Snorkel Mask Lenses: One, Two, Three or Four (Does it Really Matter?)

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If you’re new to snorkeling then you may not have thought about the lens, or lenses, of the snorkel mask that you’re using. Most likely you’re still getting used to breathing through the snorkel and concerned with keeping water out of your mask.  If you have quality snorkel gear then, more likely than not, you have a mask that doesn’t leak as long as you have it fitted correctly.

What is Field of View and How does the Amount of Snorkel Mask Lenses

Affect it?

However, the amount of lenses on a snorkel mask has a lot to do with the quality of your snorkeling experience.  Today, manufacturers make single, dual, three lens and four lens masks.  The purpose of making snorkel masks with more than one lens is to increase the horizontal viewing area of the mask.  This viewing area is commonly referred to as “field of view” or FOV.

FOV is important to you because the greater your viewing range is, then the more snorkeling sights you get to take in while you’re under water.  Think of it as an increased peripheral vision while wearing the mask.

Key Point:  Also, more lenses doesn’t necessarily mean a wider FOV.  Three lens masks offer a wide FOV with no obstruction in the middle, while 4 lens snorkel masks are still separated in the middle by the frame.

Light Makes a Lot of Difference

Another important factor is the amount of light that is let into the mask while you’re snorkeling.  The human eye relies upon light to reflect and refract in order to see things.  (Ever notice how difficult it is to see in the dark? I kid…)  So, by increasing the lens area of the snorkel mask and decreasing the frame and the skirt, it allows more light into the mask which makes it easier to see.

Key Point: Light is a big deal when seeing underwater.  Water is dense and keeps even sunlight from entering it to a certain extent.  The deeper you go then the less light reaches your eyes and what you’re trying to look at. Notice how in many underwater pictures they are dark and “greenish” even at rather shallow depth.

The Mask Skirt Impacts the Amount of Light 

Lastly, the skirt of the mask itself plays a large part in the quality of seeing underwater. In addition to making sure that the snorkel mask seals correctly to the face, different types of skirts play a role in viewing.  For instance, black skirts keep light out of the mask which makes it more difficult to see.  Silicone, the material that most skirts are made of, comes in different qualities and translucency levels even in the “clear” types.  Regular silicone can be comfortable but not allow all that much light through.  Crystal silicone, however, greatly improves on that and allows a great deal of light into the mask for better viewing.

Keep in mind, that some people prefer the black silicone skirts because it creates a focused viewing area that is straight ahead, much like that of tunnel vision.  Some people don’t like that at all.

In summary:

  • The wider the lens reach of a mask in the mask then the better your viewing will be underwater.
  • Crystal silicone and “clear” silicone vary on the amount of light they let in.
  • Black silicone is not optimal for viewing but some people still prefer it.

I hope this helps you choose which snorkel mask is best for you.  While you’re here, feel free to look at the masks that we have already reviewed or take our recommendations for the best crystal silicone snorkel masks on Amazon.  Better yet, if you join our mailing list then you have the chance to win FREE snorkel gear on a regular basis.

Happy Snorkeling!

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Snorkel fanatic and water deviant. My snorkel and life partner (Lizzy) and I take to the beaches and bays to use all of the snorkel gear that we can. We try, test and review that gear for you...and we have a lot of fun in the meantime. Other than that, I'm a Soldier, father, bird lover, WoW player and a Boston sports fan.

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