If you love snorkelling as much as I do, I recommend investing in a snorkelling kit. While there may be dive sites that offer snorkelling equipment for rent, it’s not always the best option. Ill-fitting gear can lead to several problems while you are underwater. And then there’s the hygiene concern. So, here’s a packing list you can use to ensure a pleasant and safe experience.
1. Snorkelling Mask
Snorkel masks are one of the most vital components of your snorkelling kit. They should fit snorkelers’ face like a glove. If they do not fit right, leaks and blurred vision will be among your issues. A helpful tip to keep in mind is not to buy one online. Visit dive stores instead and try them on. Consider these factors as well:
- Mask size. It’s hard to gauge snorkel mask sizes through numerical measurements alone. Face shapes and sizes are different, after all. A well-fitted mask should have a secure and comfortable seal without air sneaking through.
- Mask skirt. This part is the seal that sticks to your face and prevents water from going into your mask. Double silicone skirts are best as they are more flexible and durable than plastic ones.
- Mask lens. Most snorkel masks have single or dual lenses. A single lens is ideal for clear views, while a dual lens is best for those in need of prescription masks with corrective lenses. Ideally, choose one with impact-resistant tempered glass.
The snorkel is a tube apparatus that allows you to submerge your face in the water and breathe from the surface. At the end of the tube is a mouthpiece, often made from hypoallergenic silicone. Try to avoid plastic mouthpieces to ensure a comfortable fit and avoid jaw fatigue.
A snorkel also needs a clip to attach the apparatus to your mask strap. Test it before buying. Make sure it does not move around or become loose. Snorkels also come in a wide range of designs and features:
- Wet snorkel. This tube can fill up with water if you dive down or a wave comes at you. Snorkelers would have to blow it to expel the water out. Some wet snorkels have a small valve at the bottom to clear the tube. While it’s challenging to use, this type is also the most affordable.
- Semi-dry snorkel. These mid-price snorkels almost always have a valve for easy tube clearing. However, clearing can still get tricky if you dive down.
- Dry snorkel. This one is ideal for first-time snorkelers or those who prefer a pleasant snorkelling experience without getting water in their mouths. It has movable parts to seal the tube and prevent seawater from getting inside. Its efficient and specialised design also explains why this snorkel type can be expensive.
While shopping for gear, you might encounter the relatively new full-face snorkel masks. This option comes with a mask and snorkel combined in one unit to cover your entire face. Some may find it bulky, but after wearing it a few times, you’ll find it comfortable and easy to use. If you want this type, look for a full-face mask with an anti-fog feature, panoramic field of vision and secure face seal.
3. Snorkelling Fins
The fins or flippers are yet another essential piece of equipment for your snorkelling kit. This blade-like footwear gives you the power to move more efficiently underwater and against unpredictable currents.
Like the snorkel mask, a good fit is your priority when buying fins to avoid leaks or blisters. Make sure that the foot pocket is snug but not too tight to cause pain when you move. There are two basic types of snorkel fins:
- Open heel. This type is large, heavy and more rigid. Typically, you need to wear neoprene socks or booties with these fins for a comfy fit. Snorkelers have to kick harder when wearing these fins; however, they also provide more power to let you move faster underwater. They are also a better choice if you’ll be walking on rocks or dead corals.
- Full foot. If you travel a lot to snorkel and love warmer waters, full-foot fins are best as they are more lightweight and less rigid. Snorkelers use them barefoot, making them easier to wear and take off.
4. Other Protective Accessories
Any water sport poses certain risks. And so, aside from a high-quality snorkel set, you may also need a few accessories for added security.
If you often struggle when controlling your buoyancy, a snorkel vest in your snorkelling kit can make things easier. With this safety equipment on, you can inflate or deflate the vest as needed so you can snorkel with more confidence and feel less fatigue. Snorkel vests also often come in high-vis colour and with whistles and pockets for safety.
This stretchable and light top provide sun exposure protection. This way, you won’t need to apply and reapply sunscreen. To some extent, a rash guard can keep you warm underwater, especially if you plan to snorkel for a long time. The extra layer protects your skin from rock or coral scrapes, too. For snorkelling in cold waters, wear neoprene wetsuits for thermal insulation.
Snorkel masks fog up due to temperature difference in and out of the lens. To ensure a clean and clear snorkelling mask, keep a bottle of anti-fog drops in your snorkelling kit. All you need is to squeeze a few drops on the lens, rub, then rinse for fog-free snorkelling.
A mesh bag comes in handy when you need to take a boat ride to and from the snorkelling site. You can use it to store all your wet clothes and snorkelling equipment, then hang it to let them drain and dry. If you plan to buy one, choose a bag that’s big enough for all your snorkelling gear. This way, you won’t lose or forget anything during transport.
If you plan to bring your mobile phone, underwater camera, wallet, first aid kit and similar items to your snorkel trip, then I suggest getting a dry bag instead. This waterproof accessory will keep anything stored inside dry. You can even get a strap with a clip, so you can let the bag float with you while you’re busy exploring the water.
Ready to snorkel? These snorkelling spots in New Zealand are worth checking out!