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Best Snorkel Gear

Why You Need Good Snorkeling Gear

Whether you are an experienced snorkeler looking to upgrade your equipment, or you're heading out on a vacation and will be trying snorkeling for the very first time, it's a good idea to have at least decent quality snorkeling gear.

When I first tried snorkeling I had no idea what to look for or how much of a difference there was between "good" and "bad" snorkeling equipment. As a very budget-conscious person, I opted to choose some of the cheapest gear knowing that it wasn't good quality because why waste the money.

My reasoning for this was that I didn't need the best snorkeling gear since I was a beginner, and this way I could figure out for myself what my personal preferences were. Although the latter somewhat held true, I would have had a much better time snorkeling in Hawaii if I had good quality gear that wasn't frustrating me all the time in the water.

This doesn't mean you have to shell out a ridiculous amount to have the top snorkeling equipment available. After all, you may already be spending lots on a vacation. You can find some great equipment to match your budget, but it can take a while to narrow down what's best for you. Therefore, this article is simply meant to help you find the best snorkel gear for your budget, as well as info on what to look for in snorkel gear.

Product Summary Our Rating Price

Dry top snorkel, open-heel fins, 2-windows tempered glass, gear bag included. Great value, well-reviewed.

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Two window mask with silicone face skirt. 100% submersible snorkel with Pivot Dry Technology. Adjustable open-heel fins with dual composite fin blades.
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Two-window tempered glass, low internal volume mask with silicone skirt. Open-heel fins. Semi-dry top valve snorkel. Comes with mesh bag.
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100% dry-top snorkel (automatically closing valve) with ergonomic shape. Mask has glass window and silicone skirt. Open-heeled fins with adjustable strap a shorter than most.
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Open-heeled fins with drag-reducing vented design. Single-lens tempered-glass mask with silicone skirt. Patented upper valve for 100% dry upper top snorkel.
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Two window tempered glass with silicone skirt. Splash-resistant snorkel reduces water entry (not 100% dry top). Adjustable, open-heel, short-blade fins.
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Single lens mask with silicone skirt. "Super" dry top snorkel has corrugated silicone mouthpiece and valve to prevent water entry. Open-heeled fin with easily adjustable straps. Good, but sparse customer reviews.
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100% dry-top snorkel with Pivot Dry Technology. Two-window tempered glass mask with silicone skirt. Open heel Trek Fins with dual composite blades. Low profile design with "feminine features".
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Dry top snorkel, open-heel fins, 2-windows tempered glass, gear bag included. Great value, well-reviewed.

Two window mask with silicone face skirt. 100% submersible snorkel with Pivot Dry Technology. Adjustable open-heel fins with dual composite fin blades.
Two-window tempered glass, low internal volume mask with silicone skirt. Open-heel fins. Semi-dry top valve snorkel. Comes with mesh bag.
100% dry-top snorkel (automatically closing valve) with ergonomic shape. Mask has glass window and silicone skirt. Open-heeled fins with adjustable strap a shorter than most.
Open-heeled fins with drag-reducing vented design. Single-lens tempered-glass mask with silicone skirt. Patented upper valve for 100% dry upper top snorkel.
Two window tempered glass with silicone skirt. Splash-resistant snorkel reduces water entry (not 100% dry top). Adjustable, open-heel, short-blade fins.
Single lens mask with silicone skirt. "Super" dry top snorkel has corrugated silicone mouthpiece and valve to prevent water entry. Open-heeled fin with easily adjustable straps. Good, but sparse customer reviews.
100% dry-top snorkel with Pivot Dry Technology. Two-window tempered glass mask with silicone skirt. Open heel Trek Fins with dual composite blades. Low profile design with "feminine features".

Mask

First of all, if you think your swim goggles are fine for snorkeling, you could be wrong. Snorkeling, especially at intermediate to advanced levels, involves swimming to different depths. Therefore, your nose needs to be inside your mask, simply so you can adjust to varying levels of pressure.

The lens of the mask needs to be glass (NOT plastic), and it should say things like "impact resistant", "tempered glass", "high quality", etc. Also, check to make sure the skirt is 100% silicone. This is the best quality material for the skirt, as opposed to something like PVC and rubber. It can be difficult to initially see the difference, but the material should always be listed int he product description.

Snorkel

The main thing to look for here is comfort. You can sometimes test the fit of the snorkel to the mask, but as far as mouthpieces go, this unfortunately will be tough to test before purchase and will simply be learned over time. Unlike the mask, there aren't specific materials that are way better than others. This can make the decision difficult, but just know you won't be screwed over if you choose one material over the other, like silicone versus PVC.

The main differences between snorkels are the additional features. Most snorkels are J-shaped, and even the most basic level J-shaped snorkel can be adequate for your needs. However, you can find snorkels with different "purge" features, which I have sometimes found to be beneficial.

What is a purge? Simply speaking, a purge allows you to clear the snorkel if needed. It's usually found near the bottom of the snorkel for ease of clearing.

The top of the snorkel is also a key area to look at. You can get snorkels with splash guards that prevent small amounts of water from entering the tube when you are swimming around. You may also see some snorkels with "dry tops". This means the top closes as you swim down and the snorkel is fully underwater. Both of these can be considered bonus features to the standard open-topped snorkels.

Fins

Also known as flippers, you need these for snorkeling. They make a HUGE difference from bare feet, and will really make the difference between being able to swim around and dive to different depths, and not being able to do anything. There are two different types of fins: Full foot and open heel.

Full foot fins are usually recommended for warmer waters. They are simple and easy to put on and take off. You usually only get a couple different sizes to choose from, so they aren't like a standard shoe. Basically you want them to fit snug, not so tight you can't put them on, and not too loose that you can feel them move around. The general rule of thumb is that you want to be able to fit a small finger between your heel and the back of the fin, but without being able to move your finger around (in which case it would be too loose).

Open heel fins are recommended for colder waters, if you are between sizes for full foot fins, are your feet blister easily. The are usually worn with neoprene boots. They are often more comfortable, powerful, and durable, and can be used for scuba diving, but are also heavier and slightly more complex than full foot fins. They can also come with adjustable straps, which is great if you fall between two sizes of the full foot fins.

What may also be of interest to you are split fins versus paddle fins. Generally speaking, it may take a while for you to learn what is best and most comfortable for you (i.e. you may have to go through a few pairs first). For more information on the difference between these two types of fins, check out the video below.


Safety

Many people view the safety practices of snorkeling as "common sense". However, if you are a beginner, you may not be aware of some standard guidelines. For detailed information on how to use your equipment for safe snorkeling, please click here.

Selected as Best Value for the snorkeling sets we reviewed, the Seavenger diving snorkel set provides awesome bang for your buck.

This is one of the best snorkeling sets for beginners, as it comes with many desirable features at an affordable price point. There's nothing fancy about this snorkel gear, but if you are still learning what your personal preferences are, don't want to spend much on equipment, or are an expert simply looking for a spare set, this could be your best bet.

There are numerous advantages to this snorkeling equipment. First, the snorkel itself is dry-top, meaning that the snorkel becomes sealed as you dive underwater, and the splash guard reduces water entry when partially submerged.

Other advantages include the tempered glass lenses and silicone skirt on the mask (you shouldn't by anything that doesn't have this), as well as open-heeled fins. Also, Seavenger has many different snorkeling set combinations, so if you're looking for something just a little bit different than this, be sure to check out some of their other stuff.

The main disadvantages are the short fins, which don't provide as much power as longer fins (but could be advantageous depending on preferences). The gear is decent quality, especially at this price point, but some have mentioned the mask leaks and fogs up more than other masks.

Overall, if you are on a budget or are new to snorkeling, we definitely recommend this snorkel gear. Even if you are a more advanced snorkeler, having this as a spare for friends or a back-up for yourself could be a good idea. However, if you are looking for high quality equipment with specific features, you may want to keep browsing.

This US Divers set is solid quality, but can be a little more expensive. The reason I use the word "can" is because you can find many different US Divers snorkel/mask/fins combinations that range in price and quality. We chose this as a representation because it is a mid-range set for these brands.

This package is very well reviewed. The main advantages are the high quality snorkel with a dry-top that really works. Some say the valve mechanism looks a little cheap since it is just plastic, but at the end of the day it works really well, so can't complain about that.

The fins are very short, which is good for traveling and avoiding any physical contact with coral or other delicate underwater landscapes. On the other hand, shorter fins are typically slower, so depending on your preferences, this could be good or bad.

All of the primary components in this package are great quality (mask/snorkel/fins); however, the main thing to watch out for is the bracket that holds the snorkel to the mask. Many have found this to break quite quickly, even though the rest of the gear seems to be awesome.

Overall, we suggest this snorkeling equipment only if you are looking for a slight upgrade from the Seavenger, or you are a beginner with a little bit more money to play with. The quality matches the price, but does not exceed it due to complaints of potential issues with smaller parts.

This snorkel gear also provides good bang for your buck. At a higher level than "budget gear", this snorkel set boasts all the features you need and a little bit more. It compares well with the Seavenger snorkel set that we previously reviewed.

The low internal volume, two window mask is made of tempered glass and a liquid silicone skirt for a good seal. Some have found that the mask leaks upon initial use, but this can often be resolved by playing around with the straps. Reviews on the mask are largely positive with a few bad ones because of this issue with the fit.

The snorkel is semi-dry, meaning that there is a splash guard but water can still enter the snorkel upon diving. It's a pretty basic snorkel - pretty good, but not the best.

The fins are open-heel and designed to be worn without boots, but you can make that decision on your own. These are a quality set of fins, but some people complain about them being uncomfortable. What the company doesn't make clear is that there are removable plastic inserts to help adjust the size, so keep that in mind if they are not initially fitting the way you want.

Overall this is a quality snorkeling set; however, if you are tight on cash, we would recommend opting for the Seavenger set if you can find it at a cheaper price. In general, the are pretty comparable.

The higher price point of this snorkel gear is also coupled with higher quality. The snorkel itself is pretty awesome, as it is a true dry-fit snorkel (splash guard with automatically closing valve) with an ergonomic design.

The mask is made with two tempered glass lenses and a silicone skirt. Most people find the mask fits really well and doesn't leak, but can be somewhat prone to fogging, so you may need some anti-fog spray if you don't already have some.

The fins are also good quality with an open-heel design and a medium length. They are definitely durable, but some people find them a little stiff. This isn't really a problem, but more so something to get used to or "break in". If you're only planning on using this set once, you may find them a little uncomfortable for the money.

Overall, this is very well reviewed snorkeling gear that is of higher quality than most. We definitely recommend this snorkeling set, but only if you have the money to play with or are a mid-level snorkeler looking to upgrade on a budget-level set and/or have a decent sense of what your preferences are.

This is a decent snorkeling set if you are on a budget or have no idea what your preferences are, but nothing more than that.

The Speedo Adventure snorkel set has all the basic requirements that a good snorkel set should have: tempered glass lenses (two lenses), splash-resistant snorkel, and open-heeled fins.

One main thing to point out is that the snorkel is "splash-resistant", NOT dry-top. THe difference being that with splash-resistant snorkels the opening is partially covered by shaping the end so that some splashes can be blocked. In a dry-top snorkel, there is usually a valve that will prevent any water from entering even as you dive underneath the surface.

Even if you are a beginner, it could be worth opting for a dry-top snorkel. Even though it may not be a full deal-breaker, having a little bit of water entering the snorkel here and there can get really annoying over time, especially if you're just learning.

Otherwise reviews are mixed. Some say the mask and fins fit great and seal well, whereas some others say the opposite. This isn't necessarily a case of bad quality, but more so a design that isn't as flexible or accommodating for different face/feet shapes.

Overall, we would only recommend this snorkeling set for beginners on a strict budget. Otherwise, spending an extra $20 on a dry-top snorkel or better fitting gear in general should be a good play.

Overall, this is very well reviewed snorkeling gear that is of higher quality than most. We definitely recommend this snorkeling set, but only if you have the money to play with or are a mid-level snorkeler looking to upgrade on a budget-level set and/or have a decent sense of what your preferences are.