As someone who has logged a ton of hours snorkeling and tried out a lot of different masks, I have always kept my distance from full face snorkelling masks.
I’d read some uncomfortable stories about CO2 poisoning and always saw them as kind of gimmicky–the kind of thing offered to tourists on snorkeling tours who didn’t really know any better. They looked good on paper and were definitely an intriguing concept, but I also kind of saw it as trying to reinvent the wheel. That’s why when Seaview reached out and asked if I would be interested in reviewing their V3 Full Face Snorkeling Mask, I had to bring up the CO2 issue.
They were quick to put my mind at ease and pointed to the research that went into their mask, specifically with this concern in mind. In fact, on the mask’s product page on their website, they have made addressing CO2 concerns/safety front and centre:
They go on to say:
I liked what I saw on their website and what I read in the overwhelmingly positive user reviews, so, concerns addressed, I figured, why not?
Even if I don’t think it’s something I, as a more serious snorkeler, would necessarily use, it looked and sounded like a high quality product for less experienced/more casual snorkelers.
I’ve put together an in-depth review of my favourite snorkeling masks for serious snorkelers, if you are interested in checking that out.
I ended up asking if they would be open to me reviewing some of their other pieces of gear–a super handy inflatable snorkeling and general watersports vest and their Topside fins. You can check the review video out below (it contains reviews of all three products–the fins, the vest and the mask).
And, I was coincidentally heading to Thailand right before they reached out, so I had the opportunity to use the gear while filming some beautiful Andaman Sea reeflife and seascape.
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My verdict on Seaview’s V3 snorkel mask
A great piece of snorkeling gear…if you are not someone who incorporates a lot of freediving into their snorkeling. Let me tell you how I arrived at that conclusion.
What I really liked about Seaview’s V3
Let’s start out with what I really liked about the Seaview mask and why I think it’s worth your consideration.
The craftsmanship and material quality
Another reason I’ve always stayed away from full face masks is that the ones that I’ve picked up at big box stores and seen online have always seemed of subpar quality.
Most serious snorkellers are willing to spend decent money on a mask because it’s an essential piece of snorkelling tech, and the limitations of a full face mask would be immediately evident to a serious snorkeller, ergo, full face masks didn’t have to appeal to quite as discerning a market when it came to quality. That’s how I thought.
The V3 Full Face Mask completely trashed my assumptions. Yes, the lens is plastic and not the tempered glass I’m used to, but it’s 180 degree panoramic view offered a superb underwater experience, and the silicone skirt was very comfortable, the mask fit my face very well, and you could tell just from holding it that the components were made with durability in mind.
The snorkel seal was also water-tight. The V3 comes as two separate components (the mask and the snorkel) and you fit the snorkel onto the mask, which is then sealed via a rubber ring.
Didn’t have a single mask or snorkel leak the entire time.
Another really nice feature of Seaview’s V3 Full Face Snorkeling Mask is the action cam mount on the side of the mask.
This was fantastic for hands-free filming while snorkeling and let us get really nice shots with my DJI Osmo Action 3.
This is my favourite action can I’ve used, especially the preprogrammed cinematic settings like slow-motion and hyperlapse.
Handsfree filming is really nice with the action cams and helps to minimize camera shake.
If all of that has piqued your interest, have a look on Amazon and read some of the reviews. They’re overwhelmingly positive and I can see why.
What I didn’t like so much
Again, revisiting what I mentioned at the outset, I went into this knowing that the V3 wasn’t really going to be for me (a serious snorkeler/amateur freediver), but that I could offer an honest appraisal of it for people who were content to spend most of their time on the surface of the water.
With that in mind, there were a couple of things that I didn’t like about the V3 mask that, to be fair, would likely apply to all full-face masks.
Difficult to equalize
For me, snorkeling isn’t just a fun way to kill a couple of hours while I’m on vacation. It’s why I travel. I’ve been obsessed with marine life and coral reefs since I was very young and I do a lot of homework on a location before I visit.
I have specific critters I want to see, and I know many of them are likely to be found below certain depths. This means a lot of diving down and constant equalizing (i.e., squeezing your nose and exhaling to make sure the air in your ears, sinus, etc. is the same pressure as the water around you to avoid pain).
With a full face mask, your nose is fully inside the mask and not reachable with your hands.
There is an alternative to the pinch and exhale method that I normally use–(the BTV/VTO), a hands-free equalization method that is similar to what you do when you yawn, swallow and burp. But it takes some practice–but it’s not as easy.
The mask is slightly positively buoyancy
Another thing I didn’t like about the V3 (and, again, I would wager it’s an issue with most full face masks because of how big they are) was that it added to my buoyancy.
When I’m diving down with my camera to take a video or photo or to check out some reef life, I want to be able to stay as neutrally buoyant as I can (without weights, of course). The harder you have to fight to descend and stay down, the more oxygen you are burning, the quicker you have to surface.
The added buoyancy from the mask was definitely noticeable but not severe. That said, it would be enough for me, as someone who spends a lot of time under the water, to go with my traditional mask.
Here are some questions that people tend to have when looking for full face snorkeling masks and my responses to them.
Frequently asked full face snorkel mask questions
Is a full face snorkel mask worth it?
It’s worth it if you are content to spend most of your time at the surface and/or are able to perform hands-free equalization while diving down.
I can see why this would be a good snorkel mask for a snorkel tour company to purchase if they take a lot of first timers and casual snorkelers out.
I was very impressed with the V3’s quality and craftsmanship and would absolutely recommend it to someone who was new to snorkeling, perhaps not that comfortable with the water or simply happy to just float calmly above the reef.
What are the best full face snorkeling masks?
I can only speak for the V3, but some other popular masks include:
- Ocean Reef Aria QR+
- Tribord Subea Easybreath
- Cressi Duke
- Ocean Reef Aria Uno
Is a full face mask better than an old style snorkel mask?
I don’t think it’s better. It’s different, but definitely not better. If you are someone who likes to dive down to significant depths while snorkeling (5 metres or more), I think you would prefer a traditional mask that allows you to equalize much easier.
Can you go fully underwater with a full face snorkel mask?
You absolutely fully submerge your body and dive down with the full face mask on.
Here’s a shot of my girlfriend Tessa underwater with the V3 on. She’s a capable swimmer and normally uses a traditional mask, but was able to dive down quite far with the full face mask.
(image of tessa, clip from UGC video)
To restate what I mentioned earlier, though, the slightly positive buoyancy and the lack of access to your nose for equalization make descending and staying down more complicated.
I liked Seaview’s V3 full face snorkeling mask. Seaview is a small company based out of the United States and having tried three of their products–the Topside Fins, the Palawan Vest and the V3 full face mask, it’s very obvious that they put a of thought into their designs.
They are positioning themselves as an innovative manufacturer known for quality, and that is exactly how I would describe them and the V3–innovative and good quality.
Thanks for reading.