Although the first full face scuba mask was invented way back in 1933, it wasn’t until very recently that companies began manufacturing them as retail products.
Usually produced exclusively for professional and scientific use, the hobbyist diver never had a chance to use this kind of innovative equipment.
Now they’re available to the public, hurrah! And even though they can be quite expensive, the new worlds they open up beneath the surface of the water are invaluable. You can experience the depths in a more natural and comfortable way, safer than ever before.
Full face scuba masks are most beneficial to those who embark on long dives or need to communicate with the surface throughout their dive. Underwater workers, biologists, and researchers would all benefit from the increased comfort, natural breathing, and communication provided by full face masks.
We’re going to review five of the very best full face scuba masks available right now. We’ll even dive through an in-depth buyer’s guide and brief FAQ section so you know exactly what you’re looking for.
In a world so thoroughly explored and established by travelers and drawn up and cataloged by cartographers, the oceans hold the last true mysteries.
Helping you discover the lost city of Atlantis in our number one spot is an awesome full face mask from a company that helped revolutionize the design.
Giving you crystal clear visuals in the murky depths, the Guardian has an incredibly low profile 180 degree, panoramic visor. There’ll be no tunnel vision with this mask, just full optical connection to the deep blue sea.
The mask is split into two chambers, your breathing chamber, and your visual chamber, so although you can breathe freely without a mouthpiece, you won’t cloud up your visor.
You also get a really impressive design feat in the ABV valve. This ambient breathing valve allows you to breathe fresh air when you surface or before you dive down, conserving the gas in your tank so you can stay underwater for longer.
OTS have put as much thought into the comfortability of this design as they have the performance. This mask will keep your face nice and warm as you probe the frigid Cthulian depths, so you can witness gorgeous sub-seascapes without freezing your cheeks off.
This may seem like a pretty leisurely aspect of the design, but taking away the shock factor of extreme temperature changes helps encourage controlled breathing.
The Guardian also features a double seal lining, which makes it a far more secure fit around a vast amount of face types, and if that’s not enough, each mask comes with two bases.
These can be applied and padded for perfect equalization, and combined with the adjustable head straps, offer you the coziest dive imaginable.
Inviting you down into the halcyon sapphire folds of our second spot is another fantastic full face mask designed to give you the most natural experience in the water possible.
The really great thing about this mask is that it’s a fully customizable design. You can add any number of things to it to enhance your diving experience in particular kinds of water.
This means it’s perfect if you wear glasses as you can opt for a corrective optical lens placed against the visor. You can also augment it with a surface air valve, or a communications system so you can have a gossip with your bud on the ocean floor.
You’re in luck if you often dive in colder water as these are cold water certified. The extra space it creates between your face and the water provides a great thermal barrier, keeping you nice and warm in the ice cold ocean.
You can relax both in and out of the water with an easy to use pre-dive/dive switch that allows you to prime the tank the exact moment before you submerge, preserving gas.
You can also expect longer dive times due to the smart integrated secondary regulator that’s exact with your respiratory requirements, only letting in gas as you breathe.
This is the perfect full scuba mask for people who like to push themselves to the limit, who demand the greatest performing and most versatile equipment.
Our number three pick is another design that caters to personalization to make you as comfortable as can be in the deep unknown.
This mask comes with integral nose clips to facilitate smooth underwater pressure equalization. This means you don’t have to worry so much about practicalities. You can just get straight to enjoying the adventure side of the dive.
You can choose from three connection ports to attach your regulator and underwater communications device, which is a really neat feature. You can set it up exactly the way you want it, creating an altogether more enjoyable diving experience.
This is another mask with a wide optics visor with awesome peripheral potential. As the spectral beauty of the unhindered underwater world takes your breath away, this mask gives you more.
Drager have kitted it out with a really cool exhalation valve that allows you to purge water quickly and easily, so if the seal isn’t fully fitted to your face and you take on water, it’s no problem whatsoever.
You don’t have to remove the whole mask to empty and start again. Simply purge, make a few adjustments, and you’re sorted. You also get a doff quick release function that allows you to remove the mask immediately.
The Nova is cold water certified so, again, you can explore the coldest reefs and the frostiest seafloors. Your face will be kept nice and warm behind the double-sealed, flat lens visor. You also get a five point adjustable head harness allowing a perfect fit on most face types.
Unfortunately, this mask doesn’t come with a primary or secondary regulator, which is a real downside considering the large price tag, but you can’t deny the quality of the Drager design.
Transforming you into some sort of amazing subaquatic demi-deity in the watery abyss of our number four spot is another awesome Ocean Reef mask designed to give you ultimate control and comfort during a dive.
This mask has an ultra springy bellows face seal that makes for a perfect fit on almost any face type and allows the mask to float in front of the face extremely well.
This is thanks to the premium grade silicone rubber construction. You’re never weighed down by your mask in the water, saving you from unwanted neck strain.
You get 6 adjustable head straps with this Ocean Reef mask, each of them wider at the tip so you can manipulate them whilst you're wearing your neoprene diving gloves. The fast rotating buckle system allows you to don and doff the whole mask in record time, no fiddling around loosening every single strap.
Unlike our previous pick, this mask comes with an integrated secondary regulator, so no need for multiple purchases here.
We feel that it’s also really fairly priced, especially as the visor seems equally impressive and open as our last pick.
You can also do a little bit of customization with it too. You have one spare port in which you can fit either a surface air valve or a scuba octopus.
Providing you with some full face protection in the doomy depths of our list here at the number five spot, we have a simplified, more traditional design for those of you who aren’t impressed by bells and whistles.
This OTS mask secures slightly lower down on the forehead than our other picks so you can expect a colder experience when you’re fully submerged.
It doesn’t come with a second stage regulator, but the universal port design makes it compatible with most regulators available.
The tinted visor is really well designed and sturdy, but it’s a little restrictive visually. It does drop significantly on either side of the nose, but you still don’t get as wide a field of vision as with the other masks on this list.
It does have the fantastic OTS double seal design though, so it’s most likely going to fit any face type. This is an older more traditional design that precedes our other choices, so it’s not as fancy, but it has been tried and tested, and people absolutely love it.
The simple design gives you all the quality and essentials you really need to have an amazing and immersive experience under the waves.
You have a secure five strap adjustable fastening system, sure to keep everything watertight, and the equalization process couldn’t be easier. You simply pinch the nose area and it’s done. Quick, faultless, and essential.
Best Full Face Scuba Masks Buying Guide
The good and bad thing about shopping for full face scuba masks is that there aren’t really all that many available to recreational divers at the minute.
This means that you don’t have to spend hours exploring the depths of the internet searching for the perfect one for you, but it also means that the perfect one for you may not exist yet.
Well, let’s discuss some of the things we considered when putting together our best-of list.
You should consider how much you’re willing to spend first and foremost as these things are pretty new to the public and still have some fairly scary price tags.
Almost all the high end, high priced masks have multiple ports that give you more control over the layout of your equipment.
This is awesome if you have a particular setup you’d like to try in the water.
If you wear glasses, it’s definitely worth looking for a mask developed by a company that provides custom-fitted correctional lenses that can be fitted to the interior of the visor.
A purging or drainage system is a really handy feature on a full face scuba mask.
It allows you to drain any water that has leaked into your mask due to an insecure fit without taking the whole thing off and starting the donning process all over again.
Full face scuba masks can at times be quite tricky to get on and off, so we recommend a mask with this facility.
Just as these masks can be difficult to fit, so can they be troublesome to remove. A lot of companies are paying mind to this and designing systems that speed up the process.
If you like the idea of a fast removal mask, make sure the mechanism in place is well out the way so you don’t accidentally knock it when you’re submerged or about to dive.
Cold Water Certified
Most full face masks are CWC, which means they’ve been tested for use in extra cold temperatures. These masks will do a great job of keeping your face warm and thus regulate your breathing.
A lot of people only scuba in hot climates, so this might be a non-issue to you, but if you do like to dive in bone-shatteringly cold waters, we highly recommend buying a CWC mask.
This is the most important thing to consider when buying a mask. No matter how much you spend on it, if it doesn’t fit, it’s just an expensive bit of trash.
Always check what measures have been put in place by the manufacturer to ensure a secure fit on different face types. This could be double sealing around the edges or extra adjustable head straps. The product should advertise exactly how it works.
If you get the opportunity, try on as many masks as you can. It’s best to replicate a real life situation as close as possible by wearing your hood when you try them on too. It shouldn’t just secure around your face, it should also be comfortable.
Clarity and field of vision is the next most important factor a full mask should provide. Again, you should test your visuals by trying on masks. Check your peripherals and your vertical optics.
If you’re buying online, check what other customers have said about the visor, and look at numerous pictures of the mask to get a feel for how the visor compares to other options on the market.
This is one of the most awesome things about a full mask. You don’t have a mouthpiece, so you can talk freely, which means they can be used in conjunction with communications devices so you can report back to the surface or talk to another diver in real time.
If this doesn’t appeal to you, you should still look into full masks, but this is one of the main reasons people pay so much money for them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are full face scuba masks safe?
Yes, they’ve been used for scientific purposes for decades now. You should still take the usual precautions when preparing for a dive, but a few extra checks will be necessary as slightly different connections are used.
In some situations, they’re thought to be safer, as if a diver falls unconscious, they will still have access to air.
Why are full face diving masks preferable to regular masks?
A few reasons.
Firstly, they allow you to talk. Secondly, you can breathe through your nose which prevents a sore throat.
Finally, they keep your face warm in cold water.
A full face scuba mask is definitely a luxury.
They provide you with the comfort that was only initially used to facilitate research or help professional divers reach new depths.
They’re expensive, but if this is your passion, well worth the money.