Updated April 2022
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Buying guide for the best dive masks

Any experienced diver will tell you that a quality dive mask is the first piece of equipment you should buy. Essential for divers of all skill levels, a mask not only keeps water out of your eyes and nose but it also helps you more clearly see what’s around you, including obstacles, sea life, and other underwater adventurers.

If you choose the right dive mask, it should feel like it’s not really there at all: it won’t leak, it won’t fog up, and it won’t feel uncomfortable on your skin. Finding that right mask isn’t always easy, though, because there are hundreds of options on the market ranging from the basic oval worn by James Bond in Thunderball to newer variants with multiple lenses, camera mounts, and integrated snorkels.

We’ve put together this shopping guide and some recommendations to help you. Which mask is best for you? Let’s dive in and find out!

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Clear or light-colored masks let in more light than black masks. Experiment with both to determine your preference.

Key considerations

Fifty years ago, dive masks were simple devices consisting of a single transparent oval and not much else. Today, dive technology has progressed considerably, and there are a few basic elements to ponder before you take that first plunge.


Not all dive masks are the same. Premium models are made of high-quality, soft silicone and tempered glass, but cheap plastic and rubber options litter dive shops and beach-adjacent convenience stores. While these affordable variants can be adequate for limited use in shallow water, they’re not recommended for serious divers.

Silicone is not only soft, comfortable, and resistant to cracking but it also provides a tight seal to your face, which is absolutely paramount. Additionally, a tempered glass lens is far superior to plastic when it comes to resisting scratches, discouraging fogging, and overall strength at depth.

Lens type

The most common type of mask you’ll see today is a dual-lens mask in which each eye has its own section, similar to snowboard or ski goggles. Some options have a single connected lens, and others offer a panoramic full-face design with a wider viewing angle.

Many snorkelers swear by the full-face design because it provides an ultra-wide viewing angle for maximum awareness underwater. However, most serious divers prefer the dual-lens setup because full-face masks require more effort to flush, can make objects look slightly farther away, and aren’t optimized for higher pressures. As with any new hobby or sport, it’s important to know exactly what your goals are before purchasing equipment.

Depth rating

Recreational dive masks and snorkel setups are not recommended for serious free-diving or scuba use, but depth ratings are always important to note. Look for indicators on product packaging or manufacturer websites, and remember that silicone and tempered glass construction is best for deeper dives.

Another element to consider is that while some masks include systems to prevent water from entering integrated snorkels, these systems often don’t work when the snorkel is horizontal (in other words, during steep-angle “duck dives”) or under higher pressure.

Dive mask features

Modern dive masks bundle an increasing number of features together. Here are a few slick extras you’ll want to look for.

GoPro mount

GoPro cameras have revolutionized our ability to capture unforgettable video while driving, flying, biking, and running, so why not while diving? There are several masks with GoPro mounts available, so if you want to be able to relive your subaqueous exploits, keep an eye out for GoPro compatibility.

Integrated snorkels

If you’ve decided deepwater exploration just isn’t for you, that’s totally understandable. Scuba diving gets very expensive very quickly, and obtaining a Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) certification represents a significant time commitment. For more casual divers, a convenient solution with an integrated snorkel could be just what you need.

Typically offered in a full-face panoramic design, masks with integrated snorkels offer a truly plug-and-play format with minimal hassle. Because the breathing tube is connected to the face mask instead of going directly in your mouth, it’s less fatiguing to breathe and talk underwater. Many of the snorkels either fold down or detach completely for easier storage.

Anti-fog features

For divers, a foggy mask is an incredibly common annoyance. Like an unscratchable itch, you can’t clear the haze very well underwater, and if you mess up, you might just make the situation worse. Thankfully, the industry has responded by providing several solutions to foggy masks, including anti-fog coatings and proprietary breathing chambers.

The best masks for this incorporate isolated breathing chambers that push air away from your eyes to prevent fog from accumulating. No matter the design, breathing slowly through the nose can help keep your visor clean and clear.

Purge valve

The only thing worse than a foggy mask is one that’s full of water, and as good as the seals are today, it’s quite likely you’ll experience a leaky mask at some point during your diving career. To combat this, some products have one-way purge valves that allow you to clear a mask simply by exhaling. Though they’re sometimes criticized as a gimmick, purge valves do have the tangible benefit of being hands-free, which is extremely beneficial if you’re carrying cameras or other equipment underwater.

Dive mask prices


Basic plastic masks can be obtained for just a few bucks, but we’re starting our price bracket at around $15. Why? That’s about as cheap as you can go for something made of silicone and tempered glass, and anything else simply isn’t worth it outside of the most casual applications.


Moving into the $50 range, you see full-face panoramic options with purge valves and integrated snorkels.


Finally, at around $100, you get the full gamut of dive mask features – GoPro mounts, corrective lenses, carrying cases, and the like. Yes, diving can be a rather spendy hobby, but the masks themselves don’t have to break the bank.


  • Pack well and pack an extra. Tempered glass resists scratches, but that doesn’t mean it can’t get scratched, particularly if your mask is stored loosely with other gear. Pack your mask in an organized and padded space if possible. If you can afford it, it never hurts to have extras.

  • Try the “toothpaste trick.” Anti-fog technology has improved significantly in the last decade, but fogging is still an annoyance divers experience every day. To minimize this, buy some mask-cleaning solution or anti-fog spray. Or for a cheaper fix, use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean the inside of your glass lens with non-whitening toothpaste. Once you’ve completely covered the lens, rinse it with clean water, and test it by breathing onto the visor surface. If it still fogs, repeat the process. It may sound strange at first, but the “toothpaste trick” is one of the most reliable anti-fog methods in the diving world.

  • Inspect your gear before you dive. Take a few minutes to inspect every piece of equipment thoroughly. Check for leaks, cracks, dried-out seals, decaying straps, or anything else that could potentially fail when exposed to water or increased pressure. This is less of a big deal for casual snorkeling, but for more involved activities, this should absolutely be a part of your predive checklist.

  • Clean your equipment after every use. A great way to extend the life of your gear is to properly clean everything after each use. Immerse your kit in fresh, clean water to remove salt, sand, and other debris that could scratch or corrode it. You can use warm, soapy water as well to dissolve oils and salt crystals, but remember to rinse everything well before storing it. Do this gently. Spraying equipment with a high-pressure hose could do more harm than good.
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Never dive alone! Not only is it more fun to share the experience with someone but having a diving buddy could also save your life if something goes wrong.


Q. What other equipment do I need?

A. If your aquatic aspirations stop at casual snorkeling, all you need is a mask, snorkel, and fins to start your journey. If it’s scuba diving you’re after, the list grows like kelp. Essential equipment includes a mask, fins, snorkel, gloves, tank and regulator, buoyancy compensator, dive computer, and some variety of exposure suit. Optional extras include cameras, dive knives, tank bangers (hard objects used to signal dive partners with noise), defoggers, and lights.

Q. How do I become scuba certified?

A. Scuba certification includes three stages: knowledge development, confined water dives, and open water dives. Use the link above to find a PADI dive shop near you.

Q. Can I have corrective lenses in my dive mask?

A. Absolutely! Whether it’s for goggles or full-face masks, there are several companies that offer custom diving lenses to fit your prescription. You can even order bifocal and reader lenses if you’d like to catch up on business underwater.

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