Last Updated on October 10, 2022 by Snorkel Ken
A lot has changed since we wrote our first review of the Tribord EasyBreathe. Since so many people fell in love with these full face snorkel masks, we followed that review up with some excellent information for alternatives at a lower price. Time changes all. We’ve since done a few reviews on some of our favorite full face snorkel masks like the Mares Sea Vu.
As a matter of fact, we kind of foretold this whole complete face frenzy back in May of 2015 when we first started noticing the Tribord killing it in our Amazon referrals: https://snorkelstore.net/the-tribord-easybreath-is-catching-some-momentum/
The competition is getting a LOT more steep. There are now both big-name Dive and Snorkel companies putting their names on these masks and new players who are distributing full face snorkel masks and trying to get in while the market is hot. Without further adieu…
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See below the chart for more
Top Picks for the Best Full Face Snorkel Mask 2018
Seaview 180 V2 by Wildhorn Outfitters
Are you sick of the full-face snorkel mask frenzy yet? Whether people rave about them or a wary of them, there’s no mistaking that they’re popular and have been for quite a while. I love the fact that the Snorkel Store was able to get in rather early on the hype and we reviewed the Tribord full-face pretty early on. (Yay us!)
Well, we’re not quite over the hype yet.
Especially when it comes to a real quality piece of snorkel equipment by our favorite brand, Wildhorn Outfitters. These guys were already on our list for awesomeness with the first version of the Sea Vu mask.
The biggest difference and safety improvement is the FlowTech Advance Air Intake System. It helps to prevent CO2 build up in the mask as it has two separate chambers and 4 intake valves, which allow air to flow naturally. This technology has resulted in a 50% increase in breathability compared to other full-face snorkel masks.
We’re placing the Seaview 180 v2 at the top of our full-face snorkel mask list because of their quality and never-ending attempts to make snorkeling safe and more available to the masses.
Ocean Reef Aria
Ocean Reef did something not completely creative, but clever when they introduced their Aria full face snorkel; they took the model of the Tribord and made it better. While it does feature a higher price than the Tribord, we universally agree that it is the best full face snorkel mask on the market. Featuring the panoramic, fog-free view and the ease of breathing of other full face masks, it is in the small details that sets the Ocean Reef Aria apart.
One of the best features is that the Aria comes with a camera mount that is both easy to put on and easy to take off. It is a small detail, but one that makes the Aria perfect for more casual snorkelers that are looking to capture the wonders underneath the waves without splurging on a fancy traditional underwater camera snorkel mask. As it is detachable, it also gives those who aren’t into capturing their adventure on camera now the option to do it in the future without having to buy a whole new mask.
Like most other full face models, the Aria features a dry top snorkel to keep the waves out of your tube as well as a purge valve for when you want to dip underneath the water. A rising ball bearing keeps a surprising amount of water out of your snorkel when you do dive, and like more traditional models, all you have to do to clear any water is just breath to clear it away quickly. Providing you pick the correct size for your face, which can be challenging at best for some, the Aria features a comfortable fit with silicone to provide an excellent seal on your face. The tight V-strap back goes a long way to keep the mask tight on your face, but the neon orange color of it also goes a long way to helping you find your mask if it should happen to get dropped in the water.
Another great thing about the Ocean Reef Aria are the Optical Inserts that are made specifically for the mask. You can get these outfitted with your prescription (or close) and BOOM…you get to see everything as clear as day.
The Seaview 180 is the only full face snorkel mask on the market that could probably compete with the Aria for the top spot. Wildhorn Outfitters, the maker of the Seaview 180, has really done a great job of putting out a quality product and then marketing it awesomely. It is also one of the only full face models on the market to make an innovation on the set Tribord model that isn’t better silicone sealing around the face. The feature that sets the Seaview apart is that it features a chambered breathing compartment. This chambered compartment sits over your mouth and nose similar to the way an oxygen mask fits on your face. It still allows you to breathe easily through your mouth and nose while snorkeling, but your exhale isn’t flowing through your entire mask. This actually has a number of benefits. First, because your exhale is confined to a smaller area, it gets pushed out faster, allowing you breathe faster while paddling faster without feeling like your air flow is constricted. It also prevents a common problem with full face masks, which is heat.
Breathing into a non-chambered mask can cause the while mask to heat up on the interior, but by chambering it, it keeps your eyes and cheeks nice and cool. Another nice small detail that some other brands don’t offer is that it comes in five different colors: Navy Blue/Gray, Plum/Gray, White/Blue, White/Pink, White/Teal. This allows you to have some control in both your fashion choices and your visibility in the water. All of this is offered at a price just higher than the Tribord, but still really affordable compared to other models.
Head Sea Vu
The Sea Vu by Head (Mares) is one of their hottest new products. Mares has been a pretty reliable brand for snorkel products for a long time, so with the brand you get a certain guarantee of quality. One of the nicer options about the Sea Vu is that while it is the exact same price as the Aria above ($99), but Mares has also started packaging it in some of its snorkel kits, making it so for a bit more you get the full face snorkel mask as well as some great fins and a bag to pack it all in. That adds some potential for extra value, but it doesn’t really matter if the mask isn’t great, right? Luckily, it is actually pretty great as you would expect from Mares. The silicone skirt allows it to sit and seal comfortably on your face while the lens features the view that full face mask wearers have come to expect and remains fog-free.
The dry top snorkel keeps the waves out and is easy to clear if you decide to dive under. The grey color leaves something to be desired, but it does feature an orange tip at the top of the tube so people at least have some chance of spotting you in the water. Really the only complaint is that you can’t find an accurate sizing chart for it, but really if you look at the sizing chart for other models, it runs the same sizes.
Yeah, you better believe that the original full face snorkel mask is still one of the best. It was an innovation when it was introduced, and while others have improved upon the model, Tribord still ranks among the best for many. While it has the same dry snorkel, easy purge valve, and a good silicone seal providing you get the right size for your face, there are still two features that set Tribord apart from its competitors – the price and the warranty. While it depends on the size, XS surprisingly being the highest price, if you don’t have a super tiny face the Tribord is, at most $65. That is almost half of some of the newer models, yet it doesn’t sacrifice quality in doing so. It still features a competing tight seal, and while the tube doesn’t let water into your mask when diving, the Tribord can become a bit like a suction cup on your face when diving.
That low price tag also comes with 2-year warranty to provide that extra layer of financial comfort if your mask does prove to be somehow defective or you chose the wrong size for your face. Financial benefits aside, the Tribord is also a great full face mask for children to use when snorkeling. The mask itself is particularly buoyant, which makes diving down a little more difficult, but it adds that extra layer of float for those who aren’t as good of swimmers. It also makes it more difficult to lose underwater, which is a special boon considering it only comes in a color we like to describe as “blend into the ocean” blue.
The Seabeast hasn’t been on our radar since we’ve been seeking out the best full face snorkel masks, but we’re happy that we found it now. There’s not a better mask on the market that does better at keeping the fog off of the lens.
Also, we love the fold and stow snorkel. With most other full face masks, the snorkel disconnects totally from the mask and you need to keep track of it and make sure it doesn’t get lost. With the Seabeast AF90, the snorkel unclicks and folds so that the snorkel always stays with the mask.
The panoramic view is common on all of the full face masks and the snorkel is a full dry snorkel. The Seabeast AF90 also has a mounting bracket for a GoPro or another action camera of your choice.
Combining the knowledge accumulated during 50 years of mask evolution, the result was the H2O Ninja. With a a dry top snorkel, easy purge valve, and a quick drain safety valve if water does happen to get into the mask, the H20 Ninja has all the usual features of a full face snorkel mask, but at nearly double the price. That is the major downside of the Ninja. It is a great snorkel mask all around, but it doesn’t come with a magical unicorn or anything that justifies the price tag. Arguably, what you are paying for is customization. It comes in four different colors: Black, Blue, Teal, and Pink. You can also get a cheaper version of the mask that doesn’t come with the Go Pro camera mount, but even then that is still a pretty big $144 price tag. If it wasn’t for the price tag, the H2O Ninja would be a solid contender for the top of this top picks list. It markets itself as “fog-resistant,” which is more honest than some, but it never fogged up on us. The dry top could be longer, but worked well both above and under water and the face seal never leaked. Unfortunately, with cheaper and equally effective models out there, the H2O Ninja rounds out the bottom of our list. Read our FULL Review!
What to Know Before Buying a Full Face Snorkel Mask
While our top picks are the absolute cream of the ever-growing crop of full face snorkel masks, no matter how good the product is, it will only preform as best it possibly can if you don’t consider a few select tidbits that can effect them.
- –>Beware of Beards. All brands of full face snorkel masks don’t play well with manly, bushy beards. The sheer fluffiness of your beard prevents the mask from sealing properly on your skin, and it will result in leaks. At most, only two-day-old beards are recommended for use. Anything above will result in leakage.
- –>Not for Freediving. While full face masks almost exclusively come with easy to purge valves, they are not recommended for freediving or spearfishing. Although modeled after the full face respirator masks that divers use, they don’t have a way to regulate pressure. This means they can get pretty uncomfortable in depths deeper than 10 feet, and you have no access to your nose, thus can’t pop your ears. If you are an avid free diver, traditional snorkel masks are still the way to go.
- –>Size Matters. If you tried the full face models and found them annoyingly leaky, chances are you were not wearing the right size for your face. All models come with sizing charts that require you to look silly and measure your face, but it pays off with an optimum fit.
- –>Glasses Not Welcome. Naturally you can’t install prescription lenses when the lens is covering your entire face. However, many believe that there might be enough room for their glasses inside. Sadly, there is not…but check out the Ocean Reef Aria optical inserts option above.
- –>Not For Exercise. Full face snorkel masks are for casual snorkeling and short bursts of quick swimming at best. When breathing calmly, they work wonderfully, but if you are, for example, swimming laps in a pool, the excess need for oxygen can get restricted in the mask. It is also worth noting that the faster you are breathing, the hotter the mask will get. This is not a good choice for pool swimmers that want a mask they can use while exercising.
Special Disclaimer: Most of the issues that we see with full face snorkel masks and the problems that people have with these masks (sadly, even deaths) is because people are NOT using these snorkel masks for the reasons they were made in the first place.
These mask’s full face make is constructed solely for surface swimming and looking down into the water below. They are not made for diving below the surface.
If you don’t mind having the snorkel mouthpiece in your mouth and/or if you don’t have a moustache then we still recommend wearing and using a traditional mask and snorkel.
Lastly, there has been a lot of concern lately about full face snorkel masks following a rash of snorkeling accidents involving these masks. We feel completely safe in these 6 masks and wrote an article detailing the concerns here.