If You are in a rush the best snorkel mask is the Cressi Panoramic Mask.
Because snorkeling is done amidst shallow waters and not deep into the ocean like you would with scuba diving, there’s a tendency for some people to care less about what kind of snorkel gear they use.
If you want to make the most of your snorkeling experience though, you can’t afford to use substandard equipment. Especially when you are doing underwater photography
In this article, we will talk about snorkeling masks. To be more specific, we will talk about the factors that significantly affect a snorkeling mask’s performance.
You will also be able to read more about some of the top snorkeling masks that are currently available. Perhaps one of them could even be the best snorkel mask for you.
Without further ado, let’s get in-depth on snorkeling masks.
The Best Traditional Snorkel Mask Sets
Table of Contents
Best Snorkel Mask Reviews
While Full Face Snorkel Masks are the new thing the truth is experienced snorkeling divers will always go for the traditional mask and snorkel set. This is because of a few reasons.
Traditional Snorkel Masks are
- Better for diving under water
- Better for equalising (holding your nose and blowing air into your ears)
- Better for Fresh Breaths (more oxygen)
- Easier to pack
- Have better lenses (glass)
You can start to see why experienced divers prefer traditional masks. Essentially if you have and inclination of eventually diving down just get a traditional snorkeling mask and figure out the learning curve.
Many people who buy the full face snorkeling masks are beginners and do not like having their nose blocked off. I can totally understand this notion because for a long while I did not even want to attempt going under water with a traditional mask because I may gag. With anything however you just have to practice technique and you will become a pro in no time!
As with any products certain masks stand up above the others, make sure when looking at snorkelling sets that you choose the right fit (see our fitting guide below). Another important factor you have to consider is what kind of snorkelling will you be doing? If you plan on diving under water I would recommend getting strong tempered glass. Tempered glass withstands diving pressures better as opposed to hard plastic.
Now onto snorkels. There are various different types of snorkels that you can choose from nowadays. The ones you may have grown up with are old fashioned tube snorkels where it is simply a tube attached to a mask. When choosing to dive the tube would become submerged and water would get it which would often challenge your gag reflex.
Next are semi dry snorkels which features a cover on it. The cover is meant as a splash guard which keeps water from splashing inside the tube. When submerged however, the splash guard has the same use as a traditional snorkel. Lastly is the dry snorkels. Dry Snorkels feature floating valves that close as soon as the snorkeler submerges the tube under water. The floating valve prevents water from going into the tub which is great if you do not want to deal with a mouth full of water.
1. Cressi Panoramic Wide View Mask and Snorkel Set
- 4 Window Lore Profile Design
- Tempered Glass Lenses
- Panoramic Vision
- Easily Adjusting Ratcheting Swivel Buckles
- Submersible dry top snorkel
- Snorkel Features Flex Tube
- Snorkel Features Mouthpiece
Best For: Snorkelers who want a high quality, comfortable mask that as a good looking price tag attached
Cressi is one of the biggest most trusted brands in the snorkeling industry. As a result they are usually on the cusp of innovation and comfort when diving under the water. This mask and snorkel set is no different.
This Cressi Mask allows you to see more than many other kinds of snorkeling masks do with it’s panoramic wide view mask. This is great for having a wide field of view, particularly when you see something in your peripheral vision. It is always good to have a mask that allows you to see from the sides because there are a lot of things you have to be aware of when snorkeling. Whether it be dangers or just simply locating other divers, you do not want a tunnel view when roaming the water.
The mask provides ample suction to your face (when fitted properly) while allowing you to see through the water without fogging problems or having to apply anti fogging applicants to it. Lets face it what’s the point of using a mask if it is just going to fog all the time.
The Ratcheting Swivel Buckles are also a huge time saver as you can simply just put the mask on and start ratcheting do a good snug fit. Many other Snorkeling masks you ahve to take it off, adjust, take off adjust. While this may not take that long it does make you loose valuable time that you could of been doing diving!
The Snorkel is one of Cressi’s first dry top snorkels. The snorkel itself is designed well. It is pretty simple but does its job of not letting any air in while diving. The floating valve is great for both beginner and experienced divers alike as it allows you to focus on what you are viewing then have to deal with a mouth full of water. If I had known about this technology when I was younger I definitely would of done snorkeling more!
The mouthpiece is also quite comfortable and never feels forced. One of the best subtle features of this snorkel is that it allows for some play while you are diving. This is great because many times you can feel the pressure on your mouth as the snorkel drags underwater but with this design it is much easier on the mouth.
2. Phantom Aquatics Scuba Panoramic Mask and Snorkel
- EZ Equalize nose pocket
- Single Lens design with seamless side windows for Panoramic Vision
- Double sealed silicone skirt
- Durable Polycarbonate frame
- Snorkel features large exhaust and purge valve
Best For: A Scuba/ Snorkel Hybrid Mask
The Phantom Aquatics Panoramic Mask is a great hybrid for both Snorkelling and Scuba Diving. Many Snorkelling masks cannot be used for scuba diving for several reasons. 1. The nose pocket does not allow for equalisation and 2. Then lenses are made of plastic. I say this is a good hybrid mask because the lens is made of tempered glass which allow it to maintain shape and durability for deeper dives as well as the mask having a sufficient nose pocket to allow for equalisation.
The mask itself is comfortable to go on longer snorkelling adventures. It’s double sealed silicone skirt does not allow hardly any water in. I say hardly because if you have facial hair there will be some seeps in but not enough for it to ruin your experience with it. Both Beginner and Intermediate – Advanced Divers seem to really take a liking to this mask with some even going as far as it equalling Cressi’s quality. Which is a pretty big compliment in itself.
Similar to the Cressi we reviewed above it features panoramic vision to allow you to see more of the water. The only downside to the mask is that it sometimes fogs so you have to find a solution to fix that. Usually toothpaste, baby shampoo or both mixed together provide an ample mixing solution.
The Phantom Snorkel features a large exhaust area that has an anti spray top and a purge valve. It seems to be of ample quality and looks very similar to the Cressi. A few verified purchasers have complimented the snorkel and few have complained.
3. Cressi Scuba Diving Snorkeling Freediving Mask and Snorkel
- No Frame Design Decreased Weight
- Swiveling Easy Adjusting buckles
- Can fold up
- Submersible dry snorkel
- Snorkel has Dry Top to Eliminate Water
- Soft Silicone mouth Piece as well as a Flex Tube
Best For: Scuba/ Snorkel Travelling Hybrid Mask
Similar to the Phantom Aquatics Snorkel set the Cressi Scuba Diving Snorkeling Freediving Snorkel is also a Scuba Hybrid but for the more serious divers. The mask is great for convenience as it is frame less, meaning that you can fold it up and pack it flat. The skirt of the mask is made of a 100% liquid silicone skirt that is soft on your face. When looking for a good diving mask you want to make sure that the material is not too hard otherwise the mask will dig into your face as you dive deeper!
While you do not get the panoramic side view of the other cressi mask you do get a better quality mask that is easy to pack and withstand deeper depths.
Similar to the Phantom however this mask does tend to fog up so as a result you should wash it with baby shampoo to avoid it fogging up. It seems after people do this you can free dive for a good 3 hours after the fact.
The Snorkel is .. you guessed it a dry top! What is a bit different with this snorkel set however is the fact that it has a quick release. The quick release allows you to detach the snorkel from the mask relatively easily as opposed to fiddling with it. This is yet another reason why this is a great snorkel to take on vacation. It is portable (frame less) and can be taken apart (snorkel from mask) relatively quickly. The Snorkel itself seems to work best when it you do a quick dive as opposed to a slower dive. I’m not too sure why this is but when you do a slower dive you tend to get some water that seeps in although, this can be fixed with a quick breath out.
4. U.S. Divers LUX Purge Grenada Snorkel Set
- Panoramic Lens
- Hypoallergenic silicone face skirt
- Submersible dry top snorkel
- Ergonomic Silicone mouthpiece
- One Way Purge Valve and Built in Whistle
- Go Pro Ready Mount
Best for: if you want additional accessories attached on your snorkel set
As you already may know Cressi is one of the big boys in the snorkeling industry so who’s the other? Well that would be U.S. Divers. As you may notice the design of this mask and especially the snorkel is much different.
The best comparison to be made to this mask would be the Cressi Panoramic Mask Set. If you are looking for a mask/ snorkel set that has all the bells and whistles (it actually has a whistle) this is a good one to get. The Snorkel has a go pro ready mount camera on the bottom and there is a built in whistle as well.
The mask visibility is pretty good, and the panoramic viewing seems to do the trick
To be frank this us divers snorkel set review has got a lot more mixed opinions than the above 4 Snorkel Sets. Some customers complained about water leaking into the mask while some others complained about the purge valve not working. Some other also did not like the placement of the gopro mount because it is hard to tell if it is recording when it is below your snorkel as opposed to a mask mount.
5. Tusa Visio Snorkel Mask
- 168 degree panoramic view
- Three dimensional strap
- Patented Hyperdry Elite Dry Top Technology
- Large Capacity Drain Chamber and Purge Valve
- 3 year warranty
Best For: Snorkelers Looking for Warranty Backing
The Tusa Visio Snorkel/ Mask features a 168 degree panoramic field of view that rivals full face masks. While you will have a bit more of a view from full face snorkeling masks you will not be able to dive very far if at all. The Front lens is made of tempered glass while the side view is made of hard plastic. Usually high quality masks have glass panels on the side when it comes to panoramic vision but this one does not. You can however for give that fact is it is cheaper than a lot of the mask/ snorkel combos that we reviewed above.
What is great about this mask is the fact that it comes with a 3 year warranty! Many of the bigger brands do not provide this and the fact that the ratings are almost on par with leaders such as U.S. Divers and Cressi is an added bonus. The mask also features a patented round edge skirt that can fit most face contours. This is a big problem with other snorkel masks because sometimes they are better designed for different shaped faces.
The Three dimensional strap also allows you to perfectly fit your face in the mask without feeling discomfort. The only downside to this mask is that you cannot equalize, but for the price you probably shouldn’t expect that.
The snorkel included is the Hyperdry Elite. It features dry top technology that stops water from entering into the snorkel as well as a high capacity drain chamber and purge valve for cleaning.
While the reviews of the mask have been pretty good some customers were not so sure about the Snorkel. One Customer complained that the purge valve started leaking and that is is constructed of cheaper materials. These were only a handful of complaints though, most purchasers were impressed.
Overall this is a great budget mask/ snorkel set that is almost on par with more expensive makes.
The Factors You Need to Consider When Shopping for Snorkeling Masks
There are all kinds of factors that can make a huge difference with regards to snorkeling mask quality. We’re going to touch on all of them in this part of the article, and we’re going to start with the fit of the mask itself.
A Proper Fit
You probably already know this, but it bears repeating: Fit is crucial when it comes to your snorkeling mask.
One way to quickly ruin your snorkeling experience is by getting a dive mask that constantly lets water in. If the mask does allow water to constantly enter, the lens will fog up and you will struggle to see the things going on around you.
An ill-fitting mask may also cause problems by virtue of just falling off repeatedly. Instead of spending your time marveling at the wonderful sights present under the water, you’re being forced to worry about your mask.
That is obviously not ideal.
You can follow a simple test to see if the snorkel mask you’re eyeing will fit you right.
According to the Hawaii Snorkeling Guide, the first thing you need to do to check the mask’s fit is to hold it up against your face. It’s important to note that you shouldn’t wear the mask to fit it. You should just have it positioned up to your face.
With the mask in the right position, you can now press it gently onto your face. Don’t inhale while doing so and just allow the force of your gentle press to get the mask into position.
If the mask can stick to your face after you let it go, that’s the best sign that it will fit you well.
To be certain that the mask will remain comfortable when you’re actually using it, go ahead and slide the strap over your head to put it on. With the mask on, the strap should rest on the back of your head.
You should be able to secure your mask without having to pull on it tightly.
Check the seal the mask forms while it’s on your face as well. Move your face in a variety of ways and see if the skirt – the part of the mask behind the frame that creates the seal – opens up while you’re doing so.
You don’t want that skirt swinging open in the water because your view will be obscured by it.
Settling on a Type
Now that you’re sure that the snorkeling mask fits you properly, you can move forward to selecting a mask type. The mask type is based on how the lens or lenses are installed.
According to Tropical Snorkeling, there are six basic mask types.
The first type is, appropriately enough, known as the classic mask. It’s very old school. You have one big lens spanning most of the mask and your nose also rests inside the mask. For a while, the classic mask was the only option available, but due to how poorly it prevented fogging and water intake, it gradually fell out of favor, which isn’t a bad thing.
The next mask type is the one lens variety. It’s essentially a much improved version of the classic option. The lens has been spread out more to give wearers a wider view and the sealing has been enhanced significantly.
Split or two-window masks resemble goggles very closely. You’re also given more space so that your nose doesn’t have to bear too much pressure. The field of vision provided by a two-window mask is still good, but slightly below what you can get from the single lens mask.
At first glance, you may find yourself wondering why three-window masks are called as such when they look no different from the single lens variants. It’s only when you take a closer look that you’ll notice the panels situated at the sides of the mask. You’re not really going to use these panels for seeing, but they will widen your field of vision. The additional panels also help with bringing more light in so that you can see clearer underwater.
Four-window masks function much in the same way as the three-window masks save for them having a smaller field of view and more space for the nose.
Frameless masks are also available. They are structured differently because the lens just connects directly to the mask’s skirt. Frameless masks are remarkably flexible and they won’t leave much of a mark on your face.
Looking for Good Lenses
The material makeup of the lens is going to impact how well it holds up during your snorkeling excursions.
Some of the cheaper snorkeling masks may still feature plastic lenses. Avoid those at all costs. It doesn’t matter how much money you can save of them because you’ll end up buying a new mask in the near future anyway.
Stick to the masks that make use of tempered glass. They will be able to last for more than a few snorkeling trips as long as you know how to properly store them. Thankfully, tempered glass has become the industry standard for lenses so you should have no trouble finding masks that feature them.
Unlike with scuba masks, you won’t need color-correcting lenses because you are not going deep into the water.
If you have some trouble seeing clearly, you may want to look for some corrective lenses though. Corrective lenses typically aren’t installed in snorkeling masks. You will likely have to request them specifically from stores or install them yourself.
A Wider Perspective
Since you’re contemplating going snorkeling, I’m guessing you’re very interested in seeing what lies just beneath the waves. In order to do that properly, you need a mask that offers you a wide field of view.
The mask type that can offer you the widest field of view is the three-window mask. It gives you a wider field of view because it combines an unobstructed window with additional panels at the sides.
If that type of perspective is still not enough for you, it may be worth your time to look for masks that feature shaped lens panels. Those specially designed panels widen your perspective by increasing what you can see in all directions.
Shaped lens panels are not must-have features on snorkel masks, but they can improve your experience quite a bit.
The Skirts That Work
The skirt of the snorkel mask is actually one of its most important components. It doesn’t matter how great the lenses are if the skirt is not right because you will still struggle to see anything in front of you.
Keep in mind that the skirt portion of the snorkel mask is what’s responsible for keeping the water out of it.
Snorkel mask skirts can be made out of different materials, though the ones you’ll see utilized the most are rubber and silicone.
The masks with rubber skirts are typically more affordable, but they are also less durable. Rubber does not hold up as well as silicone. The rubber masks can last for a while, but they still pale in comparison to the other option.
Silicone masks will cost more, but they will be more than worth it in the long run.
Aside from the material makeup, you also have to take into account the color of the skirt. Mask skirts can be black or clear.
In almost every scenario, the clear skirts are preferred. With a clear skirt present on your mask, you should be able to see underwater with greater ease. Even if the sun is not particularly bright while you’re snorkeling, the clear skirt will allow enough lighting to get in to mitigate that problem.
The only real reason why should choose a black skirt over a clear one is because you’re trying to use some special equipment underwater and the mask is letting too much light in to let you to do that.
You will also want skirts that are on the wider side. If the skirt’s width is insufficient, you can expect to run into some issues involving water creeping into your mask and causing the lenses to get all foggy.
To ensure that the skirt’s width is right where you need it to be, check how much of its edge is making contact with your face. In this scenario, you actually want the skirt to be in complete contact with your face because that means it’s going to form a tight seal once you go underwater.
Also, you may notice that some masks feature what is known as a double skirt. The double skirt can be hugely helpful if you’re going scuba diving. For snorkelers, it’s a feature that remains helpful and it can make your snorkeling session smoother. However, you also don’t have to go out of your way to find it.
Tuning the Volume
While you’re shopping for your snorkeling mask, you are bound to see items designated as high-volume and others marked as low-volume.
So, what exactly is volume referring to and is it anything you have to worry about?
According to Padi, the volume in this context refers to the amount of air that is present inside the mask.
High-volume masks usually stay farther away from your face. If you’re somewhat claustrophobic, you may be more comfortable using a high-volume mask because it doesn’t crowd your face as much. A high-volume mask can also extend your field of vision, but the increase is so minimal that it’s not going to make that much of a difference.
If you’re looking for a high-volume mask that offers a more substantial improvement to your field of view, you’ll want one of those items with the side panels.
The downside to using a high-volume mask is that they need more time to clear water. If you’re just going snorkeling, a high-volume mask may not be worth the extra effort of using.
Low-volume masks can get rid of water much faster. You also don’t have to worry as much about them fogging up because they usually feature a much tighter seal.
You’ll have to sacrifice a bit of your view when you’re using a low-volume mask, but you probably won’t mind because they are more convenient.
Strapped for Security
Snorkeling usually involves people executing a bunch of quick maneuvers as they try to see as much as they can while their head is underwater. Because of all that moving around and the head being jerked all over the place, only a quality strap can keep the snorkeling mask in place.
Snorkel mask straps are normally made out of either neoprene or silicone. Most manufacturers steer clear of rubber because the pressure placed on the strap can be too much for that material to handle.
Neoprene is the choice for many simply because of how comfortable it is. If you’ve worn one of the newer wetsuits, then you can probably vouch for the comfort provided by the aforementioned material.
However, some individuals may struggle with a neoprene strap. Once it’s been in the water, a neoprene strap can get slick and securing it may become more difficult.
If you are among those who find it difficult to secure neoprene straps on your head, your best bet is to go with the silicone straps instead. Those do better in terms of staying in place, thus enabling you to get in more snorkeling time.
Should You Seek Out a Purge Valve?
Purge valves are designed to make expelling water from inside the snorkeling mask much easier. They are usually positioned near the nose pocket of your mask and they can be used pretty easily.
Here’s the thing though: Purge valves are far from being necessary features of a snorkeling mask.
They will only really be useful if you are fond of using high-volume masks. Even then, you should be able to clear water out from the mask pretty effectively without the valve.
The folks who like to use low-volume masks may have no use for purge valves at all.
If the mask you’re thinking of purchasing doesn’t come with a purge valve, don’t worry. That little addition is not an essential part of the snorkeling mask.
The snorkeling mask’s position on your face may change while you’re in the water. That’s understandable considering how much you’re moving around.
You don’t just want to stop to keep adjusting the mask though. To minimize that potential problem, you can get a mask that features adjustable buckles. With the adjustable buckles present, you can make quick tweaks while you’re still in the water.
It’s also a good idea to look for snorkeling masks that come with additional accessories. If you can save some money on your snorkeling gear, you should do so. A snorkeling mask bundled together with useful accessories will help you accomplish that.
After getting the chance to try out all the snorkeling masks listed above, it’s clear that the Panoramic Wide View Mask from Cressi is the best of the bunch.
You get a sizable field of view that is clear and unobstructed and the lenses are made from tempered glass as expected.
The silicone rubber skirt is both durable and comfortable. It’s a double skirt too so you really don’t have to be concerned about water seeping in and clouding up your view.
Rounding out the whole package are buckles that you can adjust in a hurry to maximize your comfort underwater.
The other products certainly feature strong points of their own, but the Panoramic Wide View Mask from Cressi still stands out.