The best snorkel gear will enhance your underwater exploration. Crystal clear views of the reef, deep uninterrupted breaths without inhaling water as you glide effortlessly through the water. Who wouldn’t want that!
There is a huge difference between rental snorkel gear, and your own gear you have invested in. Why skimp on sub par gear and potentially risk ruining your snorkeling trip?
In this guide we will focus on the best snorkeling gear to suit your budget without skimping on quality!
What to Consider When Purchasing A Snorkel Set
The snorkel gear you buy will be made up of three key pieces of equipment – A snorkel mask, a snorkel, and a pair of snorkel fins. In this section we’ll go into further detail on each to help you decide which the best snorkel set for you will be.
There are several different types of snorkel mask on the market. Each one with its own unique features and benefits. Before we get into the types of mask you can be, we need to discuss the most important thing to consider…
If your mask doesn’t fit properly, it will not work properly. There’s no point spending money on the best mask money can buy if it doesn’t fit! An ill fitting mask will leak water, and be uncomfortable. Now that’s a bad combination!
To check if your mask fits, simply press it against your face and gently breathe in through your nose. Pay attention to how the mask feels – Does the mask stay against your face, or is it slipping off? If air is seeping in through the sides that means water can seep in too!
Single Lens Mask
The lens is made up of a single pane lens. Not having a frame around the nose can provide a better field of vision, but this mask is not really suitable for those who want a prescription mask
Twin Lens Mask
Two windows separated down the middle. This type of mask is better for those who wish to have a prescription mask. This type of mask can be slightly bulkier and the and may have a reduced field of vision due to the split down the middle.
Multiple Lens Mask
This type of mask has extra viewing panes at the sides. This helps increase peripheral vision and also allows more light to enter the mask. A multiple window mask can have extra air volume inside it though.
There are generally three different types of snorkel – From the most basic type of snorkel the Traditional snorkel, to the dry snorkel.
Pay attention to the details here as the type of snorkel you want just might influence which snorkel set you want to buy!
Semi Dry Snorkel
The most basic type of snorkel is the traditional snorkel – It’s essentially an open top tube with a mouthpiece. As it’s the most basic type of snorkel it is also the cheapest.
Traditional snorkels tend to be extremely durable and can last the user for years. This is due to the fact that as they don’t really have any special bells and whistles, there’s nothing to really go wrong with them.
Due to their open top design a traditional snorkel allows water to freely enter the top of it. So if you’re planning on going with this kind of snorkel then you need to be comfortable enough to ‘blast clear’ the water, that is to exhale sharply to blow the water out the top.
Semi Dry Snorkel
The semi dry snorkel is basically a traditional snorkel but with a splash guard at the top. The splash guard helps to shield water from getting into the top of the snorkel. Of course, water can still get in though.
Many semi dry snorkels also have a purge valve at the bottom. A purge valve allows for any water which may end up in the snorkel to be ‘purged’ out the bottom. The water is purged from the snorkel simply by gently exhaling.
Slightly more expensive than the traditional snorkel and a tad bit heavier (due to the added splash guard).
Dry Top Snorkel
A dry top snorkel has a special mechanism at the top that is there to prevent water from getting into your snorkel. Once submerged the top of the snorkel closes therefore not allowing any water to enter.
A purge valve at the bottom of the snorkel also allows for any water that may have got in to be quickly expelled back into the ocean. This type of snorkel is the most expensive of the three but it is worth the added cost for the hassle free snorkel experience that it offers.
This is the type of snorkel that we typically recommend to people, but it is worth noting that you cannot freedive with this type of snorkel (due to added buoyancy from the trapped air inside it)
Some people seem to think of the snorkel fin as a non essential piece of snorkel gear – But those people have probably just never used them before! Here are the different types of snorkel fin on the market, and the differences between each one.
Short Fins vs Long Fins
Short fins are ideal for travel due to their compact size and are great for snorkeling in calmer waters by the shore. Long fins are, well.. Longer than short fins.
Their added length makes them heavier than short fins but they provide much better propulsion in the water thus making it a better option in open water and against currents.
Open Heel vs Closed Heel
Closed heel fins offer a slip on/slip off type design – It’s very important with a closed heel fin that you get the correct fit. Too loose and the fin can slip off, but too tight and you will find it very uncomfortable to wear.
This type of fin is worn barefoot – As you won’t be using the additional insulation of a water sock this means this type of fin is good for warm water/tropical conditions, but you probably wouldn’t want to use this type of fin in cold water. Closed heel fins also tend to be lighter and offer less drag in the water.
Open heel fins have an ankle strap design – This type of fin can be much more accommodating as you slide your foot into the fin and then tighten the strap around the back of your heel. This type of fin allows the user to also wear water socks. This additional insulation makes this fin a good choice to use in colder waters
Split Fin vs Paddle Fin
A paddle blade fin is the most common type of snorkel fin, and is probably what springs to mind when you think of snorkeling fins. Paddle fins provide great manoeuvrability and this type of fin suits most kicking styles.
Split fins have a split down the middle of the blade – allowing the two sides of the blade to move independently from one another. Split fins require less physical power to propel you, and can propel you much fast than a paddle fin – Some users do find this type of fin tough to get used to though.
Check out our full guide to the best snorkel fins if you want to learn more
Should you Buy or Rent snorkel gear
If you’re trip isn’t going to be heavily focussed around a lot of beach time, you will probably be just fine renting some snorkel gear.
I did rent snorkel gear once before (many years ago in Mexico), and let me tell you… I didn’t have any issues with mask fogging/snorkel leakage/fins slipping off.
I have also borrowed friends and families snorkel gear in the past, and again not had any issues with the gear not fitting me correctly, but in truth they were not the type of mask or snorkel that I would have preferred.
NOW.. I have never had a better time snorkeling then with my own gear. The best part about buying your own snorkel set is that you can tailor it to your own needs and specifications.
In reality there are a ton of benefits to having your own snorkel gear and really aren’t any disadvantages. So if you plan on snorkeling each vacation, then buying your own snorkel set is ideal. By the time you’ve rented snorkel gear twice, you might as well have just gone and bought your own!
So here is our list of reasons as to why you will not regret having the best snorkel gear of your own
Should you buy a Snorkel Set Or The Individual Pieces
As mentioned above, buying a snorkel set can be cheaper than buying each piece individually so if you can find the right set for you, and it has all of the pieces you want then great!
However you may not be able to find a set that has the exact fins, mask and snorkel that you want. There are of course many snorkel and mask combos (without fins) that you could look into and then buy the fins separately.
Or you could just go ahead and buy each piece individually – But, if you find a set that has all of the pieces you want, it’s probably going to work out cheaper, and is less hassle when it comes to shipping. So it’s definitely worth looking into that!
How To Clean And Care For Your Snorkel Gear
The best quality snorkel gear can last you for years of adventure. It’s essential that you take care of your gear though as the kinder you are to it, the longer it will last.
Things like sun and salt water can be very damaging over time – But keeping your gear fresh and clean is really quite simple.
Additional Snorkel Accessories
There are also a number of different accessories/gear that you could invest in to help make your adventure even more comfortable, enjoyable and memorable.
The Best Snorkel Gear Reviewed
If travel friendliness is more important to you then we recommend this set. If you want more propulsion in the water and size isn’t an issue for you then we recommend going with the Cressi Palau long fin set – which is the same exact set as this, but with longer fins
When you compare the cost of renting equipment for each single use versus purchasing your own snorkel gear that will last you many many adventures it really is a no brainer to invest in your own gear.
The Cressi Palau set provides a travel friendly option built of quality gear at a very competitive price.