Snorkeling is a fun and relaxing water activity that anyone with basic swimming skills can enjoy. Imagine floating face down for hours watching the fish and other marine life below you. A few smooth kicks and you can follow anything that interests you. Snorkeling is easy to learn and only requires a few items of gear. A mask, fins, and a snorkel. Unless it is the first time you are trying snorkeling, buying your gear is less expensive than renting. Often two rentals will be more than the cost of a snorkeling set.
The purpose of the mask is to provide airspace between the eyes and the water. This will allow the eyes to focus as well as protect them from saltwater and anything floating in the water. There are a few different basic designs that each have their pros and cons. Full face masks are becoming increasingly popular. Which design is best for you is often just a personal preference.
We have found the best snorkel masks for your next snorkeling adventure and compiled them in a list below. Whether you find yourself in the heat of the summer headed to the shore, or you are packing for your next tropical vacation. This will ensure your next vacation is unforgettable!
How To Choose The Best Snorkel Mask – Buying Guide
The masks on our list vary drastically in design however they all have a few key features that you will want to look for in your next mask.
This is one of the most important features of a mask. Ensuring your mask fits comfortably will make you want to use it more often. Many scuba/snorkeling masks come with an adjustable strap that will allow you to have a personalized fit. This will go a long way to making you feel more comfortable under the water. When your mask fits comfortably, chances are it will sit closer to your face and therefore work better.
Related Review: Scuba Masks
There is a lot of condensation build-up in snorkeling masks that over time will cause your snorkel to fog up. This is caused by sweating, and by your nose. Luckily, there is an anti-fog technology that masks are treated to prevent this from happening. This is important as it will greatly obstruct your view and you will find yourself having to surface often and wipe out your mask. Opting for a higher-quality mask that has an anti-fog system will allow you to effortlessly get more from your snorkeling experience.
Range of View
There are more styles now than ever before for masks from frameless to wide-angle. This is the most important consideration as to when snorkeling your main goal is to see all the life that is buzzing underwater. The full face masks offer the most range of view being that you can see a full unobstructed 180°. This is highly desirable but is not the only way to do this. Most masks will give you a wide-angled view and sometimes even an exceptional downward view. A frameless design will also help you to see even more while underwater.
All masks will have seals that allow them to sit tightly against your face. The quality of these seals is important to ensure that you do not have water entering your mask. Water entry will cause your mask to fog, water to pool at the bottoms and force you to surface and clear your mask often. Your goal is to have a clear unobstructed view of the amazing underwater world and the only way you can do that is by being able to see. When water gets into your eyes, specifically saltwater, it will burn your eyes and make the experience much less enjoyable. Opting for a mask that has strong and durable watertight seals will make your experience underwater much more enjoyable.
As a lot of the masks on our list have a snorkel included either by a design or as an included bonus you will need to know some features of the snorkel to look for as well.
This may seem weird as you are going to use it in the water but this is the most important feature to look for. A dry snorkel will have a valve at the end of the tube that sits outside of the water. This valve will ensure that no water enters your snorkel. This is an important safety feature as you do not want to be swimming in the ocean and inhaling some water if a wave comes and starts choking. This is especially important for kids and not so strong swimmers.
This type of snorkel is great for waves, unintentional splashing as well as purposeful dives. Having a dry snorkel gives you more range to your snorkel as well as you are free to dive deeper underwater without fear of water entering your snorkel.
A wet snorkel on the other hand allows water to enter. Clearing the water from your snorkel when you surface is an easy skill to learn, and some wet snorkels also have a purge valve making it effortless. Scuba divers use wet snorkels mostly as a dry snorkel will also flood if the mouthpiece is out of your mouth.
As snorkeling gear is most often used on vacations, you will want to look for a snorkel set that can fold down compact enough to fit into your luggage. This will allow you to bring your snorkel gear with you everywhere you go. The flexibility does more than just that, it also ensures that your snorkel sits comfortably in the water. Being easy to adjust to your ideal position will prove very valuable when snorkeling. Finally, when using it for diving purposes you can easily twist your snorkel out of the way to make way for your regulator.
This is a large one-way valve at the base of your snorkel that will make cleaning a breeze. For those snorkels that aren’t dry snorkels, it will also make it easy for any water to escape your snorkel when needed.
The mouthpiece of your snorkel must fit comfortably in your mouth. We recommend opting for a flexible silicone piece that is small enough to fit into your mouth with ease. Opting for a flexible snorkel will allow you to get the most comfortable fit as it will not pull your mouth in a certain direction. Mouth fatigue is the reason that so many snorkelers have to stop before they are done so make sure that yours fits you comfortably.
One of the biggest parts of snorkeling is your mask. This will allow you to see all the beauty of the underwater world. Having a mask that fits properly and works as it is supposed to will greatly reduce your stress. We have answered some of your questions regarding your mask that will help you get the most of your experience.
Q: How Does A Snorkel Mask Work?
A mask uses suction and a strategically placed piece of flexible material (usually hypoallergenic silicone) to ensure no water enters your mask. Good quality and properly fitted masks will let you explore as long as you want without leaking or fogging. This is done by utilizing the piece of silicone which will fit around your eyes, below your nose, and along your cheeks and create a pocket of air. It will be flexible enough to move with your face as you smile or move your mouth and maintain the seal it creates.
Q: How To Clean A Snorkel Mask?
This depends on a few things. If you are swimming in salt water you will need to clean your mask using freshwater. This can be as simple as fully submerging it in the water. You need to get the salt off the mask which can cause it to deteriorate.
No matter where you are swimming you want to ensure that there is no debris on your mask before you store it. If there is sand stuck to your mask, for example, it will act like sandpaper. You will get home to find that your mask is scratched – something you want to avoid.
You don’t need to spend loads of time cleaning your mask. Simply ensure that it is thoroughly rinsed if you are in saltwater and free of debris.
Q: How To Keep A Snorkel Mask From Fogging?
There are a couple of ways you can keep your mask from fogging up while you’re snorkeling. The first is by simply spitting into your mask and rinsing it in the water. It may seem gross but it gets the job done. If this doesn’t sound appealing to you use some baby shampoo. A small travel-size plastic bottle will last your entire vacation.
You just need a little on the tip of your finger. Rub it over the inside of your lens. Be sure to have a thin coating over the entirety of the lens. Any part that you don’t cover has a higher chance of fogging. When you are done simply rinse the excess off in the water. Don’t rub the lens with your fingers, just swirl the water gently.
These are inexpensive ways to ensure your mask doesn’t fog. Of course, if you are renting your mask you can ask the shop for some defogging spray. But if you are in an isolated area these tips will ensure you have the best time possible.
If you have a new mask, it needs to be cleaned before you use it. While being made, the lenses are often coated with a thin film of oil to protect them. One of the best ways to remove the oil is by using toothpaste. Use standard toothpaste without added items like whiting agents. Use the same practice as for treating the mask for defogging.
Q: How To Wear A Snorkel Mask?
Wearing your mask properly doesn’t take too much effort. If your mask fits properly you are ¾ the way to getting in the water. However, there are some things you should keep in mind on your next snorkel trip. You should never wear your mask on your forehead, especially if you are in choppy water as it can easily get knocked off. Most masks don’t float which can leave you with a lost deposit or buying a brand new mask. Instead, if you need to take it off, wear it around your neck.
It will also take some time to get used to not being able to breathe through your nose. Before you get in the water put your mask on and get used to breathing through the snorkel. Once you feel ready, wade into the water and put your face into the water while breathing through the snorkel. Not only will this ensure it works properly, but also instill some confidence before you take the plunge for real.
Q: What Size Snorkel Mask Do I Need?
To find the right size mask you will want to try on a few different types. At first glance when holding the mask to your face, you will be able to tell if the mask will cut off your eyes at all. If it does, this is not the one you will want to have. When you find one that looks like it is a contender, you will want to test it. Move the strap to the front of your face and hold the mask up to your face. Tilt your head back and take a deep breath in suctioning the mask to your face. Lower your head to a normal position and make sure that it stays on your face without letting air in. If air can get in, so can water and this mask will not work for you.
Q: Why Does My Snorkel Mask Leak?
Most often, your snorkel mask is leaking because you aren’t wearing the right size. To rule out all other problems, first, you will want to remove the mask and thoroughly inspect the integrity of the seals. Sometimes, a simple grain of sand or bend in the mask can wreak havoc on your snorkel experience. You will also want to make sure that your hair isn’t in the way, you aren’t wearing glasses, your strap is on tight enough, and that the mask is centered in your face properly. Also, make sure the strap is not too tight. When the strap is too tight, it will put pressure on the skirt and allow the opening to appear. When you are sure it is not a simple error, check the sizing. You may simply be wearing a mask that is too small/large.
Caring For Your Gear
As snorkeling gear is most often used in saltwater, there are a few cleaning procedures you will want to follow to ensure the longevity of your gear. As with all your gear that makes it into saltwater, you will want to rinse your gear. Using warm freshwater, give your mask and snorkel a quick 30-second rinse and allow it to air dry. This will stop the corrosion effect that salt build-up will have on your gear. After your gear is dry, you can pack it away as long exposure to the sun can warm the seals as well as melt the plastic or silicone used. This quick care routine will allow you to enjoy your snorkel gear for years to come.
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Snorkeling is an excellent way to get out in the water and explore the impressive world underwater. This has been a long-time favorite summertime activity. Being that you do not need a lot of gear, it is an affordable way to have fun for the whole family. Having your snorkeling gear, including a mask, will ensure that you and the family can have fun in the water whenever the mood strikes. Any of the masks on our list are guaranteed to take your next vacation to the next level.
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Do you snorkel often? Have you tried a mask on our list? Chat with us about the key features you look for in a dive mask in the comment section below.