Expert Tip: “Fit is key when buying gear, and you should always try before you buy. A mask that leaks will completely ruin your experience, so instead of heading to a mass retailer, get professionally fitted at a dive shop (find one at padi.com). When buying fins, make sure they fit snugly because any slippage will quickly lead to blisters.”
Mask Tip: The lens on a new mask is covered in a film (left over from the manufacturing process) that will make it fog up. Before you hit the water, remove the residue by gently buffing the glass with toothpaste or a nonabrasive cleanser.
Mask: Whichever model you buy, make sure the lens is made of tempered glass. If it breaks, tempered glass will shatter into small pieces instead of skin-slicing large shards.
Snorkel: A tube with a large diameter makes it easier to breathe when your face is submerged, and a snorkel with a purge or water- restricting valve will help keep the brine out of your airway.
Fins: For packability, choose a pair less than 30 inches long. For fit, go by your regular shoe size (fins should feel comfortably snug). If you’re prone to blisters, get a pair of neoprene o rLycra fin socks.
These good-to-go kits offer the durability and quality you’d expect from pro diving brands at prices to suit the casual snorkeler.
Cressi Palau Combo Set
Specs: The open-heel fins have adjustable straps so they can be shared by people with varying foot sizes. The shorter blades are perfectly sized for travel. Available in three colors and five sizes.
Price: Around $55
Perks: Cressi has managed to incorporate slick design features most commonly found in pricey scuba gear into this snorkel set.
Body Glove Dive N’ Surf Set
Specs: Extra-large lenses that allow a wide field of vision ensure you won’t miss any of the under- water action. The semi-dry snorkel design prevents water from enter- ing the breathing tube.
Price: Around $100
Perks: For the serious snorkeler who’s prepared to spend a little more, high-end materials yield top-flight performance.
Scubapro Currents Combo
Specs: A silicone skirt adheres the two-lens mask securely to your face. The snorkel comes with a splash guard to minimize water intrusion. Available in black or blue in youth and adult sizes.
Price: Around $45
Perks: This wallet-friendly gear option is perfect for the thrifty snorkeler who doesn’t want to sacrifice quality for price.