Ever since it first hit the market, this mask design has revolutionized the way of snorkeling. Bringing innovative ides as a full 180 degree view, nose as well as mouth breathing and GoPro camera mounts to the table, the full face snorkeling mask has immensely improved the underwater experience.
The vast popularity and demand for the mask have prompted a lot of snorkeling equipment producers to make their own version of it. Right now as of 2018, there are numerous models that vary by price, quality and what they are capable of.
We have put together this guide reviewing the best full face snorkeling masks, those of the highest quality as well as those that you can buy if you are on a tight budget, want something safe for your children or you need optical lens support.
If you have an urgent question feel free to refer to the table of contents below, otherwise, keep on reading so you can have a better grasp on the topic.
Introduction to Full Face Snorkeling Masks
While there are many different options as to what your mask can or cannot do, there are some features that all full face snorkeling masks share.
The masks cover your whole face, from the forehead to the chin. They have a silicone outlining that creates a tight seal. This seal, given the mask is put on correctly, does not let any water enter your mask.
The inside of the mask is divided into two chambers, the viewing chamber and the breathing chamber. The viewing chamber, naturally, comes on the upper part of your face, while the lower chamber seals around your mouth and nose. This means that in a full face mask, if you prefer, you can breathe through your nose, just as you would on land.
The main air supply is through the snorkel, which is incorporated in the mask. This innovative design allows for virtually no snorkel movement whatsoever.
The elastic straps at the back of the mask are there to help you seal the mask to your face.
Why Should You Choose a Full Face Snorkeling Mask over the Traditional Mask
Because of what it brings to the table of course.
First of all what we really like about the full face snorkeling mask is the breathing chamber. While a lot of people are mouth breathers when it comes to physical activity, snorkeling is not at all strenuous. The full face snorkeling mask allows you to switch between mouth and nose breathing unconsciously or use a combination of both, just as you would on dry land.
This brings us to the second point. With no snorkel to bite on, your jaw will no longer get sore. The incorporated snorkel is also good for people with a strong gag reflex.
Having two separate chambers, the full face mask will almost never fog up. You might notice the bottom (breathing) part fog up but this will not obstruct your vision. Gone are the days when you had to spit on your mask while trying to stay afloat using one hand.
Just because you have a mustache, it doesn’t mean you cannot go snorkeling. With the full face snorkeling mask, your man-hair is nowhere near any seals so no leaking can occur.
What is a Dry Top System? Will my face get wet?
The revolutionary dry top system that the full face snorkeling mask utilizes will not let any water come in through the snorkel.
The main part of this system is a float that is inside the snorkel tube. Whenever you dive down or submerge your snorkel in any way, the float rises and blocks the entrance. This way no water can get in. It is built to be one-way so even if you are under water and decide that you want to let some air out, the float will allow it.
Even if water somehow manages to get in your mask, you can easily purge it through the one-way valve at the bottom of the mask. All you have to do is tilt your head backwards.
Having a dry face also means that you can wear sunscreen while underwater. This is especially important for people with sensitive skin prone to sunburns, as it is really easy to burn your forehead during snorkeling.
Is the Full Face Snorkel Mask suitable for Beginners?
In one word, definitely. We might go as far and say that it is more suitable than it’s traditional counterpart.
Why would we say this? Well, the improved design of the full face snorkeling mask removes a couple of things that first time snorkelers usually struggle with.
During the first snorkeling session, people usually need time to get accustomed to breathing only through the mouth. To further complicate things, ,letting air through your nose will cause the seal of a traditional mask to break open and let water in.
Using a traditional mask and snorkel for the first time might cause slight panic for people. Beginners usually can’t keep their hands of the snorkel like their life depended on it. The full face snorkel mask design avoids this through fixing the snorkel on top of the mask. Since there are no moving parts there is no need for re-adjustment. Newer models even have strengthened snorkel support, just in case you bump into something hard.
Having a little bit of water leakage when snorkeling for a long time is inevitable and there are techniques to get it out. The problem is, most beginners wouldn’t be even remotely comfortable with this. With the full face snorkeling mask however, you just need to tilt your head and the water will drain through the one-way valve near the chin area. As easy as that.
Is the Full Face Snorkel Mask safe for Children?
Being much easier to put on and in that manner much more securely strapped, the full face snorkel mask is definitely a parent’s favorite.
Children are also usually less disciplined when it comes to not touching the snorkel, which can lead to some dangerous situations. This is, after all, the breathing apparatus. With the full face snorkeling mask, however, with the snorkel fixed on the top, this will not be a problem.
The dry top system will also prevent any salt water from entering your child’s mouth.
One of our favorite however, is that when you take your kids out for snorkeling, you can actually see their full faces when they spot something. But don’t let us tell you the perks. Listen to what 7 year old Johnny has to say about it.
Choosing the Right Full Face Snorkel Mask
As we mentioned earlier, since they first appeared on the market there has been a variety of full face masks.
As with any other product out there, when it comes to full face snorkeling masks there is no one-size-fits all. You have to choose the model depending on what do you want to get out of your snorkeling experience.
Depending on what do you want to do when snorkeling, you will need to choose a mask that fits your needs.
Best Overall Full Face Snorkeling Masks
When it comes to full face snorkeling masks these models have nailed it. When trying to decide on a model, you need to take three things into consideration.
The sweet spot would be a mask that is made out of high quality materials and has extensive functionality, all the while being safe and easy to use.
With the higher quality comes the higher price tag, but when it comes to snorkeling, it is worthwhile to pay more in order to achieve the ultimate experience.
#1 WildHorn Seaview 180°
As of 2018, the WildHorn Seaview Full Face Snorkeling Mask takes the cake for being the best overall mask design. It comes in 3 sizes (XS – S/M and L/XL) and 10 colors.
The design features a shatterproof polycarbonate flat lens for the ultimate 180 degree experience (hence, the name).
The silicone outlining combined with the elasticised straps will ensure that the mask forms a waterproof seal around your face, keeping it dry while snorkeling.
The dry-top system will not allow any water to come in when you dive down, as well as not pulling water if you accidentaly inhale. This makes it perfect for children.
Due to it’s very innovative anti-fog system, even if some fog does build up while you’re swimming from one location to the other, it will quickly clear up once you lower your pace.
But what really takes the cake with this mask is the GoPro mount in the forehead area. It is highly adjustable and the main advantage over the body or wrist mount is that you always know what you are filming.
The mask is bulky but light at only 1.35 lbs. and makes it very buoyant. On one hand this will keep your head always afloat but might prove to be a problem if you try to dive down. In our experience, you can dive down to 6 ft. using the WildHorn Seaview 180°
Another possible con is that the GoPro mount is quite delicate. It will not damage from readjusting your camera, but you need to be careful when packing it for travelling.
We would absolutely recommend this product to anyone. It is quite safe for children and experienced snorkelers alike. It is made out of the finest quality of materials.
If you are looking for a best all around Full View Snorkeling Mask, then this model is for you. The product also comes with a 1-year warranty and a return policy.
#2 Tribord EasyBreath
Tribord is the company that introduced the full face snorkel mask design after 7 years of development. Many others have copied their success, some to lesser and some to greater extent. But, through focusing on customer feedback, they further improved upon the design and have been constantly improving it.
There are a couple of things that place Tribord ahead of the competition.
First of all, it completely constructed out of hypoallergenic, organic materials. This makes the mask very suitable for people with sensitive skin and for people that are looking to spend longer periods snorkeling.
It comes with a shatterproof polycarbonate flat lens, ensuring a wide field of vision and an excellent peripheral vision solution.
When it comes to the problem of fogging lens, Tribord attacks it directly at it’s root. While other models focus on the speed of defogging on the mask, the Triboard EasyBreath hosts an anti-fog system so effective that the mask will never fog up.
What we really like about this mask, however, is the sturdiness. Unlike the delicate WildHorn Seaview GoPro mount, the Triboard EasyBreath is much more durable.
It still is on the bulky side, but this is compensated by the clip-on system. Every part of the product (the mask, the snorkel and the straps) is completely replaceable. So even if you do manage to somehow damage anything, you can buy easy-to-install and cheap replacements.
The clip on system combined with the sturdiness, make it a perfect mask for travelling.
While there is a GoPro mount, Tribord has placed it in a hook fashion on the forehead area. It is not as adjustable as it’s WildHorn counterpart and if you place the camera there, it might obstruct your view.
Another limiting factor is that in order to cut down costs, the company has resorted to making only 2 sizes (S/M and L/XL) instead of the standard 4. These sizes supposedly cover 90% of the population. This, however, might become a problem if you have an oddly shaped facial features or if you are looking for something for your kids.
The Tribord EasyBreath mask is very suitable for travelling. The clip-on system will allow you to safely pack your mask without having to add extra protection.
It also has easily replaceable parts, which means that you can use this piece of equipment for years, if not decades to come.
The mask is especially recommended for people that want to snorkel for longer periods of time without skin redness and irritation.
The Ocean Reef Aria Combines the designs of the Seaview 180° and the EasyBreath to make a product with unique characteristics. It comes in 4 sizes and 6 available colors.
This full face snorkeling mask design features an advanced dry top system with an extremely effective bottom valve. This means that when water enters your mask (if any), getting it out is as easy as tilting your head.
The design is extremely flexible and durable as well, and it comes with a handy mesh bag for storage. The GoPro mount is safely positioned on the forehead, although it lacks the mobility of the WildHorn Seaview.
Having two separate chambers, the anti-fog system works very well and you will see minimal fogging even while you are swimming at a pace.
The lens are made from shatterproof polycarbonate, that just as the rest of the mask is from completely environmentally friendly, organic sources. Wearing the mask for hours at an end will not cause skin redness or inflammation.
What really makes the mask stand out from the rest of the competition however, are two key features.
The first one is that there are holders on the snorkel itself where you can put chemical lights. This makes it the only mask ideal for sunset snorkeling, traditional or full face.
The other thing that sets this mask apart from the rest, is the option to turn it into a prescription lens mask. By inserting the Ocean Reef Lens Support you can make the Ocean Reef Aria the Full Face Snorkeling Mask that supports optical lens.
The Aria Full face mask is a well-built high-quality all around mask.
The improved sealing mechanisms and being available in 4 different sizes make it an ideal choice for children and beginners.
People with impaired eyesight cannot enjoy snorkeling to it’s full extent, but this is not a problem when it comes to this mask. The optical lens solution provided by Aria Reef is one of it’s kind.
Best Budget Full Face Snorkeling Mask
If you are looking to buy a full face snorkeling mask while on a budget, you would be looking at a mid-range product with the highest quality attainable.
Now since the first design was introduced to the market, there have been many knock-offs, originating primarily from China. While they come at a cheaper price, they usually lack essential features. Either the seal is not watertight, or the dry top system doesn’t work as intended.
Still, the lower price doesn’t always mean you are going to have to set for lesser quality.
#4 OctoberMoon Second Generation
For those looking for the highest quality mask that has a lower price, OctoberMoon second generation is the perfect choice. You shouldn’t think of this mask as the knock-off cousin of some famous brand product, but as separate model that somehow managed to be cheaper. How did they accomplish this is beyound us, since the pros in this mask by far outweight the cons.
First of all, while other more expensive designs struggle with the GoPro mount, the OctoberMoon has it down to a T. It has the both the ajdustability and durability of it’s high-end counterparts.
The mask comes in 4 sizes so getting a mask that would fit a child should also not be a problem. People with irregularly shaped faces might also find this mask more comfortable.
It is made completely from non-toxic environmentally friendly plastic, which makes it a good choice for people with sensitive skin. Having organic materials touching your face also comes in handy if you enjoy snorkeling for longer periods of time, since the mask will not irritate the skin.
The one thing that the OctoberMoon beats it’s competitors in is the snorkel design. Due to the wider snorkel, you won’t be needing to take your mask off when swimming from one snorkeling location to the other.
Since the dry top system is of a bit of a lower quality and you can get leaks from time to time, the OctoberMoon compensates with it’s excellent purge valve system. Simply blowing through your mouth will get all the water out.
The lens are made from hardened plastic, which is twice as scratch resistant as the polycarbonate solution other masks are using. It also comes with a mesh bag for safe storing both at home and at the beach. This makes the lens virtually impossible to damage from sand or the sun.
The mask also comes with a 90 day money back guarantee, so if you are not satisfied with your product you can always return it for a full refund.
With the lens being made from hardened plastic, when viewing through them you will have limited depth perception. In order to fix this the lens are convex. People that wear prescription glasses might feel dizzy after looking through these lens for extended periods of time.
Another possible drawback is that the mask does not feature a brightly colored tube. This will make you harder to spot while snorkeling.
If you want an affordable mask that doesn’t compensate on the quality of the materials used, then this is the right mask for you.
This product was built with the passage of time in mind. With it’s flexible and highly durable design, this mask can potentially serve you for years, if not decades to come.
How to use your Full Face Snorkeling Mask
Full face snorkeling masks are designed with the first time or amateur snorkeler in mind. Snorkeling, by definition means floating on the surface of the water observing the aquatic life below.
This means that you cannot freedive using these masks. This is because first, you cannot equalize pressure as you cannot pinch your nose as you are going deeper. Second, the relatively large volume of air trapped inside the mask makes it very buoyant and it will keep pulling your head back to the surface.
The snorkel design will also not allow as much air flow as the traditional snorkel, hence the full face snorkeling mask is not suitable for swimming. This is unless of course, you are a swimmer doing oxygen deprivation training.
Swimming, or well, moving around at a vigorous pace will cause your breathing to speed up, which in turn will lead to warm air accumulating in the bottom of the mask. Some people find this unpleasant as well.
Unless you pick one of the more durable designs, a full face snorkeling mask requires just as much, if not more care than the traditional mask.
Talking Inside the Full Face Snorkel Mask
For the first time in history, since people started snorkeling, we can now talk underwater. This privilege was previously reserved only for scuba divers with advanced scuba radios but not anymore.
This takes group snorkeling to a whole new level. While in the past you had to float on the water and get the snorkel out of your mouth in order to speak, that was only half of the story. The other person or people from your group also had to be above the water in order for communication to happen.
Well, those days are over. With your mouth free from gripping the snorkel piece, you are now free to talk underwater. Since the design is far from perfect, we are still hoping that someone will get the brilliant idea to insert radios in the full face snorkel masks. Until then, we’re left with muffled, but still very understandable old-fashioned talking.
Check out the video of this guy talking to himself underwater. He actually manages to get himself excited.
How to take care of a Full Face Snorkeling Mask
While there are some key differences between taking care of a full face snorkeling mask and a traditional one, some general principles still apply.
First, unless it’s on your head, there is no need for the full face snorkeling mask to be exposed to sunlight. The lens and the silicone outlining wear down when exposed to heat. The lens will become more prone to scratches and the seal will start failing to create a waterproof seal.
Sand will also cause physical damage to every part of your mask. Just like in a perfect world two cars would never touch each other, your mask should never touch the sand. But this is not a perfect world, and we know that things like these are inevitable. This is why is important to keep your mask off the sand as much as you can. If you do get sand on it, do not wipe it as it will scratch the lens. Rinse it off instead.
Since the lens are especially gentle you must never wash them with toothpaste. Rubbing the toothpaste can scratch and irreversibly compromise them. Rinse them out with water and dish washing soap instead.
Now the all full face snorkel masks have an anti-fog system, but if your face and with it the air on the inside of the viewing chamber is hotter than the water, the glass will surely fog up. In cases like these, it’s best to use anti-fog spray. It is very effective and a bottle will last for a long time.
Before you put it away for longer periods of time, always make sure that your mask is completely dry. Leaving your mask wet or damp can cause mold to build up and this can be very dangerous since you would be inhaling it directly from the source next time you pick it up. Also make sure that the place that you store it is always dry and away from the sun.