Goggles vs Masks: Does it Make a Difference?

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If you are new to snorkeling, but have had a love affair with the water for your entire life, then you probably have a pair of goggles lying around. They are great from swimming, light diving, and generally keeping the water out of your eyes. However, when you look at other snorkelers, no one is wearing pool goggles, they are all wearing masks.

Does it matter?

Are snorkeling masks some kind of ploy to get you to buy one more thing? Can you use your set of pool goggles to snorkel?

Well, technically speaking, you can totally wear pool goggles while snorkeling. Technically speaking, you can wear no goggles at all if you don’t mind a little searing eye pain. However, when it comes to masks versus goggles, you will note the difference not long after getting in the water.

Why Goggles Aren’t Right for Your Snorkeling Adventures

Goggles are design to seal the inner and outer edges of the eye from water, allowing you to open your eyes and have a perfect view. However, a snorkeling mask goes a step further to add a nose piece to seal off the nose. While you can use a snorkel mask in the pool, you won’t get far using pool goggles when snorkeling. The reason all boils down to simple science.

When snorkeling or scuba diving, the air spaces are affected by pressure according to Boyle’s Law of Physics. Without going too far into the mathematics of it all, the law talks about pressure when under water. As water is hundreds of times denser than air, the further down you go, the more pressure is put on the air pockets that protect your eyes.

In goggles, this would begin to create suction, and the longer you are in the water, the worse it would get. The deeper you go, that suction might even become agonizingly painful. However, because a snorkel mask has a nose piece, this allows you to actually add air into the air space, equalizing the pressure and creating less suction.

Essentially, you want to use a mask because the nose piece allows you to ease the discomfort of pressure. And here you thought that nose piece was only to keep sea water out of your nose. Well, it does that, too. So it has two great functions.

As masks were specifically designed for snorkelers and divers, they also come with some added ease of use features, you know, like the ability to clip a snorkel tube on so you don’t have to constantly keep chewing around on it to try and keep it upright.

While you could probably MacGyver some way to attach your snorkel tube to your goggles, there is still one big problem – It is pretty hard to breathe through a snorkel without using your nose.

You may be pretty adamant about getting more use out of those pool goggles, but if you are going snorkeling, you need a mask. Why not just toss the goggles and use your amazing new mask for all your water activities instead?

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