If you’re planning on letting your little one dip their toes in the water this summer, make sure that they’re safe and have the best snorkeling gear for kids!
Imagine your child out there snorkeling, having fun, looking at all the colorful fishes, but then uh oh! There is water leaking into their mask and mouthpiece, and now they are running (or swimming) at you to complain. Don’t be that mom!
If snorkeling is one of the activities on your family’s summer destination, DON’T let your kids into the water until you read this guide on how to pick the best and safest snorkeling gear for kids.
There are many brands out there for children’s snorkel gear but unfortunately, they are not all created equal. It can be a bit of a challenge to find the perfect snorkel gear for your kids but don’t worry, mommies! We’ve got you covered.
Here is a guide to everything you need to know about picking the best snorkeling gear for your kids.
How to Pick the Best Snorkeling Gear for Kids
A complete snorkeling gear consists of several things: a mask, a snorkel, a pair of fins. However, we would also highly recommend a snorkel vest for a safe snorkeling experience and a wetsuit if your child will be swimming in cold waters.
Snorkeling gear can be purchased separately or together as a set. Most sets will come with three of the basic items:
- the mask
- the snorkel
- the fins
We’ll go into details about how to choose each one but before you shop, make sure the retailer allows you to return or exchange the items because there is a high chance that the item might not fit or is uncomfortable for your child.
If you can, try to shop in person with your child that way they can try on the products on the spot but if you can’t, make sure you leave enough time to do that before your trip in case you need to make an exchange.
What You’re Looking For
The most important factor when looking for children’s snorkeling gear is that it doesn’t leak. Leaking in the mask will block their views which is annoying and can ruin the whole experience. Leaking in the snorkel would be dangerous if the child doesn’t know how to blow the water back out and they can end up swallowing it.
Next, would be the comfort and only the person who’s wearing it can tell you this. Even if everything looks like it fits, ask your child if it’s comfortable. Fins that are slightly scratchy might be okay now but after an hour or so, it’ll be very uncomfortable.
Now, let’s get to the individual pieces:
When looking for the best snorkel mask for kids, the most important thing you need to focus on is the fit. Simply put, if the fit is too loose, water will seep through and if it’s too tight, it’ll hurt and affect circulation.
To ensure a mask fits properly, follow these steps:
- Without putting the straps on, place the mask on top of your child’s face gently just to see if there are any obvious holes and gaps. If there are, try another one.
- Once you find one where there are no obvious gaps, have your child wear it with the strap and adjust it until it is not too loose or too tight. A mask that is too loose will fall off easily if your child shakes their head. A mask that is too tight will leave an outline on their face instantly.
- Now, carefully examine the entire skirt of the mask (all the parts that touch the face) and make sure there are no holes or gaps anywhere. Pay special attention to the areas where leaks most frequently occur like the temples or the simile lines.
- If you can, have your child inhale with the mask on without the straps and see if the mask stays on. If it does, the mask is a good fit for them. If it doesn’t stay on, you should keep looking but we also know sometimes young children have trouble performing this activity.
The snorkel is the tube piece that your child has to bite down on and that will allow them to breathe.
A common problem with snorkels is that the mouthpiece that goes inside the mouth (the rubber knobs) is too big. When this happens, it will be very uncomfortable for your child and water will leak in. Your child should be able to bite down on the mouthpiece comfortably and it should fit snugly, creating a seal from outside water.
Most masks and snorkels are sold together so if either doesn’t fit well, you’ll have to pick something else. If you’re having trouble finding one where both pieces fit your child, look for a full face snorkel mask instead. Full face snorkel masks cover the entire face which can be great if your child has trouble holding down the snorkel mouthpiece. However, some children can find this restrictive.
Two additional terms you need to know about snorkels is “purge snorkel” and “dry snorkel.”
- Purge snorkels allow children to blow out any water that gets in.
- Dry snorkels have an additional piece that prevents water from coming through the top of the snorkel.
Good snorkel fins are generally pretty easy to find. The most important thing about choosing them is that it fits your child’s feet.
Nowadays, most snorkel fins are adjustable so they grow with your child and you won’t have to buy a new pair every year.
Or, if your child finds the straps annoying or uncomfortable which will affect their swimming, you can buy full foot snorkeling fins which some people prefer.
The last thing to note is how rigid or soft the fins are. The softer they are, the easier it is for your child to swim, especially if they are a beginner swimmer.
A snorkel vest is crucial for your child’s safety. They are a little different from normal swimming vests because they allow the child to face down and have additional straps to keep them in place.
The only time we’d say it would be okay for your child to go without one is if they’ll be in the pool with an adult and you know they’re a strong swimmer. Without these circumstances, a snorkel vest is an absolute must whether they’re a good swimmer or not.
In addition to safety, the vest will also just give them a better experience because they won’t have to work as hard to stay afloat.
There are plenty of good snorkel vests in the market so choosing one won’t be that hard at all. The hardest part will be choosing the color and most of them are bright to help parents spot their child easily.
A wetsuit is not a must if your child will only be swimming in the pool but if they’ll be out in the ocean, you might want to get one. A wetsuit will keep them dry and warm and let them stay in the water longer.
Before you buy one, make sure it’s the right size. A good one should fit snugly around the neck, the wrists, and the ankles. You can buy a full body wetsuit or a short-sleeved wetsuit depending on your child’s preference.
Just as a heads up though, some kids like getting wet in the water. It’s part of the fun for them so they may not want one.
Snorkel sets are an economical and convenient way to buy all of the essential pieces together. Basic snorkel sets include the mask, snorkel, and fins. They generally cost about $40-$50. Considering that most masks and snorkels already cost around $30, a snorkel set can be a good deal.
We would recommend buying a set if your child is new to snorkeling and you do not have a preference for brands. Just make sure you can return them in case only one piece fits your child.
If however, your child has gone snorkeling before and loved it, and you want to invest in some top-quality ones, then buying the pieces separately might be better.
When looking for snorkeling gear for kids, keep comfort, fit, and safety in mind.
If you are able to, bring your child to the store to try on the pieces. If not, make sure the retailer has a return or exchange policy. Sometimes different brands have different size standards so if your child has gone snorkeling before but you’re switching brands, don’t assume they’ll be the same size in a different brand.
Even if everything fits, ask your child if they are comfortable. Sometimes fins can snag, masks might make them itchy, etc. We’re sure you already know, children can be very peculiar.
Ready to Snorkel?
We hope you found these tips helpful in your mission to find the best snorkeling gear for kids. We know it’s not the easiest task but once you find the right ones, your kids will have a blast snorkeling this summer.
Just remember that when you’re shopping, comfort, fit, and safety should always be in the back of your mind. And don’t forget the sunscreen and other travel essentials.