Snorkeling is a fun and relaxing sporting activity that you can do in any body of water. While snorkeling, you swim at the surface of a body of water, usually an ocean, sea or lake. At a basic level, you only need a couple of things in order to snorkel. Compiled below is a list of equipment and their uses when exploring the water.
All you need for snorkeling is a mask and snorkel. Beyond that, a common third piece of equipment to wear are fins. Wearing fins helps you to swim faster through the water. If you're a casual snorkeller, those three pieces of equipment are all you need to go snorkeling. Other equipment you could get include knives, wetsuits, boots, surface buoys, and more.
A mask is crucial for seeing underwater. Masks are made of a thick plastic or glass, with rubber on the outside to keep it airtight around your nose and eyes. You want the outside of your mask to be made of silicone preferably, because that will seal better than rubber or pvc. Having a good mask is essential for your comfort and safety while snorkeling. Getting water in your eyes or nose is one of the worst things that can happen while you snorkel. Additionally, it can be almost impossible to see underwater without a good mask, so if you're snorkeling for research or for observing sea life, it is crucial to have a good mask.
A snorkel is the number one most crucial piece of equipment that you will need to snorkel. After all, the sport is named after this piece of equipment. A basic snorkel is a hollowed out stick where you put your mouth on one end and position the other end out of the water into the air above water. However, snorkels nowadays are much more advanced. The mouthpieces now are made of plastic with rubber holders so it more easily fits in your mouth. A good snorkel is key to having a positive experience while snorkeling. Usually your snorkel will come with a rubber band like object, or a clip, so you can connect it to your mask and hold it in place even when it is not in your mouth.
As far as necessities, a mask and a snorkel are all you really need. However, fins are something that you will want to have while snorkeling. Fins come in pairs, and are worn on the feet to help swim through the water more easily. When you are buying fins you need to consider if you want to have full foot or open heel fins. Closed fins are less adjustable and will hug your foot snugly from all sides. Open heeled fins have straps on the back to hold the fin to your foot. These are slightly more rigid and less form fitting, you may want to wear them with boots to avoid any chafing or rubbing on your foot. Of the pieces of equipment that you will buy for snorkeling, your fins may be the most expensive, but it is equipment you will want to spend money on, investing in a good pair that can last you a while.
If you buy open heel fins you will also want to buy boots to go with those fins. Wearing boots while wearing open heeled fins helps to prevent rubbing or chafing on your heels while you swim. Additionally, wearing boots provides a more snug fit on your fins. The nature of boots is that they help to keep your feet warm. The boots function much like a wetsuit, trapping a thin layer of water between the boot and foot, keeping your feet warm while you swim in the water. If you are young and still growing or your feet change size, it is probably best to not invest in boots, as you want them to be snug. However, getting a good pair of boots will help with your snorkeling and will allow you to have something on your feet while you walk on the beach, or on rocks, depending on where you are snorkeling.
If you have a mask, a snorkel, and some fins, you are ready to snorkel. However, there are extra items that you will likely want to purchase in order to improve your snorkeling experience. One of these crucial extra purchases is anti-fog mask cleaner. This liquid comes in a bottle that you put on the inside of your mask so that the glass doesn't fog up and you can easily see when swimming. There is a lot of debate amongst scuba divers and snorkelers about the best way to defog a mask. Some prefer to use toothpaste or homemade soap remedies. Others swear by just spitting in your mask and rubbing that in. However, artificially produced anti-fog liquids are fairly cheap and easy to put in your mask to clean it out.
Another item you will likely want if you are an avid snorkeler is a good wetsuit. If you live in an extremely warm climate you will likely have no need for a wetsuit, though it may still come in handy on some days. Wetsuits are designed to keep you warm while swimming. They function by keeping a thin layer of water between your skin and suit, allowing you to warm up quickly and provide warmth to your body while you swim. If you are a beginner to snorkeling, there is no need to buy a wetsuit as they can be quite expensive. You can rent a wetsuit wherever you go to snorkel. However, if you need to snorkel for a living or you are a regular snorkeler, it may be best to invest in a wetsuit. If you take care of it, washing it in fresh water after every swim, it can last you quite a few years.
Some may consider this an unnecessary purchase. One should only get a swimming knife if you are snorkeling for the purpose of fishing or cutting lines. If you work with boats or on an oil rig, you may need a knife. If you do need one, it is recommended to invest in a thigh strap as well as a knife. A knife like this can help you cut through nets or wires that may be getting in the way. In rare cases you can use this knife to cut or gut some fish if you are fishing while snorkeling. All in all, a knife is something that very few snorkelers will buy.
An important piece of safety equipment for any snorkelers in open water, a surface buoy will protect you and whoever you are snorkeling with from being run over by boats or anything like that. A surface buoy will float on the water, and you want one with a visible target like a flag. These are only important for snorkeling when you are in an open body of water, where boats or other large pieces of machinery may be operating. Most likely you don't have to purchase your own surface buoy, you can always get one wherever you are snorkeling. However, in rare cases where you are snorkeling quite often, it may be a good idea to invest in a surface buoy to keep you safe.