Traditional Snorkel Mask vs. Full Face Mask: Which one is best for you?

Snorkeling is great fun, but let's face it: snorkeling with the old school style goggles and separate snorkel is a pain. They are not very comfortable and it's a rather unwieldy way of observing ocean life. More often than not, because of this, you end up taking a shorter swim, seeing just a few things, and then heading back up.


The real game-changer? Full face snorkeling masks!  You can greatly extend both your snorkeling time and enjoyment. They're comfortable, easy to use, and they offer much better views!

Product

Summary

Wildhorn Outfitters Seaview 180 v2

Overall Rating - 4.3/5


This is a full face snorkel mask that's different from others you've seen before. Of course, it looks different too, with a unique and intricate-looking design.



Ocean Reef Aria Full Face

Be the first to rate this item


A lot of high-quality full-face masks for snorkeling get downgraded for discomfort. After some period of using them, they inevitably start pushing on your face.




Asmeten Full Face Snorkel

Overall Rating - 4.1/5


This is a great snorkeling mask, especially for people that intend to take turns with it. It’s also one of the few snorkeling masks that’s suitable for both adult and child use, which means it’s an ideal solution for family snorkeling trips.



Tribord Easybreath Full Face



Overall Rating - 4.4/5


The Easybreath is an ideal full face snorkeling mask for beginners, but the quality is more than enough to impress even the most seasoned snorkeling pro. Unlike many other snorkeling masks, this one is super hassling free, even from the start.

Greater Foldable 180


Overall Rating - 4.4/5


As you may infer from the name, this is a foldable snorkeling mask with a 180-degree view. One of the biggest things that sets this mask apart from others is the folding design; hands down, it's one of the best folding masks on the market. 




Advantages of a Traditional Snorkel Mask

Traditional snorkel masks have two main components: the mask that covers up the eyes and nose, and the snorkel that you place in your mouth to breathe underwater. The very earliest snorkelers were thought to be sponge farmers on the Grecian island of Crete some 5,000 years ago who used hollow tubes to allow breathing while they kept their faces in the water to free-dive for sponges. The snorkel masks of today have greatly evolved from that concept and they have consequently become more versatile and effective.

One of the greatest advantages of using a traditional snorkel and mask is that they are readily adaptable for several purposes. They will work well for snorkeling, scuba diving, and regular diving. It has customizable options for size, colors, and any other add-ons that will suit the shape of your face and personal preference. They will help you navigate through the waters effectively while making sure the mask fits properly onto your face.

Traditional snorkel masks typically have a smaller seal against the face to keep the water out of the mask. You also have the option to have prescription lenses built into your mask. These features will help your face stay safe underwater while still letting you be able to see as clearly as possible.

Disadvantages of a Traditional Snorkel Mask

Unfortunately, the traditional snorkel mask has its share of downsides. One of the biggest disadvantages is that there is always a risk that water will be able to get into your mouth through the snorkel piece. That can become a dangerous drowning hazard if you are not careful.

You will only be able to breathe through your mouth when you use the snorkel. The mouthpiece needs to be cleaned frequently to keep it from becoming germ laden and a hazard to breathe through. If this is something you know you will be worried about, find a mask from a brand that you know will work especially well for your own sake.

The two separate parts of the traditional snorkel mask can be a little bothersome, as one piece can easily become mislaid from the other. The traditional mask can fog fairly easily and it has a narrower range of vision than the full mask does. Clear visibility is important for diving and regular swimming, so it is important to have a mask that will be capable of remaining clear underwater.

Constantly having to hold the snorkel in your mouth while you are underwater may cause you to experience jaw fatigue. Jaw fatigue may make it harder to simultaneously breathe and keep a grip on the mouthpiece. Since you are only going to be able to breathe through your mouth with a traditional snorkel mask, jaw fatigue can become a major consideration.

Advantages of a Full Face Mask

Full face masks have become a popular favorite amongst divers worldwide and have given people the ability to breathe through their nose while underwater. This more natural form of breathing helps to keep people relaxed underwater and it can be a good start for beginner divers. You can simply put on the full face mask and be able to breathe as you normally would.

The dual vent systems that are designed into full face masks prevent the mask from fogging up. That, along with the curved lens, will allow your vision to remain clear while you are underwater. This can also contribute to helping divers remain calm.

A full-face mask will also provide your face with a water barrier that will seal around your entire face to keep water out. Straps will hold the mask in place, so there is less concern about losing your mask or the seal becoming loose.

As a bonus, you will not have to worry about your mustache getting in the way if you have one when you choose to use a full face mask. Making facial expressions will also not affect the water barrier seal. Simply put the mask on and enjoy swimming.

Disadvantages of a Full Face Mask

The full face mask sounds like a great option so far, but it is still smart to take note of its disadvantages as well. One of the biggest disadvantages of full face masks is that you will not have the ability to free dive while wearing it. The pressure underwater increases the further down you dive and you will need to equalize the pressure in your ears. Equalizing the pressure is not possible with the full face mask. The mask itself will also create strong pressure on your face as you descend.

Another issue is that using full-face masks will not give you a complete knowledge that you will need for more advanced snorkeling. You will not learn how to equalize pressure in your ears and nose as you descend. The full face snorkel mask can be very hot to wear. The plastic lens of the mask can become scratched and damaged pretty easily, so you will need to handle them very carefully. It is recommended that you keep a full face mask in its special carrying bag and keep it away from the sand and anything else that could damage it. Pack the bag safely when you are traveling as well to protect it.

While this mask is an exceptional start for beginners, people will still need to gain the necessary knowledge if they want to become better at diving.

Product Reviews 

This is a full face snorkel mask that's different from others you've seen before. Of course, it looks different too, with a unique and intricate-looking design.

The actual 'snorkel' piece of a mask isn't at the front like on most masks. It's placed more to the side, just like if you were wearing goggles and using a snorkel separately. This is a nice piece of the design because it gives a more unobstructed view. Breathing-wise, it also helps better circulate your air, without the foggy after effects when you breathe in or out.

The upper tip of the snorkel appears slanted, but it's better for air intake. You can snorkel without tilting your head for fear of flooding your mask. This is what's considered a 'top dry' snorkel. You can even go underwater, as long as you descend at an angle so the valve closes.

Speaking of leaks, this one doesn't. The skirt that seals the mask to your skin is soft enough for extended wear, which is a nice bonus. Here's what you're wondering about: the view.

You can see a lot more clearly with this mask, and with the flat lens, you don't get a distorted view when you look right at things. You get a full 180-degree view with nothing impeding your view, and plenty of comforts.

Pros

  • Much easier to breathe through
  • Separate chambers prevent fogging
  • 20% larger viewing area

Cons

  • Sizing is very important for proper performance, check sizing chart before ordering

A lot of high-quality full-face masks for snorkeling get downgraded for discomfort. After some period of using them, they inevitably start pushing on your face. This mask stands out for most users because of how comfortable the fit is. The edges are soft, and you'll likely forget you're even wearing one of these masks.

This mask is a big step up from the old separate snorkel pieces you may have used before. First, if you've been snorkeling before you know it can be uncomfortable trying to breathe out of your mouth. This mask lets you breathe through your nose. Don't worry, you don't have to sacrifice clarity for comfort; the mask doesn't fog, nor do you have to spit in it before your dive to keep it from fogging up.

The snorkel is a ‘dry’ snorkel, meaning it won’t let water in, and the valve closes if it’s submerged. This is a really valuable feature in snorkeling masks, but this Ocean Reef is even more convenient.

Most masks have a valve you can open if water gets into the snorkel to release it. It's effective but takes time out of your snorkeling adventures. With this mask, all you have to do is breathe out, and the water will discharge from the snorkel.

Pros

  • Very soft and comfortable for most face shapes
  • Uses dry snorkel design to keep water out
  • Stays fog-free with no prep 

Cons

  • Mask can’t be equalized for free diving

This is a great snorkeling mask, especially for people that intend to take turns with it. It’s also one of the few snorkeling masks that’s suitable for both adult and child use, which means it’s an ideal solution for family snorkeling trips.

It’s so easy to breathe with this mask on, you won’t notice a difference from how you breathe on dry land sans mask. The reason that natural feeling is so important? You can snorkel for significantly longer than with other snorkel masks, and make the most of your trip. It’s also really easy to use and adjust, so even kids can use it without trouble (although you should still always check the fit and use for safety).

It seals well, and quickly so you don’t need to worry about water leaking in, even if you decide to dive underwater. If you do end up diving, you’ll love how quickly the water clears out of the mask.

It uses separate breathing chambers, and a specially formulated lens so you'll never have even the smallest amount of fog blocking your view. Add to that, the 180-degree view and super clear lens, and you have a winning combination. The Asmeten snorkel mask is an easy, accessible way to get a breathtaking view of the underwater world you’re exploring; whether you’re snorkeling for the first time or you’re an old pro, this full face snorkel mask is a rewarding investment that’s certain to please.

Pros

  • Super clear, 100% fog-free lens
  • Suitable for children, adults, and all face/head shapes
  • Stays dry, and drains quickly after diving underwater

Cons

  • Doesn’t work well with facial hair, glasses, or earrings

The Easybreath is an ideal full face snorkeling mask for beginners, but the quality is more than enough to impress even the most seasoned snorkeling pro. Unlike many other snorkeling masks, this one is super hassling free, even from the start. The band at the back is wide, which is nice since smaller, thinner bands tend to twist and tangle.

The view is impressively clear with this mask, and fog doesn't stand a chance. It's so effective at keeping fog away that it's guaranteed to be 100% fog-free. That's because this is the only snorkeling mask available that has two, completely separated air channels (which also makes breathing easier).

The snorkel has a special design that sets it apart too; it comes with an extra ring seal to ensure your mask stays completely dry inside. The snorkel is dry, and won’t let water inside the tube if it’s accidentally submerged. The next part of the snorkel is what makes it great for vacationing snorkelers: it folds and detaches for easy, compact storage.

While it is convenient to detach and store, don't worry about the snorkel coming loose when you take it out for a swim. It comes with a special locking mechanism on the snorkel (and the design on this mask model has been further improved, and double locks), so you'll never worry about the snorkel detaching and flooding you with water while you swim.

Pros

  • Designed so well it’s won the Oxylane Innovation Award
  • The locking system on the snorkel keeps it from detaching or loosening while swimming
  • Soft, hypoallergenic silicone seal

Cons

  • Not intended for fast swimming; use at a slower pace for snorkeling

As you may infer from the name, this is a foldable snorkeling mask with a 180-degree view. One of the biggest things that sets this mask apart from others is the folding design; hands down, it's one of the best folding masks on the market. So if you're traveling and need a convenient, compact mask to take along, this one will be the perfect fit.

Something worth mentioning is how durable it is. The folding design reduces chances for damage while you're traveling, but this mask is a long-lasting piece of gear.

You get a lovely panoramic view of everything under the sea, without worrying about fog getting in the way and ruining your fun. The wide view is perfect for any snorkeling environment and gives you the largest visual field possible.

The lens is somewhat curved, giving a ‘fish-eye' type of view. While some snorkelers may prefer a flat lens, just as many appreciate the curved lens for the magnification it gives you to different spots in your view. Of course, that does come down to personal preference, but it's more similar to the type of view you get with traditional snorkeling (although with a much wider viewing area).

If you're a traveler that likes to share snaps of your adventures, this feature was made for you:

This mask comes with a camera mount included, and you can easily attach and detach it as needed. You can use it in a couple of different ways too; hook up your camera or go pro to the mount, or detach the mount and use it by hand (much like high tech, underwater selfie stick).

The Greater snorkel mask is a high performer that's virtually guaranteed to please every snorkeler, of any age or experience level.

Pros

  • Includes detachable camera mount, also usable by hand
  • Exceptional folding design
  • Comfortable and durable

Cons

  • May leak slightly with thick facial hair (goatees and mustaches don't seem to be an issue)

Conclusion


While the full face mask is an amazing starting option for beginners, traditional snorkel masks can be good for expanding your knowledge and learning more skills. If you want to go free diving then the traditional snorkel mask may be the better option, but the full face mask may be better if you simply want to enjoy swimming while breathing freely and naturally.

Whichever option you end up choosing, make sure the one you get will be able to fulfill all of your needs and that you will remain comfortable while swimming with it. Safety and comfort are essential for swimming and diving, so your mask will have to provide both effectively.

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