The best snorkel masks to discover a world of underwater creatures
You must have done it on vacation before: swimming around with swimming goggles on and a snorkel in your mouth to look at the bottom and the fish that swam underneath you and secretly hoping to see a real “snork” someday.
Often you used the cheap diving kit and other accessories you bought at the campsite store or just at the beach, where the water regularly ran into your goggles and your snorkel fell out of your mouth because it wasn’t attached anywhere else.
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However, now that you’re older and can afford better toys (unfortunately not enough time for now 😉) and a better snorkel mask (which are also a bit more developed by now), it can make a world of difference compared to the experience you used to have.
Not that you immediately have to buy a gigantic expensive snorkel mask, I’m certainly not going to mention masks above $ 100, then you should check out the professional dive stores. Here I’m going to talk about snorkel masks for people who do it for relaxation and not every day lying in the sea to study the bottom and write reports about it.
What should you know before you purchase a snorkel mask?
There are several things you should know and consider before buying a snorkel mask. You want a mask that suits you, fits well and is of good quality. That’s why I will tell you below what to look out for when you buy one, so you can be sure that you have a good mask.
The most important thing of course is that your snorkel mask fits perfectly, you don’t want to go back to the situation of the past where the water runs into your glasses and you don’t see anything anymore. The rubber / silicone part of the mask should fit your face perfectly and form a waterproof connection.
If there is even a small opening you have to constantly go up to let the water out, which defeats the purpose of snorkeling. You want to float in the water in your horizontal position and watch what’s going on underneath you, without having to stand up straight again and again to empty your snorkel mask.
In addition, the mask will fog up when you remove it from your face, because new moist air enters the mask and condenses against the cold inside of the lens. The more air enters, the more condensation you will get inside the mask.
Never choose a mask based on how it looks and the cool look, but on a good quality and fit. Read reviews from others about how the fitting of the mask is and find the best snorkel mask for you.
General rules for a well-fitting snorkel mask
Wide fitting: In general, the larger the rubber / silicone part of the mask that connects directly to your face, the better the fitting and waterproofness of the mask will be.
Material: The best masks have a fitting made of silicone. Rubber becomes more and more brittle and will show cracks, silicone masks are a lot more durable.
Peripheral view: Some masks give you a tunnel feeling, because the glass surface is small and the closure is very inward. Because of this you can’t see what’s happening next to you, while you want to get everything. Avoid seeing too little and choose a snorkel mask that gives you a wide view.
Condensation-free lens: Nowadays there are many snorkel masks with a condensation-free lens, which barely fog up to keep your vision crystal clear. Better vision is always better!
Glass coating: Some lenses are made to increase underwater brightness under less than perfect light conditions. This is a special coating that makes your vision sharper and clearer by reducing glare and filtering certain types of light. If you really want a luxury snorkel mask, then this is definitely a factor to take with you.
How do you prevent your mask from fogging up?
In addition to the already mentioned condensation-free lens that ensures that your snorkel mask will not fog up so quickly, there are a number of things you can do yourself here.
Make sure the mask fits well: You knew this was coming when you read the section above. The fit of the mask is the most important thing and it must be good.
Do not take off the mask: Avoid putting on and taking off the mask while snorkeling. Once you have put on your mask, leave it on until you have finished snorkeling. Each time you take it off, new air enters the mask and condenses on the inside of the lens. Also try to breathe out as much as possible through the mouth to avoid new air in the mask.
Use anti-fog agent: Probably the first time you see the word anti-fog agent. Apply this liquid substance to the inside of the lens to prevent condensation. This agent works well, but together with the above two steps! Some examples of these anti-fog agents below.
Traditional Snorkel Mask or Full-Face Mask?
There are two different types of snorkel masks available on the market. You have the traditional mask that covers your eyes and nose. This is the well known example of the old days, where you had the snorkel separately and put it in your mouth.
With the full-face mask your mouth is also covered by the mask and the snorkel is integrated. Why and when should you choose a traditional snorkel mask or a full-face mask and what are the advantages and disadvantages of both types?
- With a traditional mask you can take off the snorkel separately and you can also swim / dive normally with the mask on, with a full-face mask this is not possible, this is only meant for snorkeling.
- A traditional snorkel mask has the rubber band that you put around your head to keep it in place. With a full-face mask, the pressure must be distributed more evenly over the entire face, so it has a double band. As a result, a full-face mask will be more securely in place than a traditional snorkel mask.
- If water enters a full-face mask, there is a valve in it that allows the water to work its way out by itself.
- Full-face masks are less likely to be fogged up because of the technology, which is not the case with traditional masks.
- The full-face masks have a wider view and are less likely to cause tunnel vision. Disadvantage again is that there is a larger glass area that can get scratched, so the mask needs to be well maintained.
- Traditional snorkel masks take up a lot less space in your suitcase than a full-face mask will.
- Full-face masks have more parts and the mask will have to be replaced when the snorkel breaks down, where with a traditional mask you only have to buy a new snorkel.
So both types of masks have their advantages and disadvantages, where you have to weigh what you prefer. In terms of snorkeling and its quality, the full-face mask has many advantages and I would definitely recommend this for the best snorkeling experience.
Breathing while snorkeling
It is important that you can keep breathing well while snorkeling. If you’ve ever tried it with an uncomfortable snorkel in your mouth you’ll remember that it wasn’t very nice.
With a full-face mask you can breathe normally because of the built-in snorkel. So no more suffering from a stiff jaw because you have to keep the snorkel in place. The pipe of the snorkel protrudes just above the water, most snorkel masks have a dry-top.
A dry-top means that no water can enter, so if a wave passes over it that’s not a problem. Of course you shouldn’t go all the way under water with it, then no oxygen will come in.
If water does come in, it goes straight down into the mask and out again through the valve. So it does not accumulate in the glasses. With a good snorkel mask you can continue to breathe normally and do not suffer from too little air in the mask.
Safety of Snorkel Masks
It seems like full-face masks are the best snorkel masks for beginners, they will also give you the best snorkeling experience and the best visibility. If this is your first snorkel mask, however, you should keep in mind that you don’t immediately panic if water runs into the mask.
Always stay snorkeling on the surface and return immediately with your head above water if you’re afraid you’re going to get into trouble. Panic caused by water in your mask and at the same time not being able to feel the bottom should always be avoided.
If you panic and start breathing faster, CO2 will quickly build up in the mask and it becomes even more difficult to get air. Exercise with calm breathing when water comes in and practice so that you don’t get disoriented. That’s why you shouldn’t go swimming fast or be very active, a full-face mask isn’t suitable for that.
Don’t have any experience with snorkeling yet? Then preferably go into the water together. If the other person sees that you are in trouble, he/she can always help you. In the beginning you should also choose shallow water, so you can stand up if necessary.
The Best Snorkel Masks
After giving all the information about choosing a snorkel mask, we can now finally choose a suitable snorkel mask. Because I focused on the best performance for snorkeling I only included full-face masks.
These offer the best experience, are less likely to fog up and give you the time and space to snorkel quietly and take a good look at everything underwater. Below I indicate what my favorite snorkel masks are, what the advantages of these masks are and where to buy them.
Ocean Reef is a well-known brand for snorkeling and offers very high quality items, such as this Ocean Reef Aria QR+, the ultimate snorkel mask. The dark silicone connection ensures that your face is completely sealed and absolutely no water will enter.
As said, silicone masks are better than rubber and will last a long time. Because of the dark seal the light will reflect less in your eyes and you will have better visibility under water. The material is very soft and comfortable on your skin and is fine to wear.
The straps for attaching the mask can be fastened with a click system, which is a lot more convenient than using a strap like you used to do 😉.
You can easily breathe inside the mask and because the snorkel’s airflow is good, no CO2 will build up inside the mask. The mask comes with a holder for an action camera, so you can record your underwater adventures and look back later.
Available in small, medium or large, so you have the right size to fit your face. Measure the distance between your eyes and chin to find the right size.
- 10 – 11,5 cm = Small
- 11,5 – 12,5 cm = Medium
- 12,5 – 14 cm = Large
The mask is available in black, white, blue or orange. Which one are you going for? (I can’t resist the Stormtrooper look of the white one, although Darth Vader is also a nice option).
The Tusa Black Series is also a very nice snorkel mask of high quality, which is slightly cheaper than the Ocean Reef Aria QR+. Just like the Ocean Reef mask, the Tusa Black Series offers a 180 degree visibility and a good drainage of CO2.
So the mask will not fog up and you can just breathe naturally. Because of the top-dry snorkel you can’t suddenly splash water in your mask, only air goes outside.
This snorkel mask is slightly cheaper than the Ocean Reef Aria QR+ due to two factors. The Tusa mask doesn’t have a click system for attaching the mask, so pulling the straps a little less easy and you can’t just click it in.
In addition, this mask does not come with a holder for an action camera, so if you want to film under water you will have to arrange something yourself. These two factors justify a price difference of $20 with the Aria QR+, but this is still a very good snorkel mask that everyone will have a great experience with.
This mask is also available in three sizes, these work the same as I have indicated with the Aria QR+ in terms of size and choice.
Now it’s time for my budget alternative again, in case the above snorkel masks seem to be just outside your budget. The Vaincre Snorkel Mask does have a similar design as the previous two, but you’ll immediately notice that it’s a more budget version.
This mask is also made of silicone so that it fits well on your face, visibility is 180 degrees and air is relatively well drained. In addition, like the more expensive masks, it uses an anti-condensation system and a top-dry snorkel, which makes you see most of the benefits of the other masks.
You can immediately see that the fixing strap is a little less easy to stay in place and more difficult to secure. A click attachment like the Aria QR+ is of course not to be expected with such a cheap mask, but this can be improved.
Because the Vaincre snorkel mask contains slightly less advanced techniques for air extraction and water tightness, it is a cheaper model. However, it is also lighter, the Vaincre mask weighs about 475 grams, where the Tusa weighs about 775 grams and the Aria QR+ about 1 kg.
Conclusion Snorkel Masks
There are many high quality snorkel masks on the market. The most important thing is that you find a snorkel mask that fits well around your face, is waterproof, lets you breathe easily and won’t fog up easily.
If you’ve read the article above you’ve already figured out what to pay attention to, but most importantly, repeat it again:
Buy a snorkel mask in the right size, for the Aria QR+ and the Tusa you measure the distance between eyes and chin. See the table above.
A snorkel mask should always fit your face perfectly and never let water in. The better the mask, the longer you can keep snorkeling without problems.
Choose good quality and durability, so you can enjoy it for years to come and watch all those beautiful fish and marine life without interference!
Have fun snorkeling (and that story of Captain Ortega might well be true)!
Do you snorkel more often and do you have a snorkel mask that is your favorite? Where would you like to snorkel again (Zakynthos (Greece) among the sea turtles <3)? Let me know in the comments.