• Best snorkel mask?

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  • I need a new one. Are there any major differences beyond price? What is the very best mask for snorkling (vs scuba)?

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    Question by Kevin Kelly
    06/17/2016

The key thing to a mask is getting one that fits!  The only way to do that is to try them on without the strap, breath in through your nose, and see if it sticks without ANY leaking.  If you’re only go to use it for snorkeling, you might also want to look for a low-volume mask as they are easier to clear while snorkeling.

Answer by jmiller
06/18/2016
1 Favorites

The key thing to a mask is getting one that fits!  The only way to do that is to try them on without the strap, breath in through your nose, and see if it sticks without ANY leaking.  If you’re only go to use it for snorkeling, you might also want to look for a low-volume mask as they are easier to clear while snorkeling.

Answer by jmiller
06/18/2016

The key thing to a mask is getting one that fits!  The only way to do that is to try them on without the strap, breath in through your nose, and see if it sticks without ANY leaking.  If you’re only go to use it for snorkeling, you might also want to look for a low-volume mask as they are easier to clear while snorkeling.

Answer by jmiller
06/18/2016

I recommend one with a purge valve. I bought mine over 15 years ago, so I’m sure the state of the art has improved since then. I also recommend one with peripheral vision panes.

Fit is important so there isn’t a ”best” for everyone. Definitely go to a local shop that has a pool or tank where you can test them out.

Answer by davecort
06/19/2016

Fit is 99.9% of masks. Slight inbreath suction, no strap, should ”stick” to your face without effort, just standing there, no water.

If it leaks like that, you’ll hate it in the water. The strap should be just to keep it in place as you move through the water. Anyone coming out of the water with harsh mask marks has the strap way too tight. Mustaches are a problem, one solution is Vaseline.

A coating of spit on the (inside of the) glass will keep it from fogging; no special solutions required.

My inclination is to avoid valves & doodads. Simple is always best.

Anyone interested in snorkling & freediving will learn a lot of skills to go with it in a scuba class (clearing mask & snorkel, ear-clearing, efficient transition from floating to vertical diving). As great as scuba is, there’s nothing like jumping back in the water without tank & weightbelt – you’re like a fighter jet in the water. Speed & agility!

Answer by Wayne Ruffner
06/20/2016

Ditto on the ”must suck onto your face” and using a traveler’s tube of Vaseline for mustaches.  There are replacement straps made of wide neoprene bands for folks with long hair… I wouldn’t know, but my wife swears by them. 

As to the mask itself, go with freediver gear, such as the Omer Alien. Those guys go to crazy depths, so their gear must be the best available. Low volume is good, as it minimizes the amount of air inside the mask. This keeps the eyeballs-popping-out feeling at a minimum. The glass is also closer to your eyes, meaning more field of vision and less distortion. The lenses should be tempered and the skirt of the mask made of a silicone-based rubber. My Omer Alien mask is in ”kelp camo” color, which helps to distinguish it from all the other masks that are flopping around on a dive boat. The small size is also good for keeping the mask shoved inside a bootie or dive sock when transporting it.

Answer by dbarnard
06/20/2016

The others are correct – fit is everything. I add a couple of thoughts. First, when fitting the mask: put it on your face without using the strap, suck in through your nose, and then ”plug” your nose with your throat as though breathing just through your mouth. It will isolate the mask as the only possible source of leaks.

Second, look for a low volume mask. If you dive down, the mask will compress against your face, and you will need to equalize it just as you do with your sinuses. For a mask, you do this by breathing out through your nose (which is, by the way, why you need a mask instead of goggles for diving). The lower the volume of the mask, the less precious air you will need to equalize it. This is typically not a concern for scuba divers, because they have much more air (on their backs) with which to work. 

Third, I also have a personal preference for avoiding purge valves and other additions. Diving and snorkeling are inherently stressful, and the introduction of complexity will only increase your stress level. The lower your stress, the more enjoyable the dive.

Something I also enjoy is a black skirt. I do not think it is necessary but it reduces glare a bit – all the light getting to your eyes is coming through the lens. 

Answer by agill236
06/20/2016

I spearfish since ten years with the same low volume, black skirt, simple omer mask. It doesn’t have to be expensive, I bought it for 30€ or something.

While snorkeling, low volume is paramount : when pressure doubles at 10m depth, your face has to fill half the volume. The lower the volume, the lower the face suck.

FOV is wide enough anyway since smaller glass closer to the eyes are as wide as larger glass farther.

Avoid transparent skirt, useless marketing : you can’t see through and you get glare.

Avoid gimmick valves : you can’t benefit without air tanks.

Of course it’s useless if it doesn’t fit, but I never had a mask that won’t fit. Either I have a perfectly standard face or I doesn’t even try to use a non-fitting mask.

Beuchat, Cressi, Mares sells freediving/spearfishing masks along scuba and recreative masks, Omer and Sporasub sells only freediving/spearfishing masks, you can’t be misled.

So your answer is to buy the cheapest Omer/Sporasub mask that fits.

Beuchat has a how-to choose page

Answer by marclacoste
06/23/2016
1 Favorites
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