Purchasing Tips When Looking For Snorkeling Gear
Snorkeling is a great way to get outdoors and experience how our aquatic neighbors spend their days in the deep blue. It’s a common vacation activity that gets the whole family, or friends, involved. From diving in the Great Barrier Reef to snorkeling just offshore of your local beach, the activity is practiced worldwide among seasoned divers and first-time swimmers.
San Diego has some brilliant snorkeling spots
up and down its diverse coastline. So much so that locals and vacationers alike look toward renting and even buying snorkeling gear of their own to wear on independent excursions across the coast. Purchasing snorkeling equipment, however, is a bit different than buying, say, a pair of shoes. That’s why we’re here to help you decipher what to look for in purchasing the three elements of snorkeling gear: the mask, snorkel, and the fins.
Each snorkeling mask is your window into the underwater world. It provides an air pocket for your face to prevent water from seeping inside while maintaining clear vision so you can enjoy the aquatic experience. Correctly fitted, the mask will seal smoothly to your face. To make sure it fits well, hold it against the face without using the strap and breathe in through your nose. If the mask sticks to your face and doesn’t drop when you let it go, then it is a good fit.
Next, make sure the skirt is not pressing upwards under your nose and that there is no pressure against the bridge of your nose and the forehead. To test for comfort underwater, press the mask against your face and see if it is still comfortable. If a little water pressure is going to hurt, then you might not have such a great time.
The snorkel should fit comfortably in your mouth with the top of the breathing tube reaching the crown of your head. Many snorkels are adjustable and can do this with little effort. Therefore, your selection should be based more on mouthpiece comfort and features. There are four types to consider:
- J-Shaped- this is a very basic and durable snorkel featuring a soft silicone mouthpiece
- Purged with Open Top- These feature a purge at the bottom so you can clear any water that may seep into the snorkel. They also feature a flexible curve that allows the mouthpiece to hang out of your way when not in use.
- Purged with Slash Guard- similar to above but with a guard to prevent water from seeping inside.
- Purged with Dry Top- better yet, these snorkels come with a top that closes when submerged, so no water makes it into the snorkel
Mouthpieces also come in different sizes and shapes. Some suited for maximum breath inhalation and others with detachable pieces for easy storage.
No snorkeling set is complete with a pair of fins, or “flippers.” These floppy “shoes” provide a large surface area to push against the water and propel you outward or downward into the ocean or bay. How efficient they depend on the strength of your legs. However, they do provide you with some floatation for your feet, facilitating in keeping you horizontal in the water. There are two types to choose from: Full Foot and Open Heel
Full foot fins are made for you to slide in barefoot. They’re mostly used for snorkeling and diving in warm waters, considering they don’t’ require any additional padding for your feet. Open heel fins, on the other hand, are often worn in colder waters with neoprene boots. These are a bit more comfortable and more powerful. The shape you choose depends on where and how you desire to snorkel or dive. Currents are also something to consider when choosing the right fins.
Full foot fins are easy to take on and off. They’re ideal for warmer days and tranquil waters; these fins are also light in weight which makes them more travel-friendly. Open heel fins are great if your feet tend to get blistered or cramped. Dive instructors prefer open heel fins since they are more durable and better suited for deeper treks.
If you’re in the market, or just in the area, be sure to check out one of our very own snorkel or cave tours in La Jolla
. Feeling a bit more adventurous? Check out one of our shark tours!