Our Guide to Buying Full Face Snorkel Masks for Children
There are some minor drawbacks to full face snorkel masks that you need to be aware of before you commit to buying one for your kids.
In this article we look at the best brands of full face snorkel mask for children, with an honest approach of whether or not these will suit your kid's swimming style.
Click on the link below to take you directly to the answer of your most pressing question or keep scrolling to read it all.
The Good News - Snorkeling is now easier than ever!
Full face snorkel masks have made a big impact in the world of snorkeling in the last few years. The design of full face masks overcome many of the down-sides of snorkeling. These have been a game-changer for many people, and especially for children.
Even the best quality full face masks are becoming more affordable as newer versions are released and their popularity grows. As new brands continue to enter the market, both the prices and quality varies.
Should you buy children a full face snorkel mask?
If your kids love paddling around on or near the surface, then absolutely you should!
The innovative design of full face masks makes snorkeling a fun and unforgettable experience. These masks are comfortable and easy to use.
Many Kids Struggle With Snorkel Tubes
Once your child has tried snorkeling with a full face snorkel mask, many will never want to go back to the old style snorkel tube again.
Some of the Good things about Full Face Masks
No soreness or gagging
There is no sore jaw or teeth, and no gagging on a snorkel mouthpiece that's too big with full face masks.
The straps on full face masks are elasticized which makes them easy to put on and adjust to a snug fit.
no more fogging up
Full face snorkel masks have a separate chamber for breathing, so the viewing section doesn't fog up.
less adjustment, more fun
After some initial adjustment, they'll see how much fun these are. There's no need to stop to empty out water, defog, or re-adjust the straps.
If your kids are anything like mine, having a mask that isn't constantly fogging up is going to go a long way to EVERYONE having a more enjoyable time!
How Do Full Face Snorkel Masks Work?
Dry Top Snorkel
Full face masks have a dry top snorkel system in the tube. There are many traditional snorkels with these incorporated into them, but the full face snorkel mask takes this to a whole new level.
A Dry Top Snorkel uses a ball float system inside the snorkel. It stops water from entering the snorkel. As you lower your head into the water and the end of the snorkel is submerged, the float rises up and blocks the tube effectively stopping water from getting in.
Water Automatically Drains Away
If a small amount of water does go into the snorkel, full face masks are designed to channel this to the chin area of the mask, and away from the face.
The water then drains out through a valve located on bottom of the the chin as soon as you raise your head above water level.
After diving below the surface, there's no need to blow water out of the snorkel when you resurface - just breathe normally again.
How does sizing work with children's full face snorkel masks?
Kids XS sizes across most brands measure between 3.35" - 3.94" (8.5 - 10 cm) from the bridge of the nose, to the tip of their chin.
As we know, it's not just faces that come in different sizes, children do too. Some kids are big for their age while others are small.
This is why it's important to look past the age of the child. It's about the size of the child you're buying for, not the age.
If you have a big 5 year old, they could easily fit into some of the masks for small children, whereas you could be hard-pressed finding a mask small enough to fit a regular sized 5 year old.
Don't buy a mask that's too big thinking it will work now and last them longer. Always buy the correct size for the child.
Full face snorkel masks can still be used even if they're a little on the small side.
When you're buying for a small teen or large child, always go down a size if you're unsure. I recently tried using my younger son's Tribord XS size mask although I fit an Tribord Adult S/M size mask. The smaller size didn't leak although I can't use my older teenager son's M/L sized mask, as it's too big for me and leaks immediately.
It's inevitable that kids grow and understandable that you don't want to spend a fortune on a product they're quickly going to grow out of.
When choosing a full face snorkel mask, make sure it's a good brand as there is a difference in comfort for your child as well as the price. Sometimes it pays to spend a little bit more, to have peace of mind.
If you buy a decent quality mask, then it should last long enough to be handed down to younger siblings or cousins after your child grows out of it.
What if my child is too small for a full face snorkel mask?
If you want to introduce very small children to the underwater world, you may find that even an XS size may be too big for them.
An alternative to a full face or traditional snorkel is a bucket snorkel. These are for very young children who may not be good swimmers, or are too small for these masks.
Even if your kids are strong swimmers, you may want to think about investing in an inflatable snorkel vest if you're planning a snorkeling holiday in the ocean.
This will help them last a bit longer before tiring, as ocean swimming uses up far more energy than swimming in a pool or lake.
Which is the Best Full Face Mask for Children?
When choosing masks for children, make sure you go with brands that have XS or S sizing. Whichever brand you decide on, make sure they have a good returns/exchange policy in case the size isn't quite right.
With each of these full face snorkel masks, you are buying a good product that will give your child hours of enjoyment. All come with a full manufacturers warranty and outstanding reviews on Amazon.
#1 - Ocean Reef Aria - Lots of Accessories
Ocean Reef are at the top end of the pricing market. This is the mask to go for if money is no object and you want the best quality.
Ocean Reef make diving equipment as well as snorkel masks. They're a great brand and their products are made with higher quality materials. Ocean Reef also makes full face Scuba diving masks so you know their snorkel mask is going to be exceptional quality.
The Ocean Reef Aria now comes in 3 sizes, including one especially for the kids. The Aria also has more options when it comes to accessories.
These have an optical accessory available. These are a Support only - it's like buying eye glasses without the glass. You can take these to your optometrists to have lenses fitted to suit your eyes, or you can buy the generic lens to fit.
There's a video showing this in more detail on the Ocean Reef Aria product review page.
Read our full review on the Ocean Reef Aria now.
Ocean Reef Aria - Snorkie Talkie
Ocean Reef have been developing a surface communication unit for their snorkel masks which is now available. They've given it the very catchy name of the 'Snorkie Talkie'.
They say these have a communication range of up to 900 feet (or 275 meters), so you can chat with anyone on the same frequency.
Snorkie-Talkie comes with a rechargeable battery and USB cable charger. The battery has 1,200 stand-by battery life once fully charged, will give around 8 hours of operating time. The transmitter / receiver snaps onto the end of the snorkel tube and is connected to a speaker by a silicone tube, that you place over your ear.
Before you run out and buy these, you need to be aware of some of its restrictions.
They are waterproof to around 9.8 feet (or 3 meters), and it won't work when the transmitter is submerged. These are for surface communication. Being waterproof to nearly 10 feet is still a very reasonable depth for these masks. I think people are expecting these to be fantastic, and they're reasonably good, but not yet in the fantastic out-of-this-world range, just yet.
#2 - Ninja Shark - 2 x Great Versions for Kids
Ninja Shark Longer Tube Full Face Mask
Ninja Shark has recently redesigned their previous mask and released an improved version. These are made using a non-toxic and environmentally friendly anti-allergic medical grade silicone.
This Ninja Shark mask is made especially for children under 12 years old. These have a longer tube and come in either pink or blue.
Ninja Shark Kids Air
Ninja Shark have also released their new Kids Air Snorkel. We all know kids love bubbles, and there’ll be a lot of them with the Air Kids snorkel mask.
The main difference between the Air Kids mask and other children’s full face snorkel masks is the breathing mechanism. This mask uses less complex technology, which means it's less expensive to produce.
Less complex technology doesn't mean lower quality. It's how Ninja Shark can offer it at such a great price!
The only noticeable difference with this breathing design is that kids will be blowing tonnes of bubbles in the water as they breathe. So let's be honest, that’s hardly a downside for most kids.
If your children love floating around in a sea of bubbles, they’ll fall in love with the Kids Air snorkel mask. There will be bubbles following them around on all their adventures.
The Kids Air snorkels come in White/Black or Green/White. Click on the big image below to find out more info on the Ninja Shark range, or click the Ninja Shark button to go directly to their website.
Ninja Shark are based in Australia but ship worldwide.
Read our full review on the Ninja Shark now.
#3 - Wildhorn SeaView V2 Snorkel Mask - Innovation!
Wildhorn Outfitters have recently released a new design. These come in 3 sizes, with a Small for children, although these are not be suitable for very young children.
Click on the link below to read about the new Seaview V2 in more detail.
#4 - Tribord EasyBreath - Be Quick before they Disappear
Tribord developed the first full face snorkel mask. When they released the Tribord EasyBreath full face mask, this became a game-changer for the world of snorkeling.
The Tribord EasyBreath full face snorkel mask is very well designed and made with good quality materials. It's not a cheap version of an expensive brand. This is a great mask at a very good price. These continue to come down in price as different versions are released.
Tribord Subea XS Sizes
Tribord has continue to improve on their original design. These did start in 4 sizes, making it easy to find the right one for all members of your family, but the XS size is becoming more difficult to find.
Tribord are undergoing a branding change and are also branded as Subea. These are an excellent choice for smaller children.
Read our full review on the Tribord Subea Easybreath now.
READ THIS before considering a full face Snorkel Mask!
No matter how good the brand you pick, there’s no getting around some things with full face snorkel masks. Here are the drawbacks that you should be aware of to avoid disappointment.
Full face snorkel masks are designed for snorkeling in relatively calm water. As with a traditional mask and mouthpiece, if you lean your head too far forward, water will enter the snorkel. The float valve system only works when the snorkel is in a vertical position. Water may enter the snorkel when duck diving.
Whether it’s a traditional mask or a full face snorkel mask, water will get in if there’s any hair between the skirt of the mask and your face. Long fringes and hair needs to be cleared completely out of the way or they will create tiny spaces that cause water to slowly leak into the mask.
These are not designed for swimming laps in a pool. Full face snorkel masks are designed for leisurely snorkeling. They work well when breathing calmly. They are not a good choice for swimmers exercising, and should also be taken off when swimming between snorkeling spots. Most snorkel air pieces are not wide enough to provide a swimmer with enough oxygen when swimming at an exercise pace.
Are these safe?
Children seem to take to these easier than many adults, but are they safe?
Generally speaking, full face snorkel masks are no more dangerous for your children than a traditional mask and snorkel. If your children can swim and use a traditional snorkel mouthpiece and mask, then they will have no problem using a full face mask.
When it comes to safety, full face snorkel masks are the same as traditional snorkel masks sets.
Always supervise children when swimming and snorkeling.
There are now so many brands available to buy both online and in stores. The best full face masks are made with quality materials, but innovation and quality comes with a price tag.
A lot of the cheap full face masks are direct knock-offs of these good quality brands. Many versions are made in China using inferior quality materials.
Sadly, some are very poorly made, with common complaints including that there are leaks in the joins, or the silicone isn't as flexible as other masks so the face seal isn't as good.
Doug Kramer & Family
PBA Champion, Doug Kramer with his family on holiday with Full Face Snorkel Masks.
Image Source: https://www.instagram.com/dougkramer/
Tips to keep in mind when buying
Buy the right size for your child's face. Full face snorkels will leak if it's not the correct size. Size charts are available for all brands of snorkel masks so make sure you follow these.
Go for masks with a flat viewing section. Full face snorkel masks with curved viewing areas can distort the view and sometimes makes people feel woozy.
Which Full Face Snorkel Mask to buy on a Budget?
Let's face it, not everyone's budget will stretch to a top quality full face snorkel mask. If you're on a budget, you can still enjoy the amazing benefits of the full face snorkel mask. The most important thing is that you get the correct size for your child's face.
A compromise could be that you buy last year's model of a quality brand. It's easy to snap up a bargain if you're happy to go with last years model.
Best Kids Traditional Snorkel Sets
Cressi Junior Kids Rocks Snorkel Gear
Full face masks are such a big change in snorkeling, but what if you're still not convinced this is the way to go?
There are some great (and not so great) snorkeling mask sets available. Regardless of whether you choose a full face mask, or a traditional snorkeling mask, we're here to recommend the best quality gear, so no-one is left disappointed.
The mask set we recommend for children is the Cressi brand. Cressi have been making snorkel and scuba gear since the 1940's so we know they're doing something right.
The Cressi Junior Kids Rocks Snorkel Set comes in three colors and two sizes. These are designed for children aged from around 6 to around 14. The snorkel set includes a set of fins, a traditional style face mask with a silicone skirt edge that's designed to accommodate children's narrower faces.
This set also includes a curved Dry Top snorkel which uses the same principal to stop water getting in as the full face mask snorkels. It has a splash guard on the end with a valve that seals the snorkel as you go underwater.
A mesh carry bag is included. This snorkel is designed to go on left hand side of face so it can be attached to the mask strap by a snorkel keeper clip.
If you're children have problems with the fins being slightly too big, a set of wetsuit style booties will help.
Which is the best Sunscreen for Kids?
If your family is heading out into the sun, chances are you're going to need sunscreen. We all know how much kids love to play in the sand or spend lots of time in the water, especially when on holiday.
Yes, I know, here I go again sounding like a mother (there's a reason for that). Before making a choice on which sunscreen to buy for your children, there's a couple of things you probably want to be aware of.
There are 2 chemicals used in many well known brands of sunscreen that you probably want to avoid. These are Oxybenzone and Retinyl Palmitate. You also need to avoid anything that has a SPF factor of 55+ and higher. Anything up to SPF 50 is ok.
Before your eyes glaze over completely, I want to keep this as simple and as helpful as possible to guide you to the best sunscreen currently available for children.
If you do a Google search, you'll find plenty of trustworthy websites with in-depth information about these chemicals if you need more information. The one recommended below does not contain either of these chemicals.
#1 - ThinkBaby & ThinkSport Kids Safe Sunscreen
There's some really nice things about the ThinkBaby and ThinkSport Kids Safe Sunscreen products. This is a mineral based non-toxic sunscreen, and it doesn't contain any biologically harmful chemicals, such as the ones mentioned above.
This is the first sunscreen to pass Whole Foods Premium Care requirements, and has won more awards than any other sun care product. This has not been tested on animals.
Both ThinkBaby and ThinkSport for Kids have the highest SPF rating, water resistance and Broadspectrum coverage under the FDA Guidelines. The active ingredient is Zinc Oxide which provides protection against UVA and UVB ultraviolet radiation.
ThinkBaby/ThinkSport LIVESTRONG sunscreen is made in the USA and is safe for children over 6 months of age, adults (including pregnant women), and anyone with sensitive skin.
thinkBaby and thinkSport Kids Sunscreen is easy to apply and doesn't feel oily.