Snorkeling is a great water recreation activity that can be appreciated by young and old alike. But if you are new to snorkeling, picking out good quality gear can be overwhelming. With all the different options it can be hard to know what is best for you and your situation. It doesn’t matter if you are snorkeling in the Caribbean or Lake Tahoe, it’s important to have good gear that will allow you to enjoy your exploration.
The most important piece of the snorkel gear is the mask. Without a mask that fits properly, you won’t be able to see anything from the constant fog and condensation that will occur, not to mention the pure aggravation that comes with a mask that constantly fills with water. When finding a mask that works best for you, be sure to avoid inhaling into the mask to test the seal—this can make even a bad mask feel like a good fit. Instead press the mask firmly to your face, a good mask will form a seal automatically without the need for you to inhale. Good masks can easily be range from $50-$100 and beyond, and offer many different features from 100% silicon skirts, to windows, to lens types and anti-fog. Finding the perfect mask includes finding what works best for your diving needs, is in your budget, and most importantly, comfortably fits your face.
Finding a good snorkel might not seem like a big deal but it’s an important part of the process. It’s important for your snorkel—like your mask—to be comfortable and have a good fit. You shouldn’t have to bite down hard or have it feel like it is pulling. Finding a snorkel that fits your mouth size is only the first part of the process.
Choosing between a dry, semi-dry, flexible purge, or classic snorkel is the first step. Classic snorkels are simply a solid tube with a mouthpiece. They have no splash prevention, no purge valves and are often not as comfortable as snorkels with a flexible tube section. Flexible purge snorkels are often more comfortable then a classic snorkel as the mouthpiece can rotate to different angles for a better fit to your face. The purge valve is also a beneficial common feature that allows you to easily clear water from your snorkel without having to blow it out the top, which requires much less effort. Semi-dry snorkels, like the flexible purge snorkels, are often flexible with a purge valve but also have a splash guard on top that prevents splashing water from easily entering the tube. Lastly, dry snorkels actually have a special wave on top of the tube that completely seals out water, keeping it clear when a wave or surge completely flows over the top, or even when you dive underwater. Dry snorkels are often recommended for beginners as they are the easiest to learn on, but like masks, it really comes down to personal preference. As long as your snorkel is comfortable and gets the job done for you, that’s all that really matters.
Fins are the final thing to consider when putting together your perfect snorkel set. And just like with your mask and snorkel, the most comfortable are often the best. When looking for snorkeling fins, look for fins that will securely fit your feet, making it easy for you to maneuver or dive. It’s also important to remember that snorkeling fins don’t have to be as strong or firm as scuba fins, as long as you can propel through the water easily and comfortably. Half fins are also a great option for snorkeling, because that are easy to pack when you’re traveling to your next destination.
If you don’t have any snorkeling gear at all, buying your gear in a set is a great option for beginners to save some money. Cressi Palau makes a high quality snorkel set with a great value. However, when buying gear in a set, be aware that it may not fit as well as selecting each part of your gear individually. Whatever you do, whether it’s buying your gear individually or in a set, just remember to make sure all the pieces fit you comfortably.