So you are looking for the best snorkeling gear. You have decided that the warm weather is not going to waste. Good idea! But a man is only as good as his gear.
Snorkeling is one of the most popular water sports. Most people that we know have it on their list of their top ten things to do every summer. You see, it is so simple, so crazily enjoyable and easy for the kids too.
And tell you what? You can even snorkel when you cannot swim. Huh! Now that is something. But do learn how to swim, it is important.
Snorkeling in tropical waters gives you an opportunity to see colorful and beautiful fish. For you to get an unforgettable snorkeling experience, you need to have the best snorkeling gear.
You need to have fins for easy propulsion in the water. You will also need a snorkel to help you breathe underwater and a high quality mask that helps you have unobstructed views of the coral reef.
Having the best snorkeling gear 2019 will see you getting hooked to snorkeling. Buying your own snorkeling gear on Amazon.com is better than renting.
Sometimes you may find all of them have been rented out, which is quite inconveniencing. In any case, you can also buy special snorkeling gear. For example, if you wear glasses, you can buy a snorkel mask for glasses wearers.
What best snorkeling gear 2019 do you need?
The three main components of the best snorkeling gear comprise of a pair of fins, a snorkel and a mask.
You may see many goggles and snorkel packages when you are shopping. Snorkeling flippers or fins should also be included in that package.
Snorkel mask or snorkeling goggles
Without a scuba mask or goggles, you cannot really see much underwater. Therefore, a snorkel mask is your main piece of snorkeling gear.
Snorkeling goggles consist of a pair or two of lenses, a frame of course, strap keepers, a silicone skirt and a snorkel mask strap. The new snorkel mask designs come with a frameless design. The silicone skirt is attached directly to the lens.
The best snorkel mask has tempered glass lenses and a silicone skirt, which makes them quite durable.
When you take good care of it, the best snorkel mask can go for years without needing to be replaced. It is always a good idea to rinse your gear with fresh water when you are done using it, before storage.
Beware of the very cheap snorkeling masks. Such mostly have PVC skirts and plastic lenses, which will need you to replace them often.
Full face snorkel mask
Full face snorkel masks are mostly a recent invention and they are becoming quite popular. This new style mask is a mask where the snorkel is built-in.
They were first introduced by Tribord in conjunction with Ocean Reef in 2014. It is amazing to see just how much popularity these masks have gained with snorkel lovers all over the world.
Most scuba divers don’t think that full face masks are the most appealing masks. However, people who have used full face snorkeling gear swear they are more comfortable with it. Besides, these masks are best used for snorkeling.
This full face snorkeling gear offers a great panoramic view and there are also lesser chances of leakage. With the full mask snorkel, one is able to breathe through their mouth and/or their nose. The best thing about this mask is that it helps you breathe almost as well as if you were out of water.
The only concern with this full mask snorkel is the buildup of the carbon dioxide gas, you know, from the effect of breathing out.
The other concern is that there have not been standard safety tests on the best snorkeling full masks. However, snorkeling itself is a pretty safe surface water sport.
A wetsuit can be used for scuba diving or for snorkeling. These suits come in different thicknesses so that they can be used in different waters.
Cold water wetsuits are thick, you know, between 5mm and 7mm. Warm water snorkeling and scuba diving suits are 2 to 4mm thick.
Wetsuits will keep you wet and warm at the same time. They do this by keeping a thin layer of water which is warmed by your body heat as the buffer zone. That way, your body heat does not escape and cold water does not come into contact with the body.
Among all the snorkeling and scuba diving gear that you may buy, a wetsuit takes the top spot in the list.
It is great for insulation as well as for your safety in the water. A wetsuit will protect you from stings, from some of the small marine life. It will also protect you from injuring yourself on the corals.
In this section, we are going to discuss the snorkel tube itself. This is the tube that brings air into your mouth or your nose, or into the inside of the mask depending on what you are using.
Types of snorkels
The snorkel itself is the other piece of snorkeling gear. Snorkelers need to be close to the surface for them to breathe unlike divers who carry compressed air and a regulator to enable them to breathe.
The snorkel is basically the tube that sticks out of the water which allows the snorkeler to draw in the air. Snorkels come in different types and below are some of them:
The traditional snorkel also known as a j-snorkel or the classic snorkel is just a J-shaped tube that has a mouthpiece.
This is one of the cheapest snorkels in the market. However, this snorkel can be quite uncomfortable since the tube is a bit rigid. If this snorkel does not have a valve, if it gets submerged in water, the water will flow in. This means you will have gulps of salty ocean water.
If water finds its way inside the snorkel, you will need to exhale quite forcefully for the water to get out.
Dry snorkel or semi dry snorkel
A dry or a semi-dry snorkel is flexible and it means it is quite comfortable when you are wearing snorkeling glasses.
A semi dry snorkel has a splash guard at the top of the tube. This prevents surface or splash water from flowing in. However, the water will still flow in if the tube is submerged
As for the dry snorkels, for example the Oceanic ultra dry snorkel that you can buy on Amazon.com, no water enters the pipe even after it has been submerged in water.
Small amounts of water may seep in but it is easy to clear. The only disadvantage to the dry snorkels is that they develop a dysfunction quite fast. This is mostly because of the sand and dust getting in, thus making it hard for the user to breathe.
Flexible snorkel with a purge valve
A snorkel can never be fully flexible because it needs to be rigid to be able to stick out of the water.
For a flexible snorkel, the bottom part has to be flexible for one to get a better fit. Flexible snorkels are quite comfortable especially when you are using a snorkel mask. Flexible snorkels have a purge valve at the bottom. This helps in clearing water out of the snorkel since the water does not go all the way up.
One of the benefits of having a flexible snorkel is that it falls sideways when the mouthpiece is released. This is what makes it quite comfortable to scuba dive with.
A swimming snorkel may not be good for snorkeling. This snorkel resembles a j-snorkel but the mouthpiece is placed differently.
A swimming snorkel helps professional swimmers in balancing their strokes. It can be used for altitude training and it is used to perfect their swimming techniques.
Snorkeling fins are thought to be an option in the best swimming gear but they are a requirement especially for snorkeling beginners.
Snorkel fins make it easier and less tiring to swim. They make it easier to hover and balance but they are also come in handy in matters security.
When you are snorkeling even in calm waters, there is always a chance of you getting caught in a surface current. These snorkeling fins can help you get back to the shore safely.
When choosing the best snorkeling fins, there are three things that you should have in mind. These are fit, efficiency and power.
Power and efficiency are closely related to the snorkeling location. If you are snorkeling in places with strong currents, then you need efficient and powerful fins.
Snorkeling flippers come in different designs but the major differences are classic versus split fins and closed versus open heel fins.
Open vs closed heel fins
Scuba and snorkeling fins are either open or closed heeled. Each of these snorkeling fins offers its own unique advantages.
Closed heel snorkeling fins are shorter and lighter. This makes them easier to travel with. Open heel snorkeling fins are longer and heavier. However, they provide a better thrust with the fit being not much of an issue.
With open heel snorkeling fins, you feet go into a pocket and you secure them with a heel strap. These fins should be worn with dive boots. The open heeled snorkeling fins are more popular with scuba divers because they provide more speed and thrust.
Closed heel fins, also known as full foot fins or pocket fins are worn on bare feet. Sometimes, they are worn with neoprene socks, for example, the H2Odssey 2mm fin sock is a good option.
These snorkeling fins should be well fitting, otherwise the snorkeler is prone to getting blisters. Some snorkelers say closed heel fins are the best snorkeling fins.
However, some open heeled fins like Cressi Palau snorkeling fins also get the job done. The best thing about these fins is that they can be worn without snorkeling boots.
Split vs classic snorkeling fins
Classic fins are also known as full bladed fins or paddle fins. They come in different designs as well budget choices. You cannot mention the best snorkeling gear without including these fins.
They range from cheap snorkel fins to advanced fins that come with stabilizers and thrust channels.
Split snorkeling fins are more popular. People claim they eliminate the muscle strain as well as cramping.
Split fins are available in both closed and open heel design. Split fins are good for people whose leg muscles are not as strong or people who have knee issues.
With the split fins, you don’t have to use forceful strokes as you would be required to do with the classic fins. You can use quick short kicks.
Floatation devices and aids
These include things like the floatation belt. It is best for seniors and children. However, such thrill seekers should never be left unsupervised.
Snorkeling floatation devices are good for people who do not know how to swim. You cannot scuba dive if you do not know how to swim, but you can snorkel even if you are not a swimmer.
How to choose the best snorkeling gear
This is a simple snorkeling gear buying guide. You should never go buying your gear for snorkeling blindly.
When you go shopping for the best snorkeling gear, it is good to know what features you should look out for in every item that is included in the package.
By educating yourself this way, you can be sure of getting the top of the line snorkeling gear. After all, if you are a constant adventure seeker, you want gear that can last a long time.
How to choose a snorkel
Safety comes first at the top on the list. That is why it is important to get a snorkel that has a dry top valve.
A dry top snorkel ensures makes sure that your breathing tube does not come into contact with water.
This is one of the best snorkels for beginners because they are not such strong swimmers. A simple splash guard comes in handy for snorkelers who swim in busy waters where splashing is likely to happen a lot.
How to choose a mask
The best snorkeling mask is the one that has an anti-fog treatment. This one ensures that you don’t have to keep on cleaning your mask.
Tempered glass lens are the best snorkeling masks since they have durable lenses that are bound to last longer. The best way to prevent your snorkeling mask from fogging is by making sure that you remove the protective layer over the lenses before you use it.
You can do this by applying a little amount of toothpaste on the lenses with your finger and wiping them clean. Ensure the whole surface is clean. Mask defogging drops also come in very handy to keep the lenses clean.
A silicone skirt should fit on your face to ensure that you have a watertight seal when you are snorkeling. When shopping for the best snorkeling gear 2019, it is paramount to note the range of view you will get from the snorkeling mask you will pick. Single lenses designs offer the greatest range of view.
How to buy snorkeling fins
When you are shopping for the best snorkeling gear and it is time to pick the fins, ensure you know your normal shoe size.
You will be wearing the fins the same way that you wear your shoes. You don’t want a pair that pinches your feet, right?
The open heeled fins with an adjustable strap design are the best. This design ensures that you get the best form-fitting feel and the most comfortable fins.
Open heeled fins provide more thrust as well as speed and most snorkelers prefer these ones to all the others. They also tend to be heavier and longer which gives them a stronger thrust.
When shopping for open heeled fins, pick the best boots for snorkeling to wear with these fins. You should never wear these fins without snorkeling boots.
If you prefer closed heel snorkeling fins, ensure that you get the right size. Wearing the wrong size can result to blisters on your feet. The best thing about these closed heel fins is that they are easy to travel with and they can be worn without snorkeling boots.
You may also consider whether the fins are split or classic fins. Classic fins have come a long way and nowadays they have high-end fins that come with stabilizers and flexible thrust channels.
Split fins are becoming quite popular because they help to eliminate leg muscle strains as well as muscle cramping.
With the split fins, you can use flutter kicks (quick short kicks) as opposed to the larger strokes commonly used with classic snorkeling fins.
Cost of snorkeling gear
You can only buy what you can afford. Thankfully, when you buy your snorkeling gear on Amazon.com, you can save money. You also get wider variety as well as customer reviews. These can help you make the right choice.
If you have the money to spend, high-end classic snorkeling fins are quite a catch. The best thing about classic fins is that they cater to the needs of everyone – the ones looking for the cheapest snorkeling fins and the ones looking for high-end fins.
Before shopping for the best snorkeling gear, ask yourself whether the items will be easy to travel with especially the snorkeling fins and the snorkel mask. Bulky snorkeling gear can be quite hard to travel with but a travel dive bag can help you keep things organized.