As with anything, full face snorkel masks have their issues. Nothing is perfect in this world, we’ve all got our flaws! While we reckon our Ninja Shark masks are quite solid (only because we’ve worked so hard to perfect them!), there are other snorkel masks out there that can cause a range of issues for the user.
Here are the most common full face snorkel mask issues we’ve read about (and sought to fix with our snorkel masks). The best you can do is be aware of potential problems and try to avoid them before they occur. And if you’re experiencing a problem that hasn’t been mentioned below, feel free to message us! We’d love to help out.
1. Carbon dioxide (CO2) buildup
Buildup of CO2 in the snorkel mask is becoming more and more common as more dodgy, cheap snorkel masks are sold on the internet. It’s tempting to buy cheap, but not worth the risk.
Why CO2 buildup happens:
As we inhale and exhale, we produce CO2 (basic science, guys). If we’re exerting ourselves in an activity that’s a bit tiring, then our body produces more oxygen to keep the muscles going. More oxygen means faster, shallower breathing.
Suddenly, we’re exhaling lots and lots of carbon dioxide in the confined space of a full face snorkel mask. Since we’re breathing shallowly, there’s not enough force to expel the CO2 out of the mask. It’s basically like putting a plastic bag over your head. You end up unconscious. In the water, that’s a terribly dangerous idea.
How to avoid CO2 buildup:
It’s important to remember that snorkel masks are designed for recreational use. Floating on the surface of the water, looking at the pretty fishies. They’re not designed for tiring open water swimming, freediving, or other activities that’ll get your heart pumping.
A snorkel mask that prevents CO2 buildup:
When buying a full face snorkel mask, it’s essential you make sure they have separate inhaling/exhaling breathing chambers, extra valves, and a wider tube that prevents the buildup of CO2. This is a serious issue that can be caused by faulty/improperly manufactured mask, and it’s not worth taking lightly.
Yuck, yuck, yuck. Water leaking into your snorkel mask is a very annoying issue that can send you straight back to the shore. Leaking masks are an extremely common issue and usually due to a number of factors.
Why snorkel masks leak:
There are many reasons why a full face snorkel mask might be leaking. The basic issue is that the snorkel mask is not watertight and not properly sealing around your face to prevent the entry of water. Air pockets may exist in several spots, and it’s a good idea you take a look at where that might be.
It may be within the silicon lining, or it may simply be that you’ve purchased the wrong size mask for your face. Some cheaper brands use lower-quality silicon skirts that are quite stiff and inflexible, making it susceptible to cracking and not properly sealing around your face.
How to avoid leaky snorkel masks:
Firstly, you want to ensure you’ve bought the right size for your face. If you haven’t got the right size then you’re out of luck! (Protip: at Ninja Shark we have a one-size-fits-all snorkel mask). Secondly, examine the silicon skirt of your brand. Is it soft and flexible? Or more dry and hard? If it’s the latter, then your snorkel mask is a low quality manufacture and the leaking situation is unlikely to get any better (sorry!)
Finally, water could be leaking into your mask for a few other reasons:
- You have a fringe or other hairs preventing a proper seal from forming,
- You have a beard or moustache (you may have to get rid of that),
- You’ve smiled after putting the snorkel mask on – smiling changes the shape of the muscles around your mouth, creating new creases for the silicon to try to mould to.
It happens to us all – you’re there, immersed in the beauty of coral life, and suddenly it fogs over. You spend 30 seconds thrashing around in the water taking off your mask and cleaning it, and it fogs up again 5 minutes later.
How to avoid foggy snorkel masks:
There are tonnes of DIY tips out there – check out our article on How to Defog Your Snorkel Mask! Everything from toothpaste to baby shampoo and spit has been tried & recommended, but honestly, the best way to do it by simply ordering a snorkel mask that’s got a good anti-fog features.
A snorkel mask that doesn’t fog up:
You can use all the fancy anti-fog coating in the world, or you can innovate! At Ninja Shark we designed our new snorkel mask to have a unique, inner tube design that lets you breathe through your nose and mouth without fogging up the mask. Other brands use two intakes, but ours has three intakes, and twice the ventilation. Yee-haa!
4. Cheap materials/knockoffs
We mentioned it before with the silicon skirt, but knockoffs & cheap materials can make a full face snorkel mask awful in many respects. What if the tube was made from shoddy plastic? Cheaper materials = more problems.
The problem with knockoff snorkel masks
Cheap materials could be behind all sorts of issues, from excess fogging, CO2 buildup, leaking water, uncomfortable fit, and easy breakage. It’s always a surprise when you’re using a cheap mask! Which issue will I be dealing with today? As with anything, cheap materials can make a product look nice (from afar), but it won’t function very well.
How to avoid cheaply made snorkel mask knockoffs
Have a look through the information and see if the manufacturer provides information on the materials used. If they’re good, they’ll want to tell you about it. If no information is given on materials, they’re likely to be cheap. If you’re buying a $10 mask from a Chinese seller on eBay, it’s definitely a knockoff. Go for a brand that offers a long warranty and backs their products with confidence.
5. Drop shipped snorkel masks with long delivery times
… If they’re ever delivered, that is! There are so many reports online from people who have purchased full face snorkel masks online, paid for them, and watched the whole summer pass by without receiving their beloved snorkels. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment.
Why you don’t want to drop ship snorkel masks
There’s no accountability. A lot of drop shipping companies are out there to make a quick buck with no consideration for the audience they’re selling to. They purchase a bunch of products for cheap and want to offload them for cheap. Of course, not all drop shipped products are like this, but a quick look over the internet brings up lots of disappointed users who either didn’t receive their masks, or received them very very late.
Hopefully you’re feeling relieved now that you’ve realised that snorkel masks don’t have to come along with a string of issues. It’s all about who manufactured the mask, what their intentions were (making bucks VS offering value), and how well they back their product.