When you're holidaying somewhere tropical and you see kayaking, snorkeling is never far away. If you've never tried snorkeling before, you're missing out on an incredible experience.
Snorkeling opens the door to an underwater paradise you would never have believed existed just below the surface. The marvellous environments you see and the connection with nature you feel is hard to describe in words. That’s why you’ve got to try it for yourself.
So, whether you’re a paddler (intentionally) going below the surface for the first time, or you’re a seasoned snorkeler, we’ve compiled this buying guide to help you find the best snorkel mask for your needs.
Our 5 Top Rated Snorkel Masks
Scroll down to see full reviews!
What to Look Out for When Buying a Snorkel Mask
A word of advice: don’t go cheap and don’t buy last minute. Masks bought from tourist shops while you’re on holiday are absolute junk and only good for the pool.
Here are the common issues with cheap snorkel masks:
- They fog up every two minutes
- You have to readjust the straps constantly
- The mask floods with water
Can you really be bothered with this crap???
Pay bargain basement prices, and you get shoddy masks. Plain and simple.
Unless you live in milder climates or are prepared to brace the elements in a wetsuit, you’ll only get to go snorkeling a couple of times a year at most. You don’t want a second-rate mask to ruin your snorkeling experience on these rare occasions.
Shelling out just a little bit more for a premium mask made from high-quality materials will make a big difference to your underwater visibility and experience.
Okay, rant over. Here’s what you should be looking for next time you buy a mask.
Good visibility is, of course, one of the must-have features of any snorkel mask.
Visibility is determined by the quality of the glass, the style of the mask, and the material properties of the frame and skirt. Let’s look into each of these elements in a bit more detail.
- Lens - First off, check that the lens is of decent quality and made from durable, shatterproof glass and not just cheap plastic. Tempered glass is used in quality masks as it’s difficult to blemish and it can also withstand high pressures. Imperfections on the inside of the mask allow condensation to gather and reduce visibility. You won’t have this issues with durable tempered glass.
- Style - You’ll notice that there are a variety of lens styles available: single pane, double pain, panoramic, and full-face. Premium snorkel masks offer an excellent field of vision, and the style of the mask is more to do with personal preference and fit, rather than the view.
- Skirt - The skirt is the part of the mask that borders the face. Transparent skirts allow light to pass through making it brighter inside and improving visibility. However, reflective light bouncing around in the mask can be annoying and some snorkelers prefer darker shades on the skirt. Again, it comes down to personal preference.
Although you may like the look of a mask, it may not be suitable if it doesn’t fit the shape of your face.
Masks tend to choose you rather than the other way around.
If you have a wide face, a narrow mask that is encroaching on the creases of your eyes is going to be uncomfortable and let water in with face movements. Similarly, you’ll have water ingress if you have a narrow face and choose a wide mask that’s too big for your face.
Our step-by-step guide and video below will show you the right way to fit a snorkel mask.
If you have a mask that is a good fit, then the seal should naturally be tight. You shouldn’t have to overtighten the mask to the point of discomfort to make it leak proof.
The skirt is the part of the mask that borders the face and creates the seal. Review the skirt and make sure that it is made from soft silicone with enough flexibility to mold to the shape of your face.
A properly fitted mask should not leak. However, if water does find a way in, masks that have purge valves will allow you to clear the mask by breathing out through your nose.
It’s much more convenient than having to surface and drain the water out.
If you want to dive even just a couple of metres with your snorkel gear, it’s important that you pick a mask with a soft nose that will allow you to equalize.
Not releasing the pressure can hurt your ears and cause long-term damage and hearing loss.
Low volume masks have minimal air space inside the mask and the lens will be close to your eyes. They have the advantage of reduced pressure when diving and being easy to clear of trapped water.
A low volume mask is only really a concern if you intend on using your snorkel mask for diving.
How to Fit a Snorkeling Mask
With a good fit being crucial to your snorkeling experience, we thought we better tell you how to fit a snorkeling mask. The good news is that it’s incredibly easy and only takes three steps:
- Put the mask on your face but don’t pull the straps over your head.
- Breathe in through your nose and hold your breathe.
- A mask that is a good fit will stick to your face even when you shake your head.
Our Full Reviews Reveal the Best Snorkel Mask
After reading our buyers guide, we hope you feel comfortable knowing what to look for. If you need a little more help, our snorkel mask reviews provide an in-depth look at five of the best snorkel masks on the market. Enjoy!
Tribord Easybreath Snorkeling Mask
The Tribord Easybreath is by far the most innovative snorkeling mask on the market. Numerous manufacturers have tried to replicate its unique design, but the Easybreath is still the best full-face mask out there.
The large single piece lens provides extraordinary 180-degree views. And thanks to the state-of-the-art breathing system, your vision is never going to be interrupted by fog.
Breathing while snorkeling is a sync with this mask. Unlike traditional snorkeling set ups, you can breathe through both your nose and mouth.
The ball valve at the top of the snorkel stops water from entering the airway when the snorkel is submerged. If a small amount of water finds its way into the tube, it gathers at the chin and is easily cleared by blowing.
When you surface, you just breathe in instead of having to clear the snorkel first. It’s much safer and prevents choking - sometimes you just don’t have that last big blow in you.
The only downside, is that this mask is purely for snorkeling and can’t double up as a diving mask. Because the air pocket is around your whole face and not just your eyes, you really notice the pressure even when diving at minimal depths.
All in all, the Easybreath is hard to beat and will suit experienced and novice snorkelers alike.
Phantom Aquatics Panoramic Mask
Offering a wide field of vision and a comfortable fit, it’s easy to see why the Phantom Aquatics Panoramic Mask is so popular.
The tri lens increases your peripheral vision much more than ordinary diving masks, and it’s easy to forget you’re wearing a mask at all. Light floods the mask, keeping it light and airy, and you don’t get that tunnel vision you get from cheap masks.
The lenses are made from toughened glass and the frame is constructed from durable polycarbonate. The Phantom Aquatics mask will stand up to the rough and tumble a snorkel mask ought to.
But the mask isn’t all hard and rigid; the double sealed skirt is made from soft silicone which provides an extremely comfortable fit while remaining leak proof. You don’t have to crank the straps to the point you’re cutting of the blood supply to get a tight seal.
The low volume design also makes it a great diving mask.
The mask comes complete with the Phantom Aquatics snorkel, which is a premium snorkel that features a purge valve at the mouthpiece and a ball valve water seal.
Cressi F1 Snorkeling Mask
The stylish F1 snorkeling mask is one of Cressi’s all-time best-sellers. Featuring a slim frame and large single lens, it offers incredible, crystal-clear views.
The trim frame is also foldable, meaning this mask can be conveniently stored in a dive pouch as a back-up mask. The tempered glass lens is tough enough to be handled carelessly without scratching.
The highest grade of silicone has been used to provide unbeatable comfort and a tight, leak-free fit. It’s soft and flexible and grips the face well, without pressing on it overly hard. The nose piece is made from the same soft silicone which allows you to equalize easily.
The snorkel that comes with the package is Cressi’s Desert Dry Snorkel, which was the first submersible snorkel to be released by the Italian company.
The cut-off valve is very responsive and shuts as soon as the snorkel goes below the surface, allowing novice snorkelers to feel safe and relax.
Swivelling buckles keep the snorkel at a comfortable angle and the small, soft silicone mouthpiece never feels intrusive.
Seaview 180° Snorkel Mask
Similar in design to the Tribord Easybreath, the Seaview 180° is a full face mask that provides incredible vision. You’ll have unrestricted views at the peripheries and above and below the mask.
The Seaview 180 is easy to put on and once in place, it provides a snug and comfortable fit. You won’t have to keep readjusting the mask allowing you to truly appreciate the marine life before your eyes.
Equipped with state-of-the-art dry snorkel technology, you’ll never have to worry about swallowing nasty seawater.
The breathing piece covers both your nose and mouth allowing you to breathe easily through either and making this mask ideal for kids and novice snorkelers. Separating the breathing chamber from the airspace around the lens eliminates fog issues and you’ll always have crystal-clear vision.
The Seaview 180 is a fine piece of engineering that has managed to get aesthetics and functionality spot on.
U.S. Divers Lux Purge Grenada LX Snorkel Mask
After supplying snorkeling and diving equipment to the military, commercial, and recreational sectors for over 70 years, you would expect nothing but the best form U.S. divers. I’m happy to report that the Grenada does not disappoint.
The Lux Purge Grenada is U.S. Divers premium snorkel and dive mask that comes with all the bells and whistles. Featuring four windows and a panoramic design, this mask provides a wide field of vision that rivals any other snorkel mask on the market.
Tempered safety glass and a low volume design make this mask suitable for both scuba diving and snorkeling.
Designed with your comfort in mind, the Grenada features soft, hypoallergenic silicone that molds to fit your face. The silicone creates a very effective seal, but if water does get into the mask, it is easily flushed out by the purge valve at the nose piece.
The Tucson LX snorkel is the perfect partner for this mask, with the hypoallergenic silicone mouthpiece providing a comfortable fit and the swivel attachment keeping the snorkel at the right angle.
A nice little extra that comes with the mask is the neoprene strap. This padded strap goes over the regular elasticated strap and stops it from digging into the back of your head.
The mask is also available with a GoPro camera attachment if you like to record your underwater adventures.
Usually, I only snorkel when I’m on holiday somewhere warm, and I wish I got to do it more often.
Snorkeling is a great hobby that has many benefits; it’s a fun way to get the body moving, you destress as you connect with nature, and it isn’t expensive to get started. All you need is a mask and a snorkel (flippers are optional) and you’re on your way.
Hopefully, our reviews have been helpful and you now have the best snorkel mask for your needs. Now, it’s time to whip the speedos out and get your snorkel on.