Snorkel vs Scuba Mask: Which One Is Best?

snorkel vs scuba mask
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No matter if you’re planning for your next vacation or choose to pick up diving as your new hobby, it’s best to get a full idea of what gear you will need. However, if you haven’t done your research, it might be a bit confusing to choose between a snorkel vs scuba mask.

If you’re like most beginners, you may not know the difference. That’s why we’ll give you a rundown of what makes each so different from one another.

Direct Comparison


-Filter/s: Water
-Use: Low-pressure areas
-Material: Plastic or acrylic; silicone or rubber
-Learning curve: Fast

Scuba Mask

-Filter/s: Pressure and water
-Use: Low- and high-pressure areas
-Material: Tempered glass; rubber
-Learning curve: Takes time

snorkel vs scuba mask 3

Breaking It Down

The snorkel and scuba mask are very similar but with subtle differences. Knowing which mask will fit your underwater adventures will change how your activity goes. Amongst the different properties, the biggest differences are with the design, materials, and sizes.


The design refers to what is called the build quality, and that is what sets apart the two different types of diving gear. The build quality includes the masks ability to withstand pressure, keep water out of the mask, and prevent dangerous situations.

Overall, we’d recommend doing your research on each item you buy, as every brand is going to be different. User reviews are always an excellent way to find out the true quality of a snorkel or scuba mask.


Snorkeling doesn’t require you to increase the amount of pressure you need because you won’t be diving deep enough. As a sport, you’ll only be swimming slightly under the water’s surface, which is why a snorkel is designed for low-pressure areas.

A snorkel is also designed to filter out water and prevent any from seeping into the tube while you’re breathing. However, you’ll never go more than a few feet from the water’s surface, which makes snorkels ideal for beginners.

Scuba Mask

On the other hand, a scuba mask is designed to filter pressure and keep your breathing steady as you travel further down. The mask itself will cover your eyes, nose, and in some cases, mouth.

As you dive deeper into the water, you’ll be able to adjust the airflow and pressure to keep your breathing steady. The mask also has a filtration function that will filter any water that seeps into the mask back into the water, to keep you protected.

Winner: Tie

Snorkels and scuba masks are each designed for their own uses. If you’re just planning on being in shallow water, then a snorkel will suffice. However, if you wish to explore further down, then a scuba mask will be better.

The only factor we recommend to keep an eye out for is the price, as you won’t want to invest in a cheaply made snorkel or a scuba mask.


Another huge factor between the two is the type of materials used to make the masks. While you may think that both would be made from durable and sturdy materials, that’s not the truth. Instead, it highly depends if you’re purchasing a snorkel or a scuba mask. They both are made from different materials, and the price point is a major factor in determining the quality.


Snorkels generally are made from lower quality materials because they don’t come into contact with a harsh environment. If you’re just below the water’s surface, the water will be very steady and less pressure will be put onto the device. However, the wear and tear usually come down to use over time.

The snorkel will be made from plastic or acrylic which is strong enough for its use. Nevertheless, the skirt of the snorkel is often crafted from silicone or low-grade rubber.

Scuba Mask

A scuba mask has to be able to keep up with the surrounding environment and pressure. Your life is at stake; hence, it’s essential that a scuba mask is made from quality materials.

A high-quality lens will be made from tempered glass, and the skirt will be made from a high-quality rubber. These properties will prevent fogging, be shatterproof, and creates a leak-proof surface on your face.

Winner: Scuba Mask

The scuba mask can be used in both situations, and it’s designed to be more durable and safe to use. There is a slight learning curve when it comes to learning how to breathe and use one. However, the materials will last longer, and you’ll be getting more safety features than a plain snorkel.


The last factor that sets the two apart is the fit of the mask. Above all else, it’s essential to have a mask that doesn't leak. If you’re looking to enjoy your time while you’re swimming, get a product that fits correctly.


A snorkel doesn’t have to fit as tightly because the worse that happens is that it leaks and then you lift your head above the water. It should be tight enough where it doesn't slip off your face, but also loose enough that it doesn’t make you uncomfortable or light-headed.

Scuba Mask

A scuba mask has to perfectly mold to your face and seal your face from the water. Most scuba masks are crafted so that they will fit your face, plus you’ll find plenty of different sizes.

The skirt of the mask usually presses up against your face and has a very tight fit, but it won’t be unbearable or uncomfortable. However, a tight fit is good because it will protect you from inhaling water.

Winner: Tie

It really depends on the activity you’re going to be doing. A snorkel doesn't require any breathing training, which can have a huge impact on your experience. It’s beginner safe and doesn’t matter too much if the mask is a perfect fit.

On the other hand, a scuba mask must exactly fit your face and may be harder to find.

Final Recount

Snorkel: 0/3

Scuba Mask: 1/3

When it comes down to it, both are excellent options with the exception that scuba masks are more durable. It’s best to decide for yourself which type of mask would fit your needs, as it’s better to match the mask to the activity. If you’re unsure, asking a professional or shop attendants can help you decide which is best.

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Pros and Cons



  • Affordable
  • Best in shallow water
  • Easy to find the right size


  • Cheaper materials
  • Not as long lasting

Scuba Mask


  • Very durable
  • Best for deep diving
  • Crack resistant lenses
  • High-quality materials


  • Expensive
  • Hard to find the right fit 

Final Verdict

Both are excellent choices for different water sports. If you’re going snorkeling, a snorkel would be better and vice versa.

However, it’s truly up to the person and what makes them feel most comfortable. A scuba mask can be used for snorkeling, but snorkel can’t be used as a diving mask.

Hopefully, this guide has cleared up the difference between snorkel vs scuba mask.

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