Sian Lewis picks out the best snorkelling set for underwater explorers…
Explore the wonders of the ocean for longer with a good mask and snorkel – who knows what creatures of the deep you might spot? While you can have a quick glance below the waves with a pair of swimming goggles on, a wide snorkelling mask will offer you better vision, while the snorkel keeps you breathing freely and a pair of fins helps to propel you further through the water. A decent snorkelling set should be in any explorer’s backpack.
A snorkelling mask is a good investment even if you only use it once a twice a year on holiday, as snorkelling kit can be expensive to rent and you’ll be able to get a better fit when buying your own mask rather than borrowing one. Many masks are sold in sets that include a snorkel tube and fins, which means you’re all set up to snorkel whenever you like.
Avoid the cheapest snorkelling sets bought in supermarkets, which aren’t likely to be leak or shatterproof, and invest in a good quality model, like one of the five we’ve tested and recommended below. The mask is the most important bit to get right – you need to pick a comfortable, leak-free mask that forms a seal around your eyes and nose, that doesn’t fog up and that offers a wide field of vision.
Most mid-range adult snorkel masks are one size, but if you have a smaller or wider face you’ll find differently sized or adjustable masks available. And if you usually wear glasses, prescription masks designed to correct your eyesight will help you see clearly.
There are more designs on the market than you might think, including models aimed at recreational snorkellers, free divers and spear fishers – but we’ve explained exactly what to choose in our buyer’s guide below. Once you own well-fitting mask, look after it by rinsing in clean water after use, leaving to air dry and keeping it out of the sun.
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5 of the best snorkelling sets
Decathlon Adult Easybreath Mask
Best snorkelling set for beginners
Reasons to buy: unimpeded vision, easy to adjust, useful for those who may have impaired ability to grip a snorkel tube
Reasons to avoid: only for casual snorkelling
• Sizes: mask: S/M or M/L
• Colours: 5 available
• What’s included: mask with built-in snorkel
Full-face snorkelling masks burst onto the market in 2015 and have been a bit like marmite ever since – you’ll either love the amazing field of vision they offer or find them too bulky (and downright weird) to wear.
There are lots of pros to these masks for casual swims – the snorkel is built-in for easy breathing, and you’ll get a wide field of vision for spotting fish. If you fancy swapping to a face mask, Decathlon do a great entry-level design that offers a decent seal around the face and good anti-fogging technology. No fins are included, but Decathlon sell affordable options.
Decathlon SNK500 Snorkelling Kit
Best snorkelling set for those on a tight budget
Reasons to buy: great value for money, leak-proof mask
Reasons to avoid: mask scratches easily
• Sizes: fins: 3-12
• Colours: black
• What’s included: mask, snorkel and fins
If you’re shopping for your first snorkel set or want good value for money for a casual mask you’ll take on sunny summer holidays, you can’t beat Decathlon’s snorkelling kit, which comes with mask, snorkel and set of fins all for under £30.
This is a simple, beginner-friendly set, so don’t expect pro quality, but the fins are comfortable and the mask is easy to adjust for a leak-free fit thanks to a silicone rim. Expect some fogging and scratching of the mask over time. A net bag is included for storing your snorkelling set.
Omer Eagleray Snorkelling Kit
Best snorkelling set for spearfishing
Reasons to buy: great quality mask, efficient fins, comfy snorkel
Reasons to avoid: beginners can pick something cheaper
• Sizes: fins: EU 41-47
• Colours: black
• What’s included: mask, snorkel and fins
Free divers and spear fishers are looking for snorkelling sets that offer better quality and endurance than a beginner-friendly kit – and we recommend Omer’s Eagleray, which includes a triple treat of great fins, mask and snorkel.
Long, slim fins are designed to help you cut through the water efficiently and powerfully, the ergonomic, soft silicone snorkel is comfortable to use even if you’re in the water for hours and the mask offers a slim profile but a wide field of vision, so you can dive deeper without issues.
Aqua Lung Hawkeye Set
Reasons to buy: comfortable mask, great first snorkel set
Reasons to avoid: Fins are only suitable for beginners
• Sizes: small, medium and large
• Colours: blue/grey
• What’s included: mask, snorkel, fins
Confused by the sheer range of snorkel equipment available? Look no further – Aqua Lung make the perfect all-rounder scuba set for recreational snorkellers, including a leak-proof mask that we found comfy to wear even for longer periods in the water and that’s adjustable to fit most adult faces.
The heel-less, adjustable fins will fit most people and work on top of wetsuit bootie. They’re short in length so they don’t work as well for freediving, but they’re easy to maneuver in and to pack for your travels.
Cressi Calibro + Corsica Freediving professional snorkel set
Best snorkelling set for freedivers and frequent use
Reasons to buy: long-lasting quality, great looks, zero fogging
Reasons to avoid: expensive
• Sizes: one size
• Colours: black, blue and white
• What’s included: mask and snorkel
The best mask we tested overall, Cressi’s Calibro is aimed at free divers and looks and feels like wonderful quality to wear. Wide, comfortable silicone creates an efficient seal around the face and there’s a good field of vision from twin lenses plus a low volume that fits close to the face and lets you reach deeper when diving. We also found the Calibro didn’t fog up at all during testing.
We like the smart opaque colourways, which looks a little more pro than cheaper clear masks. A mask and snorkel set to invest in for progressing in snorkelling and diving. Cressi also make great snorkelling fins, which are sold separately.
What we look for in the best snorkelling set
Mask fit: Your new snorkel mask and fins need to fit you to a tee. To check if a mask fits you, place it firmly on your face without using the strap and inhale through your nose – the mask should create suction around your eyes and nose and stay put. Most adult masks are one size, but if you have a smaller face, consider trying a female-specific model, a goggle aimed at teenagers or a model that comes in multiple sizes.
Fin size: Fins are easier to fit – just look for your shoe size and check they feel comfortable and don’t fall off if you kick your feet. If you plan to wear wetsuit booties under your fins in cold weather, check there’s room or consider an open-backed rather than a closed-back fin. Shorter fins are easier to pack and are fine for casual snorkellers, while free divers and serious swimmers will want longer fins for better thrust in the water.
Snorkel design: Your new snorkel should be soft and pliable, with a mouthpiece that feels comfortable to breath through. Check it clips snugly to your mask and doesn’t get in the way. Casual snorkellers can also try full-face masks with built-in snorkels, which offer a wide field of vision and save the faff of a separate snorkel.
Field of vision and mask volume: The whole point of a good snorkelling mask is to give you a wide field of vision under water, so look for decent-sized lenses. The bulkier the mask, however, the harder it’ll be to wear deeper under the surface, so if you’re looking for something that you can dive down as well as snorkel in, pick a low-volume mask that sits flusher to your face. Masks can either have one lens (mono-glass) or two, and better snorkels are made with shatterproof materials that can withstand pressure. Most snorkelling masks have clear lenses, which offer an unimpeded view of the world beneath the water’s surface. If you usually wear glasses, you’ll also find snorkelling masks that fit your prescription available to buy.
Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Head to Amazon’s dedicated sailing page for more marine products.
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