The number one most important thing while snorkeling is a quality snorkel mask. You can go snorkeling without a snorkel by simply holding your breath but without a quality mask, you won’t be able to see anything underwater. This is similar to scuba diving. Keeping your mask from filling with water will allow you to actually enjoy your time rather than constantly clearing your mask.
In order to make it so your mask doesn’t fill, it is important to know why does a mask leak. We go into the different reasons for this below. Let’s take a look.
1. Fit Of The Mask
This is one of the most important aspects when it comes to the fit of your mask. You should be careful when selecting your mask. Some manufacturers sizing differs from the norm and can contribute to your mask leaking.
Checking the fit of your mask is easy. Simply tilt your head back and place the mask on your head without the strap. Breathe in through your nose and tilt your head forward. If you feel any air movements or if the mask doesn’t stay on your face, it is not the right size. Also, check to make sure your eyes aren’t getting caught off by the edge of the mask.
Nearly every mask has a silicone skirt that creates a barrier that water cannot cross. This is called the skirt. It needs to be made from a highly flexible material so that it can bend and flex with your face. Less expensive masks skirts are made from a hard plastic that will not be able to form a full seal or cause discomfort.
There are three main materials used to make the skirt of quality masks including silicone, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and rubber. If you have a choice between these materials we strongly suggest silicone. It is the best at bending and contouring without causing discomfort. It can also be used in any water situation. PVC can become rigid when in cold temperatures which can cause the seal to weaken.
Since the mask can only bond to smooth surfaces any hair that gets between the skirt and your skin can cause the mask to leak. This means that it is best to have a clean shaven face for men while ensuring women’s hair is tied out of the way. If you still find that your mask is leaking it can even be caused by thick eyebrows.
4. Strap Placement
When you place the strap behind your head, it is important to pay attention to where it sits on your head. Placing it too low can lead to uneven suctioning. Instead, ensure that the mask sits at the crown portion of the head so that tension can be delivered evenly.
5. Strap Tension
The first thing you likely did when trying to troubleshoot out of a leaky mask is to tighten the strap, this isn’t always the best. It may sound crazy but loosening your strap may be what you need. A strap that is too tight has less of an ability to conform to the shape of your face. Try loosening your strap slightly to see if that works.
If you find that your mask leaks only in certain situations keep in mind that smiling can sometimes cause your mask to leak. We know, you’re having fun and want to enjoy yourself. We’re not saying don’t smile while you snorkel, just be aware that this can be a cause if your mask seems to be leaking. You can also try a full face snorkel mask that allows you to smile while snorkeling:)
7. Manufacturer Defect
If you have read through this list and none of these issues seem to apply to you the mask may have a manufacturers defect. Even though companies have a stringent quality control system it is not unheard of a faulty mask slipping through the cracks. Check your mask over and ensure the seals are intact and there are no kinks in your skirt.
What To Do If Your Mask Does Leak
While we look to avoid a mask from leaking, it is important to know how to properly clear your mask if it does fill. This can be easily done by simply tilting your head back, pressing on the top of your mask near your eyebrows and breathing out through your nose. Of course, when snorkeling you can always swim to the surface to clear this as well.
Oftentimes a leaky mask is due to a simple grain of sand. Be sure to always clean your mask adequately after every use to help with this.
- Manufacturing Defect, Law Cornell
Do you have a problem with your mask constantly leaking? Let us know if any of these tips helped you in the comment section below.