The 10 Best Snorkel Gear

Updated September 01, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Snorkel Gear
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 44 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. Nothing beats relaxing among tropical fish in a warm ocean. Get your fix with some of this snorkel gear we've selected. From dive masks to waterproof carrying bags, we've put together an eclectic mix, including underwater scooters and waterproof cameras for those who want to shoot their own James Bond movie. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best snorkel gear on Amazon.

10. U.S. Divers Diva 1

The U.S. Divers Diva 1 is a great all-inclusive package that comes with everything you need to dive right in. The mask has a low profile single lens design with feminine features, and the shortened fins are easy to use in a variety of situations.
  • convenient carrying and storage bag
  • good price for a lot of components
  • snorkel clip is low quality
Brand U.S. Divers
Model USD-07
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. Unigear Dry Bag

The Unigear Dry Bag is available in five sizes ranging from 5 liters to 40 liters, so you can pick the bag that fits your needs. It also comes with a bonus small universal waterproof bag that is just big enough for your phone and wallet.
  • detachable shoulder strap
  • easy to roll up when not in use
  • not designed to be totally submerged
Brand Unigear
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Sea Doo Aqua Ranger

The Sea Doo Aqua Ranger is the ideal way to get your son or daughter out there scooting along with you. It makes snorkeling fun and easy for them, plus, at just 12 lbs, it's also lightweight enough for them to carry around on land.
  • can be used in pools too
  • floating chassis prevents sinking
  • pricey unless your snorkel regularly
Brand Sea-Doo
Model SD95001
Weight 17.7 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

7. Cressi Panoramic

The Cressi Panoramic is designed to give you a wider field of vision than your average snorkel mask and comes in a variety of color combinations. Its high-quality silicone skirt provides a tight seal without putting too much pressure on your face.
  • very easy to purge
  • allows for quick strap adjustments
  • snorkel cap lets some water in
Brand Cressi
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

6. OctoMask GoPro Dive Mask

You can keep your hands free while filming if you wear the OctoMask GoPro Dive Mask. It comes with a built-in mount designed to hold any GoPro model, so you get the best underwater videos without detracting from your ability to swim quickly.
  • accommodates a lot of facial shapes
  • comes with a travel bag
  • low-profile design
Model 101
Weight 11.2 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Seavenger Tropical Shorty

The Seavenger Tropical Shorty is a low cost wetsuit that is available in men's and women's options. It is made with nylon, giving it a stretchy comfort, and features an easy-reach, extra long leash attached to the rear zipper.
  • comfortable flatlock stitching
  • stretchy armpit panel
  • good for scuba diving too
Brand Seavenger
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

4. Ocean Reef Aria

With a broad window and sleek frame that together offer unparalleled viewing angles, the Ocean Reef Aria helps you to see more marine creatures. It allows you to breathe through both your nose and mouth while snorkeling, which can be very helpful for young kids.
  • extra wide air tube
  • distributes pressure around the face
  • doesn't fog like traditional masks
Brand Ocean Reef
Model pending
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. Sea Doo GTI

The Sea Doo GTI sits at the intersection of value and performance, costing a quarter of the most expensive models, but still rated for depths up to 100 feet. It also gets nearly 2 hours of run time per charge, which is more than enough for the average snorkeling adventure.
  • runs at 2 - 3 mph
  • buoyancy can be adjusted
  • comfortable hand grips
Brand Sea-Doo
Model SD5540
Weight 29 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Phantom Aquatics Velocity

The Phantom Aquatics Velocity is a great value choice for the casual snorkeler. It has a double-edge facial seal to ensure no water enters, and the snorkel has a splash-proof dry guard, which eliminates water backflow when in rough seas.
  • soft silicone skirt
  • 11 color options to choose from
  • push-button strap adjustment buckle
Brand Phantom Aquatics
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. GoPro Hero5 Black

The GoPro Hero5 Black is a compact and lightweight adventure cam that you can easily take anywhere your heart desires. It takes stunning underwater videos in 4K and has a 12MP picture resolution. Unlike previous models, it is waterproof up to 33' without needing a housing.
  • supports voice control
  • one button to power on and record
  • can auto upload to cloud servers
Brand GoPro
Model CHDHX-501
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

The Science Behind Snorkels

A snorkel describes a J-or L-shaped tube approximately one foot long and between 1/2-1 inches in diameter that features a mouthpiece at the bottom end. Typically, snorkels are made out of rubber or plastic materials that are lightweight and not water-soluble. Some snorkels are designed to clip onto diving goggles.

The space comprised by the interior of the snorkel is called respiratory dead space, in which the same passage is used for both inhalation and exhalation. When a user breathes through a snorkel, they inhale fresh air as well as air that was just exhaled, thus providing the user with less usable air per breath. In order for the user to get the same amount of useable air, they must increase their respiratory effort, lest they cause an accumulation of carbon dioxide in their blood, which in turn elevates the risk of hypercapnia, a dangerous condition.

The larger the volume of the tube, the higher the dead space, thus worsening the problem. Narrower tubes have the opposite effect, reducing the volume of dead space, but narrower diameters simultaneously increase the air flow's resistance to inhalation. Thus, narrower tubes cause the user to do more respiratory work. The right snorkel strikes a balance between these problems, and users can manually help to prevent the accumulation of carbon dioxide by exhaling through the nose every so often.

Interestingly, snorkels can only be effective up to a maximum length of 16 inches. This is because a longer tube would reach a depth at which the pressure on the lungs would be too great for the user to breathe, which would render the snorkel ineffective. The tube's diameter is also intended to reduce the resistance of inhalation as much as possible. However, the dead space concern described above necessitates making the tube narrow enough to reduce the accumulation of carbon dioxide.

Some snorkels offer special features designed to prevent flooding or to enable clearing, but this can be done manually in those lacking these features. In the most basic snorkels, consisting only of a simple tube and mouthpiece, the user can clear water that accumulates in the snorkel one of two ways. In the first method, called blast clearing, the snorkeler uses a strong exhalation to blast the water out of the top of the snorkeling tube. The second method, known as displacement clearing, requires that the user tilt their head back while still underwater, and exhale into the snorkel until they resurface. During ascendance, the air fills the snorkel and displaces the water. The latter method requires finesse, but is easier once learned.

Snorkels with a sump can collect water that gets inside of the snorkel in the bottom of the tube, such that the user can breathe without inhaling the water. Some sumps go a step further, featuring a one-way valve that drains the water entirely during exhale. In these snorkels, water leaves the valve when the exhalation pressure is greater than that imposed by the external water pressure. These mechanical clearing mechanisms are prone to malfunction if they are not used frequently, however, and typically do require slightly more respiratory effort than would otherwise be needed.

Unconventional Snorkeling Activities

Believe it or not, there are several sports and activities that use snorkels beyond recreational snorkeling.

Perhaps the most British-sounding sport ever, bog snorkeling is exactly what it sounds like. Participants donning snorkels and flippers must traverse two lengths of a 60-yard, weed-filled peat bog, competing for the title of the fastest in both women's and men's categories. There's a catch, though: swimmers are not allowed to use any standard swimming strokes, and must solely use their flippers to advance. The sport began in 1976 as a charity event, but has become increasingly popular since then.

Finswimming is an underwater sport that began in the 1930s following the advent of rubber fins. It is represented in the World Games and consists of four different techniques of swimming either at the surface or underwater. The surface swimming version involves the use of a mask, snorkel, and monofin, and stipulates that swimmers remain at the water's surface except when turning.

The next version, called apnoea finswimming, takes place underwater with a mask and monofin, requiring that participants hold their breath. The face must remain submerged throughout the duration of the race. The third, immersion swimming, uses a mask, monofin, and an underwater breathing apparatus. There are no regulations on how the apparatus is used, but it must stay with the swimmer, and the swimmer's face must again remain submerged. The last version, called bi-fins, takes place on the surface, employs a mask, snorkel, and pair of fins. It stipulates that swimmers stay at the surface except when turning.

When you think of spearfishing, you might imagine primitive spears being used to catch fish in coastal villages. In fact, modern spearfishing is highly innovated, using high-tech spear implements and swimming practices, including snorkeling and scuba diving. The use of watertight swimming goggles during spearfishing was popularized in the Mediterranean in the 1920s, and progressed to the development of today's diving mask, snorkel, and fins. Today, snorkeling equipment is still preferred for summertime freshwater spearfishing, as many of the fish inhabit shallow waters.

The Origins of Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

Humans have been fascinated with the ocean for thousands of years, and snorkeling originated as early as 3000 B.C. on the Greek island of Crete.

Archaeological evidence suggests that during this time, sponge farmers used hollowed reeds as a proto-snorkel, allowing them to breathe and thus extending their time underwater spent looking for sea sponges.

Bas-relief paintings dated to be from 900 B.C. display Assyrian divers using animal-skin pouches filled with air as primitive diving tanks, providing divers with extended periods of time submerged.

The famous Greek conquerer and king, Alexander the Great promoted the invention of the diving bell in 333 B.C., which was designed to do two things: help divers reach deeper depths through weight, and also provide enough air for the diver to continue breathing during his dive without resurfacing. The diving bell was a relatively cumbersome tool until an innovation came from two Greek men in 1538. These men entered inside of a large kettle, bringing with them a burning candle, and the kettle was lowered to the depths of the Tagus River in Spain. When the kettle surfaced, the men's clothes were dry and the candle still burning, much to the astonishment of onlookers.

In the meantime, other snorkeling innovations were made. In 1300, Persian divers began using tortoise shell to create goggles by slicing the shell so thin that it became translucent, and then polishing it. In the 1400s, Leonardo da Vinci created many designs for diving inventions. Among these ideas was a snorkel tube which would connect to an air-filled float or sit above the surface of the water. Da Vinci also envisioned a self-contained diving suit much like those used by scuba divers today, as well as webbed gloves that would enhance swimming ability.

The Italian physicist Guglielmo de Lorena drew on these designs when he created the first functioning diving helmet in 1531 or 1535. This barrel-shaped bell would fit over the user's head and allow them to breathe while submerged. De Lorena was motivated by his search for two sunken Roman ships rumored to carry gold and other treasure.

In 1717, Benjamin Franklin developed an idea that has remained popular in both snorkeling and scuba diving: paddles that would allow swimmers to move faster. Franklin's paddles were wooden, and modern paddles are plastic, but the principle remains the same. The modern fins were invented by Louis de Corlieu in 1912, for use in the French Navy. He obtained a patent for his fins in 1933.

Still, all of these innovations shared a common problem: below depths of one or two feet, the pressure on the lungs was too great for any human to take a breath. This changed in 1771, when the English engineer and physicist John Smeaton developed the first pressurized air pump. This radical device was groundbreaking and formative to the development of modern scuba equipment. This rapidly led to many of the advanced diving technologies used today.

And, finally, the first modern, waterproof goggles came about in 1930 after being proven by American pilot Guy Gilpatric. In 1938, Gilpatric even published a book titled The Compleat Goggler, which was about the art of goggle fishing.

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Last updated on September 01, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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