Of all the equipment you may need for Snorkeling the Mask is the most important. Nothing will make or break you Snorkel adventure like a good or bad Mask. So Picking the right mask is essential. But with SO many masks available where do start? Well, how about right here with our BEST masks for snorkeling 2020 Guide.
We take a look at exactly what we look for in a Mask, What makes a mask Great and What to avoid. A Snorkel Mask is pretty basic in nature and fulfills a very simple job but its job is SO crucial, allowing you to see, that any flaw or fault in the mask can render your Snorkeling trip awful. There is little fun gliding over a coral reef completely blind from a fogged-up mask, with eyes stinging from saltwater and a nose full of Snot and water.
Traditional Or Full Face
We are going to get this over with straight away so we can focus on the job in hand.
Quite simply we refuse to endorse Full Face Snorkel Masks in any way. Not only are they more expensive. We do not see the problem they claim to solve. Sometimes Technology can be used to solve a problem that simply isn’t there.
Secondly, and this is a kicker for us, there are serious questions over there Safety. For the most part these masks are fine. When conditions are good and the use is in a calm relaxed state there is NO issue at all. However when things get a bit more stressed there are serious question marks over there safety.
There has recently been a Spate of Deaths attributed to Full Face masks in Hawaii and while some of this may be a little bit of Media hysteria, Why take the risk.
In our opinion, the Traditional Two-Piece is just better. The Full Face is just a Technological solution to a problem that never existed. There are so many “limitations” on Full face masks that we fail to see any significant advantage. A decent Two-Piece Snorkel Works perfectly in Calm Shallow Waters like the full face masks are designed for. But equally work well in rougher conditions, or when swimming hard, Free diving or Scuba diving to 40m. There are plenty of sites out there telling you a Full Face is fine. If you want to listen to that advice go for it, but we just can’t agree.
We will leave that here and get on with looking at Traditional Mask in the Guide as we genuinely believe them to be superior in every way. But if you want to read more take a look at our Full Face vs Traditional Snorkel Mask Article.
What to Look For?
Tempered glass is essential in a mask. Tempered glass is glass that has been toughened in manufacturing which provides two clear benefits.
Safety, should the lens shatter it brakes into a million blunt pieces, whereas traditional glass shatters into razor-sharp shards. Not something you want near your eyes! For this reason, only Tempered Glass is used in Snorkel Masks, but some cheap masks use Plastic Lenses instead.
This has the advantage of being cheap and light but the downsides are immeasurable. They scratch easily and they fog up like you would not believe. These masks are basically junk. Sold in supermarkets and gift shops to unsuspecting tourists who do not know any better.
This Makes Tempered glass the only choice. The toughening process also
Keep a Tempered Lens clean and it will never fog.
Old Fashioned Masks were made of rubber, this was an OK solution but rubber is a bit stiff and perishes badly in saltwater so mask didn’t fit well, leaked often lasted terribly. The introduction of plastics provided a whole host of alternatives, at the cheaper end they were little better (but cheaper) One Standout material emerges as the only choice. Silicone.
Yeah, the same stuff that goes around your bath, well similar. In a mask, it is molded into shape and is practically impervious to saltwater, 100% Waterproof. It is incredibly flexible and this helps it fit and seal most face types.
Like tempered glass, it’s the only choice. If the mask does not have Silicone Skirt it is using a cheap plastic alternative that will not seal and not last. Silicone is not an overly expensive material and finds it’s way right down the ranges, there is little reason not to choose a mask made from it.
Visibility – Field of View
Humans have approx a 210° field of view, meaning how much we can see without moving our head. Dive Mask, on the whole, do not. This means to some degree your vision will be restricted, The less that is the better. But it’s not a huge deal as we do have articulated necks.
Very few Masks actually state their Field of view but they tend to be around 150-180 for a good mask. This is more than enough and with a little bit of head
Lens shape is broadly defined into two camps. One Piece and Two Piece. The difference in practice is largely irrelevant. The differences in Fit and View are largely down to individual mask design, not the two or one-piece makeup.
Single lenses, on the whole, give better vision as there is no gap or bar between your eyes. They are also easier to defog and less liable to leak as there is just one continuous seal.
Dual lens masks tend to fit better on people with large or prominent noses. With a single lens, the adjoining piece can impact against the nose which can cause considerable discomfort over time. This is more an issue diving but it can still be a problem. Dual Len’s masks also tend to be
A big plus for a dual-lens is if you need a prescription lens. It is far easier to get prescription lenses for two-piece masks than one.
A final consideration is an old school single lens, These have fallen completely out of fashion but if you want to look like Jacques Cousteau these masks can serve a purpose. If you have an exceptionally large nose, the high volume of these masks
Some masks come with simple straps and some are intricate and complex straps. Honestly, this is the least important element of a mask. A well-fitting mask is held in place, largely by suction and the weight of the water. The strap does very little in holding it in place.
As such whatever the Strap consists of is more than likely enough. Complex and intricate designs merely look good on publicity images.
This is the single most important feature of a mask and unfortunately, it’s impossible to quantify. It does make recommending masks tricky as a mask that may be PERFECT for us may just not fit you at all! See below for our top tips on getting a mask that fits YOU perfectly.
We try and recommend masks that are most suitable to the most types of faces.
Rest Assured all the Mask on our list below will feature all these required features.
Clear or Black/Opaque Silicone?
Clear Silicone Skirts are very popular. They give masks a really modern look and many people will no longer even consider an old fashioned Black mask anymore. However, the benefits of a silicone mask are largely aesthetic and the reality is they can be horribly distracting. We rarely meet a diving instructor or professional diver who would consider a clear mask!
As Such despite them looking a little dated we always choose black Silicone now. Although there isn’t a lot wrong with the clear masks, just the light sometimes reflects internally meaning you see things in your peripheral vision that are not actually there, which can be distracting.
Best Masks for Snorkeling 2019
So now you know what makes a good mask lets take a loot at the best Masks on the Market.
- Best Overall
- Price – $27
Kraken Aquatics are not the First name in Diving and Snorkeling kit in fact we had never heard of them before coming across their mask. At first look it’s a pretty basic mask, It ticks all the Boxes but does nothing spectacular.
That is it’s
In Short, it does everything you need a mask to do, and it does them very well. The price is also very attractive compared to the bigger brands. It comes in three colors but we love all black
And the Bad…Well, it doesn’t come as a kit so you have to buy bits separately but the Kraken Dry Snorkel is another masterpiece and you can order them both together for $52. They also lack a box/carry case for protection when traveling but we are really nitpicking on what is essentially a near-perfect product.
We have even heard stories from divers who are buying multiples of these in case the design changes or the company goes bust!
- Best Prescription
- Price – $54.95
The Promate RX Prescription mask is a pretty good mask. It’s not as good as some of the others on our list but it is a good quality reliable mask that fits well and seals great. Available in a host of colors (
It’s a top-selling feature, that bags it number 2 spot on our list is the fact it comes with prescription lenses. This is an absolute godsend for those with poor eyesight, which is over 1.3 Billion people! So the fact most Snorkelling goggles do not have this feature misses out on a big audience.
The Masks comes with an option of near-sight(-1.0 – -10) and far-sight (+1 – +4) prescriptions in 0.5 increments. They even have options for different eye prescriptions. This covers most people’s corrections and can transform your snorkeling adventures. Fish are so much better when they are not blurry!
If you need Prescription Lenses we highly recommend the Promate RX.
- Best Budget Mask
- Price – $26.95
This is a fantastic budget set that features Mask and Snorkel for less than most masks on their own. It has all the usual features of tempered glass and a soft silicone skirt. It’s twin lenses offer great visibility and the dry snorkel works excellently in all conditions.
It is not the same high quality as some of the more expensive masks but for beginners and occasional snorkeler it will last many years and if kept clean is very resistant to fogging.
We would not use this for diving and a serious snorkeler/free diver would probably look past this sort of item but for the cost, this is fantastic quality. And will outperform any rental equipment you might find, and at a cost of 2-3 days rental.
- Premium Mask – Best for Scuba Diving!
- Price – $59.95
Cressi is an Italian firm that has been making Scuba and Snorkeling gear since the 1940s. A lot has changed in the industry in this time but Cressi has always been on top of the game. Cressi makes quite a few different masks but the Matrix is our favorite. Their other masks are really good but often feature a gimmick to help sell them, but in reality, does little to actually benefit the user.
The Matrix is gimmick-free and is just a top-quality dive mask. Soft, supply Silicone Skirt fits well on most faces, the tempered lenses rarely fog. They also incorporate the “Big Eyes” System where the lenses are angled downwards improving visibility and reducing internal volume.
This makes the Matrix a fantastic Snorkeling mask. The Low Volume makes diving under much easier, and the “Big Eyes” system brings the lens as close as possible to the eye without interfering with the nose/brow. This makes for maximum visibility.
The Matrix really has it all and is actually a very reasonable price for such a high-end mask. It may be more than you need as a starter mask but this will last years and perfectly suitable if the hobby progress’s into free diving / Scuba Diving!
Note – This is my personal dive/Snorkel mask that I use for all our diving Adventures. I have just returned from a 4-day Epic dive adventure on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, and the mask performed flawlessly on over 20 dives in tough conditions!
- Best Old School Cool
- Price – $23.99
If you have an odd-shaped head, face or very large nose, you may find getting a comfortable and well-fitting mask almost impossible. In which case you may take inspiration from the past.
These Oval style one-piece masks are perfect for the slightly odder shaped faces. As the nose is completely inside the mask there is nothing to rub on the bridge and the shape of the seal is less defined meaning it conforms to more facial shapes than the other masks.
However this is still a modern mask with Tempered glass and silicone skirts it has all the hallmarks of a great mask, just the shape makes it appear dated. But if nothing else fits well give this mask a crack!
How to get a mask that fits YOU?
Try them. For people who mainly shop online, this can be an issue. but really the ONLY way to know if a mask is a good fit is to get it up to your face and see.
Some people suggest going to a local dive shop trying the masks and then buying for less online. We DO NOT condone that. A local Dive shop has to sell things to survive and wasting their time for their precious advice is going to end up with dive shops closing. If you want to use the shop go for it but buy it from them! The extra toy pay is the charge for their service.
But we buy most of our kit online as time is money and we don’t have time to head all the way to the dive shop to pick-up a mask. So how do we ensure the mask we choose fits?
We use our best judgment to get a mask that we like and we judge is likely to be the best fit and then order it. Test that it fits and if not return it and try again. People have been doing this for years with clothes online, as unless you have the product in person to you know if it will fit properly or you actually like it? For some reason, this hasn’t always carried over to other products, but it should.
Testing Proper fit.
To test the mask firs properly is very simple. First test the seal. This is done by holding the mask up to your face and lightly pressing it to your face. This should create a suction that if you stop the air coming out your nose will hold the mask in place without the need for the strap!
if it drops away, this mask is not suitable for you. It may take a few goes to get it right, but it should stay in place for a good few seconds with no loss of suction if it is a really good fit.
Next, you should check for comfort. Press the mask FIRMLY against your face. Not too hard but a good amount of pressure. So the masks silicone skirt compresses. Are there any pressure points? is the mask resting heavily on any part of you? Your nose for instance? This might feel ok now but after awhile it can become painful and sore.
This is more an issue for Scuba than snorkeling but a mask the applies firm pressure to any part of the face will eventually cause discomfort. It’s surprising how much the water pressure can press a mask against
How to Stop a Mask Fogging Up?
There are two simple and cheap ways to keep a mask from fogging. The first is periodic maintenance and the other is an every use method. They are rough and ready but time-honored and effective. We have Snorkeled, Dived and Swam for thousands of
Note – Natually we make use of any De-Fog provided by dive companies but these are not essential and we don’t use anything when snorkeling.
The first tip is one we use before every trip. So when our flights are booked and we are getting ready to pack, upon our kit inspection we always carry out our “deep clean” and for this we use Toothpaste.
Toothpaste is mildly abrasive and this works wonders on the tempered glass to get the finish back to perfect. No matter how new or expensive your mask, eventually salt and dirt will adhere to it, even if it’s microscopic and cause the mask to fog.
Using an old toothbrush and some standard toothpaste we vigorously brush the inside of the mask’s lens. The Abrasion will rub away any built-up grime and salt and leave the mask perfectly flat, clean and fog-resistant. Test this by breathing hard it the mask and you will see any fog dissipate in seconds.
After a VERY thorough rinse (Toothpaste in your eye sucks) you are good to go.
Just before every use while on your trip another great tip is to use an anti-fog solution on your mask just before you hit the water…infact we apply it once our feet are in!
The best anti-fog solution known to man? Saliva! It might be a bit icky but a quick spit, rub and rinse is all you need to keep on top of the masks anti-fogging.
As we said we have used these tricks a million times and they always work.
Have Your Say
Have you got a favorite Mask? Or have you found one of the masks on our list to be ineffective? Maybe you are a fan of Full Face masks, we would love to know why? If you have anything to say about any of the Masks on our list feel free to add to the discussion below. Also if you have any questions or would like a personal recommendation fire away in the comments.