It’s difficult to dislike swimming’s universal appeal. Getting into the water is just a joy and several people have taken the sport in varying directions. Diving is probably one of the more demanding activities that you can pursue while you’re in the water.
Whether you’re a professional or a recreational diver, chances are, you’ve used a diving mask and a snorkel at some point. Some forms of diving, like scuba diving, may require you to don more equipment. Still, a snorkel / diving mask combination forms the core equipment pieces that every diver starts off with.
There are a lot of issues associated with using the traditional mask/snorkel combination. For some swimmers, the biggest issue with using a snorkel is that it isn’t comfortable. Using an apparatus to breathe through your mouth can feel like an unnatural sensation. The need to clean your snorkel periodically can be a pain as well. Is there an alternative or are you stuck with the typical composite of mask and snorkel?
If you’re a swimmer who’s looking for an alternative, there’s luck on the horizon. The full face snorkel mask is a relatively new invention (introduced in 2014) that addresses the issues related to the diving mask / snorkel mix. What does a full face snorkel mask do exactly?
A full face snorkel masks completely covers the diver’s face and combines a breathing regulator (i.e. traditional snorkel) and a diving mask. Users familiar with the way a dry snorkel works will be familiar with the special valve that seals the full face snorkel mask’s breathing tube during a full water immersion. Basically, a full face snorkel mask simulates regular breathing while you’re underwater.
Is it for you?
Is the full face snorkel mask the perfect fit for every diver? Like most things in life, the answer heavily depends on what you want. The full face snorkel mask comes with its own constellation of advantages and disadvantages.
A full face snorkel mask’s advantages include:
Verbal Communication Underwater
When used in conjunction with integrated underwater communication systems, a full face snorkel mask allows you to communicate with your fellow divers. It’s not uncommon to find full face snorkel masks being used in underwater search and recovery missions. If you’re chatty or don’t want to rely on hand signals to communicate with a diving partner, this is a pretty big advantage.
Multiple Straps Improve Reliability
A full face snorkel mask has more straps than the single strap that a typical diving mask sports. When all of its straps are secured properly, the probability of losing your mask while underwater is significantly reduced if not totally eliminated.
Range of Vision
Excellent full face snorkel masks typically have a more expansive range of vision than other options. You can expect to enjoy a 180 degree range of vision underwater when you’re wearing one.
Full Coverage = A More Comfortable Fit
Since the full face snorkel mask covers your whole face, mask pressure is evenly distributed around your face. Some divers may prefer using this just for the increased in comfort during long swims.
Valve and Catch System
The built in valve and catch or dual vent system included in full face snorkels virtually eliminate mask fogging concerns. The dual vent system ensures that each breath that a diver expels is siphoned off the mask’s interior.
A quality full face snorkel mask’s viewing window is fashioned out of durable polycarbonate. This material alone makes the mask all but completely shatterproof.
The size of the mask combined with its prominent breathing tube increase your level of visibility while you’re swimming. Objects that skim the surface, like boats or jet skis, are more likely to spot you as you swim, minimizing the chances of an accidental collision.
Single Piece of Equipment
This mask is one piece of equipment. Some divers cancel their dives because of a misplaced equipment piece. You won’t have to worry about tracking a lot of diving equipment when you’re using a full face snorkel mask.
Ideal for Teeth Grinders / Divers with Jaw Issues
If you find yourself chewing on a snorkel’s mouthpiece often, this may be the perfect option for you. If you experience jaw pain during long periods of using a traditional snorkel, using a full face mask is an excellent alternative.
Everything sounds perfect, so what’s the catch? While the benefits connected to using a full face snorkel mask are massive, there are still some disadvantages associated with its use.
A full face snorkel mask’s negatives include:
The mask’s multiple straps require more time for the diver to secure it properly. Inaccurate positioning of straps will cause the mask to flood with water or fall off during a swim.
Water that seeps or floods into the full face mask is more difficult to expel than a traditional snorkel. If the mask is completely filled with water, breathing becomes completely obstructed.
A well made full face snorkel mask will cost far more than the amalgam of a snorkel and a basic diving mask.
This mask is far heavier than the alternative option. Divers who want to minimize drag during a swim will want to avoid using this.
Losing this means having to forfeit your dive. You can’t snorkel without any equipment.
Incompatible with Prescription Glasses
Divers who use prescription glasses to remedy vision issues will not be able to use them with this mask on.
The pressure that’s associated with the mask’s usage increases as you go deeper underwater. Holding your nose and blowing air into your ears to relieve pressure buildup won’t work when you have this on.
Who Is It for then?
Going through the string of pros and cons will immediately reveal that this isn’t a product designed for every diver. Scuba divers and hardcore free divers are better off using something more traditional. The full face snorkel mask is really designed for recreational divers, newcomers to snorkeling, children, and people with teeth grinding / jaw pain concerns.
What you should look for
If you’re adamant about using a full face snorkel mask, you’ll want to keep track of a few key features before you make your purchase. Before you buy, make it a point to check the apparatus’:
Range of vision
What’s your range of vision like when you’re actually wearing the mask? The best full face snorkel masks give its user a full viewing range of 180 degrees.
Does the full face snorkel mask fog up when you’re wearing it? Check the air flow system that it features. A double air flow system guarantees that the air you’re expelling is purged from the mask, eliminating common mask fogging issues.
The full face mask’s regulator valve has to completely seal the opening when you dive underwater. Don’t settle for anything less since expelling water from a full face mask is a tough task.
How many mask sizes are available per option? Does the mask fit your face’s dimensions? This is especially important if you’re shopping for a full face snorkel mask online.
The cost of the item that you’re looking at can be very telling. Be aware that full face snorkel masks aren’t cheap. If you’re eyeing a mask that’s dirt cheap, something might be amiss. The market is awash with knock offs and poor quality full face snorkel masks so move with caution.
Unless your tastes are especially particular, the last concern is practically inconsequential. Still, checking the color options available for a full face mask wouldn’t hurt.
We’ve gone through the available options and narrowed down our choices to 5 full face snorkel masks:
Tribord Easybreath Snorkeling Mask
This one’s the mask that started it all. Tribord came out with the first iteration of the full face snorkel mask in 2014. Christened the Easybreath, this mask gives you, pun unintended, an easier time breathing underwater.
This is one of the most popular variations of the full face snorkel mask and with good reason. The Easybreath comes in 4 sizes with one sizing option designed specifically for children. 3 color variations, a full 180 degree range of vision, an anti fog coating on the shatterproof polycarbonate lens, and a breathing chamber that eliminates fogging secure the Easybreath’s sensational reputation.
Seaview 180° Panoramic Snorkel Mask
Hot on the heels of Tribord’s offering comes Seaview’s snorkel mask. Like the Easybreath, the Seaview Panoramic Snorkel mask comes in a variety of sizes. It also has 3 color variations, full 180 degree range of vision, anti fog coating, a separate breathing chamber, and a shatterproof polycarbonate viewing lens.
Unlike the Easybreath, the Seaview comes with a built-in GoPro camera mount. Users who are rabid about documenting their underwater excursions will want to purchase this option. If you want something that’s more than just a bare bones full face snorkeling mask, the Seaview’s an excellent choice.
Octobermoon 180 Degree Snorkel Mask
Octobermoon’s mask takes much of its design inspiration from Tribord’s Easybreath. What separates this mask from being an Easybreath clone is its mounting bracket. The Octobermoon features a mounting bracket for a variety of action cameras. Out of the box, a mounting kit and a screwdriver are included so attaching a camera won’t be too much trouble.
What makes this an even more appealing option is that it’s less expensive than other offerings. If you’re looking for a full face snorkel mask that lets you enjoy an expansive 180 degree field of vision and take videos underwater, choose this. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too?
H2O Ninja 180° View Full Face Snorkel Mask
Our penultimate choice for a full face snorkel mask is the H2O Ninja. This mask comes with all of the features that you would expect from a full face snorkel mask. It has four color variations, offers an expansive field of vision, and all of the requisite dry snorkel features.
Still, not everything’s perfect with the H2O Ninja. For one, it’s an expensive option. If you want to purchase a mask with a camera mount, you’re going to have to cough up more cash to purchase the version that comes with it. There’s also a minor chance that the mask might fog up. Sizes of this mask are limited to two so tread lightly before you decide to purchase this one.
Ocean Reef Aria Full Face Snorkel Mask
This is our final choice for a full face snorkel mask. Ocean Reef’s a company based in Italy. The Aria mask is fog free, offers a full 180 degrees range of vision, and features dry snorkel technology.
A number of cons prevent this from ranking higher than it does. Like the H2O Ninja, sizing options are limited to two and you need to pay more if you want to use a camera mount. It also comes in one color option: orange. If you’re looking for a fully featured, more practical option, skip this choice.
If you’re reading this part, chances are, you already have a pretty good idea of where you stand as far as a full face snorkel mask is concerned. The full face snorkel mask is really built for more recreational pursuits. Purchasing this mask when you’re strapped for cash wouldn’t be very wise. If cost isn’t a concern and the focus of your dive leans towards its more playful aspects, go right ahead and purchase your first full face snorkel mask.