a cheap mask that has trouble sealing on your face; you will be forced to tighten the strap so much that it hurts.
Full face masks are worn over a larger surface area which alleviates the pressure that would otherwise be concentrated on a single area. Furthermore, the mask skirt on a full face mask is placed on less sensitive areas on your face so you can wear it comfortably for longer.
Whether you are wearing a full face mask or not, it’s not a good idea to cheap out and buy the cheapest one. Typically, these masks are some Chinese knock-offs made with subpar components and materials so that the manufacturer can maximize profits. Unfortunately, over the years many knock-off full face masks have flooded the market so if the price is too good to be true it probably is.
The traditional snorkeling setup requires you to have both a snorkel and a mask. This can result in some incompatibility between snorkel and mask. For instance, the mask may be too wide and get in the way of the snorkel or the aesthetic of the combination may look inconsistent. The biggest problem, however, is that it’s very easy to forget/lose either the mask or the snorkel.
Many travelers, eager to travel to Hawaii so that they can snorkel with sea turtles, leave home in a rush and arrive at their destination to find that they forgot their mask or snorkel at home. This is a tale as old as time; they took the mask and snorkel out, cleaned it and left it out to dry, and forgot to put it back for their next trip.
A full face snorkel mask solves this with a built-in snorkel. If you remember to bring the mask then the snorkel is coming along with you. Additionally, the mask and snorkel design will look consistent. This advantage may not be as obvious to think about, but if you’ve ever forgotten your snorkel or mask before, then you will appreciate the all-in-one design.
Field of View
Next, full face masks provide a near 180-degree field of view which gives you a near unobstructed view of the underwater sights. This massive field of view means that you can take advantage of your peripheral vision to notice things in the corner of your eye. It also makes the image look complete and provides an overall better experience.
With that said, the image can get distorted around the edges of some full face masks where the lens curves a bit. Not all lenses have a curved design, but for the ones that do, this can be an issue. As long as you don’t you spend much of your time focusing on the edges of your mask, this should only be a minor problem. You will still get a markedly better visible field compared to a traditional mask so it is worth it.
On the other hand, traditional snorkeling masks tend to tunnel-vision you so that you can only see what is directly in front of you. Their frame will often get in the way of your view, so you will need to find one where the lens is closer to your eyes to mitigate this. Depending on the quality of the snorkel mask, it may have separate side lenses to increase the field of view. This allows you to see more without causing any distortions.
The advantage of having a larger field of view is not just for greater pleasure, but it can also be useful for safety as well. You situational awareness means you can see any incoming danger, or to keep an eye out for your snorkeling buddies and vice versa. If you have kids, then being aware of where they are at all times is crucial.
Ideally, the lens of your full face mask should be made of high-quality materials. Whereas traditional snorkeling masks may have lenses made of tempered glass, full face masks have lenses made from polycarbonate or lesser quality plastics.
A high-quality full face mask uses a polycarbonate lens which is shatterproof. What that means is that if it ever breaks, it won’t shatter into a million pieces and scratch the heck out of your face. The lens will remain a large chunk that can be safely discarded.
Additionally, polycarbonate is highly scratch-resistant, though still not as durable as tempered glass. If you are careless, they can still get scratches on them.
The lens material is one area where a full face mask loses out to a high-quality snorkel mask. With that said, polycarbonate is no slouch either.
Having high-quality lens material is crucial if you want to get the most out of your snorkeling experience. They provide a crystal-clear view of the ocean floor and their durability ensures they stay scratch-free.
Keep in mind that the more curved the lens is, the more distorted the image. That is the reason why most lenses have a flat front nowadays. A flat lens means you can get the most accurate image when looking straight ahead, with minimal distortion found only along the edges where there are sharp curves.
Cheaper full face masks feature a rounded lens that slightly distort the view no matter which direction one looks.
When comparing a flat lens mask to a rounded lens one, the rounded lens provides a more consistent viewing experience where the image is always slightly distorted. A flat lens snorkel provides a clear view in the center but has severe distortions around the edges of the mask. Most snorkelers prefer flat lenses over curved ones.
Full face masks are generally more fog-resistant than regular snorkel masks. The reason for this is because of the way the air continuously flows inside the full face snorkel mask as you inhale and exhale. This regulates the humidity level such that it is unlikely to fog up since the air is constantly being exchanged.
On the other hand, traditional snorkel masks create a sealed environment around your eyes and nose. This causes the air to slowly get more humid because of condensation as well as from your body’s temperature heating the air inside the mask. This will eventually cause the window to fog up and you will need to clear your mask frequently which can be cumbersome.
Depending on which full face mask you get, it may come with a camera mount so that you can attach your GoPro camera to it. With it, you can easily record your snorkeling adventures hands-free. Without the mount, you will have to use at least one of your hands to constantly hold the camera which restricts your movement.
This seems like a good feature, however there is a clear disadvantage. Since the camera mount is typically located at the top of the mask, that means the camera will be above the water as you snorkel. In other words, if you have a top-mounted GoPro setup, you will have to hold your breath and dive underwater in order for the camera to film anything of value. Any time the camera is above the water means it is recording nothing except the surface of the lake or ocean.
For a camera mount to be effective, it should be located at the bottom of the full face mask so that you can film underwater while snorkeling. A simple way to improve the positioning of the GoPro mount is to purchase a GoPro extension. This tool allows you to position the camera underwater. The downside is that it adds extra weight to your mask which can weaken the seal.
An inherent disadvantage of the full face mask is that they hold a large volume of air inside the mask. As you know, air is positively buoyant which means it is always trying to go up. So if you are snorkeling and spot something interesting and you want to dive down to get a closer look, the buoyant air will be fighting you the whole time. In other words, it is harder to dive down with a full face mask.
Traditional snorkel masks have less empty space and therefore less air volume. Modern snorkel masks are designed such that they trap only a minimal amount of air so that you can dive down more easily.
With that said, if safety is your number one concern then having such a buoyant mask can be seen as a positive quality. You can still experience many beautiful sights from the surface and there is no need to risk diving down if you are not a strong swimmer.
Back a few years ago when there was a limited selection of full face masks, the only option was to pay around $100 for one. Years later, and many full face masks are flooding the market with prices ranging from cheap to expensive.
The cheap products are Chinese knock-offs made with cheaper materials and have questionable durability. Since a snorkel mask directly affects your safety, it is not something you should cheap out on. A low-quality full face mask may not fully remove your exhaled breath from its chambers, causing CO2 to slowly build up and this can lead to health risks.
As with most products, there is a sweet spot where you pay a reasonable amount of money and get a high-quality product. Do not get the absolute cheapest full face mask, nor should you spend a fortune on an expensive one.
The products we listed above fall within the reasonably priced category; they are the best bang for your buck and will help you enjoy your snorkeling adventures for a long time.
When trying on a full face mask for the first time, many users are surprised at how comfortable and convenient it is. Since they don’t have to clear their mask and their mouth isn’t encumbered by a bulky mouthpiece, they end up snorkeling for much longer because of how comfortable the experience is. However, this also causes them to get badly sunburned as well as to drift away by accident.
Snorkeling is a relaxing hobby, however it is not without risk. With a full face mask on, you should still stay vigilant. Try to maintain spatial awareness so that you do not drift. Furthermore, you should be wearing UPF swimwear or SPF-15 or higher sunscreen. Another easy way to protect yourself from UV rays and stay afloat is to wear a rash guard. Be sure to read our article about proper sun protection while snorkeling so that you can stay out in the sun responsibly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why buy a full face snorkel mask?
Starting off, a high-quality full face snorkel mask offers a near 180-degree view of your environment. Many snorkel masks have no lenses on the side for your peripheral vision (what you see in the corner of your eye). When you try a full face mask on, you will immediately find having such a wide field of view makes a world of a difference. On the other hand, lesser quality masks may have a narrower frame which blocks your peripheral vision. Marketing may claim that your view will be completely unobstructed by a full face mask; that claim is dubious, but it certainly is better than a standard snorkel mask.
Next, you do not need to use a mouthpiece to breathe with a full face snorkel mask. Traditional snorkel masks require you to wear a mouthpiece in order to breathe through the snorkel. However, even the most ergonomic mouthpiece can start to feel uncomfortable if you’ve been snorkeling for a while. There is also the issue of cleanliness; do you really want this unhygienic object in your mouth for so long? If you’ve ever disliked using a mouthpiece for any reason, then a full face mask is for you.
Additionally, full face snorkel masks come with a dry-snorkel which keeps water from flooding in when submerged. The built-in snorkel at the top of a full face mask isn’t just a run-of-the-mill snorkel. It is a dry snorkel which is designed to keep water from entering the tube. This is possible thanks to the combination of the splash guard and float valve located at the top end of the tube. Even if some water manages to enter the mask, the purge valve will expel it as soon as you exhale.
Furthermore, a full face snorkel mask lets you snorkel with a mustache. As the name implies, the full face mask covers your entire face and therefore can fit over a reasonably-sized mustache. Unfortunately, beards still pose a leak risk since they can compromise the integrity of the seal where the mask skirt touches your face. There are techniques you can do to improve the seal over a beard, but it’s recommended that you just shave it off.
Lastly, full face snorkel masks come with a camera mount for your GoPro camera so you can shoot high-quality video of your snorkeling adventures. As you are aware, carrying a camera by hand will seriously hamper your maneuverability, so having a camera mount is a god-send. Unfortunately, the cameras used for underwater photography are too large to attach to your head, so this is limited only to compact cameras like a GoPro.
If any of these points sound appealing to you, then consider giving a full face mask a try.
Do full face masks keep my face dry?
Yes, a full face mask that is properly sealed will keep your face dry. Since full face masks are less likely to fog up, you will never need to remove your mask and “clear” it, which involves intentionally breaking the seal, letting water enter which rinses the mask, and then pushing it out by forcefully exhaling with your nose.
The downside of never needing to “clear” your mask is that it can eventually get quite hot inside your mask. The air will heat up from a combination of your warm breath plus your body temperature. With a traditional snorkel mask, clearing it allows the water to cool down your face which can be a refreshing feeling.
Can I wear prescription glasses with them? Are there prescription full face masks?
The short answer is No to both questions. The main issue is that the earpieces of your glasses will disrupt the seal between the mask’s silicone skirt and your skin. Without this seal, water will enter your mask.
With that said, there are alternatives to wearing prescription glasses. The easiest way is to simply wear contact lenses. Your face and more importantly your eyes should stay dry the entire time if the mask is sealed correctly, so don’t have to worry about water washing your contact lenses out. However, you should tell your buddy to keep an eye out for you in case your contacts do fall out for some reason.
Some more difficult solutions are to install magnifier lenses to the window or to purchase a prescription lens accessory. These are essentially glasses frames where the earpieces are shortened so that they don’t need to reach your ears and they may be compatible with a full face mask. You will need to get an optometrist to fit prescription lenses into the frame. The downsides are the curve the frame might not support strong prescriptions, and that there may not be enough room inside the full face mask.
Can I easily pack a full face mask for travel?
Unfortunately, full face masks are bulky due to their all-in-one design, and that makes them difficult to pack for traveling. Newer models allow you to detach the snorkel which can make them easier to pack. With that said, they are still large compared to a traditional snorkel mask, so you will need to save some space in your bag if you want to bring it along.
How do I wear a full face mask properly?
If you’ve never worn a full face mask before, you might be wondering how different it is to wear compared to a regular snorkel mask. Wearing a full face mask has many similarities and only a few differences, which we will go over right now.
To begin, if your snorkel mask has a detachable snorkel, then step one is to attach the snorkel to the frame. Make sure it is tightly secured so that it stays firmly in place and no water can enter through it.
Next, in order for the mask skirt to seal tightly on your face, you must ensure that it can press against your skin directly. Even a single strand of hair may cause an improper seal, so if you have long hair you should brush it to the side. If you have a big, bushy beard, you can follow the tips outlined here, and if that fails then you just have to shave it off. Sorry fellas. If you have a mustache, however, then you may be able to keep it unless it’s too long on the sides.
Furthermore, put the mask over your face. Don’t worry about the straps just yet. Ideally, the mask should already stay on your face when you are inhaling meaning there is a tight seal already. Now you can pull the straps over your head to ensure the mask will stay on your face.
Lastly, try breathing in and breathing out to test if you have adequate airflow and that the mask skirt remains suctioned to your face.
Can I talk with a full face mask while underwater?
Since a full face mask doesn’t have a mouthpiece, you’d think that you can therefore talk like normal with your face submerged underwater, right? Unfortunately, you’ll find it is not very practical after all. The mask and the water around you will block nearly every sound you make so that it is muffled and unintelligible. Thus, you can’t talk to people with a full face mask on.
Can I clear a full face mask like a traditional mask?
Full face masks cannot be cleared like a regular pair of dive goggles. The design of this type of mask does not let you create pressure inside the snorkel in order to clear it. Whether you exhale with your nose or mouth, all of the air will leave through the snorkel.
For traditional dive masks, you just need to lean back and forcefully exhale through the nose to push out any water that entered.
In the case of a full face mask, you will have to surface and let the built-in purge valve open and drain the water. Thankfully, thanks to the tight seal and fog-resistance of a full face mask, you will ideally not need to even clear it in the first place. Overall, this should not be a concern and is something you will have to get used to if you are moving from a regular mask to a full face one.
Can I wear a full face mask to swim laps?
You should not wear a full face mask to swim laps and why would you? It affords you no practical advantages. In fact, its bulky size and air volume will increase drag when swimming. Any advantage it might offer such as a wider view is offset by negatives such that it isn’t worth it at all. Don’t expect to set any swimming records with a full face mask on.
Are full face snorkel masks safe?
High-quality snorkel masks are indeed safe, yes. The issue is that nowadays there are so many knock-offs. Don’t be lured in by their attractively low price; they are made from cheap materials and don’t last long. Not only that, but they can literally cost you your life if you pass out from oxygen deprivation.
As for water safety, common sense is a must and one should always err on the side of caution. For instance, you shouldn’t rely on a full face snorkel mask to help you breathe if you have asthma and aren’t a strong enough swimmer to stay afloat on your own. Even if you are wearing snorkeling flotation devices to keep you afloat, you should still have some experience with swimming in case a riptide suddenly drags you far from the shore.
When it comes to any risks and dangers that affect full face masks specifically, there are certainly a few things to keep in mind.
The foremost issue is regarding the CO2 issues that some full face snorkel masks may have. Full face masks are designed to transport CO2 (carbon dioxide, i.e. what you exhale) so that you are breathing in fresh oxygen.
With that said, cheap full face masks may not be able to efficiently prevent CO2 buildup meaning you will start to breathe higher concentrations of CO2 instead of oxygen. It’s quite obvious when this is happening, because you will literally be struggling to breathe.
You may start to feel drowsy or lightheaded and this is a sign that you are oxygen-deprived. There have been a few cases where people have died from CO2 buildup, so this is a serious issue. That is why we highly recommend avoiding low-quality knock-offs because you can’t be sure which ones are reliable and which ones aren’t.
Next, sometimes cheaper models have lenses that are made from lower quality materials instead of the gold-standard, shatterproof polycarbonate. While this seems like an insignificant problem, you should always prepare for the worst. What if the lens gets shattered and sharp fragments hit your face or your eyes? Polycarbonate is extremely durable, and if it somehow breaks, it will remain a large piece that won’t scratch you.
Cheaper materials used in budget models will also degrade much more quickly. As you know, the sun’s UV rays can be quite deadly which is why you should protect yourself with sunscreen. When exposed to these UV rays for a prolonged period of time, the cheaper materials on a mask will degrade, become brittle, and eventually crack, causing leaks. You may not save much money at all if you have to constantly replace broken masks.
Another issue is one that affects all snorkels which is that snorkels don’t work if you dive down. Depending on the type of snorkel you have, it may have a valve that automatically seals the snorkel shut so no water can enter. Not all snorkels have a float valve, so water may flood inside.
With that said, since full face masks hold so much air volume, it will cause you to float which makes it harder to dive in the first place. While some view this as a negative, we feel that it can be used to your advantage if safety is your priority. The buoyancy provided by the full face mask discourages reckless diving and helps you stay afloat more easily, thereby reducing your chances of drowning.
Lastly, remember that a full face mask is designed for relaxed snorkeling. Doing any strenuous activities will increase your heart rate which increases oxygen consumption and CO2 buildup. We recommend you wear a snorkel vest and snorkeling fins which will help you stay afloat and conserve energy. All of this will help you snorkel safely and for much longer.
Can my kids wear a full face mask?
Yes, and there are even full face masks designed specifically for children. You can read more about them in this article.
Best Full Face Snorkel Mask: The Verdict
As you can see, there are many factors to consider when purchasing a full face mask. However, if you don’t care about any of that and just want our recommendation, then hands down it would have to be the Wildhorn Outfitters Seaview V2.
Its innovative redesign makes it stand out from other full face snorkel masks in many ways. For one, the positioning of its dry snorkel on the side improves airflow and keeps the lens from fogging up. Two, it looks like a futuristic helmet which may or may not be a bonus for you.
Additionally, it has a side camera mount which is the ideal mounting position because it allows the camera to be submerged underwater. Typically the camera mount is located on top of the mask which means the camera is above water. We don’t know why this design was even a thing in other full face masks, but the Seaview V2 fixes that with its side mount and it just makes so much more sense doing it this way.
Lastly, the Seaview V2 is available at an extremely affordable price. You will find it’s cheaper than most snorkel and mask combos, and even compared to other full face masks, its price point is in the sweet spot. You can’t go wrong with the Seaview V2.
Last update on 2022-11-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API