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Home » Full Face Snorkel Mask vs Regular Snorkel Mask: A Comprehensive Comparison

Full Face Snorkel Mask vs Regular Snorkel Mask: A Comprehensive Comparison

Snorkeling is an enjoyable recreational activity for people of all ages. To snorkel, you need the proper gear and equipment, including a snorkel mask. There are two main types of snorkel masks: full face snorkel masks and regular snorkel masks. How do these masks compare in terms of safety, comfort, and experience? Here is our comparison of full face snorkel mask vs regular snorkel mask.

Full Face Snorkel Masks

  • Easier breathing through nose and mouth
  • No jaw fatigue from biting mouthpiece
  • Wider panoramic field of view
  • Less prone to fogging with anti-fog technology
  • Fewer leaks due to enclosed design
  • Some allow built-in cameras for photos/video
  • Can feel claustrophobic for some
  • Harder to clear water from the mask

Regular Snorkel Masks

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to clear by lifting head
  • Widely available for rent from most shops
  • Comfortable for long wear when properly fitted
  • Less claustrophobic open design
  • More prone to fogging, especially in cold water
  • Typically narrower field of view

Check out the thorough comparison of Full Face Snorkel Mask vs Regular Snorkel Mask below.

Full Face Snorkel Masks And How They Work

full face Snorkel Mask

Full face snorkel masks, also known as snorkeling masks, cover your entire face instead of just your eyes and nose like a regular snorkel mask. They have the snorkel tube built into the mask, allowing you to breathe naturally through your nose and mouth while snorkeling.

Some key features of full face snorkel masks:

  • They cover your whole face, from forehead to chin, with a large curved lens for a wide field of view. Some masks extend to also cover parts of your head and hair.
  • The snorkel tube is permanently attached to the mask, so you do not need to hold a separate snorkel in your mouth. You can breathe normally through your nose and mouth. This prevents jaw fatigue from biting down on a snorkel mouthpiece. 
  • Many full face masks have anti-fog technology on the inside of the lens. This helps prevent fogging so your view remains clear while snorkeling. Some also have a separate chamber for exhaled breath, keeping moisture away from the viewport.
  • Most allow you to equalize ear pressure naturally by pinching your nose, as with any mask. Some high-end models have ear covers that automate pressure equalization.
  • The large lens and open design creates an almost panoramic field of view, allowing you to see more of the underwater scenery around you without turning your head.
  • Many detach easily from the snorkel for storage and transport. The masks typically come with a carrying case and have detachable parts for cleaning and maintenance.
  • Some high-end models allow for additional accessories like built-in cameras to record your snorkeling experience.

Full face snorkel masks open up the underwater world to novice and experienced snorkelers alike with their innovative and user-friendly designs. However, they are not ideal for people with respiratory issues or who feel claustrophobic. For them, a traditional mask and snorkel may be a better option.

Pros of Full Face Snorkel Masks

Here are the main pros of full face snorkel masks:

Easier breathing

Full face masks allow you to breathe naturally through your nose and mouth instead of only through your mouth with a snorkel. This can feel more comfortable and natural for many snorkelers.

No jaw fatigue

Because you don’t need to bite down on a snorkel mouthpiece, full face masks prevent jaw fatigue and discomfort. You can spend more time snorkeling without discomfort or jaw pain.

Wider field of view

The large curved lenses on full face masks provide an almost panoramic view of the underwater scenery. You can see more without turning your head, which also helps you spot marine life more easily.

Prevent fogging

Many full face masks have anti-fog coating on the lenses or a separate chamber for exhaled breath. This helps prevent the lenses from fogging up, even in cold or choppy water. Your snorkeling experience won’t be interrupted due to a foggy mask.

Natural ear pressure equalization

Most full face masks allow you to equalize ear pressure naturally by pinching your nose, just like with a traditional dive mask. Some high-end models even have built-in technology to automate ear pressure equalization at different depths.

Fewer leaks

Because full face masks create an enclosed chamber over your face, there are fewer opportunities for water to leak in around the edges. Properly fitted, full face snorkel masks are less prone to dripping or leaking than a standard mask and snorkel.

Capture photos and video

Certain full face mask models allow for the attachment of built-in action cameras so you can capture photos and video of your snorkeling to enjoy for years to come.

With so many benefits, it’s easy to see why full face snorkel masks have become popular recreational dive gear for snorkeling enthusiasts around the world.

Cons of Full Face Snorkel Masks

Here are some potential cons of full face snorkel masks:

Can feel claustrophobic

The enclosed design of full face masks does not suit everyone. Some snorkelers feel claustrophobic with their entire face and head enclosed in the mask. For them, a traditional mask and snorkel may feel more open and comfortable.

Hard to clear water from mask

If water enters the chamber of a full face mask, it can be more difficult to clear compared to a standard mask. You have to lift your head to empty water through the snorkel tube instead of simply looking up to clear a basic dive mask. Proper fitting and adjustment helps minimize water entry.

Fogging problems

Despite anti-fog coatings, some full face masks can still fog up on the inside, especially those with more basic snorkel designs. The enclosed space and less ventilation can lead to problems with fog and condensation.

Regular Snorkel Masks And How They Work

regular snorkel mask

A regular snorkel mask set includes a face mask covering your eyes and nose, along with a separate snorkel tube for breathing at the surface. This traditional snorkeling equipment design has been used for decades.

The mask component allows you to see clearly underwater. It covers your nose and eyes, while the snorkel allows you to breathe with your face submerged. The basic parts of a regular snorkel mask set include:

  • Face mask: The mask fits over your eyes and nose and holds an air space so you can see clearly underwater. Masks come in different shapes and sizes to suit a range of face types. Teardrop-shaped masks often fit most people well. A mask skirt made of silicone or rubber creates a seal against your face.
  • Snorkel tube: The snorkel tube, typically J-shaped, has a mouthpiece at one end for you to hold in your mouth, and a valve at the other end to prevent water entry. As you swim face down, the snorkel allows you to breathe at the surface. Some snorkels have splash guards, purge valves, and ergonomic mouthpieces.
  • Strap or buckle: An elastic strap or buckle attachment secures the mask to your face and allows easy on/off. Some masks use a single strap around the back of the head, while others have two straps for added security.
  • Optional purge valve: A purge valve along the snorkel tube allows you to clear any water that has entered the snorkel. It must be closed properly to prevent water from entering when submerged.
  • Optional splash guard: A splash guard on the snorkel end helps block water splashing into the tube when submerged. It reduces the need for purging water from the snorkel. 

The simplicity and minimal parts of a standard snorkel set make it ideal for most recreational snorkeling. However, the separate mask and snorkel components do require some practice to use comfortably as you need to hold the snorkel tube in your mouth, clear your snorkel of water, and prevent fogging.

Pros of Regular Snorkel Masks

Here are some pros of regular snorkel masks and snorkel sets:

  • Inexpensive. Regular snorkel masks and snorkels are simple, basic equipment and very affordable. You can get a high-quality recreational set for between $20 to $50. They are a budget-friendly option for snorkeling.
  • Easy to clear. If water enters a standard snorkel, it is easy to clear by lifting your head out of the water and exhaling forcefully to eject the water from the tube. You can then resume snorkeling without interrupting your experience for long. Some snorkels also have purge valves along the tube for manual clearing.
  • Available for rent. Because standard masks and snorkels are simple, inexpensive gear, they are widely available for rent at most snorkeling resorts, shops, and tour groups. You do not need to transport or buy your own equipment. Rentals provide everything you need to get in the water and start snorkeling.
  • Comfortable for long term wear. A properly fitted standard mask and snorkel are designed for comfort during prolonged snorkeling sessions. High-quality silicone skirts provide a watertight yet comfortable seal against your face. Mouthpieces on snorkel tubes are also designed to avoid jaw fatigue when holding the tube in your mouth for a long time.
  • Less claustrophobic. An open standard snorkel mask only covers your eyes and nose, avoiding the closed-in feeling of full face snorkel masks. For those with any claustrophobia or anxiety about the feeling of a full face enclosure, a traditional mask and snorkel can feel more comfortable and open.

Cons of Regular Snorkel Masks

Here are some potential cons of regular snorkel masks and snorkel sets:

  • Can fog up. Standard snorkel masks often lack anti-fog coating or advanced ventilation to prevent fogging, especially in cold water. The smaller space inside the mask can lead to fogging on the inside of the lenses, interrupting your view and snorkeling experience. You may need to surface to defog your mask lens.
  • Jaw fatigue. Biting down on a snorkel mouthpiece to hold the tube in your mouth during snorkeling can cause discomfort and jaw fatigue over time. The constant tension required to grip the mouthpiece can feel tiring, especially for long snorkeling adventures or sessions over multiple days. 
  • Narrower field of view. A standard mask provides a narrower field of view compared to a full face snorkel mask. You need to turn your head more frequently to view your full surroundings underwater. This can make it slightly more difficult to spot marine life in your periphery or appreciate the scale of large reef structures. 
  • Prone to leaks. Due to fewer seals and attachment points against your face, a basic mask and snorkel set can be more prone to minor dripping or leaking issues. Small leaks allow little water to seep in, requiring you to lift your head clear the water now and then. Proper sizing and adjustment can minimize leaks, but some risk remains.
  • Not ideal for freediving. A standard snorkeling set may not suit more advanced snorkeling like freediving, spearfishing or underwater photography that involves descending below the surface. Other gear like full face masks or diving masks and regulators are better suited for this purpose.

Recommendations For When To Choose A Full Face Snorkel Mask vs A Regular Snorkel Mask

Choose a full face snorkel mask if:

  • Cost is not a concern. Full face masks are more expensive, so if budget is a limiting factor, a standard set may make more sense. 
  • You’re an inexperienced or beginner snorkeler. Full face masks are very easy to use and require little practice to get comfortable breathing and clearing the mask. They provide more confidence for beginners.  
  • You have jaw issues or fatigue easily. Since you don’t need to bite down on a snorkel mouthpiece, full face masks prevent discomfort in your jaw or mouth.
  • You want the widest possible view. A panoramic full face mask provides the largest field of view for the most immersive snorkeling experience.  
  • You have lung or breathing issues. Full face masks allow for the most natural breathing through your mouth and nose.  
  • You plan to snorkel in colder water. Full face masks are less prone to fogging, even in cold temperatures, due to their advanced ventilation and anti-fog lens coatings. 

Choose a regular snorkel mask if:

  • You’re on a budget. Standard snorkel sets are very affordable, often under $50. They provide basic equipment at the lowest cost.
  • You feel claustrophobic. A standard mask only covers your eyes and nose, avoiding the closed-in feel of a full face mask enclosure.
  • Snorkeling is a very occasional activity. As standard gear is more basic, it may suit infrequent or casual snorkeling better. Full face masks have more parts to maintain for intermittent use. 
  • You want to rent instead of buy. Regular snorkel masks are widely available to rent at most resorts and tour locations. Full face masks are less common as rentals.
  • You’re an experienced snorkeler or freediver. Basic snorkeling gear may be preferred by those already very comfortable managing standard masks and snorkels, even for extended periods or at depth. 
  • You’re traveling to remote locations. Simpler snorkeling equipment is easier to transport, pack, and repair or find parts for as needed in remote destinations. Full face masks have more complex parts that could be difficult to source locally if lost or damaged. 

In the end, both full face and regular snorkel masks have a place for recreational snorkeling. Choose based on an honest evaluation of your needs, experience level, health conditions, and location to determine which option will maximize your enjoyment and time spent appreciating the underwater world. 

FAQ About Full Face Snorkel Mask vs Regular Snorkel Mask

Q: Are full face snorkel masks safe?

A: Safety is a top concern for any snorkeling equipment. Full face snorkel masks have received some criticism over safety concerns. The main issue is that full face masks cover the entire face, which some argue makes it more difficult to breathe and can cause a buildup of carbon dioxide inside the mask. However, many reputable brands now install CO2 scrubbers in their full face masks to prevent CO2 buildup. As long as you buy from a trusted brand, full face masks today are considered safe if used properly according to instructions.

Q: Are full face snorkel masks better than regular snorkel masks?

A: Full face snorkel masks and regular snorkel masks each have their pros and cons. Full face masks provide easier breathing, prevent jaw fatigue, and have a wider view but are more expensive. Regular masks are very budget-friendly but more prone to fogging and leaks. Neither is inherently better, so choose based on your needs and preferences. 

Q: Do full face snorkel masks leak?

A: When properly fitted and adjusted, full face snorkel masks create an enclosed chamber and are less prone to minor leaks compared to a standard mask. However, no mask can guarantee 100% no leaks for all face types. Some water may enter the mask, especially if not fitted correctly. Leaks also increase with more advanced snorkeling at greater depths. For surface snorkeling, a well-fitted full face mask should allow for a relatively leak-free experience.

Q: Do full face masks fog up?

A: Many full face snorkel masks are built to minimize fogging with an anti-fog plastic lens and ventilation to redirect exhaled breath. However, no mask can eliminate fogging 100% in all conditions. Changes in water temperature, depth, exertion level while snorkeling, and mask fit can all contribute to fogging up. To help prevent fogging in any mask, you can:

  • Spit in your mask and rinse, then thoroughly wet the inside to coat the lens.
  • Use a commercial anti-fog solution according to the directions before your snorkeling trip.
  • Descend slowly when entering the water to allow your mask to equalize to the temperature.
  • Rinse your mask with a defogging solution or fresh water after every use and let it air dry completely. 
  • Make sure your mask fits properly to allow minimal trapped air. An improper fit is a major cause of fogging problems.

With some preventative measures taken, a high-quality full face snorkel mask with advanced ventilation and an anti-fog lens can greatly minimize fogging during recreational snorkeling trips.

Enjoyed this guide of Full Face Snorkel Mask vs Regular Snorkel Mask: A Comprehensive Comparison? Then be sure to check out our other outdoor gears guides.


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