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April 2024,  EXTRA,  GEAR,  Product Reviews

Open water swimming masks reviewed

Panoramic vision, optimum comfort and protection from wildlife and the elements: swimming masks can offer a real benefit to open water swimmers. We explore the benefits and put four masks to the test

When swimming in open water, there are several benefits to wearing a mask as opposed to goggles. Perhaps the greatest advantage of an open water swimming mask is the view. Until you have tried a mask, you might not appreciate how much goggles can interfere with your field of vision. As well as better peripheral vision, you can also see better vertically. 

Swimming masks also offer comprehensive coverage, covering the eyes and part of the forehead, which helps tackle that ice-cream headache that you can sometimes get in cold water. Using a mask with a swim hat can cover your forehead bone, protecting you better from the cold, but also giving more UV protection for an area of the body which is more sensitive and prone to sun damage.

On long distance swims, masks are often more comfortable as the soft seals rest on your cheeks and forehead rather than delicate eye tissue. You also don’t get those panda-eye marks that goggles can leave you with. Finally, jellyfish and seaweed don’t worry you so much in a swim mask, with greater face coverage you are better protected; they give a greater protection from wind and chop, too.

Which open water swimming mask to choose?

ZOGGS Horizon Flex Mask


They say: Embark upon an adventure under the water’s surface with the Horizon Flex Mask. Experience panoramic, unobstructed vision thanks to a conical lens profile. A soft skirt formed from a textured inner seal ensures non-slip security. The v-groove flex points are designed to offer a fantastic fit for a variety of facial profiles. Choose the Horizon Flex Mask for maximum visual clarity and enduring comfort in the pool and open water.

We say: The breadth of view is outstanding with this swim mask – such a joy to be able to see so much more in the water, even if it is only murky water and weeds in the lake! The seal felt very soft and comfortable. There’s a choice of Titanium, Smoke and Clear lenses and we particularly liked the Titanium for the bright clarity of vision in the water. The mask is simple to adjust, provided excellent visibility and didn’t leave marks on the face. 

ORCA Killa Mask


They say: The new Orca goggle mask is a comfortable alternative to the classic swimming goggles. This light and water resistant mask has bigger lenses, which offer a wider field of vision. It has been designed to sit perfectly on the nose and face, shielding you from injury during triathlon races. Added silicone and a simple adjustment prevent marks around the eyes. A goggle for maximum comfort and broader vision.

We say: The wide lenses gave a terrifically broad field of vision. The soft silicone was also exceptionally comfortable to wear, didn’t put pressure around our eyes or leave any goggle marks. We liked the subtle styling and while the smoke lens cut the glare when swimming against the sun outdoors, it wasn’t too dark to wear in the pool.

HUUB Manta Ray


They say: The mask for open water swim training and recreational swimmers. Increased visibility and clarity thanks to the larger lenses. Hypoallergenic silicone external gaskets offer a feather thin fit. The wider fit gasket, which is external to the lens, ensures a more comfortable, lower pressure, leak-free fit. Easily adjustable and with anti-fog treatment. Available in a photochromatic lens for all-day shade adjustment, the lens darkens or lightens with the changing light.

We say: They were not wrong when they say ‘supremely comfortable’ – as soon as we put the mask on, we loved the butter-soft silicone against our skin. The design also ensured a decent seal, didn’t create uncomfortable pressure and we had no leaks! The mask provides a great range of visibility and the smoke-lens was great for the bright day when we tested them. The simple adjustment design was easy to use. A great price for a decent swim-mask

AQUASPHERE Defy.Ultra Swim Mask


They say: Experience infinite vision and conquer open waters with the Defy. Ultra. Our new swim mask features an all-new DuoCurve lens, offering panoramic vision both laterally and vertically, ultra-thin silicone Precision Fit technology skirt for a comfortable, leak-free seal and a groundbreaking ultra-light frameless design thanks to our Cool Inject Technology for reduced drag in the water. 

We say: The style might look a bit futuristic and we felt a bit self-conscious at our local lake – but my goodness what a pair of goggles! Super comfortable, brilliant view, excellent in bright sunshine or dark clouds. Once on they stayed on, no leaks or faff. Expensive, but worth it. If you use the included case, which is also brilliant, and take care of them they will last.

All products were chosen independently by our editorial team. This review contains affiliate links and we may receive a commission for purchases made. Click here to subscribe to the magazine. Read more Outdoor Swimmer gear reviews. Main photo: ZOGGS Horizon Flex Mask.

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Jo is the Gear Editor for Outdoor Swimmer and also writes news and features for the website. A keen open water swimmer and long-distance walker, she loves seeking out lakes and lidos close to her home in the Mendip Hills, Somerset. She is the author of The Slow Traveller, editor and founder of independent magazine, Ernest, and has previously tested outdoor clothing and kit for BBC Countryfile Magazine, BBC Focus and Ernest Journal.