When it comes to snorkeling gear, choosing the right equipment is absolutely key. When visiting stunning reefs teeming with life, you want snorkeling gear that can keep up with you as you dart around exploring.
Your top three snorkeling items should be a great mask (after all, this is your window to the underwater world), a high-quality snorkel (enabling comfortable breathing), and some stellar fins that will propel you through in the water with little effort. Of course, there are plenty more accessories that you can invest in to make your next snorkeling experience incredible, such as a GoPro to record all your adventures and items such as a wetsuit to maximise your time in the water.
The key is to invest in your snorkeling gear to ensure the best possible experience. Snorkeling can be a life-long hobby as many of us at Beach Hacks have discovered, and having the right gear with you will improve that experience dramatically. Don’t learn the hard way like we did!
Technically speaking, a snorkeling mask and a Scuba diving mask are exactly the same. That means, if you already have a high-quality mask for diving, there’s no need to purchase a new one. If you only have a neon coloured plastic one you bought at a minimart on your last holiday, you should probably keep reading!
First on your list of must-have snorkeling gear must be a great mask. Enabling you to have a view of the ocean around you, it is arguably the most important piece of equipment you need. There’s actually a fair bit of clever design that goes into this oh-so-familiar symbol of water exploration, and the variations between masks can really make choosing the right mask for you a challenge.
There are a few different types of lenses available, but the lenses on high-quality masks will be made of tempered glass or a reinforced plastic to prevent shattering. Many modern masks are also angled lower on the face to improve the lower field of vision dramatically and reduce the need to bend the head when looking down at the view below.
- Single Lens Masks
These are masks with one single lens in them, not broken into two by the nose, giving a more open view.
- Twin Lens Masks
These are particularly suited to snorkelers with prescription glasses, as these lenses can be adjusted to the wearer’s vision needs.
- Multiple Lens Masks
These have one large unbroken lens and two window pane lenses on either side for greater peripheral vision.
- Full Face Masks
One of the newest items available to snorkelers is full face masks, and it’s gaining rapidly in popularity. Most models also incorporate snorkels allowing for normal breathing underwater – just like the Beach Hacks full face mask!
Skirts, Frames and Straps
The skirt of the mask (the bit that sucks on to your face) should be made of high quality silicone, and provide a good seal to prevent any leakage. Nowadays, most high quality masks will have a secondary skirt for an even more secure seal.
It is possible to get either a framed, or a frameless mask. A frameless mask offers a slightly improved view with less bulk, whereas the framed lens gives a much easier fit, and allows you to customise and fix if a part breaks.
The strap should also be made of silicone and feel firm, but still allow for easy adjusting and movement.
Prices and Recommendations
The price of high quality snorkeling masks can vary widely, from $40 to over $200. But a high price doesn’t necessarily guarantee a great mask, and it’s best to do your research and seek out opinions before you buy.
The Beach Hacks 180 Degree Full Face Mask is a revolutionary mask that enables normal breathing when submerged. Anti-fog and anti-leak, it also has a GoPro Mount and includes a snorkel within it. We feel it’s great value for money at just $39.37.
Second on your list of must-have snorkeling gear is a great snorkel. At a basic level, the snorkel is your breathing tube. Usually attached to your mask, its function is to allow you to continue breathing while facing downwards floating on the surface. Just like with the mask there are a range of snorkels out there, some much more cheaply made than others, and it is vital for your own safety that you purchase a reliable, high quality model.
When buying a snorkel we recommend buying one with a silicone mouthpiece, since cheaper models will often use PVC or silita which can become very uncomfortable after a short while in the water. Your snorkel should be of medium length, and include a clip which you can use to attach it to your mask for comfort and to guard against losing it in the water.
There are actually three kinds of tops available on snorkels, and your choice should reflect the type of snorkeling you plan to do.
The first is a simple opening, which is an efficient option that allows for air to flow through the snorkel unrestricted. This type is favoured by free divers and scuba divers for its lack of drag in the water.
The second is one with a wave deflector, particularly useful when snorkeling choppier seas. It is specially designed to keep the water from entering the snorkel.
The last, and most expensive is the option to have a dry top valve. This uses a float mechanism to independently close the airway when submerged and open it again on the surface. Since this dramatically restricts the amount of water that can enter the snorkel it is particularly good for deep dives.
The Tube, Lower Curved Section and Mouthpiece
The tube should be of medium length and be curved in towards the face. While it is possible to purchase snorkels with straight tubes, these can drag in the water and flap at the snorkelers head causing discomfort. Curved tubes are much more practical and streamlined.
The Lower Curved Section is the part that connects the tube to the mouthpiece. It should be made out of silicone or a flexible corrugated material to allow comfortable and easy adjustment of the mouthpiece.
The Mouthpiece can vary in size depending upon the buyer, and it is possible to get smaller sizes for women and children. In simple models it will be a simple continuation of the tube, but other models include a purge chamber which is used to drain away excess water.
Prices and Recommendations
Like most other snorkeling gear, snorkels range in price depending on how advanced the model is. A good-quality simple one will start from around $30 and a high-quality snorkel with all the extra features comes in at around $60.
The Combined Mask and Snorkel
At Beach Hacks we understand just how difficult (and expensive!) it can be to get the perfect snorkel and mask combo. That’s why we’ve created the 180-degree view full-face snorkel, combining the mask and snorkel together. Our snorkeling mask is designed with experience in mind, and will allow you to see more than ever before with its 180 degree view – so much more than the average snorkeling mask. The snorkel is built in with a dry-top valve system, reducing the chance of water leaking into the tube and leaving you free to relax and explore. Hypoallergenic, anti-fog and anti- leak, it can even be used with prescription glasses. At $39.97 it’s an affordable piece of gear that’s sure to help you create unforgettable experiences, whether you are an expert or new to snorkeling.
The final item to complete the trinity of must-have snorkeling gear are fins. The main two types are full foot fins and adjustable heel fins. Again, what you choose should depend on their intended use. If you are snorkeling in warm water, you will need full foot fins, which you can wear with bare feet. If you are using them in cold water, you will need adjustable heel fins, which are designed to be worn with boots.
There is the option to buy split fins, which reduce water resistance and can be up to 40% more efficient than traditional fins. There is also a great deal of choice with colour, and it is advisable to go for a highly visible one, since it will make you easier to spot in the water.
Full-foot fins are sized in the same way as conventional shoes, and so in theory you should be the same shoe size in fins. It should be a snug fit, but neither too loose or tight. It is also a good idea to try on a few pairs to allow yourself the best chance of choosing the right pair.
Adjustable heel fins are sized in bands, i.e. small, medium, large etc. The definition of these sizes may differ between manufacturers, so again, it is always a good idea to try before you buy.
Fins can be a pricey but worthwhile investment. Starting from around $30 for a good-quality pair and going up to over $250, fins can vary hugely in style and features.
Other Snorkeling Gear
Equipped with your mask, snorkel (or full face snorkel) and fins, you are ready to get in the water and go! But if you’re looking at making that next snorkeling trip one to remember, you might want to consider purchasing a few extras.
A wetsuit is usually a good idea if you’re planning on going out on long excursions, or at the very least a rash guard and plenty of sun protection. A ‘shorty’ wetsuit is usually ideal for warmer waters, but if you’re heading out in cold temperatures, you’ll need a full-length one.
A GoPro or recording device to take with you as you explore is also a great idea and will leave you with more than just memories to look back on. Most masks include a GoPro mount, and so if you are intending to capture your adventures, make sure you purchase one that does!
Boots, gloves, changing mats, customised snorkeling clips, there’s so much out there to choose from when it comes to buying snorkeling gear. The key is to have fun, and only buy what you know will enhance your experience and keep you safe in the water.
Happy snorkeling folks!