No matter how well you have planned your snorkeling trip, if you have cheap or mediocre snorkel gear, you will end up frustrated and not enjoying yourself as best as you could. Imagine having a mask that is fogging up or leaking while you are doing your best to enjoy the beautiful sites!
A faulty mask is an unwanted distraction when snorkeling. Wearing such a mask leads to poor visibility, which will ruin your experience.
The same also applies for a low quality snorkel. You do not want to be left gulping for water because your snorkel gear does not have a one-way valve.
There are various types of snorkel gears you can purchase from the large stores. However, the snorkel sets cannot compete with the quality of those offered by Cressi in their Palau Snorkel Set. If you want to enjoy your snorkel experience, investing in decent gear is something you should do.
The best snorkel gear includes a snorkel, mask and fins. If you wish, you can also get a floatation device. To find the best gear for you, we have researched the biggest brands and came up with our top 5 picks.
The Best Snorkel Gear Set as Chosen by Our Editors
We’ll start this snorkel gear review by looking at individual snorkels. From there, we will look at how to select the right gear.
Snorkel Gear Reviews [2018 Update]
Cressi is one of the top manufacturers of snorkel gear. The company is known for its high quality snorkel equipment and affordable prices. If you are looking for a gear that has everything you need for an exciting trip, get the Palau snorkeling gear. The gear is sold with a sturdy mesh bag for storage.
After enjoying yourself snorkeling, you can put the wet gear in the bag and go wherever you want.
The Palau snorkel features an ergonomic design with a built-in curve. This may not seem like a big deal but it actually is. Typical snorkels tend to come out of the mouth unless you bite on them pretty hard. The biting can make your jaws tired. The curve design of the Palau snorkel keeps it from coming out of your mouth without you having to bite into it too hard.
The Palau snorkel is 100% dry, uses a floating purge and seal valve and comes with a unique anti-splash guard. When snorkeling with this gear, you will be comfortable under water knowing you will not to get salt into your mouth. This is one of the reasons the Palau is the best snorkel set for beginners. Getting salt in your mouth is an unpleasant experience you want to avoid.
Below is an overview video of the snorkel gear:
The Palau snorkel is a frameless, silicone mask that provides a watertight seal on your face. The two-window design of the snorkel enables excellent visibility. If the snorkel does not fit well, you can adjust the buckles on the straps as you like.
The Palau short fins are excellent accessories and easily fit in a fully-packed suitcase. Moreover, they are easy to walk around with on a boat or around the beach.
The fins are short and allow you to swim without struggling to avoid accidentally kicking fragile coral. While you will swim faster with longer fins, the stiff nature of the Palau fins allow you to create a strong thrust without struggling with the cumbersomeness of longer fins.
Palau fins are comfortable and have large foot pockets. Therefore, you can adjust them to between three to four foot sizes. The open fin has a buckle that can be adjusted to get a good fit. To remove the buckle, simply push a button.
We highly recommend the Cressi Palau Snorkel set.
The US Divers Platinum is another quality equipment that makes it in our list of top rated snorkel gears.
The high quality snorkel equipment has a medical grade silicone skirt that provides an excellent seal. Even if you have a beard, the skirt will seal effectively.
The mask features a 2-pane design that allows excellent visibility. You won’t miss anything when snorkeling thanks to the extra side windows that allow peripheral vision.
The US Divers Platinum snorkel definitely works. When wearing it, no water will get into your mouth when underwater looking at some fish or a wave gets splashed over the equipment.
The US Divers snorkel gear set has open heel-designed fins. You can secure your foot into the snorkel with a strap that wraps around the heel.
The fins are available in two sizes and are adjustable to fit any foot size. It is also easy to adjust the fin buckles. To release the buckles, you simply need to push a button to get them off your feet.
The US Divers snorkel gear set is more expensive than beginner snorkel gear sets. This snorkel has an “Action” mount where you can mount your GoPro or another camera. If you’ve had other snorkel gears before, you may have noticed that the camera mount is usually on the mask. With the US Divers set, the camera is on the snorkel.
From our research, the US Divers Platinum is the only snorkel set with a mount for a GoPro.
Finally, the premium snorkel gear is sold with a travel bag with an extra-large storage pocket for your phone, keys, etc. The bag has a shoulder strap for easy carrying.
We really did not find anything to dislike in the US Divers Platinum snorkel set. If you would like to use your GoPro, this is the snorkel to buy.
The Seavenger is one of the best snorkel gear sets in the market thanks to its durability. The frameless mask is made of 100% high-grade silicone and lasts long. Moreover, it provides a water-tight seal.
The Seavenger has a single lens made of high quality tampered glass. The teardrop shape of the mask allows you to have your eyes close to it to get a better view of the fish and coral. Its panoramic viewing ensures you do not miss anything during your snorkeling adventure.
The dry snorkel has a highly effective purge valve and a protective splash guard. It also has a flexible barrel and an angled mouthpiece. With the Seavenger, you won’t strain your jaw muscles from clenching the mouthpiece.
The Seavenger has short trek-style fins that are easy to walk around with around the beach and in a boat. These multi-functional fins are also great for other water sports such as body boarding.
The fins have vented blades that produce maximum thrust for their size. Therefore, you can quickly and easily swim around without getting tired fast. The fins are the open-heel type and have an adjustable rapid release strap.
While the Seavenger is one of the quality affordable snorkel gear sets in the market, the foot pocket is surprisingly comfortable. The fins are also easy to carry in the plastic mesh quick drying gear bag.
The affordable snorkel gear is available in 13 stylish colors. This is one of the best snorkel gear sets for the money.
Another quality affordable snorkel gear set that will give you a great experience in the water is the Phantom Aquatics.
This snorkel, fin and mask are the essentials you need for your adventure. The fin has a rapid release button which you can use to adjust it and is also open-heeled.
The Phantom Aquatic fins come in a jet-vented design and pack power and thrust. The design ensures you do not get tired fast while enjoying your snorkeling adventure.
The frameless mask’s skirt is made of a liquid injected silicone, which makes it provide a comfortable, watertight seal to your face. The straps are also made of the same material and have adjustable swivel buckles. The glass is tampered, double-layered and crystal clear, providing excellent view of the sea life.
The Phantom Aquatics is a semi-dry snorkel and has a one-way purge valve that prevents unwanted saltwater from entering your mouth. The gear is available in 9 stylish colors and is sold with a mesh fabric storage bag. You can put the gear to dry inside the bag.
The Phantom Aquatics is compact and easily fits in any packed suitcase. This is one of the best snorkel gears in the market for the money.
For anyone looking for a solid, budget snorkel gear set, the US Divers Cozumel is worth looking into. The quality of this gear is not the same as that of the US Divers Platinum set. The Cozumel provides great visibility thanks to its two-pane design.
The snorkel gear has a crystal clear tempered glass. Before getting into the water, we recommend using an anti-fog solution on the mask.
The Cozumel fins are quite unusual from the fins of the other best snorkel gear sets on this list. The fins of the Cozumel are a closed-foot design. This design allows more energy to be transferred from your foot to the fin when kicking. Apart from this, you won’t get tired easily.
However, the fin design also has some downsides. For example, you cannot adjust the fins. Therefore, you need to get the correct-size fins when buying. Apart from this, if you love wearing socks, you will need very thin ones for your feet can fit comfortably into the foot pocket. This is the only complaint we have about the snorkel set.
The Cozumel snorkel gear is splash proof. Therefore, no water will get into it to your mouth when you are snorkeling. However, if you love diving down under, some water may get into your mouth because the equipment does not seal as well as other top rated snorkel gears.
The Cozumel snorkel kit comes with a mesh bag for easy carrying. You can also put the gear inside the mesh bag for it to dry after you’ve finished snorkeling. The snorkel is compact and will easily fit in your luggage.
If you are looking for a cheap snorkel gear that will save you the cost of renting, we highly recommend the Cozumel snorkel kit.
Best Snorkeling Accessories [Our Top Recommendations]
Your comfort during snorkeling can depend with the wetsuit you have. You will quickly get a chill when snorkeling unless the water temperature is above 29.5°C (85°F). The fastest way to ruin your snorkeling adventure is having to get out of the water because you are too cold. To avoid the cold while under water, you need a wet suit like the O’Neill westsuit.
Wearing a wet suit will make you more buoyant. Therefore, you will not have to worry about treading on the water. Apart from this, the suit will prevent you from accidentally brushing against coral (they really sting!) and other sharp objects.
The O’Neill wetsuit is quite thin, measuring just 2mm. The suit provides enough warmth while not being uncomfortably bulky.
Would you want to record the beautiful sites you will come across while snorkeling? If so, you need the GoPro HERO4. This is more than just another underwater camera/video recorder. It is not cheap, but it’s the best underwater camera in the market.
The video/picture quality of the GoPro is unmatched by other cheap underwater cameras.
If you are snorkeling in salty water, you most likely won’t have trouble staying afloat. However, if you are constantly treading the water to stay afloat, you can get tired easily. Men, especially, find it more difficult to stay afloat since they tend to have more muscle mass.
You can wear a snorkel vest to reduce fatigue while in the water. The snorkel floatation vest will make you confident while in the water as you won’t worry about drowning.
Majority of snorkel fins are comfortable. However, if they are too tight, they can cause chaffing of your feet. To ensure this does not happen, get yourself a pair of the best snorkel booties.
How to Choose the Best Snorkel Gear for You
Having the right gear is important when going on a snorkeling adventure. Some snorkeling trips include gear in their package. However, do not make the mistake of relying on the gear.
In most cases, the gear provided is of poor quality and can make you not enjoy the adventure of a lifetime. The last thing you want is a gear that has limited visibility due to scratches or fumbling with a leaky mask while a beautiful aqua-world is right in front of you.
Your snorkeling experience can turn painful when salt water gets into your eyes. This is likely to happen when you are using a leaky snorkel.
Remember, most “complimentary included” equipment rarely undergo proper sanitation procedures. This is something to be concerned about since the equipment will be in direct contact with your eyes, nose and mouth.
Finally, if you are going on a snorkeling adventure for the first time, it’s important to practice using the equipment before getting into the ocean to be familiar with it. Moreover, salt water adds a new dimension to snorkeling. When you are in the water, there is no time to start adjusting the equipment to get comfortable with it. You can only test and get familiar with the equipment if you have your own snorkeling gear.
You should carry out some research to find the best snorkeling equipment to buy. You can end up disappointed if you simply select a gear from a local discount store. Limited visibility and leaks are some of the potential problems you will encounter.
Below are some tips to consider when looking for the best snorkel gear.
Consider the durability of the snorkel gear you would like to purchase. Here, you should check the material used to make the equipment. For example, you want a mask with high-impact lenses and a silicone skirt.
Look for a mask that is comfortable and fits you properly.
Lens Quality and Visibility
Snorkeling allows you to see the breathtaking underwater life. Therefore, you want your mask lens to provide clear visibility.
Snorkel mask lenses are typically made of glass or plastic. The highest quality lenses are made from impact-resistant glass.
Old-style lenses are usually oval-shaped and fit the nose and eyes in the same compartment. Modern masks have one large lens with a modest separation for the nose and eyes.
If you want the eyes and nose to be completely separated, choose a 2-lens or split mask. This mask provides a better seal on your face. You can go further and add windows to your snorkel mask with the 3- or 4-lens mask. The masks provide optimal peripheral vision and visibility to ensure you have the best experience.
Another alternative you have is the frameless mask. This mask’s skirt is suctioned directly to your face. The mask is comfortable and lightweight. However, make sure it fits you properly to avoid leakage.
Given that snorkeling happens on top of the water, you need a great snorkel that will allow you to breathe easily as you admire the beautiful underwater environment. The right snorkel will ensure you breathe oxygen and not salt water.
Types of Snorkels
There are three types of snorkels. These are:
i) Classic Snorkel
The classic snorkel features a complete oval or circle opening at the top. This snorkel is cheap and is the one you are likely to find at most low-quality rentals or sets.
If you are an experienced snorkeler, you can easily use the snorkel. However, beginners and children can find it quite a challenge to use. The way that air easily flows in and out of the tube is the same way that water can when you go below the water or encounter a wave or splash from a nearby snorkeler.
An experienced snorkeler can easily clean the tube by blowing the water back out. However, beginners may find it difficult to do the same.
Some classic snorkels have a purge valve that allows water to be removed while one is swimming. With these snorkels, you can blow the water out while your head is still in the water.
ii) Dry Snorkels
These snorkels have a float valve that fully closes when you are submerged in water. The closing of the valves prevents the water from flowing into the mouth.
You may find this snorkel ideal for you. However, sometimes breathing can be somewhat restricted when using it.
iii) Semi-Dry Snorkels
This snorkel has a partially-closed, slanted top with a number of vents and tilts that prevent water from entering the hole. The snorkel diverts most of the water without obstructing breathing. This explains why the gear is popular with many snorkelers.
Fins will propel you forward when snorkeling. You can increase your speed up by 50% and decrease fatigue with a good pair of fins.
When planning a snorkeling adventure, buy the right fins. You can be disappointed with the complimentary fins provided by snorkeling excursions or the cheap ones available for rent.
Complementary fins are usually available in a small range of sizes i.e. small, medium and large. Therefore, they may not comfortably fit many people. If a pair of fins is too tight, it can cause blisters. If it is too large, it can fall off.
Another thing you should be aware about complementary fins is hygiene issues, such as athlete’s foot.
Ideally, you should purchase your own fins. This will ensure you get proper-fitting fins that are comfortable. Having the right fins will ensure you have a great snorkeling experience.
Open-Heel Fins vs. Full-Foot Fins
There are two main types of fins: open-heel and full-foot types.
Open-heel fins provide a more comfortable fit since they are adjustable. However, they leave the heel unprotected.
On the other hand, full-foot fins are not adjustable and therefore difficult to get them to fit properly. However, they keep the heel safe.
Your preferences should help you decide on the best fin to choose.
Size of your Snorkel Fins
The feet slightly shrink when you are in water. Keep this in mind when looking to buy fins. Ideally, you should choose fins that feel snug but are not too tight such that they are uncomfortable. When trying the fins, move your foot around to ensure there are no hard spots rubbing the foot.
If you are not sure what size of fin to choose, go for a smaller size. Wearing fins that are too tighter is better than having to struggle with a pair that is always falling off while you are snorkeling.
Before buying a snorkel mask, check that it fits properly. Check that the skirt fits well around your face and will not let in water. (Note: The “skirt” refers to the portion that lines the snorkeling mask).
When snorkeling, you can get tired and frustrated when dealing with a leaky mask. You will be treading and constantly manipulating the mask when you should be effortlessly floating on the water. If you try to empty the water from the mask, it may end up being fogged.
There are different types and shapes of snorkel masks in the market. Find a shape that will fit your face.
Snorkel Mask Fit
If you have a chance to try different types of masks in person, hold your breath and gently place the one you are trying on your face. A good mask should cling to your face without you having to strap it on or inhaling deeply.
There is no reason to over-tighten a mask that fits you properly. For men who will be snorkeling with a shaven face, try the masks when you are shaved to find one that fits you properly.
To find the right mask, check the material used to make the skirt. Skirts made from neoprene and plastic are more prone to leaks and wear since they are of low quality. These are the typical masks you will find at rental and “complementary” sets. Good quality skirts are made from silicone.
How to Defog a Snorkel Mask
If a mask fits you properly, it will not get fogged. You can also prevent fogging by not taking the mask off during your snorkeling adventure. There are also various de-fog drips you can use to prevent condensation on the mask.
When buying a mask, it is likely to come in a protective coat. You can purchase the mask with a de-fog drip. If you prefer to make a de-fog drip on your own, mix three parts of water and one part of baby soap. Use the solution to gently clean the mask and rinse with clean water. After this, air the mask in the air to dry.
The cleaning should be done before using the mask for the first time and after each use.
Mouthpiece Fit and Comfort
Make sure the mouthpiece of the snorkel mask fits securely in your mouth. You should be able to comfortable seal the lips around the mouthpiece. If a mouthpiece is either too small or too big, water can leak into your mouth.
The barrel, also known as a tube, comes in different designs and shapes. Some barrels maintain the rigid “J” shape while others are flexible. There are also those that are contoured around the head of the snorkeler. Most snorkel barrels are made of a combination of plastic and silicone.
Snorkel tubes come in different lengths. Most snorkelers prefer tubes that are between 15” and 17”. Consider your personal preferences to determine the style, size and shape of the tube you would like.
We hope this guide will be help you find the best snorkel gear for you. If you would like information on a set we did not cover, get in touch with us.