Full Face Snorkel Masks
You will have a lot of questions if you're just discovering full-face masks.
Here we answer the most commonly asked questions. We'll also guide you to the best quality, safe masks for you and your kids.
What's all the fuss about?
Full face snorkel masks have really gained in popularity around the world over the past 4 or so years, with many people just discovering them now.
Personally, I discovered these by accident around 4 years ago and bought one each for my two teenage sons. Before this, they both loved snorkeling but didn't enjoy the drawbacks of regular masks and snorkels. The constant fogging up, leaking, and the mouth piece annoyed them.
This really took a lot of the fun out of snorkeling for them, and for me. Quite often they'd just resort to using a regular set of goggles.
Their full face snorkel masks became a game-changer. Now we all enjoy snorkeling so much more, especially me, with less whining and more swimming from the kids. (Am I allowed to say that?)
Full Face Snorkels
Snorkeling is a wonderful experience which many people miss out on because traditional masks and snorkels can be annoying or uncomfortable.
Full face snorkel masks make snorkeling more enjoyable, especially in salty sea water.
There's no more snorkel to gag on, or clamp down on. This often causes people to have sore jaws after only a short time of snorkeling - and water going into the tube is just plain annoying.
Full face masks keep the water out and off your face. If any water does enter the tube, it's channelled away from the face and to the chin area. As soon as you lift your head out of the water, it runs out through a valve at the chin.
How good is that?! Personally, I think it's great!
The Good Things About Full Face Snorkels
Let's take a look at the benefits of full face snorkel masks.
Easy to breath
The designs of full face snorkel masks means you breathe through both your nose and mouth at the same time.
This is a very natural way of breathing and a big advantage over traditional masks where you breathe through the snorkel tube with your mouth only.
dry top snorkel tube
The tube is known as a Dry Top snorkel. It has plastic balls inside that rise up the tube as you submerge. This blocks the holes in the tube and stops water from entering into the snorkel.
A big plus of this type of snorkel is that you don't have to purge (blow really hard) when you get back up to the surface to clear the tube of water. Yay!
wide field of vision
Full face snorkel masks have a field of vision range of around 180°. This is broader than a standard snorkel or diving mask.
There is some minor distortion on the very edges of the lens, which may look a little strange initially, but you quickly get used to this. Many traditional masks also have this, so it really is no biggie.
There's no fogging with quality full face masks. All the fogging takes place in the lower chamber of the mask, and is normal. This is a completely separate area from the viewing section so this area remains fog free.
Full face snorkel masks have a drain valve located at the chin or near the chin. If a small amount of water does get into the tube, it's drained away from your face and out through these valves as soon as you lift your head above water.
no more sore jaw
As there is no mouth piece with full face masks. This means that there's no jaw fatigue even after hours of snorkeling! Clamping down on a snorkel tube for any period of time can give you a sore jaw or teeth.
The straps on full face masks are made from wide elastic, so they don't get tangled in your hair. These can seem tricky to get on at first, but you quickly adjust and they are very comfortable.
As long as you have the correct size mask for you face, the silicone skirt will create a watertight seal. No salty or chlorinated water will get into your eyes or mouth.
The Limitations of Full Face Snorkel Masks
No matter how good the brand, there’s just no getting around some things with full face snorkel masks.
No Diving Deep
These are not designed for Free Diving or spear fishing. There’s too great a volume of air inside the face cavity of the mask, and it quickly becomes uncomfortable when diving below 10 feet (around 3 meters).
The exception to this is the Ninja Shark Equalising mask as it has equalizing capabilities.
Not for Swimming Laps
These are not designed for swimming laps in a pool. The tubes on full face masks are not wide enough to provide a swimmer with enough oxygen when swimming at an exercise pace.
No Duck Diving
Full face snorkel masks are designed for using in relatively calm water. Just 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.
Don't Over Do It
These are designed for leisurely snorkeling. They all work well when breathing calmly.
You may need to remove the mask when swimming longer distances to get to a new snorkel location.
Heavy breathing or exercising is less effective in full face masks.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, as long as the top of the tube is above the water.
This is a snorkel mask and not a scuba diving mask. As there is no oxygen source attached to the mask, you have to hold your breath once you submerge and the top of the snorkel goes below the surface.
As you submerge, the ball floats inside the snorkel rise and seal the tube so no water goes in. The ball floats drop as you reach the surface again, allowing air back into the tube.
As we know, children come in all shapes and sizes.
These masks go by children's measurements, not by their ages. You may have a big 5 year old, or a small 12 year old. As long as their measurement from the bridge of their nose to the bottom of their chin fits within the Size Charts of the individual XS masks, then you should be good.
Full face snorkel masks are not made for Scuba diving, or Free Diving. They are designed for leisurely snorkeling near the surface of the water.
Most people with full face snorkel masks will only happily only dive around 1 to 2 metres. With practice, you can dive up to 6 to 7 meters with the Ninja Equaliser Mask.
These might look hard to put on, but you'll quickly become accustomed to putting them on and taking off with ease.
The trick is to pull the straps to either side and put them on CHIN FIRST. Then adjust the straps at the back of your head. Gently lift the mask slightly so it falls into a comfortable position on your face.
Make sure their is no fringe or hair caught between your face and the silicone skirt as this will cause a slow leak.
Regardless of whether it’s a traditional mask or any full face snorkel mask, water will leak in if there’s hair between the silicone skirt of the mask and your skin.
Beards create tiny spaces that will allow water to slowly seep through. The same applies with fringes.
Kids often forget to push longer hair out of the way when donning the mask. Make sure there is no hair between the skin and silicon skirt and this will avoid leaks and disappointment.
The good news is, unlike traditional swimming masks, moustaches do not cause these masks to leak.
The Ninja Shark and Subea Easybreath masks are both shipped from Sydney, NSW. Please see their individual review pages for specific Shipping and Delivery information.
At this stage, both are reporting minor delays to regular shipping times due to Covid.
Choosing the One That's Right for You
There's a lot of full face masks available on places like Amazon but many are cheap knock-off's that are made in China. The quality of these masks is inferior and it shows in their cost. They don't last as long, the colours fade quickly and the silicone face skirt isn't as soft.
I've also recently seen full face masks available in bigger department stores. So far, these have also been at the lower end of the price and quality scale.
What I am reviewing are 2 of the top masks available in Australia. Sure, you can buy the cheap ones but you're not going to get the complete enjoyable experience of what a quality full face snorkel mask brings to snorkeling.
Ninja Shark Adults
Ninja Shark are a small family business run out of Sydney, NSW. These guy are passionate about their snorkeling, and for providing good quality products.
They have a range of masks for Adults and Children, as well as snorkeling and underwater accessories.
Subea are also known as Tribord. Their Easybreath masks were the first ever developed and their continually improving on their design. Easybreath are available through Decathlon's online store. They have 2 adult masks and one XS size for children.
Masks for Children
Both Ninja Shark and Subea have masks in XS sizes for children. There is information specific to the XS sizing on both of the product review pages.
Tips to helping Kids Adjust to Full Face Snorkel Masks
Make sure children practice before using properly. Start by standing in the water and get them to lower their head to the surface, then just below. It won't take them long to realise they can keep breathing the same as they normally do.
This will take a lot of the anxiety away, so they can relax and start to enjoy the fun of snorkeling.
Both Ninja Shark and Subea have put a lot of time and investment into designing robust and functional full face snorkel masks. Both make good quality masks. Each has slightly different features and caters to different budgets and swimming styles.
The Kids masks are quality and provide a fun way to have your children enjoying swimming and water play again. They take all the annoying little things that kids don't like out of it.
No more salty water in the mouth, no gagging or getting sore jaws or teeth from clamping down on a mouth piece. Best of all, there's no leaking and no fogging up.