You mainly need to make sure that the mask fits your face. If you don’t have the right fit then you won’t have the comfort but more importantly you won’t have a good seal. Not having a good seal means that water is going to get into your mask and you’ll be purging it constantly and probably get salt water in your eye.
What Size Face Do You Have?
We all have different sizes and shapes of faces. It’s a no brainer, right? So that means that not every mask will fit different people the same. Determine whether you have a narrow face or a large one. Then figure out if you have a long face or shorter one. It’s not that hard and you may have to be painfully truthful with yourself. Make sure that you’re picking a snorkel mask that looks like it will fit you and not just one that looks cool or has the panoramic view.
Step 1: Fit Test
Once you receive your mask or have it in your hand you have to do the fit and comfort test. All snorkel masks, even the same sized ones, will feel differently on your face. Hold the mask to your face and look in a mirror. How does it fit? Is there plenty of skirt on your upper lip without actually touching your lip? Is there enough skirt on the sides of your eyes and above your eye brows so that the skirt is touching skin to form a good seal? Is any of the frame or lens touching your nose? It may not seem uncomfortable yet but once you have the snorkel mask strapped to your face then the discomfort can run up on you really quick.
Step 2: The Suction Test: Does it Stick?
Now, keep your mask unstrapped from your head. Place it to your face, press a little bit, inhale through your nose just a little. That should suction the mask to your face. When you let go the mask should stay where it is as long as you don’t exhale. Move your head a bit and make sure that the mask is still suctioned to your face.
Smiling and laughing will often break the seal a bit, but that’s why you know how to clear your mask and snorkel. Slight movement, however, should not break the seal.
Step 3: Put the Mask Completely On
Now, put the mask on fully…straps and all. You should have an airtight fit with just a little bit of pressure from the straps. The straps should not touch the ears on the way by to the back of your head. They should sit higher than that but not on the top of your head so that it will slip off. If you remove the mask and you have large ugly, red marks from the straps then you’re wearing your snorkel mask to tightly. You should also have an easy time pinching your nose through the skirt which will be vital to clearing your ears and equalizing pressure when diving under water.
Step 4: Sample the Mask with the Snorkel Attached
This is an important part of the mask fitting that needs to be done. The mask, with snorkel attached and in your mouth can change the shape of your face…mainly your lips and cheeks. Make sure that you still have a good fit.
You Probably Have the Right Snorkel Mask. Try it in the Water!
If you’ve made it this far then the only thing left to do is to try the mask and snorkel in the water. Remember to take it easy at first as you’re getting used to your new snorkeling equipment. We’re willing to bet though that you have a great fitting snorkel mask if you’ve done all the steps to test the fit.
Stay safe and happy snorkeling!