Snorkeling is one of the most exciting water activities. Even without advanced swimming skills, people of different age groups get to marvel at mesmerizing underwater sights and enjoy the relaxing effect of this water sport. In fact, kids can start learning how to snorkel as early as five or six years old!
While it’s mostly an effortless task, not having the right equipment can make it hard to enjoy the experience and potentially put snorkelers in danger. Poorly designed fins, for example, impede movement, and loose snorkeling masks cause water to build up inside. For children who are more prone to panic than adults, choosing the right gear is especially important.
According to the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA), an average of 10 fatal drowning accidents happen every day in the United States. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites drowning as the third leading cause of unintentional death in children and adolescents aged five to 19 years.
The NDPA stresses the preventability of such events, and advocates the use of high-quality kids’ snorkeling gear to significantly diminish risks. In contrast to how they are usually marketed, snorkeling equipment aren’t mere toys that can be purchased without much thought. Every piece of equipment must be made of the finest materials and designed purposefully to ensure comfort and safety.
What to Consider When Buying Snorkeling Gear for Kids
While it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices when purchasing snorkeling gear for kids, being guided by the following considerations can help simplify the process:
Kids’ Snorkel Masks
A kids’ snorkel mask is essential to have when letting your child participate in the sport. They typically come in twin lens and single-lens designs (fashioned from tempered glass) and have a hypoallergenic silicone skirt. Aside from improving visibility, the primary function of a snorkel mask is to create an air-tight barrier between the face and saltwater. Ideally, all snorkel masks should remain impervious amid movements and changes in facial expression.
When buying a snorkeling mask for your child, your primary concern should be its fit. Look for a product that comes with a high-grade silicone seal and test it before allowing your child to go underwater. To do this, put the mask over your child’s face without the straps. With the gear barely touching the skin, examine the skirt of the mask for any gaps, especially around the smile lines, temple, nose, and corner of the mouth. There should be no visible spaces.
Next, have your child take a deep breath. A good snorkeling mask should create a seal as your kid inhales, and will stay in place even as you let go. During this test—or whenever in use—remember not to press on the mask. Creating the air lock must be effortless, and making it come loose during tests should be achieved by simply exhaling.
Generally, there are two types of kids’ snorkeling masks: regular masks and full-face snorkeling masks. Traditional models only provide coverage until the nose, while full-face snorkeling masks cover the entire face. For children who do not have a lot of experience being in the water, a full face snorkeling mask is your best bet to help them get comfortable. This type of gear allows natural breathing underwater, making for a calmer and more relaxed experience.
Recommended Kids’ Snorkel Masks:
- High-quality silicone rubber
- Durable polycarbonate plastic lens
- Even pressure dispersion
- Ingenious defroster to eliminate fogging
- Dry top snorkel design
- Polycarbonate lens
- Soft silicone skirt
Kids’ Snorkel Tubes
Snorkel tubes must always be bought together with masks, or ideally, as part of a kids’ snorkel set. Unless you opt for a full face snorkeling mask, you should have your child use a snorkel tube together with the mask even when you’re only taking him or her to the swimming pool. The simple apparatus serves as an entryway for air so your child can breathe and may be equipped with additional components to allow the purging of water.
The primary consideration when purchasing a snorkel tube is the mouthpiece. It should be a kids’ size silicone mouthpiece with just the right softness for your child to bite comfortably while preventing any leaks. Once you’ve got that down, you can pay attention to other specifications. Snorkel tubes are now available in dry and semi-dry models. Unlike traditional equipment, dry snorkel tubes and semi-dry snorkel tubes have splash guards on its exposed end to prevent water from entering the gear. Some models also have purge valves that allow your child to expel liquid by blowing in the mouthpiece.
Recommended Kids’ Snorkel Tubes:
- Soft silicone mouthpiece
- Contoured tube style
- Heavy-duty splash guard
- Large elliptic one-way exhaust valve
- Semi-dry top
- Easy purge valve
- Deep-well air reservoir
Kids’ Snorkeling Fins
Snorkeling fins go on your child’s feet to facilitate quick and effortless movements in the water. As with other snorkeling gear, your decision in choosing a pair should be heavily based on how well they fit your child. Swimfins that are too tight can cut off blood circulation, while wearing loose flippers may result in blisters and could come off while swimming.
For practical reasons, you can go for open-heel fins with adjustable straps. These will guarantee great value for your money as it will take a long time before your kid will grow out of them. But if your child is more comfortable with full-foot fins, or snorkeling fins that come in a fixed size, purchase those instead. If you don’t want to keep purchasing new ones right away, you can buy them in a bigger size and pair them with tick neoprene socks or thin-soled booties.
The flexibility of snorkeling fins should also be taken into consideration when making a purchase. Since children don’t have a lot of muscle power in their legs, you should stay away from rigid fins, as these will make it harder for them to move about. Lightweight and flexible kids’ snorkeling fins will also ensure that your child won’t tire easily while engaging in the activity.
Recommended Kids’ Snorkel Fins
- Open-heel design
- Vented fin blades for more power and easy maneuvering
- Open-heel design
- Durable side rails for maximum propulsion
Kids’ swimwear protects your child from stingers and other irritants in the water. Depending on where you plan to snorkel, you can choose between a simple rash guard or a full wetsuit. When temperatures are cold, a wetsuit will keep your child warm by trapping a layer of water inside the garment. This will then be heated up naturally by the body and serve as insulation against the cold.
Meanwhile, rash guards are more breathable swimsuits perfect for warmer temperatures. They also come in different lengths for varying levels of coverage. Rash guards and wetsuits may also be constructed with special materials that provide ultra-violet protection.
Recommended Kids’ Snorkeling Swimwear:
- Made of nylon-2-neoprene
- 2mm thickness for ease of movement
- Excellent core warming capability
- Good anatomical fit
- Made of nylon-2-neoprene
- Flat-lock seam stitches
- Helps shield wearer from UV rays
Kids’ Water Accessories
Some water accessories aren’t totally necessary for snorkeling, but will make the whole experience easier and much safer for your child. Kickboards, for example, are of great help to children who are not confident in their swimming abilities, and may even be used by fairly skilled kids for an added layer of safety. Meanwhile, wearing a swim vest is imperative for beginners and very young children. Have your child wear a properly fitted swim vest at all times and be sure to couple the gear with constant supervision.
Recommended Kids’ Snorkeling Accessories:
- Squeeze-style side-release buckle closure
- Adjustable waist strap
- Great lift weight and comfort
- Horse collar design
- Made from a durable fabric with an internal urethane laminate