Snorkeling gear can be complicated or simple, and it really depends on the classification you put yourself in. The basic snorkel gear setup is a specially designed snorkel mask, set of Fins and Snorkel. Of these you have a variety to think about. You can buy a snorkel gear set from your local sporting goods store, but I believe that the best snorkel gear is one that you put together yourself.
Your mask should be low profile or low volume. That means the amount or volume of air between your eyes and the lens is minimal, allowing for a better seal and better vision. The lenses should be made of high quality polycarbonate to allow for depth changes and temperature changes.
The fins should be open heel or adjustable to allow for the use of dive shoes or socks. Full foot types are fine but they can stretch over time and become loose and can come off as you are snorkeling along. Choose a fin that is all in one component and not a ram toe or two pieces sleeved into one. Two piece fins can split and come apart where the plastic of the fin comes in contact with the rubber foot pocket.
Fins should be comfortable and offer gentle but powerful propulsion. That is, a gentle kick will not turn up much sand and will be enough to propel you forward.
The snorkel is your most important investment. You have a choice of standard (a plain open top that can allow water in), semi dry (it doesn’t allow as much water in when diving or playing in the surf) or total dry (it does not allow any water to the snorkel so you don’t have to blast clear. Snorkels now feature large bore tubing, drop away mouth pieces, interchangeable mouth pieces and splash guard tops, and there are versions for people who have breathing problems too.
Next up, you are going to want to get a Snorkeling vest or Snorkeling BC. A BC is a Buoyancy Control vest. It comes in a variety of styles; Horse collar, Vest, and surround style. A BC is important to wear in case of problems. While you may never consider snorkeling to be dangerous, many times you can get stung by fire coral, lion fish, jelly fish and then you cannot swim. A BC allows someone to keep you afloat and let someone help you.
Dive Skin or 1 mil wet suit will not only help you with buoyancy and help to keep you afloat, but it will protect your back from severe sunburn.
If you go for continual pike diving and bottom skimming, you will need a depth gauge. One on a wrist watch style is a better investment. Since pike divers can develop DC (Decompression sickness) or NN (Nitrogen Narcosis) knowing your limits and how deep you have gone is a big help in preventing both complications.
A compass is another good investment. Orienteering and surface navigation will prevent you from getting lost. And there is always a possibility of getting lost just by snorkeling.
A dive flag floating marker is another much needed safety investment. As regulated by the Coast Guard. It doesn’t matter whether you are a SCUBA diver or snorkeler, you have to mark where you are.
And finally a camera for taking those pictures underwater of what you found. Make sure it is waterproof to at least 15 feet and has a flash to light up the colors.
Now that you know everything you need to know to put together your own snorkel set, what are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy the water!