Earlier models had the problem of allowing exhaled air to circulate in the mask, leading to hazardous health scenarios. The Tribord was among the first full face masks to design an output for a snorkeler’s breath.
As we can see with the Oceanreef Aria with Walkie-Talkie, these masks have developed quite a bit since, incorporating allergy-friendly silicone and better snorkel attachments.
Buying a full face snorkel mask requires some attention, as there are a variety of sizes, shapes and materials. While past experience from a scuba mask is worth applying it’s another thing when it encapsulates the whole face.
It is important to find a mask which fits your face as it will prevent water entering if the mask is too big, or prevent discomfort if the mask is too small and tight.
Luckily, we have done the work for you. Here are our top tips and things to consider when purchasing your full face snorkel mask.
As full face snorkel masks cover the entire face it is important to select one that is the right size. A mask that is too big will let water in. It’s possible to compensate by opening one’s jaw, but that’s pretty tiring–as our editor can attest.
To measure your face size you will need a tape measure, or piece of string. You will then need to measure from your eyebrows down to your chin. This will give you the length of your face which will help you choose the correct size for the best fit.
Most full face snorkel masks have adjustable straps which will allow you to adjust the mask to fit your face snug. The silicon skirting on the masks will also help with comfort, preventing any water entering your mask.
If water enters into your mask whilst you are using it, then it is advisable to tighten the straps. If this does not help you will benefit from buying another size. The right size of full face snorkel mask ensures ultimate comfort whilst snorkeling.
When purchasing a mask it is also important to note the materials and features of each mask. Most masks have an in-built silicon skirting, this skirting provides extra comfort as well as ensuring that no water enters the masks. The silicon skirting provides an airtight mask. For those with sensitive skin hypoallergenic silicon skirts will be more comfortable and will minimise any irritation which may occur whilst snorkelling.
It is also important to look at the features in the snorkel. A dry top snorkel will prevent water entering into the mask via the snorkel. It will keep the inside of the mask dry. A wave guard will also ensure no water can enter the mask. Snorkeling without a wave guard, or dry snorkel will be uncomfortable as water will enter the mask and fill it, meaning it will need removing an emptying throughout your snorkelling.
Most full face snorkel masks are made with a combination of plastics, some are more durable and heavy-duty than others. This will make them more practical when travelling. The weight of the mask will also be important in ensuring the mask is comfortable, and portable.
Most full face snorkel masks come with adjustable straps. Adjustable straps allow you to fit the mask snug to your face, ensuring no water gets in around the sides. As well as adjustable straps it is important to consider quick-release straps and the materials used to make the strap.
Plastic or rubber straps often tend to keep the mask more secure on the face. However, they also tend to get tangled in longer hair. This can be very uncomfortable when removing the mask as hair can get tied up in the straps. Soft elastic straps are more comfortable for those with longer hair and don’t tug hair when in the water. Soft elastic straps also make it easier to put on and remove the mask.
Finally, some masks include quick-release attachments for the straps. Quick-release attachments are excellent when you want to remove the mask quickly when in the water. You might want to remove your mask in case of accidents, water entering the mask or simply discomfort. A lot of masks go on over the head and therefore are a little more difficult to remove in a rush. Good to note that velcro, quick release attachments can also tug or get tangled in longer hair.
One of the main differences of a full face mask compared with a traditional snorkelling mask is the increase in field of vision. Full face snorkel masks wrap the entire face and therefore give a much larger degree of vision, usually providing a field view of up to 180°.
Although most full face masks provide an 180° field view some are slightly more distorted than others. Distortion in the view is due to the shape and materials used for the window of the mask. Although the distortion is usually on the side it can sometimes be a little distracting when snorkelling. Most masks give a wider field of vision than traditional masks, despite the distortion, thanks to the large full face window on the masks.
One of the most important things to consider when purchasing a full face snorkel mask is how easy it is to breath in. This is very important because if the mask isn’t designed correctly it can have potentially fatal consequences.
To ensure you buy a well designed mask, check that one-way valves are in place in both the snorkel and orinasal mask section. It is also important to verify that the mask seals well on your face to stop water entering the mask.