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Should You Use a Full Face Snorkel Mask for Spearfishing?

Listen up, because we’ve got a hot topic to discuss today: the use of full face snorkel masks for spearfishing. In this article, we’re going to dive deep into whether or not these masks are suitable for your underwater adventures. Fish and Dive Hawaii, the experts in all things aquatic, have created a video that sheds some light on the matter. While there are a few drawbacks to using a mask like this, there are also some impressive features that make it stand out from the crowd. So grab your flippers and let’s explore the pros and cons of the full face snorkel mask for spearfishing!

In this episode, Fish and Dive Hawaii will give you their honest opinion on why you should think twice before using this type of mask for spearfishing, and even for recreational snorkeling to some extent. Despite the drawbacks, this snorkel mask boasts unique features that you won’t find in other masks. Just a heads up, all the links provided are affiliate links that benefit the channel without any additional charge to you. So buckle up as we uncover the truth about using full face snorkel masks for your underwater escapades!

Should You Use a Full Face Snorkel Mask for Spearfishing?

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Pros of Full Face Snorkel Masks

Improved field of vision

One of the biggest advantages of using a full face snorkel mask for spearfishing is the improved field of vision it offers. Unlike traditional snorkel masks, which only allow you to see underwater through a small window, full face masks provide a panoramic view of the underwater world. This increased visibility not only enhances your overall snorkeling experience but also allows you to spot fish and other marine life more easily while spearfishing.

Easier breathing

Another major benefit of full face snorkel masks is the ease of breathing they provide. With a traditional snorkel mask, you need to bite down on a rubber mouthpiece and breathe through a tube. This can be uncomfortable and tiring, especially during long spearfishing sessions. Full face masks, on the other hand, have a built-in breathing chamber that allows you to breathe naturally through both your nose and mouth. This makes it much easier to breathe and significantly reduces the risk of fatigue or discomfort.

No fogging

Fogging is a common issue with traditional snorkel masks, especially when transitioning between warm air and cold water. It can be frustrating and distracting when your mask becomes foggy during a spearfishing session. However, full face snorkel masks have a separate breathing chamber that prevents the warm air from your breath from reaching the visor. This eliminates the problem of fogging and ensures that you always have a clear view of your surroundings while spearfishing.

Less jaw fatigue

Using a traditional snorkel mask requires you to constantly bite down on the mouthpiece to hold it in place. This can result in jaw fatigue, especially during longer spearfishing sessions. Full face snorkel masks eliminate this issue, as they don’t require you to bite down on anything. Instead, they cover your entire face and are secured with adjustable straps, distributing the pressure more evenly. This makes them much more comfortable to wear for extended periods, allowing you to focus on your spearfishing without any discomfort.

More comfortable

In addition to reducing jaw fatigue, full face snorkel masks offer overall increased comfort compared to traditional snorkel masks. The soft silicone skirt that seals the mask against your face provides a comfortable and secure fit, preventing any water from entering the mask. The straps are adjustable, allowing you to find the perfect fit for your head shape and size. Many full face masks also have a padded strap that sits on the back of your head, further enhancing comfort. With a properly fitted full face snorkel mask, you can enjoy your spearfishing adventures without any discomfort or distractions.

Cons of Full Face Snorkel Masks

Limited diving depth

One of the drawbacks of full face snorkel masks is their limited diving depth. While they are suitable for snorkeling and shallow diving, they are not recommended for deep dives. This is because the design of the mask prevents equalization of pressure as you descend deeper underwater. The air trapped in the mask becomes compressed, causing discomfort and potentially putting your safety at risk. It is important to be aware of the depth limitations of full face snorkel masks and avoid pushing the boundaries to ensure your safety while spearfishing.

Restricted mouth access

Full face snorkel masks cover your entire face, including your mouth. While this provides comfort and ease of breathing, it also restricts access to your mouth. This can be problematic if you need to quickly spit out water or adjust your snorkel mouthpiece while spearfishing. It is important to practice alternative techniques to clear water from your mouth or regulator if you encounter any issues while underwater. Being prepared and comfortable with these alternative methods will ensure that you can address any concerns effectively without compromising your safety.

Potential CO2 buildup

One of the safety concerns associated with full face snorkel masks is the potential buildup of carbon dioxide (CO2). Since the exhaled air is circulated within the mask, there is a risk of breathing in excessive levels of CO2 over time. While most full face masks are equipped with a separate breathing chamber to minimize this risk, it is essential to be mindful of your breathing and take regular breaks to allow fresh air to enter the mask. Monitoring your own comfort level and being aware of any signs of dizziness or lightheadedness is crucial while using a full face snorkel mask for spearfishing.

Less hydrodynamics

Compared to traditional snorkel masks, full face snorkel masks have a larger volume and cover a larger area of your face. This can affect your hydrodynamics in the water, as the larger mask creates more drag. Some spearfishers may find that the increased drag slows them down or affects their maneuverability. It is important to take this into consideration and adjust your technique if necessary. Practicing with a full face snorkel mask in calm waters beforehand can help you understand and adapt to any differences in hydrodynamics while spearfishing.

Size and fit issues

Full face snorkel masks come in different sizes, and finding the right fit for your face shape and size is crucial. If the mask is too small or too large, it may not seal properly, allowing water to enter. Poor fit can also result in discomfort or pressure points on your face. It is important to try on different masks and ensure a snug and comfortable fit before choosing one for spearfishing. Additionally, some divers may find that certain facial features, such as facial hair or glasses, can affect the fit and seal of a full face mask. Being aware of these potential issues and selecting a mask that accommodates your specific needs will ensure a better spearfishing experience.

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Safety Concerns

Carbon dioxide buildup

The potential buildup of carbon dioxide, as mentioned earlier, is a safety concern associated with full face snorkel masks. Breathing in excessive amounts of CO2 can lead to dizziness, lightheadedness, and even unconsciousness. To minimize this risk, it is important to select a full face mask with a well-designed separate breathing chamber that allows for efficient exchange of fresh air and exhaled air. Additionally, taking regular breaks, practicing controlled breathing, and being aware of any signs of discomfort or dizziness are important safety precautions to follow while using a full face snorkel mask for spearfishing.

Risk of drowning

With any snorkeling or diving activity, there is always a risk of drowning. Full face snorkel masks, while convenient and comfortable, can potentially increase this risk if not used correctly. It is important to familiarize yourself with the mask and its features before entering the water. Learning how to properly adjust and secure the straps, how to clear water from the mask, and how to remove the mask quickly if necessary are essential skills to ensure your safety while spearfishing. Additionally, always snorkel or dive with a buddy who can provide assistance in case of an emergency.

Inability to equalize pressure

Equalizing pressure is an important technique used while diving to prevent discomfort and potential injury to your ears. Full face snorkel masks do not allow for equalization of pressure as effectively as traditional snorkel masks. As you descend deeper underwater, the trapped air within the mask becomes compressed, causing discomfort and potential damage to your ears. It is important to be mindful of the depth limitations of full face snorkel masks and avoid diving beyond their recommended depth. If you plan to spearfish at greater depths, it is advisable to switch to a traditional mask and snorkel setup that allows for proper equalization of pressure.

Compatibility with Spearfishing

Challenges of aiming

One of the challenges of using a full face snorkel mask for spearfishing is the limited ability to aim accurately. The large visor and increased volume of the mask create a wider field of vision, which can make it more difficult to precisely target your prey. Traditional snorkel masks, with their smaller windows, offer better visibility for aiming. Spearfishers who rely on pinpoint accuracy may find it more challenging to aim effectively with a full face mask. Practicing with the mask and adapting your aiming technique can help overcome this challenge to some extent.

Difficulty in equalizing pressure

As mentioned earlier, full face snorkel masks are not suitable for deep dives due to their limited ability to equalize pressure effectively. While spearfishing may not always require diving to great depths, certain underwater terrain or specific species of fish may require you to dive deeper. In such cases, using a full face snorkel mask may pose a challenge, as the discomfort caused by the pressure differential can affect your focus and safety. It is important to assess the diving requirements of your spearfishing activities and choose the appropriate equipment accordingly.

Ineffective for freediving

Freediving, which involves diving to significant depths without the use of breathing apparatus, requires specialized equipment and training. Full face snorkel masks are not designed for freediving and may not be suitable for this type of underwater activity. The inability to equalize pressure effectively and the added drag caused by the larger mask can hinder your freediving performance. If you plan to engage in freediving while spearfishing, it is advisable to use a traditional snorkel mask or a dedicated freediving mask that offers better functionality and safety.

Noise and vibrations

Full face snorkel masks can produce noise and vibrations when you move in the water. This can potentially startle or scare away fish, making it more difficult to approach them while spearfishing. The larger volume of the mask can create a louder noise, especially when interacting with the water or when a strong current is present. Being mindful of your movements and minimizing any unnecessary noise or vibrations can help reduce their impact on your spearfishing success.

Should You Use a Full Face Snorkel Mask for Spearfishing?

Choosing the Right Full Face Snorkel Mask for Spearfishing

Mask design and features

When selecting a full face snorkel mask for spearfishing, consider the design and features that are most important to you. Look for a mask that provides a wide field of vision, as this will enhance your overall snorkeling and spearfishing experience. Check for features such as a separate breathing chamber, a dry-top snorkel, and a purge valve, as these will contribute to better performance and safety underwater. Some masks also offer additional features like GoPro mounts or removable snorkel tubes, which can be useful if you want to capture your spearfishing adventures or customize your snorkel setup.

Materials and construction

The quality of materials and construction of a full face snorkel mask can greatly impact its durability and performance. Look for masks made from high-quality silicone for the skirt, as this will provide a comfortable and secure fit. The visor should be made from tempered glass or high-quality polycarbonate for better clarity and resistance to scratches. Pay attention to the overall build quality and ensure that the mask feels sturdy and well-constructed. Investing in a mask that is built to last will ensure that you can enjoy many spearfishing trips without worrying about equipment failure.

Size and fit

Finding the right size and fit is essential for a comfortable and secure full face snorkel mask. Masks are available in various sizes, typically ranging from small to large. Take the time to try on different masks and choose one that fits your face shape and size snugly without any gaps. A proper fit will prevent water from entering the mask and ensure a comfortable and secure seal against your face. Ensure that the mask straps are adjustable and that you can tighten them enough to create a secure fit without causing discomfort or pressure points.

Valve system

The valve system of a full face snorkel mask is an important feature to consider, as it affects the mask’s performance and safety. Look for a mask with a dry-top snorkel that prevents water from entering the mask when submerged. This feature is particularly important for spearfishing, as you may need to dive beneath the water’s surface for prolonged periods. Additionally, a purge valve can make it easier to clear any water that enters the mask, ensuring that you maintain a clear view underwater. Assess the valve system of different masks and choose one that meets your specific spearfishing needs.

Brand reputation

When investing in a full face snorkel mask for spearfishing, it is advisable to consider the reputation of the brand. Research and read reviews from other spearfishers to gauge the overall quality, durability, and performance of the masks offered by different brands. Look for brands that specialize in snorkeling and diving equipment, as they are more likely to have a better understanding of the specific needs and requirements of spearfishers. Opting for a reputable brand will provide you with peace of mind and increase the likelihood of selecting a high-quality mask.

Tips for Using Full Face Snorkel Masks for Spearfishing

Practice in shallow waters

Before venturing into deeper waters for spearfishing, take the time to practice using your full face snorkel mask in a controlled and shallow environment. This will allow you to familiarize yourself with the mask’s features, such as the breathing chamber, dry-top snorkel, and purge valve. Practice diving below the water’s surface and ensure that you can clear any water that enters the mask effectively. Familiarizing yourself with the mask’s functionality and becoming comfortable with its use will boost your confidence and ensure a smoother spearfishing experience.

Mastering equalizing techniques

As discussed earlier, full face snorkel masks are not designed for deep dives due to their limited ability to equalize pressure effectively. However, if you do encounter situations that require you to dive deeper than advised, it is important to be familiar with alternative equalization techniques. Learn and practice techniques such as the Frenzel maneuver or the Toynbee maneuver, which can help you equalize pressure without relying solely on the mask. Being comfortable with these techniques will provide an added layer of safety and enhance your ability to adapt to different spearfishing scenarios.

Maintaining good mask hygiene

To ensure the longevity and optimal performance of your full face snorkel mask, it is important to maintain good mask hygiene. Rinse the mask thoroughly with fresh water after each use to remove any salt, sand, or debris. Avoid leaving the mask in direct sunlight for extended periods, as this can degrade the materials. Store the mask in a cool and dry place to prevent mold or mildew growth. Regularly inspect the mask for any signs of wear or damage and replace any worn-out parts promptly. By taking good care of your mask, you will prolong its lifespan and ensure that it remains in optimal condition for your spearfishing adventures.

Avoiding excessive pressure changes

Full face snorkel masks exert pressure on your face when properly fitted, and sudden changes in pressure can impact their performance and safety. Avoid making abrupt pressure changes, such as jumping into the water or rapidly resurfacing, as this can loosen the mask or create discomfort. Take your time when entering or exiting the water and ascend slowly to give the mask time to equalize pressure properly. Being mindful of pressure changes and allowing the mask to adjust accordingly will ensure a better overall experience while spearfishing.

Should You Use a Full Face Snorkel Mask for Spearfishing?

Alternatives to Full Face Snorkel Masks

Traditional snorkel masks

Traditional snorkel masks consist of a separate mask and snorkel setup, where the mask covers your eyes and nose, and the snorkel tube allows for breathing through your mouth. These masks are widely used and trusted by divers and snorkelers alike. They offer a more streamlined design and better hydrodynamics compared to full face masks. Traditional masks are suitable for spearfishing, as they provide good visibility, efficient equalization of pressure, and easy access to your mouth. If you prefer a more traditional approach or have specific needs that are better met by a traditional mask, this option may be worth considering.

Separate snorkel and mask setup

A separate snorkel and mask setup is another alternative to full face snorkel masks. This setup allows you to choose a mask that fits your face shape and size perfectly, combined with a snorkel that can be attached securely. This option offers more versatility, as you can mix and match different masks and snorkels to create a customized setup that suits your spearfishing needs. Additionally, using a separate mask and snorkel setup allows for easier replacement or upgrading of individual components, ensuring flexibility and long-term usability.

Dive masks with snorkel attachments

Dive masks with snorkel attachments are a hybrid option that combines the features of a full face mask and a traditional snorkel mask. These masks cover your eyes and nose while incorporating a snorkel attachment that protrudes from the mask. They offer a wider field of vision compared to traditional snorkel masks and ease of breathing through both your mouth and nose. However, like traditional masks, they require you to bite down on the mouthpiece, which can lead to jaw fatigue over time. Dive masks with snorkel attachments may be a suitable compromise if you value improved visibility and ease of breathing but don’t want to fully commit to a full face mask for spearfishing.

Safety Precautions and Best Practices

Always dive with a buddy

Spearfishing, like any water activity, can involve inherent risks, and it is important to prioritize safety. Always dive with a buddy who can watch over you and provide assistance if needed. A buddy system enhances safety by ensuring that you have someone to rely on in case of an emergency or unforeseen circumstances. Communicate your diving plan with your buddy, establish clear signals or gestures, and never dive beyond your individual comfort levels or capabilities. Collaborating with a buddy makes spearfishing not only safer but also more enjoyable, as you can share experiences and support each other throughout the expedition.

Know your limits

Understanding your own limitations and capabilities is crucial for safe spearfishing. This includes recognizing your physical abilities, comfort levels, and diving experience. Never push yourself beyond what you are confident and skilled enough to handle. Be honest with yourself and assess the conditions, such as current strength and visibility, before making decisions about diving. Avoid rushing or diving in unfamiliar or risky environments without proper training or preparation. Knowing and respecting your limits will ensure that you have a safer and more controlled spearfishing experience.

Check and maintain equipment regularly

Regularly inspecting and maintaining your spearfishing equipment, including your full face snorkel mask, is essential for safety and performance. Check the straps, buckles, and seals of your mask for any signs of wear, deterioration, or damage. Ensure that the breathing chamber and valve system are functioning correctly. Regularly rinse the mask with fresh water, as well as inspect the snorkel and purge valve for any obstructions. Store your mask and associated equipment in a proper and dry location to prevent mold or damage. By maintaining your equipment regularly, you reduce the risk of equipment failure during a spearfishing outing.

Stay aware of your surroundings

While spearfishing, it is crucial to stay aware of your surroundings at all times. Pay attention to changes in weather conditions, such as strong currents, changing tides, or approaching storms. Be mindful of potential hazards, such as sharp rocks or marine life that may pose a threat. Always be aware of your distance from the shore or boat and ensure that you have a clear path to safety in case of an emergency. By remaining vigilant and aware of your environment, you can better anticipate and respond to any potential risks while spearfishing.

Should You Use a Full Face Snorkel Mask for Spearfishing?

Expert Opinions on Full Face Snorkel Masks for Spearfishing

Opinions from professional spearfishers

Opinions on full face snorkel masks for spearfishing vary among professional spearfishers. Some spearfishers find full face masks to be a convenient and practical option, ensuring ease of breathing and increased visibility. They argue that the ability to breathe through the nose allows for better air circulation and relieves jaw fatigue during prolonged spearfishing sessions. However, some professional spearfishers express concerns about the limitations of full face masks, particularly regarding equalization of pressure and aim accuracy. They recommend that spearfishers assess their own needs, capabilities, and diving depth requirements before opting for a full face mask.

Views from diving organizations and associations

Diving organizations and associations have differing views on full face snorkel masks for spearfishing. Some organizations, such as PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors), caution against using full face masks for diving due to the limited ability to equalize pressure. They emphasize that these masks are primarily designed for snorkeling and shallow dives, and should not be used for deep dives or freediving. Other organizations, while acknowledging the limitations of full face masks, acknowledge that they can be suitable for certain spearfishing scenarios. They emphasize the importance of proper training, understanding the limitations of the mask, and using alternative equalization techniques when necessary.


When considering whether to use a full face snorkel mask for spearfishing, it is important to weigh the pros and cons and make an informed decision based on your individual preferences and needs. The improved field of vision, easier breathing, and overall comfort offered by full face masks can enhance your spearfishing experience. However, their limitations, such as restricted mouth access and limited diving depth, need to be taken into consideration for optimal safety and performance.

Before making a final decision, it is advisable to consult with experienced spearfishers and diving professionals to gain insights into their personal experiences and recommendations. Guidance from those with expertise in the field can help you make a more informed choice that aligns with your specific spearfishing requirements.

Remember to prioritize safety at all times by diving with a buddy, maintaining your equipment, and staying aware of your surroundings. By following best practices and taking appropriate precautions, you can ensure a safer and more enjoyable spearfishing adventure. Happy spearfishing!

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