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Are Full Face Snorkel Masks Worth the Risk?

Today you can buy many different types of snorkeling masks, with different technology. One that is rising in popularity is the full face snorkel masks. While the idea of a full face mask sounds great in concept, it has shown itself to be more dangerous than you might think. We’ve got the scoop on full face snorkel masks and our recommendations below.

What Are Full Face Snorkel Masks?

If you’ve never seen a regular snorkeling mask before, it typically just has a screen that covers your eyes with an attached fitting to plug your nose. Your snorkel and mouthpiece are typically separate from the mask itself. On the other hand, full face snorkel masks are one piece systems that have the mask and snorkel attached.

In general, full face snorkel masks are typically bulkier than a traditional snorkeling mask. The biggest difference between the two is that a full face snorkel mask has a screen that covers your entire face. The “snorkel tube” of a full face mask is positioned at the top of the mask. This does look fairly silly but, at the same time, fashion and snorkeling don’t really belong in the same sentence, do they? So what are some of the benefits of a full face mask?

Are There Any Benefits to Using One?

For something that has such a distinct appearance, there must be a good reason why many people do use full face snorkel masks. Truth be told, there are actually several good benefits to using a full face snorkel mask. The entire concept of the mask is to improve your snorkeling experience and make it feel naturally easier.

Here are some great benefits that full face snorkel masks offer:

  • Clearer View – Arguably the biggest benefit is the ability to see underwater better than with a regular snorkel mask. This is because the mask itself has a larger screen, which also curves around your face so your vision is not limited and your peripheral is not cut off. Furthermore, full face snorkel masks also typically have good air circulation to prevent fogging.
  • Water Purging – Another nice feature is that you have an easy way of removing water that happens to get into the mask. Full face snorkel masks work by filtering any water to the bottom of the mask (near your chin), which can be emptied by opening a valve.
  • Easy Breathing – The other significant benefit on par with a clearer view is that you can breathe easily with the mask. Unlike regular snorkel masks, full face snorkel masks actually allow you to breathe through your nose! Since most people naturally breathe through their nose, this makes it less of a focused effort because you won’t need to use your mouth.
  • Minimal Effort – The last perk of this style mask is that it requires very little effort from you to use. You don’t need to bite and hold onto a mouthpiece, you can breathe through your nose, and you won’t need to strain your neck with constant turning.

Are Full Face Snorkel Masks Dangerous?

There is no question that full face snorkel masks have some advantages over a regular mask, but this comes at a great cost.  One of the leading causes for deaths while snorkeling is actually the use of a full face snorkel mask.

When wearing a full face snorkeling mask, you are typically breathing in a confined environment. Doing this for too long will cause you inhale too much C02, which can make you dizzy, disoriented, and eventually pass out. Making matters worse, the tight fit of full face snorkel masks makes them incredibly difficult to take off, especially when you are already disoriented.

Some masks do take this into consideration, including a separate breathing section at the bottom so that the C02 does get pushed out. Relying on this mechanism to work consistently is very risky, especially if you don’t have a high quality full face snorkel mask. Cheaper masks often use poorer materials, which often results in defects. Typically the issue here is that the mask seal around your face is not secure, which can let water seep in.

Additionally, most snorkelers on vacation do not swim on a regular basis and so they are exerting themselves beyond their normal exercise routines and are therefore requiring more oxygen and expelling more CO2. A full face snorkel mask can complicate this process and get out of control quickly.

Should You Try One Out?

With all of this in mind, the question of whether you want to use one or not arises. Ultimately, the choice is up to you, but you would be much better off and Kai Kanani certainly recommends that you do not use full face snorkel masks. They were created to be an improvement over a regular snorkel mask but, unfortunately, the benefits you do experience are just not worth the risk. To that end, we do not offer them to our guests on our snorkel tours.

It is true that you can wear a full face snorkel mask and go on dozens of snorkeling trips without a problem, but it’s the one time that your mask does not work that you will wish it did. And at that point, it’s too late to fix it. Place a priority on your life over a few minor perks. Many snorkeling experts are advising against using them, simply because they want to keep you safe. 

Ensuring Your Safety on a Snorkeling Trip!

Full face snorkel masks are definitely an interesting concept, but the execution is often where they fall short. Using one will offer you a better view, the ability to remove water, the choice to breath through your nose, and an easier time overall. Unfortunately they are quite dangerous and can quickly lead to drowning upon failure. High quality masks don’t immediately pose a huge risk, but there is no guarantee how long they will continue to work. This is why the safest choice is to steer clear of full face snorkel masks altogether. 

Wearing a full face snorkel mask isn’t very safe, but that doesn’t mean that snorkeling itself is dangerous. If you’re concerned about your safety, there’s nothing more reassuring than participating in a chartered snorkeling tour with professional crew who know the water and the equipment. At Kai Kanani, our priority is ensuring that you have an amazing experience, and that includes getting you around the water safe and sound. You’ll never need to worry about anything on a snorkeling tour, so give us a call today to book your stress-free adventure!

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