Buying Your Own Equipment: Mask, snorkel and fins
So you’ve fallen in love with the underwater world? Whether you’re a diver or snorkeler it’s a great idea to have your own equipment and the best place to start is with a mask, snorkel and fins. The more comfortable you are in the water, the more time you have to look at the fish and not be fiddling with your gear because it doesn’t fit you properly.
Let’s start with the mask. There are so many to choose from and such a big price range difference, how do you know which one is right for you? For starters you need to try them on, so buying from the internet might not be the best idea although it might a little cheaper you don’t know how it will fit your face. Another thing to consider is how often you’ll be using the mask. If you spend a lot of money only to use it once a year then maybe a cheaper option is better for you.
The way to check for proper fitting is to pull your hair back from your forehead and place the mask on your face (don’t put the strap over your head), breath in a little so the mask sticks to you face then take your hands away and shake your head a little. If it sticks then it’s good. If it falls off or air leaks in then find another mask. If you are sensitive to light or wear contact lenses then consider a mask with black silicon, not clear or white as less light will come through the sides.
If you wear glasses then you can get a prescription mask which is a lot more expensive but the cheaper option is to get the prescription glass and stick it in afterwards, you don’t want to miss seeing anything under there! A very important tip after buying your mask is to put toothpaste on the inside of the glass overnight then wash it off the next day or the glass will fog up and you won’t see a thing. Another thing you can buy for your mask is a soft strap and it’s recommended for people with long hair for added comfort.
So now you need a snorkel. If you’re a diver you might think you don’t need one but if you’re diving in rough seas or going to be teaching diving then you definitely need one. If you have a long surface swim at the start of your dive you don’t want to use up all your air before the dive has begun so consider a cheap one that you can pull apart and put in your Jacket just in case.
If you’re just snorkelling then you can get some fabulous designs allowing you to dive under the water and not have to purge your snorkel afterwards, great for people who love free diving but not very practical for divers as they are large and awkward. If you like staying on the surface of the water then a simple design with a bottom purge is sufficient.
Finally you need some fins and again you have so many options. If you’re snorkelling in warm water only on your vacation a couple of times a year then simple closed heel fins are a cheap and inexpensive option. They can get uncomfortable if you’re using them for long periods though, so wearing a pair of socks can alleviate this problem. If you’re diving for long periods or snorkelling in a cold environment or off the shore then boots and open heel fins are best for comfort, warmth and better propulsion underwater. The boots are great for protection when walking on hot sand or over rocks when entering the water.
A tip for you: You get what you pay for! Usually the more expensive the equipment the longer it will last, depending on how you take care of it of course. If you’re diving every day then buy better equipment, if you’re diving or snorkelling once a year then you can opt for cheaper options but be sure to keep your mask, snorkel and fins out of the sun and wash in fresh water after every use in salt water to avoid deterioration.
Enjoy your underwater experience!
Story by Kelly Luckman