What to Look for in a Snorkel Mask
It's one thing to read reviews on different snorkel masks and come to a decision on what's best, but that won't necessarily correspond to what's best for your needs. For example, buying the most expensive and arguably highest quality snorkel mask is one way to go, but for the majority of us who live on a budget, that route can simply be impossible.
Therefore, the goal of this section is to provide you with some information that will help you identify key features of a snorkel mask that you may prefer, or
As you may have guessed, the mask is a very important piece of equipment when you are snorkeling, so it's a good idea to really pay attention to the little odds and ends of a snorkel mask and not just the price or brand. Two main things that separate high quality snorkel masks from low quality snorkel masks is the lens and skirt material. Good snorkel masks will come with tempered glass lenses for safety and clarity, as well as a 100% silicone skirt (as opposed to PVC or some other rubber). These two features are standard when it comes to high quality snorkeling masks.
If you're leaning towards a mask with these features, then there a couple more things you can look at when it comes to the lenses and skirt. Some masks come with panoramic or "wide-view" lenses. The lenses themselves aren't really that much different in this case, it's more so the overall design of the mask. Panoramic snorkel masks may have lenses on the side, allowing you to gain a better sense of what is in your periphery.
Additionally, wider skirts may offer a better seal than smaller skirts. A good way to think about it is the more skirt that is in contact with your face, the less likely water is to pass through. The
How to Properly Fit a Snorkel Mask
Finding the right fit of snorkel mask for your face can be tough, but it's definitely possible. Of course, the best way to choose the right snorkeling mask is by trying all of them on, but that's pretty much impossible. Plus, who wants to spend multiple days on end trying on snorkel masks?
The main thing is that it feels comfortable. Snorkeling is supposed to be fun, and if your mask hurts before you even hit the water, or you are constantly adjusting it, then it's not worth getting even if the quality is there. Then, once you find something that you think feels comfortable, you can begin to test the seal. Here's how you can test the seal of any snorkel mask:
When you are looking at a particular snorkeling mask, you can test the seal by placing it to your face in the position that you would normally wear it, but do not pull the strap around the back of your head like normal. Instead, hold your breath and gently let go of the mask. A really nice fit is one that will allow the mask to stick to your face without the strap. Some people say it helps to gently inhale through your nose to create some negative pressure, but depending on how strongly you're inhaling it may defeat the purpose of the test in the first place, so if you do inhale, try and keep it light.
This isn't to say that if a mask falls off your face easily that it won't work, but it will be less comfortable. Other things to keep in mind are that you don't have any obstructions between the skirt of the mask and your face. For example, people with long hair may have trouble keeping the hair out from under the skirt of the mask when they are putting it on. This is always tough to tell, but before you hit the water just try to remember to feel around the edge of the mask for any hair that may be stuck under the skirt. This will help ensure a proper seal.
Additionally, the strap shouldn't have to be so tight that it's painful. The main purpose of the strap is to prevent any shifting of the snorkeling mask when you are swimming under water or turning your head. It is also there to help accommodate a wide variety of head sizes. Therefore, if you find the strap is way too tight for your own comfort, then chances are you have a bad fit.
How to Prevent Your Snorkel Mask from Fogging Up
Next to an improper fit, one of the most annoying things that can happen with your snorkeling mask is having it fog up. This will reduce your visibility, which kind of defeats the purpose of looking at cool colorful marine life. The main thing you can do to prevent fogging of the snorkel mask is ensuring a proper fit, however, there are also a few other things you can do to prevent your mask from fogging up:
- Consider looking for an "anti-fog" mask (also referred to as a snorkel mask with "no-fog lenses"). Although these do not fully eliminate the possibility of your mask fogging up, it will drastically reduce the amount that it does fog up.
- When you put your mask on before entering the water, spend a good amount of time confirming that you have it on properly and comfortably. Snorkeling masks tend to fog up way more when you are constantly taking them off and putting them on.
- Perhaps the easiest way to prevent fogging of a snorkel mask (at least after the previously mentioned points) is to use a mask defog solution. Mask defog solutions are widely available.
- New masks often have a residual chemical left behind from the manufacturing process, which can contribute to fogging. If you already purchased the mask and don't have any defogging solution, one "life-hack" is to use tooth paste or baby shampoo on the lenses. Simply apply this with something soft enough to not scratch the lenses and thoroughly rinse with water (not ocean water).