You would have noticed by now that there are two different main designs when it comes to a full face snorkels lens. One design is a flat lens, while the other is a curved lens! Flat lens full face snorkels are made to have a flat front all the way up with a slight curve around the side of the face. Curved lens styles have a rounded front lens that curves all the way around the face.
If you want to get serious about snorkelling then you need the very best, but which lens style is better? What differences does each design style have? In this article, we compare the two types of face mask lens and go over which one is superior for both adults and children.
Curved lens full face snorkel mask
A curved lens full face snorkel has an entire front lens that is curved in an arc style. This design gives a slight distortion due to this curvature, which spreads across the lens evenly. This stops fuzziness and blurry vision while underwater. There is however a certain side angle that is patchy and difficult to view due to the curvature of the lens.
If you're someone who is used to swimming with your eyes open then any distortion to view won't affect you. However, the curvature as discussed does provide some certain blind spots which can be frustrating for those serious snorkelers! A full-face snorkel also has a 180-degree view due to the size of the lens, this is an appealing feature but one that is often ruined when the full face mask has a curved lens. The whole point of full-face snorkels is to get the most amazing underwater experience, this can be difficult with a curved lens.
Other notes with the curved lens full face snorkel are that there have been reports of people feeling nausea and dizziness due to distorted vision. These symptoms are extremely dangerous when out swimming in the ocean, if you are using a full face snorkel with a curved lens, ensure you stay close to shore and have a snorkelling buddy with you.
Flat lens full face snorkel mask
With a flat lens full face snorkel, there is zero curvature on the lens of the mask. This means when you're using it you're looking straight ahead and there is no distortion or warping of the view, providing perfect viewing. Often people feel the viewing experience is much more natural when looking through a flat lens, stating that they don't even feel like they're underwater!
With that being said there is some slight variation towards the top of the lens where it slightly curves. This shouldn't be an issue though as you spend 99% of your time looking forwards and side to side. As you use your full face snorkel more and more you will notice the top distortion less and less, slowly fading out of sight.
Curved vs flat lens
Many people ask us which type of lens is better for breathing in a full face snorkel, flat or curved? Here are the final points for each:
- If you're looking for a full face snorkel that has been designed for optimum vision and safety then the flat lens is the choice for you. No distortion, natural vision and maximum clarity
- A curved lens can cause dizziness and nausea for some people due to the distortion caused by the curved lens. If you're someone who often suffers from car sickness then it's best to avoid this design.
- A flat lens provides the best view for those who like to film or take pictures whilst snorkelling, the flat lens will give you the exact vision as to what the photo or video will come out as.
Some of the first versions of full-face snorkels were designed with curved lenses. After some trial and error out in the field (in this case the ocean) Reef Mask decides a flat lens style would be more suited. If you do find curved lens designs on sites like eBay and Amazon then you want to avoid them, most likely these are the last few units they have in stock and the low price is a desperate attempt to clear them.
When shopping for a full face snorkel we recommend choosing a curved lens. Remember to always keep your full face snorkel in dry storage for longevity.
John - Manager at Reef Mask
Passionate about the ocean & its beauty, John has been a passionate Snorkeler for over 10 years. Educating people on snorkelling techniques and equipment.