Snorkeling is an often-confused hobby. A lot of people wrongly assume Snorkelling is the same as diving, with the same equipment needs, training, and precautions. But this isn’t the case at all.
Snorkeling is done in shallow waters and without any air tanks or masses of overly technical equipment. Snorkeling involves using a specialized snorkel mask and breathing tube to allow you to dive into the shallows for longer bouts of exploring.
The cheaper snorkels you can buy will serve you well for extremely shallow swims, but they are often uncomfortable, poor quality and prone to scratching and breaking. If you are serious about getting into snorkeling, we have prepared a list of the 10 best snorkel masks.
Now, you might be unsure what actually makes a decent snorkel mask. To that end, please have a read of the Buyers Guide below. It will give you more insight into what you are buying and help you understand some of the more technical jargon you will encounter.
Buyers Guide for Choosing the Best Snorkel Masks in 2020
Benefits of a Snorkel Mask
So why can’t you just use your normal swimming goggles and dive down? Why do you need a snorkel mask? Firstly, the nose covering. This is one of the biggest advantages of a Snorkel mask. Nothing is more annoying or sometimes painful that a sharp burst of water up to your nose. It can cause light-headedness and ruin an otherwise fantastic dive. So Snorkel masks combat this completely.
The second biggest advantage is the quality of the glass and the size of the lens. Goggles are restrictive and limiting, designed for focused bursts of swimming. Snorkel masks often use high-quality glass to give you a clear, scenic view of the shallows below.
Thirdly, comfort. Snorkel masks, the proper ones, are designed to fit your head securely and comfortably. No pinching or chafing.
This is something that is often overlooked when purchasing snorkel masks but is extremely important. You might think you won’t crash into anything but it isn’t always easy to control yourself underwater. Not to mention your depth perception will also be skewed. So your mask needs to be durable enough to survive a bit of roughing up.
A key aspect of a masks durability will be the inclusion of tempered glass. Any mask that makes use of tempered glass is automatically going to be stronger and scratch resistant to boot, which is fantastic as scratches are a common issue. Tempered glass is also clearer than normal glass, providing the highest quality viewing experience you can get.
The Silicone Skirt
The Skirt is the part of the snorkel mask that surrounds the lens. It is the soft, often squishy material that rests against your face while you are wearing the mask. The skirt can be made of a variety of different materials, but we recommend you buy one that is made of silicone.
Silicone is one of the more resistant materials, able to survive both extreme heat and the harsh salt of the ocean. Previously, a lot of snorkel masks were made from a generic black plastic. This worked well to seal out the water, but also blocked out a lot of light and created a claustrophobic feeling for the swimmer.
Low Profile Snorkel Masks
If you go into a water sports shop or any diving store, you will see these terms in the snorkeling section. It is a phrase thrown around constantly by marketing teams and up sellers.
A low-profile snorkel mask, simply put, is a mask that sits as close to the face as possible. As opposed to a normal snorkel mask, which would have a fair bit of room between your eyes and the glass, a low-profile mask will cut this distance. The biggest advantage of these snorkel masks is the reduced air content trapped within.
This is a tricky area. Most of the best snorkel masks won’t function with your glasses on, due to the shaping and way they fit your head. You could wear contacts but there is always the risk of water leaking in by accident. But fear not, there is a workaround. There are masks for snorkelling available that can be refitted to meet your prescription needs, meaning you will still be able to see while snorkeling. It is important to look out for this feature if you do wear glasses.
Fitting is very important when it comes to snorkels. A poor fit will lead to leaks during your dive. Not to mention it can be potentially very painful as well. There are a few things you should take into consideration before buying your mask.
Firstly, you need to check how big your head and face are. This might sound odd, but it’s important. Is your face wide or narrow? Is the circumference of your head small or large? Are your eyes close together or far apart?
These might seem like silly things to look at, but they will factor into how well a mask fits. Most masks will come with an adjustable strap mechanism, allowing for a more precise fit, but you will want to make sure the skirting of the mask can fit to the shape of your face and that the glass isn’t to space from the center or too close together.
A mask that is fit too tightly also runs the risk of getting damaged. As more strain is put on the silicone strap, it will weaken and become more susceptible to the harsh saltwater of the ocean.
Cleaning And Maintenance
This is an important part of owning and using a Snorkel Mask. Like any specialized equipment, you need to take good care of it to ensure its longevity. Without proper cleaning, you will find the quality of your mask deteriorating quickly and you will have reduced vision while diving, which defeats the entire purpose really.
To properly clean the glass, you will need:
- Anti-Fog Spray
- Soft Towel
You have probably read that and been very confused at the inclusion of toothpaste. The best snorkel masks are always coated in a special film designed to protect the glass during shipping. Toothpaste will easily remove this.
To start you simply brush the inside with the toothbrush and paste and then rinse and dry it off with the towel. It is vital you get all the toothpaste off. Any left behind could dry and spawn bacteria, which you do not want near your eyes.
You only really have to do this step after purchase. You can do it a few times after, but eventually, you won’t need to anymore.
After that, you need to simply wash the mask in warm water and detergent. You need to make sure you thoroughly clean it, especially after use in saltwater. Any salt left on the mask can cause lasting damage, so this step is crucial. And make sure it is dried and rinsed off properly as well.
After that, make sure the mask is stored in a cool, dry area with no exposure to direct sunlight. We would recommend a mask storage case for extra protection.
This article is going to look at best snorkel masks in 2020 specifically. But there are lots of additional products you can get to enhance your Snorkelling experience.
Some of the more basic products include wet or dry suits. A pair of diving gloves for cold water. Flippers are a great addition to more open water situations, but maybe not as great for reefs. You could also look at getting a diving computer or underwater camera as well if you want to capture some of the memories.
Another great product, that can lead to a fantastic diving experience, is an Underwater Scooter. These nifty gadgets allow you to glide through the water like a master of the sea! They are a fantastic inclusion to any serious divers kit. We have constructed an article reviewing the best underwater scooters for your consideration.
Full Face vs Traditional
While shopping, you may see these new generation snorkel masks that cover the wearers’ entire face. They look like something right out of a Sci-Fi movie. But what are the advantages of these and which product should you look at getting?
The biggest difference between the two mask types is the ability to pinch your nose. This might sound silly, but it is a useful tool for any diver.
As you go deeper underwater, the pressure differential can cause your ears to pressurize. This can be very painful and is normally fixed by pinching your nose. Just like on an airplane. So only the traditional masks allow you to do this.
It is important to note that, for beginners and casual snorkelers, you won’t really go deep enough for this to be a massive issue. So don’t be afraid to purchase either type of mask, you can’t really go wrong. But if you are looking to go further and maybe try some free diving, a traditional mask is best.
So, with all that out of the way, let’s dive right into the products and find you the perfect snorkeling mask.
The Top 10 Best Snorkel Masks
Our first selection is a fantastic all-rounder. Cressi is a mark of excellence in the diving world, creating fantastic products that offer great quality vs price. Let’s take a look.
Starting with the lens. The Big Eyes Evolution uses a raked lens that is held very close to the eyes. It makes use of an inverted drop shape to improve downwards visibility for the user, making it perfect for scanning the views below. The lens can also be replaced with prescription glass, so glasses wears are going to be fine with this product.
In terms of fitting, the lenses are close together and close to the eyes, meaning it is better suited for anyone with a narrow face. The mask itself is made of a high silicone seal, which makes it extremely comfortable. This is paired with the buckles being mounted on their own indestructible element, rather than the mask. This makes it easier to fit. More secure once it is on, and overall provides a comfortable wearing experience.
The mask’s frame is an Integrated Dual Frame, making it extremely resilient and sturdy. It can take a bit of a beating, although we do not recommend trying this out. The product also comes with a handy carry case, which is also a big plus for snorkel masks. The mask weighs 0.76 pounds.
This unit sits neatly at the $73 mark, which is great for what it offers. It is a fantastic unit for anyone just starting out, or someone looking to take a more scenic approach to their snorkeling.
Our next choice is moving into the full-face mask category. And it is a fantastic choice for first-time full-mask users or anyone looking for a cheaper option.
The Seaview 180° has, as you would expect from the name, a full-face lens that provides complete 180-degree vision while submerged. This mask is perfect for those looking to fully immerse themselves in the underwater world. It also makes use of a fog-resistant design, using small vents to make sure you have a clear view of the entire dive.
This unit also comes with a GoPro compatible camera mount, made of a sturdy material to avoid damage. This is perfect for anyone looking to capture a lovely home movie or just record their holiday experience.
The snorkel itself uses a dry-snorkel technology to reduce the amount of water taken in, meaning you can dive for longer without worrying. It is important to note this mask is mainly used for close to surface snorkeling, not freediving.
In terms of fitting, this mask has a few various sizes available, with the product listing a handy sizing chart as well. So measure yourself up and find the size that works for you. It seems this product can’t be fitted with a prescription lens, so it isn’t great for glasses wearers.
Moving up the price range a bit, the Scubapro Synergy 2 is a fantastic product. We have included this product as it is our pick for the best mask to use if you have a beard.
A beard often stops snorkel masks for getting a complete seal on your face and causes leakage. But, the Synergy 2 gets around this by using a double-skirt design that will fit every contour of your face snuggly and securely.
The buckles attach to the skirt, rather than the frame, which is great for transport but can be an issue in terms of comfort. It also means the unit is weaker overall and more susceptible to damage. The mask weighs 0.9 pounds, which makes transporting it a breeze.
The lens itself is a single layer ultra-clear glass, providing a perfect viewing experience. This unit sits at the $130 mark, which isn’t bad for what you get. It is a sturdy unit. If you don’t have a beard, you will be better off with other masks. But for beard users, this is an ideal pick.
This is our best budget pick for the list! If you are looking to conserve your cash, or are just starting out, this is the product for you.
The mask features a low-profile, two window lenses. This keeps it close to the eye and provides a sturdy, secure fit around your face while still offering a fantastic view.
This mask comes with a snorkel as well, so you get the complete set. The buckles on the mask are intuitive and easy to use, meaning you can get a comfortable fit with ease. And the mask only weighs 1 Pound, so transport is simple.
Of course, being the budget options, this mask isn’t designed for longevity or specialized features.
The Cressi Italian is a lovely mask that combines quality with style.
The single-lens makes use of tempered glass to provide extra strength and clarity to the view. All of this is housed within the mask, rather than a frame, creating a seamless design that will stand out.
The mask is fitted with button-press buckles for easy fitting and removal. The sealing is very good, with minimal leakage. It also comes with a dry-top design snorkel as well. The biggest draw of this product is its sleek look. It functions perfectly well as a starter snorkel kit or for more casual use. It weighs 1 Pound, so it is simple enough to transport.
This mask weighs in at the $40 mark, making it a fantastic mask for the price, especially since it comes with a snorkel.
The SCUBAPRO solo is our top pick for the best beginner mask, for a few key reasons.
Firstly, it takes a classic, simple approach to the lens. Using a low-profile, ultra-clear open view lens, the Solo gives a perfect field of vision that works great for people new to the sport. This is all attached to the mask, no frame, making it easier to transport and much more comfortable to wear.
Speaking of the mask, it is made of clear double-sealed silicone. This means no leakage while diving. The strap is designed to be non-slip with an easy to adjust buckle, making the mask extremely comfortable to wear. The mask weighs 0.76 pounds, making it easy to transport.
This mask is ideal for beginners as it offers great protection, no leakage, and is an all-rounder in terms of comfort and lens quality.
Going back to full-face masks, we have the Seaview V2. And this is our pick for the best full-face mask out there.
Boasting all the same lens features as the V1 Seaview, this one claims to offer 20% more visibility while below the water. The biggest selling point of this unit is the snorkel tube itself.
Using their patent Flowtech, the snorkel offers maximum air intake through both mouth and nose. It comes with an auto-drain feature to simply filter out any water that does manage to leak through. All of this is backed up by the anti-fog glass and fantastic anti-leak skirting.
The mask has a variety of sizes available, so make sure you measure up before you up and get the one best suited to your face.
The Scubapro is a fantastic unit for those that like to go a bit better below.
Featuring tempered window lenses, this mask is durable and provides a fantastic field of view while submerged. The lenses are low-profile, so are great for those with a bit more experience or drive to go deeper. The real selling point is the fact the lenses are mirrored, providing greater UV protection and reducing glare.
This is all coupled with easy to use button buckles attached to the skirt to provide a full range of motion while putting the mask on and to ensure it is comfortable while worn. The mask weighs 0.9 pounds.
Sitting at the $120 mark, the Scubapro Spectra is a great product for people with a bit more experience under their belt.
Cressi doesn’t just offer top of the range snorkel products, they aim at the average consumer and beginner too. And the Panoramic Wide View is another example of this.
The mask features a panoramic lens using ultra-clear, tempered glass to offer users a perfect view. The mask is made of hypoallergenic soft silicone, offering unparalleled comfort and ease of fitting for the user.
As with other Cressi products, this mask is a dry-top, meaning it is ultra-resistant against leaks during diving. Great for anyone still unsure about taking that first step into the shallows. The mask weighs 1.2 pounds, which is a bit heavier than most, but not enough to be an issue. And it sits at $50 making it a great budget option.
Best Snorkel Mask for Kids
Snorkeling is a fantastic family activity. Even if it’s just in the shallows by your local beach. And OMORC has the mask set that is perfect for the little ones in your life.
The lens uses tempered anti-fog glass to make sure your children are safe and can see while submerged. Extra effort has been put into making sure the mask is leak-proof, to avoid discomfort.
The skirting is made from food-grade silicone meaning it is both comfortable to wear and contains no trace chemicals that could be harmful to your kids, in case they decide to put the silicone in their mouth!
The unit also comes with a dry-top snorkel that makes breathing below the water easy and safe for your little ones. The adjustable clips on the strap are easy to use and very secure. And all of this sits at the $25 mark, so if you have a family holiday coming up, this will make a great addition to it.