Best Snorkel Gear
With so much choice when it comes to snorkeling gear it’s easy to be overwhelmed and paralyzed with indecision, so we have done the hard work for you. We’ve distilled your choice down to just five great products and included tips and advice to help you choose the best option to suit your requirements and level of snorkeling experience. Here’s our shortlist:-
Apart from the product’s features and design, first and foremost you should consider who you are buying this mask for and how and where it will be used. Is it for your children to use in their first experience snorkeling? Is it for use on holiday and needs to fit into your luggage? Are you thinking of progressing to scuba diving in the future? Understanding your requirements as well as the product’s attributes will ensure you buy suitable gear.
The main choice you have when it comes to selecting a snorkeling mask is whether you want single, double, multiple or 180 degree lenses. Single pane masks offer uninterrupted views, but you cannot affix prescription lenses to them. If you need to adjust your vision, then you should opt for a double pane mask. Masks are available that have four panes, in this case, there are two extra panes at each side of your head which act to increase vision. In practice, they only really increase the light into the mask and not peripheral vision. New to the market is a mask type that offers a curved 180-degree lens that covers your whole face. This design makes breathing simple and provides great all around vision.
Lens angle and shape
Looking at a side profile view, a mask lens that angles in at the bottom will give you a better downward vision. Add diamond or tear drop shaped lenses and this will give you the best downward vision overall. These two features limit your head movement when looking down which reduces the chances of you dipping the top of your snorkel into the water.
You do get what you pay for, and cheap silicone is stiff which not only makes it uncomfortable but it’s less likely to cause a good seal to your face. Most masks come with the option of an opaque black skirt or a see-through skirt. The see-through skirt allows for more light to penetrate and tends to be more comfortable for new snorkelers as it reduces feelings of claustrophobia. Clear skirts will show discoloration, pitting, and any mold build up which can reduce the wear-ability and therefore longevity of your masks life.
Straps and Buckles
The majority of masks come with a strap that is made out of silicone and either split for better hold or just a simple strap. However it is designed, if it’s made with silicone it’s going to snag and pull your hair; if you have long hair, it will get knotted which at the least is frustrating, but it can be painful. The solution to this is to buy a neoprene strap cover or neoprene replacement strap. Neoprene straps are more comfortable and can be easily slipped onto your head and held in place. Strap buckles should be easy to adjust, ideally with one hand.
Snorkels range from the simplest tube so some high tech water proof designs and again, you do get what you pay for. Most snorkels have some splash guard at the top, and some feature one-way valves designed to seal if submerged. What you choose will depend a little on your experience. If you’re comfortable clearing a snorkel, then you don’t need to shell out for the latest dry technology but if it’s your first time, then do consider the options available. Mouthpieces should be made using comfortable but durable silicone, and it helps if the snorkel tube features a flexible portion which will allow for a comfortable fit.
One of the most frequent complaints from owners of new masks is that they always fog up which leads to frustration and dissatisfaction in the product. The simple reason this happens to new masks is that the manufacturer coats the lens to protect it, however removing it is simple. You could buy an anti-fog solution, but seasoned pros clean their new masks with a non-gel non-whitening toothpaste. Just rub all over the inside of the lens and then rinse. You may need to repeat a couple of times, but this should solve any fogging issues.
Explomos Snorkelling Mask with Go Pro Mount
The Explomos Snorkelling Mask covers your eyes, nose, and mouth and gives you an 180-degree field of vision. This full face design means you can just put the mask on, jump in and breathe normally. No coughing and spluttering while you master breathing from a snorkel which makes it ideal for beginners and introducing children to the underwater world.
The centrally located inbuilt snorkel allows you to turn your head without worrying about the location of a side mounted snorkel, and the ball seal in the snorkel will prevent water getting plus there is a drain to let any water escape.
Separate inhaling and exhaling channels reduce the risk of fogging caused by exhalation into the mask. The mask comfortably seals to your face with hypoallergenic silicone and is held in place with four connecting soft fabric straps that won’t snag your hair.
It’s not all positive though, this type of mask is bulkier than the more traditional design which means less room in your suitcase. This mask can only be used for snorkeling and is not suitable for scuba diving. It won’t allow you to acquire the necessary airway control techniques to feel comfortable for scuba diving either. So while it’s great if you’re a bit nervous and new to snorkeling or a no fuss option for kids, it might not be your most cost efficient investment if you plan to try scuba diving.
Cressi Mask and Snorkel Set
The Cressi mask and snorkel set is a good all round choice for those who prefer a single lens mask. There’s no frame which makes it light for traveling and easy to pack. The frameless design also means greater comfort in the nose bridge area and wider field of view. The bottom of the lens drops into a diamond shape which gives you better downward view. This shape reduces the need to drop your head and therefore the risk of scooping water into your snorkel. This mask is great for scuba diving as the low profile means less volume to equalize.
The silicone skirt is soft and comfortable and attaches directly to the lens. The mask strap can be adjusted with one hand via an easy to use push button attached directly to the mask’s skirt.
The strap is made from silicone and while it will stay in place on your head, it is likely to snag in long hair. Consider buying a neoprene mask strap cover for comfort and ease.
The snorkel features dry top technology which will help to reduce water entering the top. The mouth piece is made from soft silicone which along with the flexible tube portion means it will sit comfortably in your mouth.
Phantom Aquatics Velocity Mask and Snorkel Set
Phantom Aquatics Velocity is a great choice if you are looking for a double pane lens mask. The diamond shaped bottom of each pane gives great downward vision. The silicone skirt is soft and flexible and has an inner and outer seal which means greater comfort and fit to reduce the likelihood of leaks. The push button design on the mask strap adjustment buckle is easy to use with one hand. The buckle sits on a swivel which makes the mask flexible and comfortable. The strap is made from silicone and will snag in your hair, so it’s a good idea to purchase a neoprene strap replacement for extra comfort and ease of use.
The snorkel features splash proof technology which limits water getting in at the top. Any water that does get in can be easily eliminated with the one-way purge valve.
The snorkel’s mouthpiece is angled for comfort, and the flexible tube allows the snorkel to sit comfortably in your mouth. This snorkel attachment is designed so that if you are using it for scuba diving, the snorkel will swing out of the way of your regulator once you have switched. The snorkel itself isn’t as dry as some others on the market and would not suit beginner snorkelers, those that do not have comfort in the water and have not mastered airway control and blast clearing.
Cressi Kids Pegaso Iguana Mask and Snorkel
Made using bright, fun colors, this kids mask is designed to fit smaller faces. The mask’s buckles are easy to use, and all the silicone is soft and hypoallergenic. The bright colors make this mask easy to find if dropped at the surface. The mask’s strap will snag long hair, and for comfort and ease, you should consider buying a soft neoprene mask strap cover.
The snorkel’s mouthpiece is designed for a smaller mouth and has dry top technology and a one-way purge value too.
The snorkel doesn’t have a flexible tube, and although this limits the positioning options, it can make it easier to hold in place. If your kids are comfortable in the water, then they will find this design easy to use.
Cressi Palau Mask, Fin and Snorkel Set
If you are looking for a package that includes mask, fins, and snorkel, then this is a great option. The mask has a soft, flexible skirt and easily adjustable buckles. The snorkel has both a splash guard and closing valve to reduce water getting into it. The flexible bore means that the snorkel can be adjusted to fit comfortably.
Short fins are the perfect choice for snorkeling; they give you that bit of extra propulsion without being too cumbersome.
They are particularly suitable for beginners as they allow for ease of adjustment to wearing fins and reduce the risk of cramp as they don’t put as much demand on the calf. As they are short, they are ideal if you are packing for holiday as they don’t take up as much room. The heel strap is adjustable which means, if you are buying them for young adults they will last as their feet grow. Another plus for the heel strap design is that they can be shared with friends and family members too.
It would be tough to choose a clear winner in our list of products as each one fits a particular need and is a winner in its own right.
If you’re buying for children, then select either the Explomos Snorkelling Mask or the Cressi Kids Pegaso Iguana Mask. The Explomos Snorkelling Mask is great for those children who are more nervous in water. It’s easier to use and requires little airway control. It will allow them to enjoy seeing fish and get comfortable in the water which will mean you can relax and enjoy the experience too. The Cressi Kids Pegaso Iguana Mask is a more traditional mask and snorkel set and ideal for those kids that just love the water.
For adults, the Cressi mask and snorkel set or the Phantom Aquatics Velocity mask and snorkel set are both great options, but the Cressi set does have the better snorkel in terms of dry technology. If you are nervous and do not have great in-water comfort, then you should consider the Explomos mask too.