Should I get a full-face snorkel masks? Are they really any better? The short answer is that I LOVE the full-face mask, but I keep packing my traditional snorkel mask as backup. Despite its awesome features, the full-face mask has a few issues I haven’t quite mastered. I don’t want to be in an amazing destination with no snorkel mask, so I take both! Let me give you the pros and cons for the full-face mask! You absolutely need a snorkel mask! Check out my Ten Must-Haves for Island Travel .
Full-Face Snorkel Mask Pros and Cons
You can see all around you! You have very few blind spots, and it’s easy to look up, down, and sideways without moving your head too much.
The mask creates a subtle side-mirror effect! If someone or something is coming up on either side of you, you will see their reflection in your peripheral before they get very close. The magnification of the water makes them seem a lot closer giving you plenty of warning! (In fact it’s the opposite of your side mirrors; objects in mirror are not as close as they seem!)
The mask doesn’t fog up as much! It’s not 100% fog-proof, but it’s better! In the new mask, your breathing gets trapped around your mouth and nose and redirected before it touches the goggles. If the mask does fog up, it’s probably due to the heat of your face in contrast with cooler water. I’ve noticed mine starts to fog up if I’m swimming really hard (hot face vs. cool, deep water).
No more swallowing or even tasting the saltwater. I don’t love saltwater in my mouth, so with this mask, your mouth doesn’t even have to touch the water.
You can breathe through your nose! At long last, you don’t have to feel like your choking or gagging. You can breathe 100% normally with a full-face mask.
You can talk to each other without removing your mouth piece! This is great when you see a turtle and you want to yell, “Hey! Look!” You actually can! You aren’t very loud underwater with a mask, but you can talk to each other above water fairly well.
If you do get water inside your mask or tube, it doesn’t go straight into your mouth or eyes! Water inside the mask will just float around your chin. It may rattle you to feel water inside your mask, but you should be able to avoid it while you continuing swimming and breathing normally.
The new masks are not easy to adjust, clear up, or remove and replace in the water! If you take the whole mask off while treading water, you had better be able to keep your head up! You will have to keep treading while you dump out any water and work the thing back over your face. Make sure it’s comfortable and free of water/fog before you get into deep water!
It can be painfully tight! My mask leaves an impression on the bridge of my nose and around my forehead and pulls really hard on my jaw. Mine might be a little too small, but I’m too much of snorkel-lover to let it stop me. My jaw gets really sore and I go home with a little scab on the bridge of my nose, but that doesn’t stop me from putting the mask on to snorkel over and over and over!
Wearing the mask gets very hot! The mask shouldn’t allow a drop of water to touch your face! This may seem nice until you’ve been swimming hard for an hour and your face is sweating! Hot breath on a hot face gets a little irritating! (If you remove the mask to rinse your face, just be sure you can get it back on while keeping your head above water.)
You can smell the restaurant food! This isn’t too bad, but it’s weird. Since you can breathe through your nose in the new mask, you might be underwater and catch a whiff of french fries or grilled fish coming from the beach! It’s weird!
I love the full-face mask. It’s an awesome invention, but I’m facing a few “user errors.” Comment below and let me know if you’ve tried the full-face mask and what you think! Also, be sure to check out my Ten Must-Haves for Island Travel .