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A mask is the first piece of snorkel gear we recommend snorkelers buy for themselves. Why? Well, a mask that doesn’t fit properly will fog and leak, and has the potential to ruin a snorkel session. On a recent snorkeling trip around Fiji, one of our friends had to drop out of the snorkel excursion because his mask kept leaking–he missed out on seeing a sea turtle and a white tip reef shark. In this guide, we’ll cover the best snorkel masks on the market and show you exactly what to look for when choosing a snorkel mask for yourself.
*If you do buy a snorkel mask online, make sure the shop as a good return policy. Masks that perfectly fit one person might not fit another. At the end of the reviews, we’ll show you how to tell if a mask fits or not.
While classified as a low profile snorkel mask, the Cressi Pano 4 has a large frontal view courtesy of the 4 tempered glass lens that wraps around the front of the mask, creating a panoramic view. This is one of the few snorkel masks that offer peripheral vision. However, if you’re used to snorkeling with standard snorkel masks, this might take a few swim sessions to get used to. This is one of the most polarizing masks among The Salt Sirens writers. Some of us love having a full view of what’s in front of us while others find it a little jarring. This mask fits those with medium to large facial profiles.
This modern low profile snorkel mask is a frameless mask with a single tempered lens that creates large field of vision. Thanks to its sleek design, the Scubapro Solo has a minimal water resistance, reducing drag and increasing your motion freedom. The skirt is made from silicon rubber with a double feathered edge that provides more facial seal. The straps provide further facial seal as it uses a wide split and non-slip silicon strap.
A frame is a traditional mask component that mainly holds the lens. But as scuba brands progress with their product development, frameless masks are becoming more and more popular. Using high-grade silicon, the skirt of this mask molds and holds the single tempered glass. This in turn allows you to fold the mask mask, making ideal for storage and travel.
This is one of the most comfortable snorkeling masks, and we like the soft silicone skirt. This mask has an opaque version that eliminates reflective light during sunny days.
Some masks have a wide open lens that can feel blinding by the bright reflection of the sun. This is especially the case if you’re one who never goes outside without their sunglasses. The Atomic Subframe Mask has addressed this with the use of an anti-reflective lens. Still classified as a tempered glass, the lens of this mask reduces eye strain and glare creating clearer and crisper vision.
Aside from its anti-glaring features, this snorkel is unique since it uses a subframe. This means it has an internal frame that is molded beneath the silicon skirt. It also has a stainless steel retainer that holds the lens in place and adds strength particularly in the nose pocket area.
If you are looking for a snorkel mask that has a wide and large frontal view, the Tusa M1001 Freedom is a worthy contender. It uses a large single tempered lens that has a wide field of vision. And despite having a large lens, it is still a low profile mask considering its size.
Aside from the lens, the skirt of this snorkel mask is also notable. It has a dimpled skirt made of silicon and has a varied thickness, a feathered edge and stability ridges that prevents skirt flopping and folding. The buckle system of this mask that holds the mask strap is also unique since it is not fixed and can rotate up to 180 degrees.
If you want a highly versatile mask, check out the Phantom Aquatics Rapido. This mask has several versatility features. First, it can fit most faces and facial contours, great if you are swapping masks around family members. The silicone skirt is also soft, flexible, and hypoallergenic, providing a comfortable and secure feel. The snorkel mask is also easy to adjust hanks to rapid action buckles. Press it and it will loosen up. Tightening the straps only requires a gentle pull of the mask strap with a single hand.
Are you looking for a snorkel mask that has a combined feature of superior comfort, exceptional visibility and frameless, the Dive Rite ES155 is a worthwhile choice. This snorkel mask uses ultra clear tempered glass encased in a silicone skirt. Aside from providing a secure facial seal, the silicon skirt is noted for its superior comfort that is made possible through its soft matte finish. This soft silicon quality is also evident in the nose pocket where a gentle pinch, allowing you to equalize if you want to take this mask freediving or scuba diving.
This is one of the best lightweight snorkel masks on the market. There are several features that make the Oceanic Shadow snorkel mask lightweight. First, it is frameless. Second, it only has a single tempered lens molded into the soft-quality silicon skirt. Third, the mask strap is made from a lightweight neoprene rubber that is molded by a central head support which makes it very easy to wear and does not tangle with your hair.
The name “Ghost” was given to this Scubapro snorkel mask due to its low volume profile, frameless and lightweight characteristics. It has a single tempered glass that offers a superb field of view. It has no frame and the lens is directly wrapped into the silicon skirt which is very comfortable and soft to the skin. The nose pocket of this snorkel mask is highly pronounced so that you can easily pinch your nose with a gentle press even if you are using diving gloves. For ease of wearing, this mask uses a wide split head strap that is highly elastic yet sturdy enough to hold the mask in place.
The Aqua Lung Linea is designed for women or those with petite faces in mind. It has a tempered lens with a wide angle feature that allows us to clearly see every detail of your underwater surroundings. The lens is molded into the silicon skirt using the micromask technology which creates a close proximity to the eyes. The skirt is made from a textured band of silicon that creates a solid seal.
The wide silicone strap fits securely around the back of the head, preventing tangles. If you want form and style, choose between pink, arctic white and black frame options.
First and foremost, it doesn’t matter how good a snorkel mask looks. If it doesn’t fit your face or feel comfortable to wear, it’s not worth it. A snorkel mask should snuggly fit the contours of your face and provide a comfortable seal to keep water from entering. You don’t want it to be too tight.
How Do I Size a Snorkel Mask?
If you’re trying on snorkel masks out of the water, here’s how to know if it will fit.
Step 1: Pull the mask strap away from the mask so that it’s hanging down.
Step 2: Make sure there’s no hair on your face. Place the mask onto your face without putting the mask strap on.
Step 3: Inhale through your nose. If the mask fits, the frame of the mask will stick to your face. If you feel air coming through the mask, check to see that there’s no hair inside of the mask. If you do feel air or if the mask does not stay on, the mask does not fit your face.
Tempered Glass Lens
There are several materials used for making mask lenses, but we only recommend the tempered glass lens since it can withstand increasing water pressure. While snorkeling is usually done at surface waters, there are some instances that you want to go freediving and having a tempered glass lens will allow you to do so without having a cracked or damaged lens.
The skirt is the part of the mask that encases the mask frame, the lens and the one that seals onto your face. Do not choose a snorkel mask that uses a skirt made from polycarbonate or flexible PVC since they are easily worn out over time. Only choose a snorkel mask with a silicon skirt as they are soft to the skin, goes back to its original shape when bent and can last for years. Silicone is also hypoallergenic.
Based on volume, there are two kinds of snorkel masks: low profile and high profile. High profile masks creates ample space between the lens and your face which requires you great effort in clearing the water of a flooded mask. On the other hand, we highly recommend the low profile mask which has less space and only requires minimal effort in mask equalization and water clearing. You will have no problem with your low profile mask selection as most recent snorkel masks have a low profile.
A snorkel mask may have some accessories. However, you should treat accessories only as icing on the cake. In other words, they are not mandatory but will make your snorkeling experience better.
Purge valves are a common accessory to a snorkel mask. They are usually located on the nose pocket to aid you in clearing the water. Mounting for action sports cameras is another accessory where you can attach your camera unit and document your snorkeling experience without the use of your hands.
All of the snorkel masks we’ve recommended can be used for scuba diving. The low profile masks featured will also be ideal for freediving. From our experience, scuba diving masks tend to be made with higher quality materials and more thought in the design.