The Best Snorkeling Mask Recommendation
By Phil Gerrard, Updated 22nd of May 2021
A snorkeling mask is a key piece of equipment that can make or break your snorkeling trip. There are two main problem areas that bother snorkelers regarding their snorkeling masks, and that’s fogging and leaking. If you can get these areas under control, you are well on your way to an enjoyable dive. In this article, I’ll discuss the important features to consider in a snorkeling mask. I’ll make a snorkeling mask recommendation with amazing quality for its price. And I’ll also discuss techniques to make the most of your mask. These techniques are important, as even with the best mask out there will give you grief without some basic skills.
For snorkeling, it’s hard to go past the ’Marea’ by the famous dive gear company Cressi.
Cressi Mareo snorkel mask
• Timeless Cressi Marea mask
Cressi make quality gear – no question. And this budget mask is suitable for beginners and experienced snorkelers, free divers, and scuba divers. I’ll discuss the features that make this mask great, and how to keep it performing to expectations.
This mask (like any quality dive mask) has tempered glass lenses (two lenses make this a ’double lens mask’). Tempered glass ensures the lens won’t shatter, improves vision, and helps eliminate fogging. It has a nicely moulded and very supple silicone double edge skirt to help keep water out. And as you would expect, it is adjustable for a wide range of head sizes with an easy to adjust mechanism. Some more subtle features include an optimised lens angle for vision, in addition to a well–designed nose piece to allow effortless equalization (more on this later, and why it’s important). It also is a low volume mask (helps clearing the mask of water below the surface).
As I said earlier, the best mask out there will give you grief without some basic skills. So while the Cressi Marea is truly a quality mask, some users will still experience issues. But these issues can be easily overcome…
A common mistake made when fitting a mask is to getting hair caught up beneath the mask seal. If you have long hair, make sure you keep it clear when putting on your mask. And for gents, unfortunately, facial hair does impact on the seal you will achieve. Once the mask is on, don’t over tighten it. Many beginning snorkelers tighten their mask way too much thinking it will help keep water out. It in fact does the opposite. I recommend starting off on the loose side, and gradually tighten until the mask stays in place while snorkeling.
Next up, lets deal with fogging. There is nothing worse than a foggy mask! Keeping fog free requires a little preparation. If your mask is new, I suggest a light cleaning of the inside of the lenses in fresh water with dish wash liquid. This will remove any manufacturing residue. When you are at your snorkel location (with a mask that was rinsed in fresh water after its last use!) I suggest a ’spit and rinse’ approach. Before wetting the mask, spit in the mask lens and lightly wipe the inside of the lens with your finger. Then quickly dunk the mask in the water before fitting the mask. Don’t worry here about a little water inside the mask – a little water won’t bother you while snorkeling, and can actually help clear fog from the inside lens while you snorkel.
Alright, we have our mask on – we are getting somewhere! Ideally you don’t want to be taking your mask on off when snorkeling. And with good preparation as described above, it shouldn’t be required. But if you are still fogging, you can repeat the ’spit and rinse’ process mid snorkel.
I’ll now move on to some of the finer detail that make the Cressi Marea a great mask. These points need a bit more explanation to understand the feature.
I noted earlier the Cressi Marea supple nose piece helps with equalization. When you are snorkeling, if you dive underwater more than around 2–3 metres, pressure will build in your ears, and it will become uncomfortable the further you dive. To relieve this pressure, you need to ’equalize’ pressure. This is achieved by blocking you nose through squeezing it while inside the mask, and then attempting to blow out your nose with pressure (much like you do on an aeroplane). If you don’t have a mask that is well designed for equalization, this process may be cumbersome or even not possible without the mask leaking. As you become more proficient at diving, it’s not unusual to have to equalize multiple times, so while this feature may not be important for a beginner, as your skills progress, the mask will accommodate. For example, if I dive around 10 meters under, I would need to equalise at least 2-3 times on the way down. Without a mask that can easily equalize leak free, this would not be possible.
The Cressi Marea, as previously noted is low volume. Low volume refers to the volume of air (or water!) within the mask when it’s on your face. A low volume mask is helpful to clear water from your mask (when water does inadvertently enter your mask). To clear water from your mask, you don’t want to be taking the mask off, and putting it back on. Instead, while in/under the water, you push on the top of the mask to secure the top edge to your forehead and blow forcefully out your nose for a few seconds. The mask will fill with air, and force water out of the bottom of the mask. You can imagine if you have a half full mask with high volume this often used technique becomes difficult.
If you have made it this far in the article, you will see that a quality snorkeling mask has many inbuilt features. It’s these not so obvious features that are often overlooked in cheaper masks. The Cressi Marea gets it right, and at the low purchase price I don’t think it can be beaten.