Snorkeling opens a world of possibilities, and a landscape unlike anything that can be seen on land. From snorkeling with the sharks in Belize’s Ambergris Caye to gliding along the surface between two tectonic plates in Iceland’s Silfra Fissure, the opportunities are endless.
Inexpensive, cheaply-made snorkeling gear can wreak havoc on a snorkeling expedition. Masks can frequently leak, leading to repetitive trips to surface. These masks can also fog up, obscuring your vision and potentially leading to harm.
Low quality snorkels lack a one-way valve. This can result in sucking down mouthfuls of salt water when you expected to be breathing fresh air.
Why Choose a Snorkel Gear Set Instead of Single Pieces?
Typically, you can find snorkel gear in sets or as individual pieces. Sets are at a minimum the snorkel and mask, but can also come with fins and/or a gear bag. There are many potential benefits of purchasing a gear set compared to putting one together piecewise.
Obviously, the primary benefit is cost. When sold together, a gear set will almost always be less expensive compared to purchasing the pieces individually. Another benefit is the convenience for those looking to snorkel on a trip, or are snorkeling for the first time. Additionally, a gear set is comprised of items that pair well together, and suit a similar budgetary range and skill level.
Without any further ado, here are our selections for the best snorkeling gear sets on the market, based on extensive analysis, research and testing of our own.
Mask window is not curved to allow for strong periphery viewing
In-bag rinses proves difficult. This is alleviated by simply upturning the bag after a rinse
Lack of loops at the end makes it difficult to grab with wet or sunscreen-covered hands
Our most recommended overall snorkel gear set is the Cressi Palau Mask Fin Snorkel Set. One of the highest rated and most purchased sets, this offering provides purchasers many superior features.
The Onda Mask offers a double gasket, soft, clear silicone skirt that is resistant to leaks. This mask provides a stellar, snug fit on any face, without discomfort or leaking. This high-quality suction also prevents fogging from occurring as easily when compared to alternative mask options.
Supernova Dry snorkels could be the most effective snorkels on the market. They come standard with the Palau. These snorkels work wonderfully for keeping water out of breathing tubes. They also stay remarkably sealed amidst waves and chop.
The Rondinefins of the Palau are functional and simple. They were developed to be strong and stiff, and have solid points of attachment between the fin and strap.
Odds are strong you can’t walk out your back door and hop into the water with your snorkel gear. For this reason, having portable gear that travels well and doesn’t break down over time is crucial. The Palau may be the perfect option if you rank durabilty as one of the top priorities in your purchasing decision list.
Overall, this might be one of the most cost-effective and high-quality snorkel gear sets currently on the market.
The Seavenger Voyager Snorkeling Set is a wonderful value option for those looking to get into snorkeling, but either on a budget or don’t want to spend too much on their starter set. The process is simple to carry and store, as the set comes with a very high-quality gear bag for the price, and a zipper closure.
Even with its lower price point, the Voyager set has surprising reliability and durability. The liquid-injected silicone mask forms tightly to the face to prevent water intrusion. Additionally, the added soft-flexing vented fins enable snorkelers’ agility in direction changes and speed.
The one-way purge valve and top snorkel features of the Seavenger Voyager’s snorkel provide breathability equivalent to snorkels triple the price. Also, the single lens mask provides incredible viewing.
Overall, this is a wonderful option for those on a budget looking to get started in the wild and wonderful world of snorkeling.
Those with larger noses may find the mask too tight
Promate’s snorkeling set offering is a complete beginner snorkeling set with fins, dry snorkel, whistle, gear bag, life jacket and frameless snorkeling mask. The mask comes with a quick release swivel buckle and fits many face types. Its no-frame design and large tempered glass lens provided us a clear field of vision for the duration of our testing.
The Promate’s fins are open-heeled with a comfortable foot pocket and a vented design. Quick release buttons allow for quick removal when resting or adjusting. When purchasing, users can select either a single or double strap for the gear bag.
Additionally, this package’s snorkel has been developed for longer snorkeling excursions, and has a dry valve for quick dives without swallowing mouthfuls of water. The fit is comfortable, and jaw fatigue minimal with a pre-curved silicone flexible mouthpiece. Ridges lower sections and silicone purge valves provide good draining. This is a perfect setup for those starting out in snorkeling.
Overall, the Promate Snorkeling Set, with its added vest is the ideal choice for beginners ready to dive into snorkeling but unsure as to the safety aspect.
The Lux Platinum from US Divers provides snorkelers with a true, 180-degree panoramic viewpoint with its four-window mask design. The tempered glass and silicone hypoallergenic mask skirt offer some of the highest comfort levels we have tested.
The ergonomically-friendly mouthpiece does a wonderful job of keeping water from entering the tube. A high-quality one-way purge valve with this dry top snorkel also ensures no water is inhaled when doing quick dives and submersions.
Another stand out feature is the attached GoPro action camera mount so you can capture the underwater beauty hands-free.
Vented composite dual blades of the fins provide plenty of energy savings and insane power when paddling and snorkeling. Additionally, a softer foot pocket than most competing fins ensures a solid fit. Also, the vented gear bag provides quick in-bag rinsing and has convenient shoulder straps for comfortable travel.
For those looking for a super high quality, professional level snorkel set at a reasonable price, the US Divers Lux Platinum is an attractive option.
High quality silicone skirt does a great job at preventing water entry
Several steps taken to keep water from entering snorkel when splashing
Fins made for quick packing and travel
Mesh carry bag does not have additional storage pockets
Teardrop lens on mask may not be suitable for all
The Seavenger Junior may be the perfect snorkeling option for children and teenagers on the market today. Developed for extended use, Seavenger’s product offerings are known for their longevity. This set contains a high-quality mask, durable fin set, dry snorkel, and mesh gear bag for easy in-bag rinsing.
Frameless masks are a sought-after option in snorkeling, and the Seavenger Junior might be one of the few well-manufactured frameless, panoramic tempered glass masks for kids. The skirt is high-grade silicone, providing a watertight seal for those who may be thrashing around more than experienced snorkelers.
The dry snorkel has a splash guard to protect against wild movements, and an effective purging valve to avoid water intrusion into the snorkel. An angled mouthpiece prevents jaw fatigue, and flexible barrel ensures longer snorkeling excursions with the kids.
Fins with vented blades are smaller, but produce great thrust with minimal churning of the water and reduced fatigue. The plastic mesh gear bag works for quick in bag rinsing and dries like a dream. It is conveient for transportation for kiddos who are always on the go.
Overall, for those looking for a great option for the young ones in their life, the Seavenger Junior is a solid choice for safety, security and value.
We spent ample time diving into snorkel gear set options across the Internet. We researched both obscure and well-known brandings. We also read through countless reviews, and spoke with relevant experts through the course of our research.
Based on this research, our conversations, and our own experiences snorkeling all over the globe, we concluded that well-build snorkeling gear sets are a beautiful balance of materials and fit of the four main pieces: the face mask, fins, snorkel, and storage bag.
1. Face Mask
Solid face masks on snorkel gear sets should be comprised of high-impact tempered glass. If the mask lens is also angled at the edge for peripheral and panoramic visibility, that is also a bonus. Some may tout the benefits of tints that enhance contrast, or lenses that reduce glare. However, these might serve to drive the price of these gear sets upwards, and are not vital to a high-quality snorkel mask.
Face Mask Strap Features
Additionally, higher-quality masks have wider straps that are simple to adjust and fit snugly across the back of the head. Lower-quality mask straps will attach to the silicone skirt, while better alternatives may attach directly to the mask frame. The strongest bet is also a strap with a simple ratcheting feature. This allows for quick and easy adjustments as needed.
Discoveries when Testing Masks
While we were running our analyses, we quickly discovered that the strongest snorkel gear sets had more pliable face skirts, and gaskets on the outer and inner edges. This works to ensure water-tight masks regardless of facial shape. Also, well-made masks should provide a comfortable and even level of pressure around the face.
To ensure a proper fit, place the mask on your face, brush away all hair, breathe in through the nose and make sure you create good, lasting suction.
Keep the strap high on the back of your head and above your ears to prevent slipping and water from entering the mask.
Clear your mask when in the water by applying pressure to the top, exhaling through your nose, and looking up. With purge masks, press on the sides and perform the steps above.
Face Mask Test Results of Our Chosen Snorkeling Gear Sets
While two of our chosen options had standard flat single-pane lenses, and the Cressi Palau came with the standard split lens, there were a few standouts. The Seavenger Junior’s face mask was slightly curved and teardrop-shaped. While this can be a great enhancement over standard tempered glass flat lenses, this can also result in distortion, and an “objects in mirror are closer than they appear” feeling.
The star of the show was the US Divers Lux Platinum snorkel mask, which came with a four-pane panoramic lens option. This provides tempered glass not only on the front, but also on both sides, allowing for a true full view that shows obstacles and underwater features in your periphery as well. The experience is far and above more exhilarating than the standard flat front mask.
All masks we tested came with higher-quality silicone skirts. These skirts kept water out very well. However, the Promate Snorkeling Set’s fit may cause water intrusion for those with larger noses.
Solid snorkeling fins have easy-to-adjust foot pockets and heel straps that remain comfortable after hours of use. Additionally, fin straps, much like the face masks, should have ratcheting systems for quick adjustments on the go, as well as wider heel sections for spreading of pressure.
Another benefit to look for in proper snorkeling fins are loops at the end of the heel straps, which allow for adjustments while already in the water. Fins should also provide a solid balance of rigidness and flexibility in the water. They should feel firm on the down stroke, and then flexible on the up stroke. In most cases, lengths in the range of 17” to 24” were the sweet spot for snorkelers on the go.
For proper fit, place your foot in the pocket, stand, and lift your heel up and down. If snug, the fit is great.
It is important to note that, in most cases, there is no set left and right fin.
For kicking while snorkeling, ensure to perform long, slow kicks. Move your legs from your hips and bend your knees. Keep the fins underwater, and keep your arms to the side to prevent fatigue.
Fin Test Results of Our Chosen Snorkeling Gear Sets
All five of our snorkeling gear sets came with high quality fins. Standouts were the Cressi Palau, with its durable attachment points and minimal design, and the US Divers Lux Platinum, with its vented composite dual blades. All five options were vented, however the Seavenger Junior was smaller than the others. This is fine for children, and can be cross-compatible with other options.
Snorkeling is meant to be a lower intensity activity, calming and leisurely, and very different from diving. However, a high-quality snorkel should provide a high volume of air to the user, and should also offer minimal restrictiveness when breathing heavily.
The top snorkels that we tested are developed with top splash guards. These are designed to prevent water entry into the snorkel. Also, they had locking dry valves. These serve to maintain a water-free snorkel tube if submerged under a wave or during a quick dive.
Additionally, it is important to find a snorkel with replaceable silicone purge valves. If water does collect at the snorkel’s base, this valve will assist in expelling it.
Mouthpieces should also be aimed to not cause any jaw fatigue, even when snorkeling for hours on end.
To ensure a proper fit, bite gently down on the bite tabs, then put your lips on the mouthpiece. Your lips make the seal to prohibit water entry. Then, don’t smile!
One of the best tips we found to properly clear water out of a snorkel is to loudly say the number “two”. This forces the water out of the purge valve.
Breath deep and slow relaxed breaths, while looking out at a 45-degree angle. Most importantly, keep your snorkel out of the water.
Snorkel Test Results of Our Chosen Snorkeling Gear Sets
While the five options in our list were all considered dry snorkels, there were a few standouts in both the positive and negative directions. As expected, both the Cressi Palau and the US Divers Lux Platinum snorkels exceeded expectations with their prohibition of water intrusion when splashing.
However, the Seavenger Voyager was not as watertight as we had hoped. Keeping in mind that this is the budget option, we were not expecting the level of usability that we expected from the other two models, though.
Additionally, the Promate option occasionally clogged up when doing short dives, requiring us to exhale heavily when surfacing, which was slightly inconvenient. All five models provided strong anti-fatigue properties in the jaw area, allowing for extended snorkeling without the need for long breaks for jaw recovery.
4. Gear Bag
All snorkel sets worth their weight come complete with a storage bag. The highest quality gear bags come with either a mesh section or a type of drain plug. These facilitate in-bag rinsing and draining in freshwater environments. Also, higher quality snorkeling gear set bags will be heavy-duty enough to also function as carry-on bags when necessary.
Gear Bag Test Results of Our Chosen Snorkeling Gear Sets
All five gear bags were unique in their own ways. The Cressi Palau, while our best overall option, did not have materials that would provide in-bag rinsing effortlessly. The Seavenger Voyager gear bag was extremely heavy duty, and worked surprisingly well for rinsing for our budget option.
Conversely, the Seavenger Junior came with a mesh bag, which was great for in-bag rinses, but did not travel as well as we would have hoped, and lacked additional pockets.
The Promate model was the shining star for gear bags, with incredible comfort, quick and effortless rinsing in-bag, and plenty of room for a second or even a third set of snorkeling gear! The provided vest fit snugly into the bag.
Overall Performance Score
How We Test?
Unboxing and Preparation
Upon delivery, we inspected all snorkels, masks, fins and bags straight out of the box. We checked for imperfections, cracks, scuffs, tears, and any signs of damage. For the sets that we featured in the above list, not a single flaw was uncovered upon unboxing. Sets with fins were delivered with inserts that prevented fin creasing and deforming during transit.
Protip: keep these, and use them when transporting your fins.
Gear bags that were tested spanned an array of materials, from fabric hand-stitched options with thick, backpack-style straps to simple pull-strap mesh bags for easy rinsing.
We then checked snorkeling sets for potential points of failure. Unlike standard swimming goggles, which come standard and singular piece-wise, masks and sets have a good number of potential issue areas. Some of the most common pain point areas include:
Broken straps where the snorkel connects to the mask
Strap struggles where the mask and head strap cradle connect
Issues where the fin meets the foot
To test this before hitting the water, we pulled on the straps, yanked on the fins and connections at the head strap, and stretched the clips, all to ensure that there were no issues. For the snorkel gear sets we selected, there were no issues, and everything remained intact and strong.
Testing Suction and Snorkels in the Water
We then went into the water, testing the snorkels, fins and masks in a freshwater swimming pool. In the pool, we checked several factors including:
Repetitive quick diving with masks to check for issues with suction
Kicking intensely with provided fins to see if they loosened or fell off
Submerging into the deepest part of the pool to test equalization of pressure via nose squeeze
Additionally, we tested the purging process of the snorkels with both air and water, to ensure they expelled water as anticipated. The snorkels that were considered “dry” we dove underwater to test, and then to double check surfaced and had someone splash repeatedly to try and bypass valve chambers.
Checking for Fogginess
We headed to some warm waters and proceeded to float down a river where the water temperature was far cooler than the air temperature. This was the perfect combination to breed heavy mask fogging. While floating down-river, we also utilized the time to check on propulsion power of provided fins in some of the snorkel gear sets.
Frequently Asked Questions on Snorkeling Equipment
While snorkeling may seem like a simple hobby, the nuances can become complicated quickly. There are many questions raised when researching, using and maintaining a high-quality set of snorkel equipment. Some of these questions include:
If you are planning to only casually snorkel one to two times in your lifetime of traveling, it’s more economically sustainable to rent snorkeling gear when you reach your destination. Renting full snorkel gear sets can save on packing space, especially considering the bulkiness of fins.
If you prefer to bring your personal snorkel gear, but are tight on space, it is suggested that you just rent the fins. Masks and snorkels are rather light, and take up minimal baggage space. Additionally, both shoe and full-foot fins are sized very much like shoes. For this reason, finding a pair of rental fins with a comfortable fit is far easier than finding a mask that will match your face shape.
Additional reasons to bring your own snorkeling gear instead of renting:
Not having a snorkel that has been in other people’s mouth
Avoiding the possibility that a snorkel gear rental shop has run out of properly-sized equipment
Renting low quality materials that leak or malfunction when in the water
If you have no alternative but to rent your gear, we highly suggest finding a dive resort to rent from. Almost all dive resorts have people looking to snorkel and not dive. These professionals can ensure that you receive the proper equipment for your needs and sizing.
Possibly the most important reason for buying and carrying your own snorkel gear instead of renting is the price point. For example, checking Maui’s Snorkel Bob website for snorkel kit rentals, an adult kit for one week is $58. For that same price, you can purchase your own mid-range snorkel gear set and never have to worry about rentals.
What Snorkeling Gear Do You Need?
As mentioned previously, a complete snorkeling set is comprised of four vital parts:
A high-quality snorkeling mask, preferably with a tempered glass lens and silicone skirt, adjustable strap, and connections on the mask itself.
A snorkel tube with multiple valve stops, to prevent water from entering the mouthpiece, and eventually your mouth on an inhale.
Fins, preferably “short fins”, which are perfect for slower treading along the surface common with most snorkeling outings. Longer fins are ideal for quicker movements common with diving.
A storage bag with either a mesh section or a type of drain plug to facilitate in-bag rinsing and draining in freshwater environments.
Many snorkeling gear sets for sale came with just a snorkel and mask. This is fine, as these two items are the only true requirements to begin snorkeling. However, adding fins and a gear bag may go a long way to ensure the most enjoyable snorkeling experience.
What Is the Best Brand of Snorkel Gear?
Who makes the best snorkeling gear? This question is likely up to the unique needs of the snorkeler. However, there are six brands that dominate most of the higher-quality snorkeling gear sets that can be found online and in dive shops around the world: Cressi, AquaLung, US Divers (owned by AquaLung), Promate, TUSA and Seavenger.
Is a Full-Face Snorkeling Mask Right for You?
Full-face snorkeling masks are quickly gaining steam, and are exploding in popularity. They have many advantages and disadvantages compared to the standard snorkeling mask and snorkel combo. Some of the advantages include:
Inhalation and exhalation are more natural when done through the nose or mouth, instead of just the mouth with a regular snorkel.
As a full-face mask forms a seal around the entire face, it drastically decreases the chance for water to enter the mask when moving your mouth.
Full breathing circulation means fogginess is far less common with full-face masks. Many full-face masks also have two vents, letting air circulate within the mask.
Many full-face snorkeling masks provide curved lenses, which extend behind peripheral vision and offer a full 180-degree view.
However, there are some disadvantages that are common with full-face snorkeling masks:
Free diving is impossible, as restricted nose access limits your ability to equalize pressure buildup in the ears that increases as you dive. Additionally, when descending in a free dive, increased air pressure creates strong suction on the face. This suction can be relieved with a standard snorkeling mask by breathing out the nose. With a full-face mask, there is no pressure release option available.
One obvious disadvantage is the bulkiness. Full-face snorkeling masks are far larger and bulkier than their traditional counterparts.
Those who purchase full face masks for snorkeling fail to learn the basic nuances of standard, separated masks and snorkels. They are very easy to use, however, simple and critical processes (like clearing) are unlearned as a result.
Can I Go Snorkeling with Glasses?
When snorkeling, it is imperative to be able to see clearly. This not only promotes safety, but also enhances the snorkeling experience. While it is near impossible to wear glasses with a properly fitted snorkeling mask, those who are dependent on glasses have many methods to clearly see when underwater.
Two of the most common methods to ensure proper eyesight when snorkeling is wearing contact lenses with a snorkeling mask. An alternative for those who can’t or do not wish to wear contracts is wearing a snorkeling mask with a prescription lens.
Prescription Snorkeling Lenses
The most reliable option is looking at snorkeling masks that are pre-made with prescription lenses. These can be found at any reasonably-sized dive shop. Many available prescription-lensed masks will provide the same prescription level in each eye. This being the case, if your eyes vary drastically in prescriptions, or if your eyesight is far worse than average, it might be a better idea to go for a custom option.
If no pre-made prescription masks work for your eyesight, select a high quality standard mask, and then take it to an optician specializing in prescription masks. They can replace the original lenses, or insert the new lenses over the originals. Most of these opticians can develop lenses for farsightedness, nearsightedness, or astigmatism.
How to Prevent Fogging of Your Snorkel Mask?
Fogging of snorkeling masks is very much preventable. It is crucial for the proper viewing and enjoyment of your snorkeling experience. When done correctly, you should not have any fogging issues in your mask. Instead, you should be greeted with crystal clear vision.
It might come as a surprise that the main reason a snorkel mask fogs up is dirt and debris. Moisture that forms inside a mask needs something to attach to. This something is oil and dirt buildup in the mask and lens. Super clean masks are less susceptible to moisture accumulation, and the moisture will instead collect at the bottom of the mask versus fogging up.
Additionally, moisture attaches to small imperfections present in the mask glass. It is for this reason that baby shampoos, anti-fog solution, and trusty saliva work. These act as surfactants that can reduce condensing water surface tension. This makes the moisture far less likely to cling to the glass.
Ways to Prevent Fogging
One of the primary methods to ensure snorkeling masks stay un-fogged is to frequently clean the mask. Once clean, avoid touching and smudging the inside. Cleaning should take place with an object, and not your finger, where oils can be transferred.
The most effective snorkel mask cleaning method is toothpaste and a toothbrush. Apply a small amount and scrub the mask lens with warm water, then rinse thoroughly. If you have a lens that is not glass, utilize dish soap and a soft cloth, so as not to scratch the plastic.
Additionally, utilize anti-fog solution each time you snorkel. The least expensive option is a mild combination of water and baby shampoo. Alternatively, use a branded anti-fogging solution such as Jaws Quick Spit.
Spray the solution into your snorkeling mask and swirl it thoroughly. Ensure the solution touches all inside surfaces of the glass. Resist the urge to rub the solution in.
Rinse the mask quickly one time with fresh or salty water.
Put the mask quickly onto your dry face, shaking out water droplets beforehand.
Do not remove or clear the mask unless necessary. Enter the water with a dry face and a dry mask, and resist removing the mask while snorkeling.
If worst comes to worst and you are in the water and need to de-fog, spit in the mask and shake it around to coat the glass. Dump it, rinse it, and put it back on. Again, don’t touch the glass. If the problem persists time and time again, ask your local dive shop about mask burning, in which a coating may need to be burned off the mask.
How Should I Clean and Care for My Snorkel Gear?
We could go on for hours about the proper maintenance and care routines for snorkeling gear. Instead, we have condensed them into these tips:
Rinse your snorkeling gear after each use. The combination of sunlight, salt water and chlorine can cause silicone stiffening and degradation. Additionally, sand gets everywhere, which can affect valve movement. For this reason, selecting a snorkeling gear set with a bag that allows for in-bag rinses can make quick work of the rinsing process.
There are some snorkeling masks that experience off-gas silicone buildup on the lenses, leading to increased risk of fogging. To alleviate this, test it out on land for a bit. If it starts fogging, an option to eradicate the off-gassing is to scrub the inside of the mask with non-abrasive white toothpaste and then rinse thoroughly.
Compounds to reduce fogging in inexpensive plastic swimming goggles differ from high-quality glass diving masks, and should not be utilized for both mask types. Additionally, some compounds can cause damage and deterioration to a mask.
In addition to the above, anti-fogging compounds can be serious eye irritants. Instead, a thick layer of saliva rubbed into the lenses (the old-fashioned way) works as a stellar surfactant. It spreads water molecules out to inhibit fogging.
Wrapping Things Up
It is so vital to select the proper gear for snorkeling. Having a well-built and properly-fitted snorkel gear set can make or break an excursion. This is especially true when snorkeling with children or beginners, where first impression experiences truly matter.
This being the case, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of options that all seem to be the same.
Hopefully our buying guide has provide enough information and professional insight to make the purchasing decision a little easier for you.
Being able to strap on a well-fitting mask, high-quality snorkel and snug set of fins and glide right into the water can mean a world of difference for your perspective on snorkeling.
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Price last updated on 2019-01-19. Links & images are from Amazon Product Advertising API. Our editors independently research, test and recommend the best products and services. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article at no additional cost to you.