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By Dr Simon J Pierce.
Simon is a shark biologist, wildlife photographer, and science writer from New Zealand.
Hi! I’m Simon. As a marine biologist and whale shark researcher, most of my work is done on snorkel. We’ve extensively researched the new snorkel masks for 2020 and, following our own real-world testing, we’ve picked the Cressi Big Eyes Evolution Snorkel Mask as our Overall Winner for Best Snorkel Mask 2020.
I personally use the Cressi Big Eyes Evolution Snorkel Mask – it’s reliable, super comfortable, and doesn’t leak. It’s also a popular choice among snorkelers, possessing a slightly magical ability to fit different face shapes.
We’ve reviewed all the best snorkel masks for various head shapes and requirements and listed them below. You can click on the snorkel mask name to read more customer reviews and to check the current price, or, keep scrolling to check out a quick comparison table, read our reviews, and our very own Buyers Guide full of useful snorkel mask tips!
In a hurry?
The Best Snorkel Masks for 2020 are:
What’s on this page:
- The Best Snorkel Masks for 2020 are:
- Our comparison of the Best Snorkel Masks for 2020:
- Our reviews of the Best Snorkel Masks for 2020:
- Cressi Big Eyes Evolution Snorkel Mask
- ScubaPro Synergy 2 Trufit Snorkel Mask
- Tusa Freedom Elite HD Snorkel Mask
- Aqua Lung Linea Snorkel Mask
- Hollis M1 Frameless Snorkel Mask
- …and now… the research!
- Buyers Guide: The Best Snorkel Mask 2020
- How we identified the best snorkel masks:
- Things to consider when choosing a top snorkel mask:
- Look for ‘low profile’ snorkel masks
- Mask lens volume explained
- Lens Visibility
- Less is more
- ‘Inclined mask angle’ and why it matters
- Lens glass
- Snorkel mask windows – single, multi or double lens?
- Snorkeling vs Scuba vs Freediving masks
- HOW TO: Stop your snorkel mask from fogging, the defog guide.
- In Summary, The Best Snorkel Masks for 2020 are:
Our comparison of the Best Snorkel Masks for 2020:
Best Snorkel Mask OVERALL WINNER
$$, 9 colors, Simon's mask
Best Snorkel Mask for BEARDS
$$$$, 15 colors
Best Snorkel Mask for LARGE FACES
$$, 15 colors
Best Snorkel Mask for NARROW FACES
$$$, 2 colours
Best Snorkel Mask for LARGE NOSES
$$$$, 1 color, Mad's mask.
Are you after a full face mask?
Our reviews of the Best Snorkel Masks for 2020:
Things we love: Some masks have far smaller glass lenses, which can lead to a tunnel vision effect and to a slightly claustrophobic feeling. The Cressi Big Eyes Evolution has a large viewing area, letting you forget the mask and enjoy the experience. You’ll also see a lot more animals!
A specific benefit for snorkeling is the Cressi’s’ tilted lens and low profile, which minimizes the need for excessive head tilt when you’re looking down at the reef while finning on the surface. That makes for a more relaxed and natural snorkel experience. Other users also rave about the silicon skirt leaving no marks on the face while successfully avoiding leaks in the water.
Reviewers with a broad range of face shapes report a great fit, allowing us to confidently recommend the Cressi Big Eyes Evolution as the best all-round snorkeling mask for 2019. It also works great as a freediving or scuba diving mask.
Downside? The price. It’s more expensive than many other models, but we think it’s a (small) premium that’s worth paying. This is the best snorkel mask, after all, not the “fairly decent snorkel mask of the year” 🙂
Things we love: If you’ve got a beard, you’ll know the irritation of cold water slowly but inexorably leaking into your mask. The ScubaPro Synergy 2 Mask avoids this gradual waterboarding effect by providing a unique double seal with a feathered edge silicone skirt. The skirt seals directly under your nose, rather than on your beard, while the viewing lens itself is slightly higher than normal to allow the skirt to seal on your cheek, rather than your beard.
Downsides? The “Trufit” technology uses a soft flexible silicone that provides excellent contouring to your face, but you need to look out for stray hairs on the forehead that could break the seal.
Things we love: If you have a wide face, this TUSA won’t feel like it’s sealing over the edges of your eyes and restricting your vision (and comfort). The lenses are equally large, giving a huge field of view.
Downsides? Because of it’s wider frame, people with narrower faces are likely to experience leaks as the silicone seal often extends across the hairline.
Things we love: While it’s specifically marketed to women, the Linea will suit anyone with a narrow face. The buckle design promises ‘no-tangles’ and the silicone skirt advertises no red marks. One reviewer with a narrow face said she’s tried 30 masks, and this was the ONLY one that didn’t leak around the temples.
Downsides? It’s either a great fit, or it really isn’t.
Things we love: Unlike most masks, that have hard rigid silicone skirts that can create uncomfortable pressure points, the Hollis M1 uses super-soft silicone and a spacious single-lens design to create extra room at the bridge. The field of view is incredible (Mads forgets she’s wearing a mask!), and the frameless design and soft materials mean the mask takes up minimal space in your bag. This also makes a great backup mask for that reason!
Downsides? It’s the most expensive mask among our recommendations.
…and now… the research!
Buyers Guide: The Best Snorkel Mask 2020
Why you can trust this guide
Simon is a shark conservation biologist and world-renowned underwater photographer who dives, snorkels and freedives for a living. He is a co-founder and Principal Scientist at the Marine Megafauna Foundation, where he leads the global whale shark research and conservation program. His marine research and photography are routinely covered by major media outlets, including the BBC, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and New York Times amongst many others. One of his photographs was chosen as a personal favourite of Sir David Attenborough’s, in conjunction with BBC’s Blue Planet II series, and another illustrates one of the global PADI scuba diving certification cards.
Madeleine is an avid scuba diver and recreational freediver who’s dived some of the most spectacular locations around the world, including Misool and northern Raja Ampat, Lembongan, Lembeh Straight, Tulamben, Fiji, Vanuatu, and of course at home in Australia. She’s a minimalist and likes to travel light (which Simon encourages, as he can then use her baggage allowance!!), opting to mostly hire dive and snorkel gear wherever she goes. She’s been sampling the world’s equipment for over a decade. She has opinions.
How we identified the best snorkel masks:
We looked at all the current models from top brands globally to find the best snorkel masks on the market in 2019. Aside from our own personal experience with lots of different snorkel masks, Madeleine spent hours watching YouTube Reviews and product explainers, arguing with Simon, debating with diver friends, and scouring reviews and message boards. To summarize, we:
- Spent 15 hours doing online snorkel mask research on Amazon and LeisurePro.
- Read hundreds of reviews covering all experience levels and snorkeling needs.
- Viewed dozens of YouTube reviews and product explainers.
- Spoke to snorkeling retailers in both Australia and Indonesia who specialize in snorkeling, freediving, and diving masks.
- Spend a large proportion of our lives in the water and know what is needed in various situations.
- Chatted to dozens of other snorkelers about their masks and what’s important to them.
- Interviewed marine biologists and snorkeling tour guides to get their feedback on functionality and durability.
Things to consider when choosing a top snorkel mask:
- Great visibility
- Quality construction and durability that proved reliable for hundreds of reviewers.
- Tempered glass for better clarity and scratch-free
- Dark silicon skirt to focus your viewing. Clear skirts let in sunlight which can create glare and distortion when you’re on the surface.
- Single-lens masks were (slightly) preferred to maximise visibility, though our top pick actually has a double lens.
- Low profile masks have a reduced air volume, which makes it easier to clear if water gets in, and also increases visibility. If you like to dive down, there’s also less air inside to compress against your face (this is good!)
- Soft silicone increases comfort, molds to your face and makes nose equalization easier
Look for ‘low profile’ snorkel masks
Low profile masks are great as they decrease mask lens volume, increasing visibility, and reduce drag for a more streamlined feel. They also look way cooler than big dorky bulky masks.
Mask lens volume explained
Mask lens volume is the amount of air that’s sealed inside the mask. The closer the lens to your face, the lower the lens volume and more visibility you’ll enjoy. If you snorkel happily at the surface it’s not going to affect you too much. However, if you like to get all explore-y at depth, this makes a big difference!
The reason it becomes important when you duck-dive and descend is that the air inside the mask will compress, and you’ll feel your mask squeeze against your face.
Whilst this is fixed by equalizing your mask (expel a little air through your nose and jig the mask around), it’s still a) an uncomfortable feeling b) uses up air from your lungs, and c) can be hugely distracting on short bursts of freediving.
You might have noticed specialist breath-hold freediving masks have an extremely low profile for this reason – they don’t want to be using precious air from their lungs to constantly equalize.
Masks come in a range of sizes that affect lens volume, and we like masks with a smaller lens volume. Not hardcore full-freediver-mode low profile… just normal human low profile.
High volume snorkel masks mean more compression on descent, thus more times you’ll need to equalise your mask.
Low volume snorkel masks means reduced compression as you descend, lowering the amount of times you’ll need to equalise your mask.
The best way to achieve maximum visibly is to have a lens that is as close to your eyes as possible. Big wide lenses can achieve this but they increase the lens volume and are bulky. The exact same thing is achieved by a streamlined mask close to your face. So again – low volume masks are they best!
Less is more
‘Inclined mask angle’ and why it matters
Lens angle is the tilted angle of the lens, and an inclined angle gives a greater field of view when your eyes look down toward your chin. This is most important for snorkelers who have a fixed body position, as it means they don’t need to tilt their head too far forward to enjoy a wide range of view. In addition, an inclined angle reduces mask lens volume.
Tempered glass is a glass that’s been treated so it won’t shatter into tiny sharp little pieces and is the normal material for masks for safety and durability reasons. The downside is that it does contain slight impurities that make the glass look slightly green when compared to the more expensive optical glass options.
Snorkel mask windows – single, multi or double lens?
Single-lens window masks have one big window with no frame across the nose letting in more light. This makes it easier to fit larger nose shapes. It also offers a more open feel. Keep in mind you won’t be able to get replacement prescription lenses for single-lens masks.
Double lens windows have a separate glass plane for each eye separated by the nose frame. These are more common and have a lower lens volume. Prescription lenses are designed to use with double lens masks.
Multiple lens windows have additional windows down the sides giving a greater field of view, letting in more light, while adding lens volume.
Snorkeling vs Scuba vs Freediving masks
You can use your diving mask for snorkeling no problem, and unless you are freediving past say 20 – 30m you won’t see much benefit from specialist freediving masks. Freedivers and snorkelers want a lower volume mask with a very soft silicone nose to make nose equalization easier. Also, freediving masks tend to have a larger skirt area but from what I can find it seems to be purely cosmetic so they look cool in photos.
HOW TO: Stop your snorkel mask from fogging, the defog guide.
Time needed: 30 minutes.
During the manufacturing process, snorkel masks accumulate a thin silicon film. This silicone residue is the main cause of fogging and can be removed in a few easy steps:
- Scrub the lens with toothpaste to remove silicone residue.
To do this, thoroughly spread non-whitening toothpaste across the inside of the lens using a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Leave to dry.
Pick a shady spot to allow the toothpaste to dry fully on the lens.
- Rinse with water.
Once dry, rinse in plenty of water using the soft toothbrush. Swish around lots of water and rinse out, then repeat a few times until it’s completely clean. Be sure to check the edges of the snorkel mask lens as toothpaste can accumulate there.
- Leave to dry.
Shake out the excess water then leave the mask to dry face up.
- Preparation complete!
Your new mask is now prepared and ready for regular use.
- Just before you enter the water, defog your mask
As you’re about to pop into the water you can defog using a) your own spit b) an antifog product like this one, or c) baby shampoo diluted in water. Simple add your defog of choice and rub around the lens. Add water and swish around, then as you are putting on your mask you can empty out the rinse water.
My, aren’t you the dedicated reader. Hope you’ve found this guide helpful!
Have you used any of our top snorkel mask picks? What did you think of them? Got a different favorite? Let us know below!