It is easy to see why snorkelling is such a popular pastime these days. People all over the world are taking to the seas to head underwater and see what there is to offer. Snorkelling gives you a chance to see the world as never before, but to do so you need the best snorkel gear. This article is designed to walk you through what you need to start snorkelling as well as reviewing some of the top equipment to ensure you’re happy with the purchases you make before you head on your trip.
Snorkelling is popular in Europe, South America, Asia, North America and of course Australia…pretty much anywhere where there is anything to see underwater, it is worthwhile, you can spot everything from pretty fish to amazing turtles and other marine life. Whether you’re in the great barrier reef or one of the lesser known diving or scuba diving destinations, you need to get the right equipment sorted out for your trip.
What Makes Good Quality Snorkel Equipment?
So, what are we looking for when it comes to snorkel gear? What are the criteria for something you’re going to get a lot of use out of, and be happy with the money you’ve parted with when purchasing it?
First up, the snorkel mask. If your mask doesn’t fit snugly and properly on the face it will cause a lot of condensation, making it really hard to see. This won’t be immediately evident as you should bear in mind that all new masks have a tendency to get a bit foggy due to the way they have been made. Toothpaste applied to the mask usually helps. When the mask is on and has been used for a little while (try it out of the water first) it should be comfy and not filling with steam that makes it hard for you to see what is in front of you.
At a glance, it may seem like a snorkel itself is a really basic piece of kit, but getting it right can be really tough. The main thing to think about here is the comfort of the mouthpiece. It should fit neatly into your mouth and your teeth should be able to rest on it rather than biting it, biting down can be tough, can damage your teeth and make your mouth very sore and tired, so getting the right snorkel is vital. The best snorkels come in different varieties, and may be dry or moist around the mouth. We recommend dry for beginners, but the choice is up to you and the models reviewed below will help make your choice.
Fins. The fins are a lot smaller than they once were. Again, comfort is an issue, you want something that fits nicely around the feet without being painful, but that stays on at the same time. The sizings on the product are usually pretty accurate and it is a bit like buying shoes. The best snorkel fins will also allow you to move freely and maneuver within the water without difficulty.
Build quality is a big consideration when you are choosing your snorkel and other gear. If you buy something cheap and flimsy you can easily end up with leaks, straps that don’t keep it tight to your face and very uncomfortable equipment. Padded straps provide the most comfort possible. Vision is vital throughout the whole process so you should only even be considering snorkels that keep your vision clear the whole time and allow you to see where you’re going, plus, the whole point is to be able to see the amazing wildlife!
Some of the features are a little less simple to understand, especially for beginners, but we’ve got some info on the terms you might come across to try and demystify them!
- Purge valves – purge valves are designed to help the water drain out and assist getting rid of water that gets into the top of the snorkel.
- Flexible barrels – these are flexible sections that are attached to the barrel near the mouthpiece, it is designed to be a more comfortable and flexible fit.
- Rotating mouthpiece – this is pretty self explanatory, and can have a big impact on the tiredness you’ll feel in your jaw as you are using for an extended period of time.
The perfect snorkel gear for you is subjective, and it is up to you to work out which combination of features you need, and how much you are willing to spend. Which leads me nicely to the next point:
Cost of Snorkel Gear
How much does snorkel equipment cost? There isn’t one figure that can be applied here. Generally speaking, a lot of snorkel gear and kits to get going will cost under $100, which is pretty reasonable assuming you get long term use out of them. There is a higher end of the market with even more professional gear and you can pay a premium for these. The cheap end of the market can see you spending under $50 to kit yourself out with enough snorkel gear. Of course, whether you are buying things separately or buying them together in a snorkel kit will have an impact
Well made snorkel gear is easier to spot from poor quality models. The online age of transparency means that snorkel reviews are pretty easy to come by, and we’ve summarized some options for purchase below.
Phantom Aquatics Adult Speed Sport Mask Fin Snorkel Set
The Phantom Aquatics Snorkel set provides something of a complete solution for getting started in the world of snorkelling. It has small but effective fins which help you soar through the water. There are different sizes, but the fins are adjustable so you can get the perfect fit. These are very lightweight and people who have purchased them have reported them being exceptional value for money, especially when you consider the daily rental rates of snorkels when you go on holiday.
The snorkel set is really easy to put on and is good at staying dry in your mouth. An immense amount of positive reviews elsewhere on the internet, stating that the silicone is of an excellent quality, the mask is comfortable and the set is great for beginners and more advanced users.
U.S. Divers Adult Cozumel Mask/Seabreeze II Snorkel, Proflex Fins and Gearbag Review
This offering from US Divers is another kit which provides both mask and snorkel along with the fins. It is also immensely well reviewed and a look at the consumer reviews online will show you how much people think of the product.
- Features a two window mask for maximum visibility
- Has three way adjustable buckles for flexibility and to adjust to your own personal
- Splash top with Hydro-Adhesion technology
- Comfortable and hard wearing fins giving a lot of projection through the water
- Mesh panelled gear bag for drying out and ease of storing.
This set is comfortable and has minimal condensation or steaming up which make it easy to see all of the amazing underwater sights. It is lightweight and the bag means you can just sling it over your shoulder or in the back of the car and get going. If you’re traveling abroad you also don’t have to worry about this taking up a huge amount of your luggage.
Seaview 180° Panoramic Snorkel Mask Review
Time to look at some of the individual pieces of equipment, and this is a really amazing snorkel mask which has changed the way many people look at the hobby. Snorkelling is easier than ever with one of these masks which are also designed to provide maximum visibility (180 degrees).
- Full face design which makes breathing really simple through both mouth and nose.
- A go pro mount, get your GoPro on the snorkel so you can record everything you see and make sure the moments from your trip can last forever.
- The dry technolgoy prevents salt water getting into your mouth.
- It has an anti fog design so it doesn’t keep fogging up, in fact the design is such that the breathing chamber is separate from the viewing visor and minimizes the risk of any fog whatsoever.
- Easy to set up and great for youth and beginners who are learning the process of snorkelling and having to breath underwater.
- Really cool and unique looks! It is pretty cool to look at and certainly provides a talking point.
- Super easy to adjust and make the fit as perfect and snug as possible.
Since this revolutionary design came onto the market, it has been my go-to when it comes to snorkel masks. The Seaview 180 is a wonderful piece of kit that solves so many problems that we come across when we get started in this hobby. Many beginners are nervous of trying to use a snorkel for the first time but this can take a lot of the anxiety out of the process.
This has become one of the best selling snorkel masks out there, and it is clear to see why. A quick look at the reviews on amazon and elsewhere online shows a lot of the plus points people have discussed with this product, and tales of people using this for their kids, seeing more than ever before when they go snorkelling or scuba diving and having an all around better experience underwater.
Cressi Scuba Diving Snorkeling Freediving Mask Snorkel Set
This set is different to those above in that it has only got the mask and the snorkel included. This is enough for some of us, fins aren’t always essential, or you may already have some from swimming. I had to include Cressi on this list as they truly are one of the best manufacturers of snorkel gear. As a brand, Cressi have been operating since the 1940s and providing underwater equipment.
The mask here is designed to give the most possible field of view from a mask of this type, it is very adjustable and the buckles swivel to maximize your comfort and make sure you can get a fit perfect for your face.
The images of the product show just how compact the set is, coming in its own, very small carry pouch which is great for slinging in a backpack, or into a photography bag if you’re a photographer looking for snorkel equipment.
Designed to fit kids and adults, this is immensely well reviewed with a huge amount of five star reviews on online retailers, everyone who I’ve spoken to who owns something by Cressi tends to be very happy with it, they’re a very good brand and their equipment is well manufactured, meaning you can rely on the quality. Not the cheapest set, especially as it doesn’t have fins included, but it does an excellent job and can be relied on to last a long time.
So there we have it. The best snorkelling equipment reviewed. This is great for those who want to start diving, enjoy the hobby, are photographers or hunters and have a need for this kind of gear. It can be easy to treat this kind of thing as an afterthought and end up with very poor quality equipment which is unlikely to last more than one trip, but the snorkels and peripheral products mentioned above are all a lot more sturdy than that if treated right.
You can rent equipment when you head to these destinations and the beaches or trips where scuba diving is offered, but there are quite a few downsides to this, you never know exactly what you’re going to get or if it is going to fit, be comfortable or be easy to use. If you wait until you are on your trip to buy the snorkel, fins, mask or other gear locally, you may end up with something really cheap and flimsy and lose having the control of being able to look at reviews online and make an informed decision. Over the years, the masks and fins have become much more compact, which means they are easier to transport and one less thing to worry about when you’re on the road.