In this article you will find our expert’s reviews of the best full face snorkel masks available right now. You will find out if they are the right choice for you and what you should look for when choosing one of the many brands and models currently available.
Choosing a cheap one can actually be hazardous to your health, so make sure you pay attention to what our snorkel experts explain in the Buyer’s Guide below.
We snorkelers, or ‘teched-down’ divers, learn about all the discomforts of traditional snorkel gear in one simple outing: the constant fidgeting with mask and tedious clinching of teeth over mouthpiece during long snorkel swims, not to mention accidental entry of water into the snorkel tube and mouth.
My moment of awareness as a snorkel rookie happened during a somewhat scary battle in choppy water near the Mesoamerican Reef in Central America.
In an effort to save the day comes a continuously evolving new stroke to snorkel masks—the full face version. You can naturally breathe with nose and/or mouth because of the full faced mask’s breathing chamber and built-in, dry-top snorkel.
Further, you need not fidget with a frequently fogging eye-and-nose mask or its fit. Moreover, your mouth is no longer stuffed with plastic or subject to water entry.
To see if you’re ready for this relatively new face in the snorkeling market, dive into our editor’s picks and scour our subsequent buyer’s guide.
- The Top 9 Full Face Snorkel Masks – Reviews
- Buyer’s Guide to the Best Full Face Snorkeling Mask
- Full Face Snorkel Mask FAQs
- The Final Word
The Top 9 Full Face Snorkel Masks – Reviews
Editor’s Pick: Aqua Lung Smart-Snorkel
- Plenty of air circulation to reduce fogging
- Easy fit and comfy
- Wide head straps to avoid hair entanglement
- Optimal view through flat lens
- Good value on the money spent
- No color options
- Color at top of snorkel not highly visible
This mask from Aqua Lung wins our No. 1 pick for its flat, wide-peripheral lens, its moderate price and its comfortable, easily adjustable strap design as well as its low-fogging capacity.
Further, you can detach the major portion of the snorkel (which is longer than most in its genre) for easy packing. The flat, shatter-proof, polycarbonate lens provides a 180-degree view of the sea bottom and its strap includes quick-release, swivel buckles for easy yet steadfast adjustment to your particular head and face.
The Aqua Lung Smart Snorkel’s rubber, tri-pad hub connects the three straps securely. Our experts report a very respondent dry-top valve inside the snorkel and wide enough straps to avoid entanglement for those with long, thick locks.
Its offering of three sizes—small, medium and large—further guarantees a snug, comfy fit. As for fogging, our sea dwellers report ample air transfer for both keeping the lens clear and breathing easy; the air expelling valves are large enough to keep air pressure from building too excessively upon your face inside the mask.
Its dual-chambered exhaust system expels CO2 from your inhaled air. Still, you will experience annoying pressure the deeper you dive under the water. As with all full faced snorkeling masks, this drawback is difficult to avoid if you want to dive down deep enough to meet a giant lobster or eel eye-to-eye.
Ocean Reef Aria
- Great air circulation to relieve facial pressure and prevent fogging
- Flat, optimal viewing lens
- Comes in seven color choices
- Air purge valve for reduced pressure in deeper water
- GoPro capable
- Among the most expensive masks
This mask runs a very close second to our editor’s pick. Its advantageous design and features result from the experience and history of Ocean Reef as a manufacturer of advanced scuba-diving gear.
The Ocean Reef Aria offers great comfort and many sizes and colors to complement its viewing and breathability capacities. In fact, it offers more sizes and colors than the Aqua Lung Smart Snorkel.
Ocean Reef collaborated with the first full face snorkel mask maker on the market, Tribord, to develop its Aria line, but implemented its own design. The Aria incorporates a one-way air circulation system in its breathing chamber to eliminate fogging and for keeping potentially harmful CO2 from building up inside the chamber (see our Buyer’s guide for more about CO2 concerns).
Aria is one of the few if only makers who tests their masks for CO2 retention in the air chamber. To ensure adequate expulsion, the Aria uses exhalation tubes of hard plastic along the sides of the mask, instead of the common silicone skirt. Any fogging is diverted to the lower or chin area, which is moot for viewing. Its elastic head straps are adjusted similarly to the editor’s pick and are also thick enough to avoid entanglement in long or thick hair.
The novel bent to this mask is its inserted, lightweight, rubberized frame for eyeglasses inside the mask (S/M and L/XL only). Simply visit your optometrist to receive your prescription lenses and insert them in the mask’s easy to remove and insert frame.
The reason it is No. 2? It resides on the upper tier of the full face snorkeling mask price range.
Head Sea Vu Dry
- Polycarbonate lens front is flat with beveled sides to allow 180-degree view
- Good breathability and venting
- Wide, elastic straps
- GoPro compatible
- Comes in several sizes and four colors
- Snorkel tube detaches for easy packing
- Can be too tight or too loose if size selection slightly incorrect
- Straps lack nexus pad to ensure less hair snare
The Head Sea Vu uses a similar design to the Ocean Reef Aria to accomplish similar if not better results. Head, famous for gear designed to repel moisture or travel on and through it, provides a one-way bottom valve allowing the purge of water and an internal nasal pocket to afford easy, unimpeded breathing—just as our aforementioned picks.
The Sea Vu, however, pays extra attention to anti-fogging by building different air pathways into its mask. They are separately vented to send the snorkeler’s exhale and inhale through different channels. They also offer the attachment of marker wings, which make identification of fellow snorkelers easier.
Like its competitors, it incorporates a dry-top snorkel with ball float to block water when the snorkel is submerged, though the Sea Vu’s is reported as bit more stubborn to detach and re-attach. It also sports an extra-large vent at the bottom to purge CO2 buildup from breathing.
Its elastic strap is wide enough to keep the most abundant hair in place without tangling. Just make sure you choose the right size (Head offers a variety of sizes) of mask so that the strap keeps the mask snug enough so to disallow leakage. For upper-mid-range price, the Sea Vu offers good value.
U.S. Divers AirGo
- Low-profile from face to lens for less water drag
- Wide view
- Detachable snorkel for packing
- Purge valve to reduce fogging and buildup
- Comfortable, swivel-buckle-release strap design
- Comes with mesh carry bag
- Only one color
- No camera mount
Another dual-chamber exhaust system that prevents CO2 accumulation, the U.S. Divers AirGo mask, which also features a one-way purge valve for easy clearing of polycarbonate lens.
It features a little less than average protrusion from the face on its tapered lower section to lower drag and resistance from water volume. Still, it boasts a 180-degree view directly below the snorkeler and its lens appears wider than average.
A SmartLock head strap with swivel buckles allows for easy removal and quick adjustments. Like all of our picks, it features a dry-top snorkel with responsive ball that rises to plug water entry when snorkel is fully submerged.
Its rubberized straps are fairly wide to discourage entanglement of hair and feature a tri-pad connector, like our editor’s pick, to ensure equal pressure all around the head and a comfy, air-tight fit.
The snorkel detaches at the bottom, where it connects to the mask, for compact packing. It only comes in one color—gray—but in three sizes: small, medium and large.
WildHorn Outfitters Seaview 180°
- Good GoPro or camera mount
- Good breathability
- Offers a plethora of colors
- Wide view
- Comfortable straps
- Very affordable
- Users report higher degree of fogging than expected
- Must remove occasionally to clear the lens
The WildHorn Outfitters Seaview 180° touts its agile camera mount and 11 different colors as part of what sets this one piece snorkel mask apart from the others. Additionally, it provides most likely the largest and most comfortable straps, though void of stabilizing hubs or connectors at the nexus of each strap.
That said, it falls beneath the prices of the previously mentioned picks. Once in you use, you might detect the reason. It seems to fog more than the other masks and though there is a drain or purge for water that may collect at the chin area of the mask. It uses a silicone insert to seal the edges, which may be the culprit. Therefore, you might require a few more removals and shaking out of water than some of our other picks.
Though it appears to use more non-transparent plastic around the face, it still provides an ample 180-degree view when scanning the bottom beneath you with its flattened front and tapered sides on the shatterproof, polycarbonate lens.
You will find the positioning of the camera mount advantageous. It allows the camera to capture more of the immediate bottom than many other mask camera mounts.
- Good ventilation and air circulation via double-airflow system
- Colorful, high snorkel for visibility by others in the water
- Great viewing surface through large polycarbonate lens
- Several colors from which to choose
- Plenty of sizes for the right fit
- Nooks can collect sand
- Larger than other masks
Alongside our No. 2 pick, the Ocean Reef Aria, Tribord broke major ground by introducing the first line of full face snorkel masks. The Tribord Easybreath is therefore considered the standard bearer of its genre.
Like the Aria, the Easybreath comes in several colors (seven) and four sizes. The colors not only help identify other snorkelers in your group but provide extra visibility, especially since the Easybreath snorkel stands considerably higher above the water than other full face mask snorkels.
Its visibility also adds to the mask’s safety: Motor-boat or jet-ski skippers can more easily see you. The inside chamber contains a flap to collect moisture before it reaches the nose chamber and exit at the chin. Of course, such small nooks will fill fast, but they do allay the speed in which water enters.
As with other masks, nooks and crannies also tend to capture sand and challenge your cleaning IQ. It is otherwise as easy to breathe inside this mask as our other picks while comparatively keeping fog to a minimum.
- Good anti-fogging properties
- Compact packing with flip-down snorkel
- Allows optimal lighting for better view
- In the affordable bracket
- Comes in only two sizes and colors
- Darker color lends more of a Darth Vader look than other masks
- A comparatively thin elastic strap risks hair pinching
After listening to customer feedback on its previous Seabeast model, the beach-gear maker decided to ramp up the focus on the most common complaint from full face mask users: fogging. It answered with a hydrophilic, anti-fog coating on its lens.
Across the spectrum of full-face design fans, community chat lines run full with comments about how to stem fogging: wiping the lens interior with dish soap, spit or spray before an outing, burning lenses or some other creative method.
The Seabeast AF90, however, uses a coating that forms a polymer bond with the polycarbonate lens, intended to last the lifespan of the mask. In essence, the hydrophilic coating absorbs and releases moisture.
Posing another innovative bent on its construction, the AF90 dry-top snorkel flips down to fit into your bag or pack and back up once you hit the beach. Customer feedback also spurred Seabeast to coat the breathing chamber for nose and mouth with a transparent silicone to decrease the claustrophobic phenomenon that some snorkelers complain about with a full face mask. It allows more light through all portions of the mask in order to deter the closed-in feeling experienced by some snorkelers.
The mask comes with an attachable camera mount. As with many other full facers, water tends to trickle in one way or another—sometimes related to improper fit—around the silicone insert, but like the better masks, the water is channeled to the purge valve and released below the chin when the snorkeler surfaces and raises the chin above water.
Our field testers reported less fogging with the AF90 than other masks after a half-hour of snorkeling. However, its breathability remained comparable, as hyperventilation is common in a full face snorkel mask after this amount of active time in the water.
Usnork 180° Panoramic View
- Comfy design
- Decent breathability
- Comes with camera mount
- Decent viewing via flat frontal lens
- Anti-tangle straps
- Very affordable
- Some slowness in dry-top ball reaction
- Frame deters some light entry
- No safety color atop snorkel
- Comes in only two colors and sizes
- Snorkel difficult to detach
You will find the old adage—you get what you pay for— in play with the Usnork Snorkel Mask for Kids and Adults. It is the lowest-price option of our picks.
Its economy is betrayed by a dry-top ball; out experts report that sometimes it doesn’t rise as quickly as our other top-grade picks once submerged. It is only slightly noticed and not of great consequence, however. Its snorkel is stubborn to detach, just as the Tribord and Sea Vu picks here, but to the point of fearing you might break it.
Meanwhile, the breathing chambers, vents and drain valve prove ample to allow for relatively easy passage of air. A wide, easy cinch-by-pulling head strap connects nicely in back to prevent hair pinching.
Its flat, frontal lens provides for 180-degree viewing of the bottom. However, the lens frame is relatively deep, reducing potential light entry for better viewing and hindering the claustrophobic a bit more than other masks.
It is uncertain why the upgrade for Usnork touts kids when one considers the void of a bright, easily visible snorkel top for safety and it only comes in two sizes (without an extra-small).
Greatever Foldable 180°
- Very affordable
- Easy packing with fold-down snorkel
- Comfortable fit if picking the right size
- Good 180-degree view
- Good warranty
- Some leakage reported where snorkel connects to mask (its pivot for collapsing)
- All-black version void of an easily visible snorkel top color
Competitive with the Usnork in price and value, the Greatever 2018 Newest Version goes a bit further with a lifetime warranty on any functional problem with its new snorkel mask.
It features a foldable snorkel to allay any fear that the snorkel might detach during activity in the water and to provide ease for packing the mask in a carry bag or daypack. However, some of our testers reported leakage near the snorkel connection to the mask when submerging repeatedly during their outing.
The Greatever includes an extra-small size for kids (dependent on individual retailer’s stock) and very kid-conducive colors. Check out its bright all-salmon and all-fuchsia masks.
Its flat viewing screen ensures an 180-degree view and ample peripheral with wide, clear edges. The Greatever comes with an attachable camera or Go-Pro mount and hair-friendly, cinch-style straps relatively free of pressure points; extra-small option for kids and kid-friendly colors.
Don’t forget a waterproof camera for your next snorkeling trip!
Buyer’s Guide to the Best Full Face Snorkeling Mask
The full face snorkel mask virtually revolutionized snorkeling a few years ago when it first appeared on the market, despite its Darth Vader like appearance. It presented a no-brainer way of snorkeling.
It allowed the snorkeler to breathe just as he or she would breathe on dry land and eliminated the discomfort of a tightly strapped eye goggle and a plastic mouthpiece clinched between your teeth.
However, don’t mistake it as a cure-all for all of traditional snorkeling’s ills. Why? First, not all snorkelers are created equal. Second, full face masks present some limitations.
The ideal snorkeler for a full face mask
If you tried snorkeling once and found it annoyingly uncomfortable or even unsafe at moments, you might be a likely candidate for a full face snorkeling mask. Equally, if you’ve never tried snorkeling, this evolving new tack might be just for you.
The full face mask accomplishes a double-elimination right off the bat: It comes in one piece rather than two and it allows you to breathe quite naturally, rather than only through the mouth.
Its lens is larger than a tradition mask and offers views to the side, which means you can see a lot of the bottom without bending your neck to and fro to find a wider panorama of the sea floor or the suspended sea creatures at your peripheral.
Because most full face masks incorporate a dry top with buoyant ball to block the passage of water once submerged, they take on much less water than a traditional snorkel. Moreover, you don’t have to swallow water to know that the snorkel submerged itself without your knowledge. Consequently, there is no need to stop snorkeling in mid-stroke to pop your head up, take out the snorkel and empty it. Same goes for goggles.
Finally, a full face snorkel mask can accommodate a camera mount (i.e., Go Pro) just above water’s surface. (Read further in this guide to learn a camera’s limitations on the mask.)
These are the types of advantages that especially appeal to kids who can’t coordinate their breathing by restricting it to only the mouth and to adults who want to fidget with only one unit rather than two—the mask and snorkel—while not having to think about how they should be breathing.
In all, the full face mask is for a very casual snorkeler and especially kids, should the maker provide a size compatible with a child’s smaller head. As explained in the following “Not for . . .” section, a full face snorkel mask is not for the seasoned snorkeler who can’t resist diving 10 to 20 feet to get eye level with a reclusive eel or jumbo lobster.
The full face models are not for these snorkelers:
If you can pop up from the water’s surface, snap off your snorkel and turn it upside down to dump inadvertent water entry, then shake any droplets out of your mask to quickly reenter your spectacular sea world while chugging air through your mouth, you may not find a full face mask to your advantage.
You most definitely will not find this sort of mask to your liking should you insist on diving 10 to 20 feet down—or even deeper—for close-up looks at the wonders near bottom. This is mostly because of the full face mask’s inability to relieve the pressure of the water against the air trapped behind your lens. Moreover, the vigorous nature of such snorkeling and diving accelerates breathing, which in turn overworks the mask and risks hyperventilation at worst.
Even if you are an aggressive swimmer when snorkeling, the full face option can prove problematic and unable to handle excessive breathing.
If you happen to be a fashion-nova on the beach—free of any apparel that might seem uncool or disrupt your mojo—the spaceman or Darth Vader look will certainly crash your day. At least a traditional mask is smaller and less unsightly when scooted to the top of your head, while the snorkel is thin and practically unnoticeable in hand.
If you are a no-fuss packing freak, you may not like the awkward, bulbous configuration of a full face snorkel mask in your favorite, compact bags. The more linear design of the traditional snorkel gear can prove more packable.
If the full face snorkeling mask is for you . . .
If you believe the full face snorkeling mask is your cure-all, given its pros and cons, you need to know what to look for in this kind of mask and how to take advantage of its features while keeping your eyes not only on the ocean bottom, but on safety and comfort.
Pay attention to fit
First, size is paramount to an enjoyable snorkel experience. A mask restricted to only two sizes may not be a wise purchase should you wish to fit a kid or an adult with an extra-small or extra-large head. Most snorkel mask makers who provide three or more sizes offer an online sizing chart that accords to the distance between the chin and top of your forehead. Still, you will only know how it fits for certain when you pull it down and dive in. Make sure the manufacturer takes free-of-charge exchanges should you or your child require a different size.
The perfect fit will also depend on the strap design. Thin straps are prone to hair pinching and pulling. They may not distribute pressure equally throughout their span across the back of your head. Make sure they are easy to adjust during your snorkel outing. Elastic and nylon straps of decent width with connector hubs in back and swivel-buckle or cinching adjustments for snugness usually work best.
If you like your bushy beard better than breathing naturally with head under water, ditch the idea of a full face mask. Keep the egg-yolk strainer and go or stay with traditional snorkeling gear. The silicone liner or insert to seal out water on a full face mask will most certainly be compromised by strains of chin hair—to the point of noticing.
Examine the lens frame and design. Will it offer a 180-degree view? A flat frontal on a lens, with an ample side-view design, offers optimal viewing. Make sure the mask includes sufficient air chambers to minimize fogging. A separate exhale and inhale channel are necessary to abate fogging. Some mask makers use a coating to help absorb and expel fog-creating moisture.
If ordering online, it will be tough to determine how well the chambers circulate air to minimize the heat of your breath or moisture inside the lens—not to mention hyperventilation should you need to really exert yourself on a snorkel outing.
Just know that the wider the channels and valves—without compromising the viewing capacity of the lens—the better the circulation and venting.
A mask with a brightly colored snorkel top (where the dry-top plug or ball is located) lends more visibility of your presence to boaters or jet-skiers who might approach your snorkeling area. If on a snorkeling tour on the Caribbean, in Hawaii or Indonesia, it will be almost moot because the tour boat will be amply designated as a dive or snorkel boat and you usually don’t stray too far from the boat on a snorkel adventure.
Some mask makers offering only one color choice go with dark or even black snorkel tops, which can invite an accident, despite the slim chances that one will occur.
As for the concern about CO2 buildup, the natural byproduct of breathing inside a restrictive chamber, this alleged danger remains unproven in full face snorkel masks. Still, it can occur theoretically, which is why makers like Ocean Reef test for the mask’s ability to purge carbon-dioxide.
Besides safety, bright colors of multiple choices atop a snorkel can help you identify snorkeling buddies when in a group. You know who is wearing which color if looking for them when they are submerged.
Most trusted makers, such as Tribord (in the process of changing to Subea), Seaview, Ocean Reef and Aqua Lung, range from around $70 to more than $100 for a mask. Such manufacturers will pay a little more attention to leakage, breathing volumes, water purging and fit than makers of masks that fall below the $50 mark.
In some cases, bargain-basement masks can be suitable for kids if they offer a variety of sizes. As for adults, caveat emptor.
You overall goal
In all, you want a snorkel mask that will not require you to raise your head out of the water every two minutes to adjust the fit or purge water through the drain valve at the chin. This is counterproductive to the intent of a full face mask: To make wearing it easier on the snorkeler.
You also want a mask that comes in enough sizes to feel comfy on your head—not too tight or too jiggly—while keep water out and fogging at a minimum (no full facer can eliminate fogging entirely at this point of their evolution).
Colors can be important on the top of the snorkel. As for the mask itself, only the fashionista who decides to finally compromise to the bubble-head look might want a color that matches her fuscia bikini.
As for the tight packer, you might consider the mask that offers a fold-down snorkel that stays attached to the mask.
When you have found the mask that meets all your criteria, you can then start thinking about how much you are willing to dish out for it.
Also interesting: The Best Dive Watches Reviewed – From Affordable to Luxury
Full Face Snorkel Mask FAQs
Are full face masks safe for children?
In some ways, they are safer than traditional snorkeling gear because breathing does not need to be done unnaturally—via the mouth only. Therefore, a child is less likely to inhale water. Also, the dry-top of a full face keeps water from entering when the child dips his or her entire head beneath water’s surface. The bright colors atop the snorkel also allow others in the water to better see a child snorkeler.
Is is worth it to pay more for a full face snorkel mask?
If you decide that the full face mask is better for your child and will make snorkeling for you or your child easier—given that neither of you wish to dive more than a few feet below the surface—then expect to pay more than $50 and up to $120 at times. As with othe outdoor gear in general, you pay for the quality and safety you receive.
What about my beard?
Unless you sport a chin-strap variety of beard, don’t expect your full face mask to completely stop leakage of water into the mask. Most manufacturers warn the bearded about this; any amount of hair that protrudes through the seal will cause at least a very slight leakage. Moustaches? Most full facers are friendly to upper-lip hair.
Can I breathe and talk underwater with a full face snorkel mask?
You can breathe all you want, of course, and quite naturally. Also, you can talk. Just don’t expect anyone to hear you while talking with the mask fully engaged.
How does a full face snorkeling mask prevent water from leaking?
It usually employs a silicone insert or built-in silicone skirt around the edges of the mask.
Is it better to buy a snorkel mask than rent one?
You might not find the right size if you are renting one, which will make a day in the ocean quite uncomfortable. It might also be worn on the silicone edges from overuse, causing undue leakage while you are using it. If you buy one that fits you properly and handles water entry and well as your breathing satisfactorily, you have no worries. Snorkel at will!
Can I use a full face snorkel mask for swimming laps in a pool?
Some mask marketing videos show a person using the mask for such usage. However, some full-mask makers warn that their masks cannot handle excessive inhalation and exhalation because chambers—not matter how ingeniously made—currently cannot handle such rapid breathing. However, makers such as PowerBreather Snorkel or others with a center-mounted swimming snorkel do allow for endurance routines in a pool.
Can I free-dive with a full face snorkel mask?
Not if you plan to go deeper than two yards or two meters, and even this distance becomes uncomfortable if staying beneath the surface more than 30 seconds. You begin to feel the pressure of the water pressing the air in your mask chamber against your face. Ultimately this can prove dangerous.
Do I need fins with a full face mask?
If you wish to hasten your swim speed or lessen your energy spent (which can be advantageous given the breathing restrictions of a full face mask), fins are fine. However, most full face mask snorkelers happen to be casual snorkelers, wishing to snorkel at their own leisurely speed and therefore nix fins altogether. Also consider the extra baggage space that fins require.
The Final Word
The most difficult phase in finding the best full face snorkel mask is determining whether one suits your style or aspirations as they pertain to snorkeling. If you can do what you want to do while in the water with a traditional snorkeling rig, then proceed to enjoy the sport that way. If you have kids or find that past snorkeling experiences proved problematic, even frightful, then give full face masks a try. Don’t forget to apply coral reef safe sunscreen when snorkeling. This helps to protect your skin AND the coral reefs.
Image credits: All product images courtesy of the respective manufacturers