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How do Snorkel Masks work?

wie funktionieren schnorchelmasken

Snorkellng is a great sport and one of the coolest activities on holiday, but also for a relaxing day you can spend at home. Compared to other water sports, snorkelers can do without a lot of equipment. For a long time the equipment consisted of the three parts known to us all: Snorkel, mask, fins.

The water sports industry is another word for innovation. New material mixtures are constantly being researched and construction methods tested. So it’s no wonder that some manufacturers have succeeded in developing a completely new invention with snorkel masks that cover the entire face. The so-called snorkel full masks combine snorkel and mask in one. That’s what the name says. But how do snorkel masks actually work?

Snorkel masks unite snorkel and diving goggles in one object. Full masks do not require a mouthpiece, instead you can breathe freely through your mouth and nose. The separation of the mask into two areas ensures that the moist breathing air does not come into contact with the visor and therefore does not mist up it. Snorkel masks close air- and watertight thanks to the soft silicone border. 

When you think of snorkeling, you usually imagine someone wearing diving goggles with a snorkel mounted on them. Even in the imagination snorkelling is associated with some negative experiences. We all have already experienced that water penetrates into the according to manufacturer “waterproof” glasses.

Again and again water gets into the inside of the snorkel. What is described in the holiday catalogues as a breathtaking exploration tour can hardly be interpreted with the diving goggles. The glass is too milky and foggy.

At about this point, some resourceful developers probably also stood. Several companies have recognized the potential and have clearly moved away from the existing designs with their full face masks. When customers complain about all these problems, this is after all also a possibility for new developments.

With the (full face) snorkel masks the manufacturers want to have solved many problems, but did they manage that? What is the difference between snorkeling today and the past?

Snorkeling used to be like this

Snorkelling at the beginning of the 2000s differs considerably from what we understand by the term today. At that time everyone wore diving goggles, to which a snorkel was attached on the left side. Breathing was done with a mouthpiece that had to be bite quite hard.

The diving goggles consisted almost completely of plastic and only had a simple rubber seal, which could not completely seal the goggles. Water could penetrate the inside of the mask. If a puddle had formed inside again, it was time to appear and empty the mask. Due to the constant putting on and taking off the snorkel mask tended to mist up.

Also the wearing of the mouthpiece became after some time a torture. The jaw musculature slackened and that led to the fact that water came again and again into the mouth. Still after the end of the snorkel trip the jaw felt quite strange.

Snorkeling today

With the snorkel masks available today, the testimonials look very different. Instead of being underwater for only a few minutes with their heads, hundreds of enthusiastic snorkelers report that they sometimes snorkel for half an hour at a time.

That’s no wonder with the breathtaking underwater worlds. With the modern (full-faced) snorkel masks one simply dives much better into the underwater worlds (intended pun).

With a full mask you are neither disturbed by a mouthpiece, nor does water get into the mask. An ultra-soft and adaptable silicone border also closes air- and watertight on different face shapes. The masks are available in different sizes. The size to be chosen depends on the distance (in cm) from the centre of the eye to the chin. Most full face masks are available in sizes 8 to 13.

Another advantage is the extremely wide visor. With classic diving goggles, on the other hand, the field of vision is quite limited. The thick (and often somewhat milky) lenses make vision even more difficult. Modern snorkel masks, on the other hand, have a large curved lens that offers a field of view of almost 180°.

Thin safety glass that cannot break is often used. Due to the special design, the glass does not fog up. Even in a direct comparison of snorkel mask vs. diving goggles and snorkel of current models, the modern full face masks are clearly convincing.

How snorkel masks work

The construction of snorkel masks differs fundamentally from the classic combination of snorkel and diving goggles. The full face masks combine snorkel and diving goggles in one. What used to be two individual parts are now just one.

A mouthpiece has also been dispensed with in snorkel masks. The snorkel, on the other hand, is firmly connected to the full mask and directs the air directly into the mask. If you redesign a new product – like the snorkel masks – from the drawing board, you can also take care of the problems of the predecessor model. Many people complained about the fact that the lenses of classic diving goggles often fog up.

The manufacturers have (almost) completely solved the problem with snorkel masks by dividing the mask into two parts. The lower part surrounds the mouth and nose. This allows a snorkel mask to be breathed freely through nose and mouth without the moist breathing air coming into contact with the visor. The mask therefore does not fog up.

It is also very pleasant for children and beginners that they can breathe through their nose with the masks. This is not possible with classic diving goggles.

Another special feature of snorkel masks is the so-called dry snorkel. A splash guard at the upper end of the snorkel prevents on the one hand the penetration of splash water and on the other hand a ball valve prevents water from flowing into the snorkel when the opening is below the water surface.

In the meantime, conventional snorkels and snorkel sets have also been equipped with this technology. Even today, not every snorkel is a dry snorkel. Furthermore, most masks are equipped with a holder for an action camera. Those who want to record their snorkeling adventures can simply attach a GoPro and get a wobble-free picture.


The development of full face masks has brought snorkeling to the forefront. Like many new developments, there was also criticism. Some critical voices expressed themselves about the air supply, which was too weak for some models. Breathing became exhausting over time and these models were not at all suitable for children.

However, the full-face measurements were mostly praised. The feedback was very positive from many sides. So it’s no wonder that those who go to specialist shops or browse online shops today are almost killed by the wide range of full face masks on offer.

How snorkel masks work is not quite obvious at first glance. However, always asking questions is very important in snorkelling. Every snorkeler has to be thoroughly familiar with the equipment before he can start. Those who are familiar with the individual parts will also have more fun on their own tours.

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