For so many years I have been buying generic, cheap masks and snorkels, only to have to replace them a few months later when they inevitably break. I always ended up with an uncomfortable mask line left around my face for hours after getting out of the water, and got totally fed up of constantly swallowing water through a rigid snorkel. Since I spend around half my life under the water, I decided it was time to up my game, and invest in a good quality snorkel set.
Now I warn you, they are not cheap, and there are so many confusing options to choose from. However, once you find your ideal mask, and if you look after it well, you’ll have it for life. My ideal underwater partnership turned out to be with the TUSA Freedom Elite Mask, and the TUSA Hyperdry Elite II Snorkel. So, since I’m always getting asked what I use for my underwater adventures, I decided to write a review telling you all about it. I want to start by saying I am not affiliated with, or endorsed by, TUSA. I bought these pieces with my own hard earned cash, I simply LOVE this set.
The Freedom Elite mask costs from £45 – £125 depending on the colour you choose, as some are more rare than others. The mask comes in 9 colours including pink, yellow, black and the one I chose, turquoise (of course!). The main reason I gravitated towards this mask, over the hundreds of others on display was how soft the plastic was! TUSA are known for the flexibility and softness of the silicone on their masks, but the TUSA Elite takes it to a whole other level. This mask is by far softer, and more comfortable than any CRESSI mask I have tried.
Clown fish to the left of me, Joker fish to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you. No matter where the fish are hiding, you’ll never miss a thing with this mask and its large single lens. Unlike other lenses that are split into two down the middle, the TUSA Elite allows for an optimum amount of light to enter the mask, giving you an extremely large, unobstructed field of view. The only problem I found with the lens is that it does fog up quite quickly, which drives me mad. So, I would definitely recommend using a de-fogging mask spray before a long dive.
Freedom Fit Skirt
Like all TUSA masks in the Freedom Elite range, this one comes with a dimpled skirt, meaning that it can fit perfectly to a wide range of face shapes. This was an extremely important factor for me as I have a strangely narrow face, and most masks let in water like no body’s business. The silicone that makes up the skirt also varies in thickness, making the mask more flexible in areas where a mask would normally dig in. The other day I swam in a Cenote for around 2 hours, and came out with no trace of a mask line on my face… total win in my books!
Double Dry Skirt
Another factor I adore about the TUSA Elite mask is the double layered skirt. The outer layer is very large, and so creates a wide seal around the face, and the inner layer reduces friction and creasing on the face, whilst also keeping out any rogue water droplets. I’ve done many extremely awkward manoeuvres in the water, swam upside down under rocks, and been kicked in the face by my slightly more clumsy fellow swimmers, and my mask has never let in any water.
Is it just me, or when you pull off your mask after a day diving or snorkelling, you pull out half of your hair with it? Something I recently learnt is that mask buckles are actually made for men or women. The men’s masks tend to have an open buckle mechanism, much like many cheap masks, whereas female buckles have a closed mechanism, stopping you getting your hair wound up in it. All TUSA Elite masks come with closed buckles that rotate 180°, ensuring you get a perfect fit with no nasty tangles. So even you surfer dudes rocking the long locks are safe.
This snorkel is an absolute God send! I love free diving, and looking under coral for sneaky little fishies, but I hate constantly having to blow out the water from my snorkel afterwards, only to have an oncoming wave fill it again. I’ve tried other closed valve snorkels before and somehow water still manages to get in at certain angles, but not this one. With the TUSA Elite I can swim upside down, I can have whale sharks push tidal waves of water over my head, and I can swim in very rough waters without one single drop of that salty stuff getting into my snorkel. And at only £26, for no more surprise gulps of disgusting sea water, the price for this bad boy is very reasonable.
The holy grail of the TUSA Elite snorkel is its low profile dry top. This little beauty is a discrete valve inside the head of the snorkel that shoots up, sealing the snorkel, when in contact with water. The one and only problem I’ve had with this mechanism is that if you raise your head back too much when out of the water, gravity closes the valve and you suddenly can’t breathe. Although, you can just lower your head, or take out the mouthpiece so it’s not really that much of an issue. There is also a large angled purge valve at the base of the snorkel to blow out any water that may get past the dry top, not that I’ve had to use it yet.
Unlike most snorkels, the tube of the TUSA Elite Hyperdry II isn’t made of hard plastic, it’s made of a flexible crystal silicone. This means the snorkel is less prone to breakages, and that it puts less pressure on your jaw, reducing that annoying jaw fatigue you can sometimes get after a long swim.
The removable and replaceable mouthpiece is made from hypoallergenic silicone, so it is soft on the teeth, gums and jaw. The shape resembles that of a mouthguard, or something a dentist would use to show you how to brush your teeth as a child, but it does the job. It’s also a good converation starter, as everyone that has seen it so far wants to ‘try it in their mouth’, that’s after exclaiming “Eww, what’s that?”. I went on an hour and a half long snorkelling outing the other day and I didn’t feel one ounce of discomfort.
If you’re ready to take the plunge and invest in a good quality snorkel, I’ve left a few links to the TUSA Elite products listed in this post below.
Have you ever tried a TUSA Elite? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments below!
Stay Salty x