The Best Snorkel gear for travel needs to be lightweight, sturdy, compact, and high-performance
Snorkeling and sightseeing have always been perfect match for one another. Most of humanity does not live near a tropical shore. Thus we must go to enjoy world-class snorkeling. And even if you are fortunate enough to live near world-class snorkeling, there are still innumerable one-of-a-kind snorkeling experiences all over the world just waiting to be explored.
The fun you have snorkeling depends greatly on the gear you use. Finding the best snorkeling gear for travel is essential if you want to travel to amazing locations for snorkeling and have an amazing experience.
You may get a wide variety of snorkeling accessories nowadays. Some of it is very excellent. Some of it is perfect for scuba diving but not for sightseeing. Furthermore, there is the possibility that certain snorkeling equipment is fantastic for traveling but falls short when it comes to genuine snorkeling.
How can we then determine the best snorkel gear for travel? To be included among the best snorkeling gear for travel, I believe it should excel in the following categories:
- Lightweight. Instead of paying extra to take an overweight bag on an airplane, I’d rather put that money on a guided snorkeling tour.
- Sturdy. We need lightweight equipment, but we can’t afford to settle for anything that won’t hold up under frequent use.
- Compact. Let’s ensure our snorkeling equipment doesn’t take up too much space because there’s usually a lot to bring along on any excursion.
- High Performance. Lightweight, robust, and compact gear is ideal for traveling, but we need our snorkel equipment to be effective when we get in the water.
Although fantastic in the water, not all snorkel items perform well on all four factors. It may be difficult to determine which equipment does without taking it on a trip. So, take advantage of the many snorkeling adventures I’ve had and the wide variety of equipment I’ve used. The following is a list of the essentials, in my opinion, for a good snorkeling experience, as well as the Best Snorkel gear for travel.
The best snorkel mask for travel
The first thing in the list of best snorkel gears for travel is snorkel masks. Fortunately, snorkel masks aren’t too bulky, so we won’t have to worry about them taking up too much space in our luggage. Thus, we have a lead start in terms of portability. You can check our detailed article about Are full-face snorkel masks safe? 5 big truths & lies.
The truth is, though, that not all snorkel masks are created equal regarding portability. One type of mask has a hard skirt (the component that encircles the mask and links the lens to your face), making it more cumbersome to carry than a mask with a flexible silicone skirt, which folds down easily.
Also, different snorkel masks are designed for different divers with different needs. So, I propose splitting up the “Best Snorkel gear for travel” into two categories: one for beginners and another for those with more experience.
Beginners: Cressi F1
Cressi F1 frameless snorkel mask (look on Amazon) If you’re starting snorkeling or don’t do it very often, the Cressi F1 frameless snorkel mask (look on Amazon) is a great choice for your next trip. Because it is the product I recommend as the best overall for beginners in our gear list, you can rest assured that it will also work well underwater.
The Cressi F1’s most notable advantage is that the super-flexible silicone used to create its skirt and strap allows it to easily conform to the contour of various bags (and has sprung back to its normal shape reliably when unpacked). It’s a rather small overall package, and the lens is made of tempered glass, so it’s held up well despite being jostled around in my luggage.
The F1 will be a great choice if you are learning to snorkel. The great flexibility of the silicone skirt has always produced a very pleasant and tight seal between my face and the water, and the straps and buckles have been quite sturdy, so they haven’t come undone while I snorkeled.
This mask lacks more sophisticated features like double skirts and extra-large fields of vision, but for novice snorkelers whose primary goal is to have fun on the surface of the water, this should not be a deal breaker. The Cressi F1 (Amazon) is a great entry-level or occasional snorkeling option because of its low price (about $30).
Intermediate and Above: SCUBAPRO Solo
If you snorkel more than a few times a year, you should invest in a high-quality mask to improve your experience. For our list of Best Snorkel gear for travel, the SCUBAPRO Solo (look on Amazon) is, in my opinion, the best mask for intermediate and advanced divers.
First, the SCUBAPRO Solo, like the Cressi F1 beginner mask, has a silicone skirt that rolls up easily. In contrast to the F1, the Solo has a dual-skirt construction that provides a more secure fit around your face. More sophisticated forms of snorkeling, such as scuba diving, have proven to be a big help.
Second, The Solo’s enormous lens provides an extremely wide viewing angle. As a result, it loses a point or two in the compactness category, but in the overall scheme of things, it won’t make much of a difference.
With the appropriate modification, the SCUBAPRO Solo is made of such high-quality components that it may be used for scuba diving. This mask has a tempered glass lens, strong buckles, and two skirts, yet it has proven surprisingly light despite all that. SCUBAPRO Solo costs around $115, making it a more expensive option. On the other hand, having something of greater quality and higher performance that still travels easily has paid for itself over the years, especially because I snorkel more than once or twice a year.
The best snorkel for travel
The great thing about snorkels is that they don’t take up much room and can be stuffed into a bag. That implies we aren’t at the mercy of size constraints regarding performance. Some snorkel models, like the Cressi Alpha Ultra Dry (look on Amazon), are foldable to shorten their overall length. The Alpha Ultra Dry can be a sensible investment if you frequently find minimal luggage.
If not, you should prioritize purchasing a high-quality snorkel, since it is likely the most crucial piece of equipment you will be using.
The Oceanic Ultra-Dry 2 (look on Amazon) is the best snorkel I’ve used, and it’s on my list of Best Snorkel gear for travel after testing a wide variety of other models.
The Ultra-Dry 2 is distinguished from other snorkels in that it is a dry snorkel with a one-way valve at the head of the tube to prevent water from entering while still allowing for regular breathing. When it comes to that crucial function, I’ve found that Oceanic snorkels shine, and I can’t imagine ever returning to a standard or semi-dry snorkel (which lacks the one-way valves) unless you also want to use your snorkel for scuba. The Oceanic Ultra-Dry 2 is a great option because it is lightweight and flexible, making it easy to pack away (other snorkels may grow outrageously long).
The best fins for travel
Fins provide a bit of a dilemma when deciding on the Best Snorkel gear for travel. You can snorkel for longer, quicker, and with less effort when you have one of these, but it’s not always easy to pack because of its size, weight, and space requirements.
This highlights the significance of selecting appropriate fins for travel.
My normal-sized fins should fit in the suitcase I check for a flight. Although regular fins are preferable to have on hand because of their increased effectiveness, they are typically too bulky to travel in a carry-on. (For our guide on the best regular-sized fins for snorkeling, check out The Best Snorkel Fins for Beginners, Advanced Snorkelers & Travelers.)
When space is at a premium, the SCUBAPRO GO Sport fins are my top selection for the Best Snorkel gear for travel. Because of their compact size and lightweight construction (made from monprene, a premium fin material), these fins are ideal for traveling.
While a full-length fin will provide more propulsion, even a smaller fin like the GO Sport will be an improvement over not utilizing any. I’ve never had trouble fitting my GO Sport, which is just around 20 inches in length (it fluctuates somewhat depending on your shoe size), inside even a carry-on bag.
Additionally, the foot pockets are both soft and sturdy, giving you as much propulsion as you’d expect from a full-size fin in a compact design.
In addition, the SCUBAPRO GO Sport (look on Amazon) adjustable foot strap makes it convenient to share with other travelers (helping us not to have to pack extra gear if we can avoid it). When snorkeling for extended periods, it’s recommended that you wear neoprene boots like the Cressi Minorca Neoprene Anti-Slip (Amazon) with a fin to keep your feet warm and prevent slippage.
Taking amazing photos and videos using an underwater action camera is one of my favorite elements of snorkeling trips (like a GoPro). These cameras have allowed me to save forever memories of swimming with whale sharks, swooping with dolphins, floating with breaching humpback whales, and many other once-in-a-lifetime adventures.
My walls, family emails, Instagram, and many other places are covered in photos and videos. This has been fantastic. I’ve tried a lot of other action cams, but the GoPro Hero10 Black (look on Amazon) is by far the finest I’ve used when snorkeling.
Compared to its competitors, this camera has superior specifications (5.3K video at 240fps At 1080p, 23MP pictures, 112 minutes @ 4K battery, 10m/33ft waterproof depth, and plenty of other jargon). All of that is true and useful.
The Hero10 Black’s Horizon Lock and Hindsight function set this camera apart as the best option for snorkelers.
Because it’s so difficult to maintain a steady hand when recording underwater, snorkelers have found GoPro’s HyperSmooth picture stabilization particularly useful. However, the Hero10 Black’s new Horizon Lock mode improves upon this stabilizing. Even if you’re twisting and spinning at as 45 degrees, the camera will maintain your video upright and level. It has been a big assist in allowing me to capture snorkel footage that appears much more professional.
Incredible moments, including the appearance of interested onlookers, may be recorded with the help of a GoPro.
And then there’s the benefit of hindsight. Knowing when to start and stop recording might be difficult when using an action camera while snorkeling. If I keep recording, I’ll rapidly run out of space on my memory card and power to operate my device. It’s also annoying because if I record when I see anything interesting, I can miss something truly remarkable (like a school of manta rays drifting by at the right angle for a shot).
Instead, hindsight will automatically continue recording in the background, skipping over unwanted material after 30 or 60 seconds. If there is anything I want to preserve and it falls within that window, I can press the standard record button, and it will be automatically saved to the memory card.
With the release of hindsight, I no longer have to worry about missing out on any amazing content.
I’ve definitely stepped up my game to permanently document my snorkeling experiences with the assistance of Hindsight and Horizon Lock, which work well with the high-quality glasses I purchased. The Hero10 Black is extremely small and light (far more so than your regular camera), so I don’t have to worry about losing it if I pack it in my carry-on instead of checking it. As a result of these factors, the GoPro Hero10 Black (Amazon) is our pick for the “Best Snorkel gear for travel” action camera. If you’re interested, there’s more to learn about by visiting: The Newest GoPro for Snorkeling: 3 Keys for Buying or Upgrading to the HERO 10 Black.
The best sun protection for travel
Protection from the sun is another element of the Best Snorkel gear for travel that is frequently forgotten yet essential. In addition, you should prepare in advance.
Sunscreen should be the first thing that comes to mind.
The need for sunscreen is evident, but why a certain sunscreen is preferable for snorkeling may not be. At the end of the day, one more essential feature your sunscreen must possess: it must be reef safe. Many chemicals used in conventional sunscreens have been shown to harm marine life and speed up the destruction of coral reefs [source].
Reef-safe sunscreens often employ biodegradable ingredients to protect coral reefs and marine life without harming swimmers or the environment. It would be best to carry reef-safe sunscreen because several popular sites, such as Hawaii, have outright prohibited other types of sunscreen.
Alba Botanica’s Sensitive SPF 50 is the finest reef-safe sunscreen I’ve found. I prefer the spray style; it is reef-safe and biodegradable to boot (rather than rubbing greasy sunscreen on myself). This is a winner.
(For more on the ins and outs of reef-safe sunscreen [yes, there’s more], check out The 2 Best Snorkeling Sunscreens [Reef Safe & Biodegradable].)
A basic rashguard is another item I’d suggest picking up for sun protection.
Rashguards are form-fitting, water-resistant shirts that you wear in the water while snorkeling (or surfing, boogie boarding, etc.) They provide some extra benefits like a little added insulation, but the biggest pro for snorkeling is added sun protection. They’ll protect your back, shoulders, and arms from the sun while snorkeling, and rashguards let you cut down significantly on the sunscreen you’ll need to use to cover any exposed skin.
Men’s options, such as the Volcom Men’s Lido Solid Short Sleeve Rashguard (look on Amazon), are likewise high-quality. It has survived the test of time and prevented me from using many bottles of sunscreen, a blessing to my wallet and the ocean. In particular, I recommend the REKITA Women’s Long Sleeve Rashguard (look on Amazon) for women. Both are lightweight and compact when folded, taking up as much space in your bag as an additional shirt would.
Until you’ve selected the Best Snorkel gear for travel, you’ll need a handy space to keep everything once you get to your location. If you don’t, it’ll be a pain to take your gear around the boat or the beach, and you may even drop something and end up with sand in your delicate dry snorkel valve (not that I’d know anything about it, of course).
Using a regular backpack is OK, but most aren’t designed to hold wet stuff like snorkeling fins, so you’ll wind up with a wet bag. Getting a dedicated bag for your snorkeling equipment is well worth the money. The Stahlsac Panama (look on Amazon) is my absolute favorite. It functions like any other backpack, but its sturdy mesh construction allows water to drain out after a day on the water. The bag is tall enough to fit most snorkel fins. However, when worn with a shirt, my back has remained dry thanks to the bag’s sturdy, water-resistant back panel.
The mesh looks like it would wear out quickly and has held up very well throughout the years. Panama can accommodate not just my but also my boyfriend’s belongings, and its additional dry sections are great for storing little items that I don’t want to lug along but don’t want to get wet.
A less expensive and more basic model available from Stahlsac called the Stahlsac BVI (look on Amazon), which features the same convenient organization but is made of thinner fabrics and fewer dry compartments. Panama and the BVI are both great for traveling since they are lightweight and compact when collapsed.
(I’m a big admirer of dry bags, too; these are pouches that aren’t only watertight but also trap air with their contents to keep them afloat if they fall in. When I go snorkeling, I always bring an Earth Pak Waterproof Dry Bag Roll-Top Dry Compression Sack [look on Amazon] to store my phone, keys, and other valuables that I don’t want to get wet or lost.)
Renting or borrowing snorkeling equipment from a shop or tour company is an option when you travel, but the gear you get won’t be up to your standards.
Instead, choosing your own equipment is best to ensure that it fits you well, performs well, and gives you the flexibility to go snorkeling whenever you please. Furthermore, if you’re going to be selecting snorkel equipment for usage on your trip, you should select the Best Snorkel gear for travel.
Ultimately, we want our vacation snorkel gear to be efficient, lightweight, durable, and small. Finding the sweet spot between these considerations isn’t always simple, but if you follow our guidance, you’ll be well on your way to superb equipment for wonderful snorkeling trips in no time.