Whether snorkeling for a low impact workout or snorkeling in Key West to explore marine life during your vacation, equipment will be a necessary part of any ocean outing. Tour companies often include gear as part of a trip package, but those who wish to plan future unguided trips often prefer to purchase their own equipment. Beginner snorkelers may have a general idea of the gear they will need; however, recommendations can be helpful when purchasing snorkeling supplies for the first time.
The first purchase when preparing to go snorkeling is a snorkel mask. A decent mask should fit the face well, covering the eyes and the nose without being too loose as water can seep in and the eyewear can become foggy. Placing a mask on the face and breathing in can be an accurate way of testing the fit. The mask remains in place for several seconds, it is more likely to create an air tight seal that will keep water out. Masks that fall off or feel loose after doing the inhalation test will likely not have an adequate seal. Masks can be purchased as a set with the snorkel, or each part can be bought separately.
Having a snorkel is obviously necessary when planning a snorkeling trip. In determining which snorkel or snorkel set is better than others, individual preference is key. Choose a equipment with a mouthpiece that fits comfortably inside the mouth without excessive pulling. Silicone is often the most comfortable material of which mouthpieces are made. When the mouthpiece is in place, it should not feel as if excessive force is being exerted when biting.
Snorkel tubes are available in open, semi-dry, and dry varieties. Semi-dry to dry tubes are best for individuals who intend to spend most of their time in relatively rough waters. Dry snorkels are best for people who frequently dive beneath the surface of the water, though some users have occasional difficulty with taking comfortable breaths.
Although fins are not required, they are highly recommended for greater ease of movement. Using fins can help snorkelers avoid fatigue and move much faster than snorkeling without fins. Products that contain rubber or a combination of rubber and soft plastic are best as they keep the feet anchored inside. While fins can vary in length, those that are shorter than 12 inches are generally not ideal for snorkeling.
Aside from the necessities like a mask, snorkel, and fins, there are also other items that are not necessary, but can make a snorkeling trip easier. Many snorkeling companies offer flotation vests to help snorkelers conserve energy and float more easily. A standard life vest can also be used for this purpose and can offer extra safety when snorkeling in unknown waters. A diver's flag can be useful in signaling others in the area when snorkeling in waters that have a lot of boating activities taking place. Fog drops may also be helpful for those whose masks are prone to fogging, limiting their visibility.
Having the right equipment is essential to enjoying a snorkeling outing. Prior to going snorkeling in Key West or in a lake, river, or other location, it is best to visit a sporting goods or retail store that specializes in marine or outdoor equipment. Choosing a retailer that has a flexible return or exchange policy and allows customers to try on the equipment in the store can help snorkelers choose high quality equipment that will make their trip much more comfortable and enjoyable.