The short answer to this question is: No, you don’t need to buy your own snorkeling gear. If you snorkel occasionally you can just as well rent your gear for that day. This being said, owning your own equipment has a lot of advantages. Let’s explain everything in more detail.
Why You Wouldn’t Buy Your Own Gear
Occasional Snorkeling / Renting
If you only go snorkeling once in a while, maybe there’s no point in buying your own equipment. Let’s say you only snorkel once a year when you’re on a holiday, just because it’s fun enough for the time being. You’re not overexcited about the hobby, but a single peek at that sea turtle will do the trick for you.
Most snorkel locations allow you to rent a mask, a snorkel, and fins. Sometimes even wetsuits or other accessories. In other words, it’s really not necessary to buy your own. Simply pick a set that fits you best and you’re all set to go. At the end of the day you return your stuff and there’s nothing to worry about.
Another advantage is new gear. New snorkel equipment is being developed as we speak, so every now and then you might want to try something new. For example, last year you tried a regular mask and now you want to experience the full face mask alternative. No need to buy any expensive gear for that single adventure, right? You’re always able to wear some of the newest gadgets, as long as the person you rent it from stays up to date.
If you’re new to snorkeling and still in doubt whether or not to proceed with it, why not wait and discover if you actually like it. Maybe you’re a little scared to snorkel or maybe you find yourself asking “Is snorkeling easy?“. Some people wonder how to stay afloat while snorkeling.
If this is you, chances are you’re a newbie. It’s probably wise to take some time to understand where this is going. If you know for sure that you want to continue, sure, go to a local shop and let the owner give you advise. On the other hand, if you’re having doubt about taking this hobby to the next level, maybe wait before you invest.
We’d say just rent your gear for a day and find out if all is going well. It’s even better if you’re able to borrow a mask and snorkel from someone you know. That would save you a few dollars. If you’re amazed by the whole experience you can still buy whatever you prefer the most.
When it comes to budget it’s really hard to give advise. If you’re on a low budget it might not be the best idea to invest in snorkel gear. Especially if you never snorkeled before. You know what’s best for you.
Maybe your budget is tight at the moment, but sunny days are ahead where you might be able to spend a little more. Why not wait? Why not first try to borrow some equipment?
Proper gear is not cheap, especially if you want the whole deal including a mask, fins, rash guard, you name it. But what is cheap anyways? And what is expensive? It differs from person to person. Therefore, if you’re on a small budget, maybe just wait a little. Who knows what’ll be on discount in the (near) future?
If you consider to buy snorkel equipment for your child, we’d advise you to read our giant guide for snorkeling with kids. We talk all kinds of gear and gadgets that are specifically designed for kids.
The problem with children is that they are still in the process of growing up. A mask that fits them well today might not be suitable next year. Once their feet grow in size continuously, fins will be an expensive hobby as well. Again, this depends on your budget, but renting or borrowing things could be financially beneficial.
The thing is that kids love presents. And another thing to consider is the amount of time they will wear their new gadgets. If you plan to stay at a beach resort for 2 weeks and renting would be 5 dollars per day, that would add up to 70 bucks (if they want to explore the marine life every day obviously). A decent snorkel set will cost you around 25 bucks, and fins for kids should be around that price range as well. This means that there could be occasions to consider buying. For a day at the beach once a year, maybe this is not the case.
Yes, this could be an issue for some of us. If you rent your stuff from a shop next to the beach, there’s not a lot of hassle to take your things with you. Owning it yourself is a totally different experience. Especially if you have a big family and all the carrying depends on you. Sure, some of us own a helpful beach cart for sand, but what if you don’t?
Another issue could be packing. If you decide to head to a tropical snorkel location by airplane, will everything fit your suitcase? Depending on how long you are staying and the amount of gear you want to take with you, will it all turn out ok? Don’t forget that dinner dress and those matching high heels!
If you only use carry-on luggage, make sure to read our article called “Can you bring snorkel gear on a plane?“. It covers loads of information to know about. But the point we’re making is that luggage space can be limited. Paying extra might be more expensive than simply renting snorkel gear at your destination. Things to think about.
Last but not least on our list are snorkel excursions. Let’s say you go on a family vacation and snorkeling is just a one-time thing offered by a boat tour. Why buy, transport and take care of your own gear if you can simply rent it once you’re there?
Most snorkel excursions provide masks, snorkels, and sometimes even fins. You don’t need your own, even though you’re depending on whatever they provide. But if it’s just for fun, why not take advantage of this possibility?
The tour operators will probably help you out and adjust your gear personally. In most cases that should do the trick. If perfection is not your expectation you should be just fine. You simply use their equipment, enjoy the experience and that’s it. No need to invest and no need to be scared of losing your (expensive) mask.
Why You Would Buy Your Own Gear
Obviously, in case you enjoy snorkeling on a regular basis, owning your own gear is not only fun but also beneficial. Whenever you buy a mask for example, you will make sure that it fits your face perfectly. We all have a different body and there are many different masks to choose from.
Whenever you buy a mask (or any gear for that matter) it’s always best to buy it from a shop. Hold your mask against your face without using the strap, breathe in through your nose and see if it sticks. When renting you depend on luck whether or not this is the case. Damaged seals are not uncommon either which will result in leakage.
Snorkel fins are another great example of why you might want to own them yourself. Are they available in your size when you rent them? How about wide feet? Many people have wide feet and there are fins made specifically for that. Experiencing pain will make you quit sooner in most cases.
A long story short, owning proper equipment that fits your body perfectly adds to the fun. More comfort means more excitement and maybe even longer snorkel adventures. Therefore, if you explore the underwater world frequently, consider buying your own equipment. Besides masks, snorkels and fins you could even think about wetsuits or life vests.
In addition to the above, or as a conclusion, there’s no doubt that comfortable equipment makes your snorkel experience much better. When observing that sea turtle you don’t want to deal with leakage of your mask or fins that are too tight.
Furthermore, if it’s your first time snorkeling, pain or discomfort won’t encourage you to do it again. A first impression often influences our opinion about something. As a result you might just quit it all together and miss out on future (family) fun.
If possible, try to get rid of as many disadvantages as possible. Let’s say you go snorkeling in the rain, which in fact is very possible and still enjoyable. Still, it’s not what you were hoping for. However, if it’s just rain, you could still explore the marine life and all it’s beauty. Now let’s say your mask is leaking, now you have two disappointments. Add a life vest that’s too tight around your neck or fins that cause irritation to your wide feet. The more obstacles, the bigger your chance of calling the day a failure.
Now this is something most experienced snorkelers care about a lot. Sure, there are a lot of reasons why you might skip snorkeling for the day, but you definitely don’t want to blame it on your gear. That shouldn’t be an excuse if nothing else is standing in your way.
It’s probably hard to tell what quality to expect from a local renting shop. If we stick with the example of the mask, let’s think about a few things. Are the lenses made of plastic or actual glass? Is the fit high quality silicone or an alternative rubber? Does the strap feel comfortable? Are there many scratches that could influence your sight?
More importantly, take a moment to think about full face snorkel masks. There are a lot to choose from, however, some seem to come with a risk of CO2 build-up. Which one will you be renting? Is it one of the newer models that have been tested by an independent company for sufficient airflow? Did you do a little research? Things to keep in mind.
Tip: If you consider to buy a full face snorkel mask, feel free to read our full review from this link.
We dedicated an entire article about snorkeling with glasses. But let’s just say this: Wearing contact lenses will most likely do the trick. However, what if you don’t have any? Or what if you can’t stand them? You need to take off your glasses in order to fit most of the available masks. So now your sight is blurry.
Luckily there are snorkel masks that come with prescription lenses. And some shops might even rent those to their customers. Let’s say they do, will you find the perfect one? And what if your left and right eye need a different lens? Buying your own gear, maybe even with a little help from your optometrist, is probably your best choice. Or who knows you’re lucky and the renting place offers a huge collection of gear.
One of the main reasons to go snorkeling is exploring the marine life, right? So a good vision is very important. It also adds to your safety. Being able to see clearly in which direction you are heading, noticing the weather conditions and not hurting yourself are of big importance. You don’t want to step on that sharp rock that’s just a few inches away.
You probably thought about this yourself, but we don’t all have the same budget. If you can easily afford to buy your own gear, why not? The next thing to think about is how much you are willing to spend. Maybe waiting for that discount sale is an option? Or who knows you’re going on a holiday soon and you can’t wait to visit that shop today?
Snorkel gear doesn’t necessarily need to cost you a fortune, but proper equipment is not exactly cheap. Especially if you want to buy prescription glasses or maybe even a pair of hinged fins. Some people opt for a “simple” snorkel set in order to get started. Then later on, maybe after saving some money, they decide to go for better quality.
If you take good care of your belongings you could be enjoying them for years to come. Therefore, try to understand the importance of cleaning and storage.
Size And Fit
If you made it this far, you probably understand the importance of comfortable gear. The right size and the best possible fit can really make the difference between a fun or a disappointing adventure.
Ordering products online is part of our life these days. Especially because you might still own that voucher or discount code. Just remember that there’s always the risk of disappointment. Just like buying shoes. You can try them on in your local shop, but online you can’t. If however you decide to go this route, make sure to check what other people say. Often there’s a separate section with detailed information where they talk about the fit and what to expect.
Now what if you want to snorkel with a beard? Will any mask just fit well enough? Probably not. You might want to consider to get a double sealed silicone mask or use some mustache wax. Even that won’t guarantee anything. However, if you spend some time to find the perfect way to seal your beard, you probably beat the “standard” rental gear.
Cleaning and maintaining your equipment is not only important for your health, but also in order to enjoy it as long as possible. More details and tips about this topic can be found in one of our other discussions which you can find here.
If you decide to rent, we assume that the shop takes care of all this. They will clean everything after it has been returned. But what is your personal opinion about this? Some people have a huge fear of contamination, even though all precautions have been taken. Wouldn’t it be better to buy your own stuff so you’re in control?
Is the snorkel that you rent or borrow in a good state? Or did people bite into them too hard? Not that they are to blame in any way! Some people snorkel with dentures and could therefore excessively bite the silicone, simply because they are afraid to loose their teeth. Damaged silicone could be a spot where bacteria like to accumulate.
Important: We’re definitely not saying that the gear you rent is contaminated in any way. Hygiene inspection is a common practice these days, so shops will follow their rules and maybe even have a certificate for that. We’re just giving you a list of reasons why some people would want to buy their own stuff.
If you like gadgets then maybe that’s a good reason to consider buying. Let’s give you a few examples.
Some people enjoy snorkeling with a GoPro. However, they need their hands to stay afloat or even to help their kids a little. Attaching your camera to your snorkel mask could be the way to go. However, most masks don’t come with a mount. Would you buy one? Guess that’s up to you.
Another new gadget that has been released is the snorkel walkie talkie, also known as the “snorkie talkie“. If it’s your intention to use them because you’re a little anxious and you need to stay in touch with your buddy, you’ll soon find out that they only fit a certain snorkel mask. Can you rent that one?
In rocky water some people prefer to wear a rash guard. Or maybe you just need one for the day in order to avoid a sun burn. Is your size available? Or would you rather get your own? For a single time that could be a waste of your money. If however you want to wear one more often, buying could be a good choice.
There are way more gadgets to consider, but let’s just leave it with that. We guess you get the point.
Buying your own gear is not necessary for snorkeling. If you rent or borrow a mask, a snorkel and maybe even fins you should be fine. However, there’s always a risk of ending up with cheap or damaged equipment that doesn’t fit you properly. Water leakage or even pain could be the consequence.
We listed a few reasons why owning your own gear could be profitable. Think about a good fit, quality products and maybe even hygiene. On the other hand it’s also a matter of your budget and how often you plan to explore the underwater world.
There’s no set rule about which way to go, both buying and renting come with their own pro’s and con’s. In the end you just want a great snorkel experience in order to enjoy it to it’s fullest.