How to find the Best Full Face Snorkel Mask for your Kids
Going on any sort of snorkeling trip you see more and more people use full-face snorkel masks. The reasons for that are obvious.
Making Snorkeling easier than ever!
They make breathing a lore more convenient and easy. A good mask will also be fog-free and you don’t have to deal with visibility issues.
Moreover, you also have a superior view when you’re using such a mask as you’re getting a 180 degree view. Any of the higher quality masks also comes with a dry snorkel which prevents water from entering into the mask through the snorkel when using it as designed. More about that later…
The most important factor is that you can breathe through your mouth and nose which makes snorkeling a lot more convenient and simpler. With traditional masks you had and have to deal with the mask which covers your eyes and nose and then the snorkel which you use through a mouthpiece. This way you can breathe through your mouth but not your nose. This is way less comfortable and convenient when you compare it to a full-face mask.
What about full-face snorkel masks for the children?
You’ll see many adults using these kinds of masks but what about children? Having all these advantages over traditional masks should certainly make these masks perfect for use with children.
Yet, there are some differences to consider. First and foremost, the heads of children are smaller. Looking at a full-face snorkel mask you can easily see that the mask has to sit tight over your face. A smaller face will be harder to fit if there are not special sizes available.
What about pricing though?
Children grow practically by the minute. For many people the thought of having to pay a lot for anything kid related that they will basically grow out of within the blink of an eye.
This won’t necessarily be the case with a full-face snorkel mask. While you certainly have to make sure to get the correct size, it’s usually taking a while before one would grow out of a mask that fits great today.
Newer masks enter the market all the time and they have come down in price a lot since their introduction. The flipside is that many of the masks you can find that are on the lower spectrum of the price range are not of the best quality. This can and will negatively impact the experience your kids will have.
The higher quality masks are overall barely more expensive than a good traditional mask with a dry snorkel. Yet, compared to the traditional setup your kids will definitely enjoy a full face mask a lot more. Getting them excited about snorkeling and making it a fantastic family activity should not be something you want to risk for saving a few bucks by buying a cheap mask.
Looking for cheaper alternatives?
If the price of a regular high-quality mask is too high then do not go for a cheap knock-off. The quality of these cheap masks is simply not there. The materials uses are often very cheap as is the construction.
Using these cheap masks a few times might result in you throwing them away because they don’t work or already broke. The high-quality masks we highlight below are great and are not that much more expensive than the cheap versions.
If you truly cannot afford to purchase one of the top-contenders in the full-face snorkel masks then have a look to find a model from the previous year. They are pretty much as good but might have a few cosmetic or minor design changes. Yet, they will be cheaper while you won’t have to compromise on quality!
Right Sizing a full face mask for your kids
Sizing a full face mask is straightforward. You measure the distance from the bridge of the nose to the chin while the mouth is closed. That distance will decide which size of the mask to get.
Manufacturers that have specific children sizes will use the same type of measurement. Something you do not want to do is to get a size larger in the hopes that the mask will fit your child longer.
What will most likely happen is that the mask won’t fit as it should and it will not keep the water out. The water will get into the mask and your child will not enjoy the experience for a minute. In the end the money you saved will have the potential to ruin the experience for them!
How do they stay dry inside?
There’s a combination of things that make such full-face snorkel masks stay dry inside. First, it’s using the right size as pointed out above. Most people including children using these masks and getting water inside have an ill-fitting mask.
The skirt of the mask is made from soft silicone (in most cases) that will sit tight against your skin. This seal prevents water from getting into the mask. If the size is wrong then there’s often a gap in this connection and water comes in.
Another common reason for water to get in is if a strand of hair comes between the mask skirt and your skin. This will break the seal in tiny areas and water will get into the mask. Usually, you will end up with a few drops of water so it’s not like the water will be gushing in.
The last mechanism to prevent water from coming into the mask is the snorkel. Most if not all of the full-face masks use what is called a dry snorkel.
A dry snorkel has a floating device in the tip. This float, usually in the shape of a ball, closes the snorkel when it dips under water. It also prevents waves from letting water in.
These dry snorkels do work to some extent. If your kid tries to dive straight down then the angle of the snorkel changes and the float often won’t work. The result is that there is water coming into the mask during such an activity. If the kid is diving under water and keeping a similar position as during snorkeling then the snorkel will keep the water out.
The snorkel is an integral part of these masks and the design is such that it sticks out of the water pretty straight when snorkeling. Within a certain range of positioning the snorkel in any direction it will work fine to keep the water out. However, diving straight down puts the snorkel parallel to the surface and the technology to keep the water out will fail at that moment.
There will be situations where smaller amounts of water enter the mask through the snorkel or otherwise. All of the high-end and high-quality full face snorkel masks have a purge valve in the chin area. This valve allows to get rid of the water inside the mask without having to take the mask off.
In many cases you simply have to have your child stick her head out of the water and bend it back a little. That will open the valve and drain the water from the mask.
What else to consider?
A big difference between cheap masks and higher end masks is the level of distortion in the viewing area. That mostly depends on whether the viewing section of the mask is curved or flat. A flat section reduces distortion and provides a clearer view and image.
A rounded visor will create some distortion but the view on the sides will be better as you won’t have sharp angles in the field of view. However, the distortion can make some people dizzy and force them to stop the snorkeling at least for a while.
The high end masks do all come with a flat lens when you look out front. The minimal reduction in visibility to the sides is a small price to pay for being able to see clearly and without getting dizzy.
A minor other difference between the different masks is whether the mouth/nose chamber is made with nearly transparent material or not. Theoretically, you get a little more peripheral field of view if the material is transparent or close to being transparent. In our opinion it’s not that important as you usually will have swam right across the area that is now going out of your peripheral view and as such you usually will not concentrate on that area any longer.
Are they safe for Children?
With regards to safety there’s no difference between a traditional mask and a full-face mask. With the ability to breathe naturally the chance of an accident is actually smaller in our opinion.
If there is something unforeseen happening then being able to breathe like above water can be a tremendous calming factor. If your child usually breathes through the nose then a traditional mask can cause panic as there is no ability to breathe through the nose.
Another safety related advantage is that the field of view of the full-face mask is larger than that of most traditional masks. This can be a safety advantage as it does improve peripheral vision. That way an object that is out of the field of view with a traditional mask can be seen with a full-face mask and a potentially harmful situation can be avoided.
The flipside is that many of the cheap masks are made with cheap and low-quality material. If you buy any of the listed masks below then you can be assured that high-quality components and design are used.
You might think that whether using a high-grade silicone skirt or a lower quality doesn’t have an effect on safety. And that can be true. But the low-quality material on the visor/lens does certainly have a huge influence on the overall safety.
High-quality masks use shatter-proof polycarbonate. In the case of a heavy impact the lens will not break into small pieces that can cut into the skin or even the eyes. This might not be the case for the cheap masks where cheap plastics are used everywhere. In our opinion it’s not worth saving a few bucks while increasing the chances of a serious injury in the (ultra-rare) case of an accident!
Most safety related issues during snorkeling and swimming come from other factors than the mask anyway. The best safety advice that can be given is that you as the parent watch and supervise your children anytime they go into the water whether it’s for snorkeling or just to take a swim!
Does it make sense to buy a full-face snorkel mask for your child?
There’s no straightforward answer. A full-face mask is the best choice if you and your children want to regularly go snorkeling.
They are way more convenient compared to traditional masks and take your family’s snorkeling experience to a completely new level. Breathing is easy and the visibility through the large lens is outstanding.
This makes snorkeling a whole lot more fun especially for children. Being able to see that much more through the 180 degree view allows them to really enjoy the wonders that lie under the water surface.
The other advantages are that these masks provide a variety of adjustments through straps to ensure that it sits tight and comfortable. A side effect of such a good fit is that there’s no water getting into the mask. Yet, if there is then it’s easy to use the purge mechanism to get rid of the water.
Another big advantage for both kids and adults is that there’s no mouth piece. A traditional snorkel ends in such a mouthpiece and you or your child have to bite down on it. After a while her jaws will get tired and the whole experience stops being fun and pleasant. A full-face mask does not require any mouthpiece and there’s no jaw fatigue coming through it. Your child can snorkel for longer times and enjoy the experience a lot more!
The Best Full-Face Snorkel Mask for Children
Depending on your children’s age and size you definitely want to look for masks that are available in XS or S sizes. All of the high-quality brands have at least an S-size and some do have masks in XS specifically for children.
Buying online through a trusted retailer like Amazon will make it easy to get such a mask and knowing that you can return it in the worst case that it is not fitting. Yet, using the measurement technique mentioned above should allow you to find the right sized mask for your kid.
Interesting enough, all of the masks we suggest you get are the same brands we suggest in our best full-face snorkel masks guide. The truth is that you won’t go wrong with any of these masks we showcase in more detail below.
The best masks for children in our opinion are:
- Wildhorn Outfitters SeaView 180 Degree (comes in XS and S sizes)
- Subea/Tribord EasyBreath (comes in S size)
- Ocean Reef Aria (comes in XS and S sizes)
These three masks are overall the best masks you can get whether you’re an adult or a child. The SeaView 180 is the only one of the three that has a GoPro mount. Both the EasyBreath and the Aria have an optional GoPro mount that you can purchase separately.
If your children are on the older side and can work with a GoPro (or compatible) camera then having the mount on the mask is great. It provides the same view and angle from the camera as your child has when snorkeling. The video can capture memories that last forever!
Using an optional mount does work well but it typically is not as good as a mount that is integrated with the mask. The reason is that the positioning is good but not as good as with the integrated mount. These optional mounts slide over the snorkel and can obstruct the view on the top of the mask. The built-in GoPro mount of the SeaView 180 keeps the camera out of sight!
In the following you’ll find our rundown on the three masks:
Not too long ago Wildhorn Outfitters released the Seaview 180° degree in the XS size for children. The mask is one of the top-rated ones you can get for grown-ups and it’s a great addition that they brought out one that is specifically sized for children.
The Seaview 180 is constructed and built with quality in mind. It’s the only mask of the three shown here that has a built-in GoPro mount. If you don’t use a GoPro camera then it’s a feature you don’t need but otherwise it’s great to have that mount. You secure the camera to it and it’ll record everything your child sees. This can add so much more excitement to a snorkel trip!
The design of the mask is pretty much flawless. Breathing is easy and the chance of fogging up is close to not existing. The materials used are of the highest quality and won’t wear out anytime soon.
The S/M and L/XL versions of the mask come in a variety of colors. The XS size for children is currently only available in one color combination of black and navy blue.
The Tribord Easybreath is the original full face snorkel mask. For years it was and is the standard when it comes to this type of snorkel gear.
Early 2017 the design was slightly changed and with that change the branding changed from Tribord to Subea. This latest update also meant that many of the different sizes you could get with the older model are no longer available. On the positive side, the mask did get cheaper without loss of overall quality!
Unfortunately, the XS size of the mask is no longer available. The smallest size is the ‘S’. Based on Subea’s information the two mask sizes cover about 90% of people which includes children aged around 10 years and older.
If your kid is into using a GoPro camera then you can get an optional mount for the mask. This optional mount slides over the snorkel and does make sure that the camera stays in place. The positioning of the video camera is not as optimal as with the SeaView 180 that you can see above.
Besides this one criticism, the mask is pretty much the best you can get. The measures built in to prevent fogging are best in class. The overall quality and the fit are also hard if at all to be beaten.
The Easybreath comes in a large number of different colors. Most sizes are available in both sizes. At times you can also find special editions of the mask with completely different colors or prints to make them more unique!
Ocean Reef makes a variety of snorkel and scuba gear. The Aria mask is their contender in the full face snorkel mask area and it’s overall a great mask.
It comes in four different sizes including an XS size for children. Not all color combinations can be had in all different sizes though!
The mask is built with top of the line materials and will last for a long time. One of the more unique features of the mask is that the area covering your mouth and nose is made from semi-transparent material. This can allow a slightly better view if you look down.
The mask does not have a built-in GoPro mount but you can purchase a mount as an accessory. The optional mount snaps over the snorkel and positions the video camera reasonably well. The position is not as good as on the Seaview 180 but slightly better than on the Easybreath.
Another great (optional) feature of the Aria mask is that you can get an accessory that supports eye glasses in the mask. As you can imagine, using glasses with any snorkel or scuba mask is a challenge as the temples of the frame (the parts going to your ears) disturb the seal between he mask and your face. This will lead to leaking!
A downside of the Aria is the price. It’s on the high end of the pricing range when you compare it to other masks. Overall, the high price is in our opinion not justified when you compare it to the other two masks listed above!