You want the best snorkel gear that you can get for a decent price. Something that’s going to last long, be safe for you and the kids while being efficient, but not put a huge hole in your wallet.
Update Feb 2018: We often revisit this page to keep the data accurate. Over the years only small details have changed and we currently stand by the 6 brands talked about below.
What are the Best Snorkel Gear Brands?
- US Divers
Best Snorkel Brands Quick Reference Table:
|Brand||Popular Set||Price Range||Favorite Sets|
|Brand||Popular Set||Price Range||Favorite Sets|
|Most sets will run between $45 all the way up to $99. We think you can get a good AquaLung snorkel set anywhere in this price range.|
|One of the best snorkel sets we've ever seen is made by Cressi, the $280+ Cressi Gara is a professional free diving snorkel set that outshines most others.|
|Mid $30 range (depending on sizes in most cases) to the high $60 and low $70 range. US Divers makes a huge line of snorkel gear that is versatile and which anyone can find a winner.|
|Decent snorkel sets starting mid $30s and ranging up to high $90s for their best recreational snorkel gear sets.|
|TUSA is a set that we use often. They have a higher price range at $50 to $95 but they're very comfortable and get the job done really well.|
|Seavenger puts together some really good snorkel sets. Don't discount them because they are last on this list. You may be sorry.|
You’re going on vacation or you just moved to an area where the snorkeling is out of this world. You went snorkeling once, renting some cheap gear, and now you want to buy your own snorkel gear and make that adventure into a hobby. Boom. Welcome to the club.
The 6 Best Snorkel Gear Brands You Can Buy Detailed Info
Aqua Lung doesn’t really make a snorkeling set that I don’t like. Everything I’ve tried on by them and used has been comfortable and resilient. Their “little brother”, US Divers-whom they own-makes decent gear but we’ve had clips break and masks leak. Aqua Lung does it right 99% of the time.
Admittedly, Cressi is a snorkeling brand that I haven’t had a lot of experience with. (Feb 2018: We have now had extensive time with Cressi snorkel gear.) I have had the opportunity to use and review a few items though, and they’ve all performed really well. We’ve grown to really admire Cressi and their gear since starting this site. They’re a great water sports and activity company that has been doing it a long time.
The little brother company of Aqua Lung. They make good snorkel gear for a better price than most. The thing I like best about US Divers snorkel gear sets is that they have a lot of color options to appease those who want to look good in the water. Also, as stated above, I’ve had several of their snorkel-to-mask clips break on me in the water as I was trying to adjust it.
Promate makes the best kids snorkel gear that we’ve found since we started reviewing snorkel sets. Some of their adult stuff is suspect to the claims they make but a lot of their gear stands up really, really, well in the water. The company makes some really great snorkel equipment, that’s why you’ll often see wholesalers and providers bunching Promate gear with other pieces.
TUSA is one of the brands that we use as a personal set. The silicone is ultra soft and the mask seal is great. One of the thing that we like the most about our TUSA gear is the maneuverability of the soft silicone between the plastic of the snorkel and the mouthpiece. It really is softer and more comfortable than the others from my experience.
This is another brand that ranks pretty highly on the snorkeling sets that we’ve reviewed. The only reason that Seavenger is number 6 on our list is the carry bag..which is a big deal to us. Without a good bag then you can’t carry your gear or you have to buy another, better snorkel gear bag. I just don’t like the feel of the straps on my shoulder and the plastic/mesh bags that Seavenger provides are just below our level of quality.
Full Face Snorkel Masks
Gaining particular popularity in the snorkel gear world are full face snorkel masks. These masks are perfect for those who find snorkeling particularly challenging because of any or all of the following issues:
Breathing through the Snorkel: It may seem easy to do but some people have real difficulty in taking the nose out of the equation when it comes to breathing. Having to inhale and exhale through the mouth is not how people breath naturally.Full face snorkel masks are designed specifically for a person to breathe underwater just like they would on land. It’s a more natural way to breathe and more comfortable for many people. Also, because of the design of full-face snorkel masks, the viewing field doesn’t fog up like you would think it would with heavy breathing through the mouth.
Facial Hair: While there still isn’t an answer to those guys with full beards when it comes to snorkeling, those with large and bushy mustaches can now snorkel in comfort. With traditional snorkel mask, men with a mustache would need to constantly worry about the seal of the mask. They would need to buy mustache wax and cake it on their upper lip hair in hopes that the silicone of the mask and the wax would form a good enough seal to allow them to snorkel with everyone else.
With full face snorkel masks, the ability of the mask to seal around the entire face and not just the upper part of it, allows facial haired men around the world to snorkel. Hooray!
Claustrophic feeling: Let’s face it; the snorkel in the mouth and a tight, enclosed mask is not the optimal situation for relaxing. Traditional masks can even be there own worst enemy because some of the darker silicone mask skirts only enhance the feeling of being trapped or “squeezed” and also reduce the amount of light coming in so that the eyes can’t see as well underwater. The full face snorkel masks have a very large viewing area; up, down, left and right. This lessens the feeling of being squeezed, allows more light in to see optimally underwater, and provides huge views that allow you to see the most that is available for viewing under the sea.
Our Review Criteria
When we review our snorkel sets, there are a couple of things we look for and a couple of things that we tend to dismiss. What We Look For:
- Quality of carrying Bag
- Dry Snorkel
What We Dismiss:
- How snazzy the colors are-We are more concerned with safety and operability.
- We usually won’t review non-named brand sets. We trust in the typical authorities but are always on the lookout for new and awesome gear. Many of the snorkel brands you haven’t heard of on Amazon are those who are trying to make a buck by having a foreign manufacturer make a snorkel set and throwing a name on it.
What Snorkel Gear Do You Need to Buy?
Going snorkeling is one of the greatest experiences that you will ever have in the water. Not only do adults become mesmerized by the marine life just below the surface of the water, but it is a great nature lesson for kids. Take all the pictures you can. Enjoy the moments while they last. Once your snorkeling time is over you’ll often think back to what a great time you had and the amazing sea life that you witnessed: sea turtles, seals, colorful fish, eels, octopi, and gorgeous living coral reef. Having the best snorkeling gear that you need can be the difference between having the time of your life and becoming frustrated because your snorkeling experience was degraded by a leaky mask, fogged lenses, faulty fins, a snorkel that kept filling with water, and a bad sunburn. Most people don’t even know what snorkel gear to buy. Snorkel Store has got you covered!
I already know what I want!
Here’s our comprehensive snorkel buying guide that will tell what snorkel gear you need to buy and why; from the essentials to the important, to the items that will ensure that your snorkeling experience is luxurious time to remember and to capture the video and picture that you need to keep forever. Here we go!
What is Essential Snorkel Gear?
- Carry bag
What other gear makes snorkeling more fun and comfortable?
- Mask Defogger
- Beach towel
Before you even get too deep into this page, we want you to know that we appreciate you trusting us in you snorkel gear needs and please don’t hesitate to reach out via the Contact Page if you need personal advice.
Best Snorkel Gear Must Haves!
This is the best snorkel gear that we usually recommend here at SnorkelStore.net. Unless you’re a seasoned snorkeler who is already looking to upgrade their current snorkeling gear, buying a good snorkeling set is certainly the way to go! If you’re new to snorkeling and/or going on a vacation where snorkeling will be taking place then you could find everything that you need in a snorkeling set of your choice. There are some really nice, quality snorkeling set manufacturers. While choosing your snorkeling gear “piece-by-piece” may ensure a better fit, it can also be more expensive. Also, some people do not have access to dive shops and snorkeling shops where you would have to go to truly get a “perfect fit”. If this is your situation then you can purchase a snorkel set online.
PRO TIP: Pay attention to what people are saying in the reviews in regards to “fit” and “fitting”. This should provide great data on getting a set that fits well and provides a great snorkeling experience. Some of the better snorkeling set manufacturers are: Aqualung, U.S. Divers (an Aqualung subsidiary), Seavenger, Cressi, and Phantom Aquatics.
Full Face Masks
In the last 5 years or so the trending boom in snorkeling has been in the full face snorkel mask movement. These mask cover the entire face which eliminates the need for a separate mask and snorkel. These masks make it easier to breath underwater (just like on land as some of the ads say) and great assist those who can’t snorkel with traditional sets due to discomfort, lack of confidence, gag reflex, and even facial hair. There is some debate as whether they are actually “better” or not but we would like everyone to have the opportunity to snorkel if they’d like and if a full face mask like the Ocean Reef Aria, Tribord, or Seaview 180 make it possible then we say go for it!
The main thing you’re looking for when trying to purchase a quality snorkeling mask is to make sure that it has a 100% silicone skirt (the skirt is the part that seals the mask to your face to prevent leakage). Snorkel masks can come in a wide variety of colors and styles. Some have dual-lenses, some have one single large lens and others have a panoramic feature with 4 windows. Make sure that you try to get a mask that fits you perfectly. Also to note, at snorkeling specialty locations you can get a prescription snorkeling mask for those that wear glasses.
PRO TIP: How to Defog Snorkel Masks
The main tip is to ensure that you have a proper fitting mask and then leaving that mask on as much as possible while snorkeling. Taking it on and off causes more fog on the lens. There a few ways to defog a snorkel mask and keep it from fogging:
1. Defogger: You can buy an inexpensive bottle of mask defoggermask defogger here. A few drips and rubbing it around works great.
2. Baby shampoo (no tears) mixed one part to 2 parts water. Put it in a small spray bottle and you can quickly defog an entire group.
3. Au Natural: Spit. As nasty as it sounds (and another reason you should buy snorkel gear rather than rent or use) the process works well. Spit in your mask, rub the spit around and rinse in salt water will keep the fog away for a bit. Not as effective as the other two options. Last but not least, here’s a detailed post on how to fit a snorkel mask.
Three types of snorkels:
- Dry Snorkel
We always recommend “dry snorkels”. These are snorkels with a valve like the cover at the top of the tube that closes when you submerge to prevent water from entering your tube as well as preventing surface splashes from entering above water. A notch down from this is the “splash proof” snorkels that prevent splash water from getting in but don’t seal as you submerge. Good snorkels also have a purge valve at the bottom that allows you to blow out any water that may have entered the snorkel. Doing this while snorkeling prolongs your time underwater and enjoying your time. Also, while there are 1-piece snorkels, the best type to get are the ones with a flexible silicone tube between the upper tube and mouthpiece so that you can adjust for the most comfort.
Note: Snorkels come in different makes and feel. There are rigid, soft, and even roll up snorkels that can be stowed in a small case and carried in a pocket. There are dry snorkels and traditional snorkels. Each person has their preferences and each type has pros and cons. If you wanted a detailed version of the different types of snorkels and tubes then go ahead and read our guide here.
There are fins with closed and open heel and there are lots of fins that come now in a convenient, shorter, travel size (these are often billed as “great for bodyboarding”, “trek fins“, or something of the sort. Depending on your skill level and swimming ability, the choices for fins are wide. Two things that we want to note: You don’t need to spend a couple of hundred of dollars on diving fins and you want to make sure that your foot fits comfortably into the fin without the need for “bootys”. The will be the ones that fit comfortably and that you can easily put on and take off. There are some that are better made than others but, in most cases, you’re snorkeling and you won’t require a lot of power and speed. With that in mind, the more propulsion and power that you have is better in some situations.
Things to remember about fins:
- Open heel fins are adjustable and will more likely to fit months to years after.
- Closed heel may be snugger and reduce the chance of coming off in the water.
- Standard size fins are usually fine for snorkeling and even SCUBA
- Travel size or “trek” fins are great for packing and luggage and easier to put and off in the water but they provide less propulsion through the water.
- Long Fins are most often used by skin divers, free divers, spear fishermen, and SCUBA folks. Unless you’re in open water and/or need more power then we don’t feel that long fins are necessary for most snorkeling experiences.
Many people wouldn’t put a quality snorkel bag on their list of snorkeling necessities, but we do. Getting a good snorkel bag that holds all of your snorkeling gear (to include a towel, sunscreen, rashguard, defogger, and lunch!) with padded shoulder straps…and that’s a bonus that you’ll soon be thankful for. Many of the best snorkeling destinations around the world are not “snorkeling tours” where you’re dropped off by a bus or boated out with a guide. Our most common place to snorkel is in Hawaii and there are many, many quality snorkeling spots all over the islands that may require a short hike to get to. Snorkeling gear bags are necessities.
Note: We usually advocate buying snorkeling sets, however, we are yet to be blown away by a snorkeling bag that comes with a set. We highly recommend that you purchase and upgraded, better quality bag for your snorkel gear.
You’ll be out in the sun a lot. Even if you buy a rashguard(below) then you’ll still need to put sunscreen on your legs, back of your neck, head and face. You’ll also be spending the majority of your snorkeling time belly down, with your back in the air and under the hot, blazing sun…and you won’t even notice that is getting cooked because you’re into your snorkeling adventure and there is water splashing it and cooling it. We can’t stress enough how important this is to your health and comfort. Nothing can ruin a great vacation by being to sun burned to do anything after one day at the beach or on/in the water: Do yourself a favor and apply quality sunscreen generously to your entire body (extra coat on your back and head!) Don’t get cancer. Don’t get burned. Read our rash guard guide.
Important Snorkel Equipment:
You don’t need this snorkeling equipment but it makes the experience safer and better!
Keeping your mask defogged is pretty important to your snorkeling enjoyment but it also has to do with safety, in our opinion. If you’re mask is constantly fogging up and you need to stop, pull it off, rinse it and then spit in it again and again…you’re going to be putting yourself in a precarious situation, especially when you’re in deeper water as you try to tread in place and defog your mask. Buy a defogger and you’ll rarely even notice that you have a mask on at times. Mask defogger is probably the greatest piece of equipment to buy other than your actual snorkeling gear.
Rashguards are the best possible option for the person who wants to stay protected from the sun and not have to apply sunscreen several times a day. They also help protect the skin from accidental bumps and scrapes from coral. Just make sure that you’re buying a rashguard with sun protection factor (SPF). We’ve taken the time write a guide on how to pick out and determine which snorkel rash guards are best for you.
Snorkeling vests are basically inflatable vests that you wear to aid in your snorkeling, floating, and balance. They keep you from getting fatigued in the water and are also a safety item. NOTE: They are NOT life-preservers or personal flotation devices. They are for ASSISTANCE only! Wantinga snorkel vest and needing a snorkeling vest are two very different things. Many snorkeling companies and tours will require that you wear them. They don’t care how strong of a swimmer you are…they don’t want to be responsible for your drowning. However, strong swimmers also use snorkeling vests for a better experience. Snorkeling vests make snorkeling and floating easier and they enrich the experience for many who prefer to wear them.
Read our snorkeling vest buying guide!
Items that make Snorkeling a Better Time
Call these things “luxury items” that you may or may not depend on your snorkeling style!
Waterproof cases aren’t paramount to snorkeling. If you’re snorkeling from a beach then this is really just a precaution. However, if you’re doing a snorkeling tour from a boat or kayaking out to one of your favorite locations then waterproof cases could protect your electronics, jewelry, wallet, etc. NOTE: I never trust a waterproof plastic bag to put my smartphone in and take pictures underwater.
Water shoe are great for snorkeling, especially when entering the water. Some of the best snorkeling spots in the world are accessible only by entering the water through rocks. Not only do they hurt your feet but they’re also slick with algae and seaweed which could lead to injury. Most people don’t realize that walking gingerly over rocks and sharp objects in the water add to being off-balance which leads to falls and injuries. Many snorkeling fins can fit right over water shoes if you buy them to the correct, large-enough fit. Or, once you have entered the water to a point where you want to put your snorkeling fins on then you can simply toss your water shoes back onto dry land.
We’re not here to sell you on buying an underwater camera for your snorkeling experience but they sure are a lot of fun to capture your experience and keep the memories. (Not to mention, posting all of your awesome snorkeling photos and videos on social media will make all of your friends jealous.) You don’t need a real expensive underwater camera, either. Some inexpensive and even disposable waterproof cameras can take pretty nice images. However, the higher that you buy the better your pictures and videos will be. Currently, I’m using a GoPro Hero 3+ and it’s pretty awesome. However, in the past I have used disposables and a Fuji that I really liked.
Snorkeling Night Lights
This is another thing that you will need if you do a lot of snorkeling and start to do night snorkel trips. If you’re part of a night snorkeling tour then the company and guides should provide these but it may be good to have one of your own, as well.
Mask Strap Hair Guards
The rubber straps of snorkel masks are sticky and tough. Long hair gets caught in them making it painful, hard to take off, and could get in the way of the fit. Mask hair guards are made of neoprene and they cover the mask straps so that hair doesn’t get caught in them as well as evenly dispersing the pressure of the strap over more area so that it’s less painful and doesn’t leave you with big marks on your head and face. If you’re snorkel mask strap hurts you or your hair gets caught in it a lot, then a mask strap hair guard may be just what you need.
Why Snorkel and not SCUBA? It’s really a matter of time, money, and passion. Most people don’t go on vacation and learn to SCUBA dive. It’s much easier to experience the underwater world in some of the tops snorkeling spots on the globe by snorkeling than diving. SCUBA equipment is more expensive. SCUBA takes more time to learn and feel comfortable doing. While some snorkelers will feel like they’re missing something by not diving, most of us are very comfortable and happy to “just” snorkel. Lastly, many people just can’t dive. Whether it be due to some fear or phobia, physical impairments, etc. then snorkeling really puts as close as you can be to underwater life and beauty as you need to be.
Knowing what snorkel gear to buy can really make your snorkeling experience a good one. Haphazardly buying cheap snorkel gear at a local department store just won’t cut it for most snorkeling trips and adventures. Know the best snorkel gear you’ll need and how to choose the best will make your snorkeling experience a great one. Now, it’s time for your to finish your choosing, order that snorkel gear, and start planning your epic snorkel trip! Hopefully you’ll send us pictures when you’re don and had a great time.