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Fit to Have Fun…

August 7, 2012

The Basics of Fit for Snorkeling Equipment

It’s pretty much the worst case scenario: after a long drive or hike out to that perfect, off the beaten track snorkel spot, you hop in the water and… your mask leaks.  Or your fins don’t fit.  Whatever it is, improperly fitting equipment is the quickest way to ruin your snorkel adventure.

The best option, as with most fitted equipment, is always to buy your own.  Owning your snorkel gear ensures that it’s tailored just to you, the exact mask, snorkel and fins that your comfortable with.  Rental equipment tends to be geared towards fitting the majority of consumers, therefore it can be challenging for some people to find that perfect fit.  However, even if you do own your own gear, it’s not always practical to bring it on vacation with you.  Here are some tips for trying on snorkel equipment, whether you’re buying or renting.

Mask

To our minds, the mask is the most important part of this whole experience.  No fins?  So you swim a little slower…  No snorkel?  Can’t stay underwater as long… But no mask?  Well, unless you’re part fish, that’s a bigger challenge.  The key to fitting your mask starts when you pick it up.  If it’s rental equipment, check to make sure it’s well maintained, with no tears in the skirt.  As a rental outfit ourselves, we know that even with the best of intentions some things can get overlooked on a busy day, so it never hurts to have an extra pair of eyes checking things out.  Next, with the strap hanging down, hold the mask up to your face and slowly inhale through your nose.  This slight inhalation should be enough to keep the mask on your face – if you’re inhaling hard to keep it on, or can’t keep it on at all, then you can find a better fit.  If you’re purchasing a mask, be sure to ask your salesperson which different models they offer – oftentimes one style is narrower or wider or has a deeper or more shallow skirt, all of which provide a better fit for various face shapes.

Once you’ve tested out the initial seal, put the strap on and tighten until comfortable.  The strap should sit on the crown of your head.  Resist the urge to over tighten to improve the seal – water pressure provides the actual seal while you are snorkeling, and in some cases over tightening can actually hinder your ability to achieve a good seal.  For additional information on finding your correct mask fit, check out this useful article at snorkeling.info

Fins

Fins these days come in many variations: long, short, split, full foot, adjustable, and many in between.  Most full footed fins span a range of sizes and are sized in US Men’s and European sizes (for example, the Cressi fins that we rent in our shop offer, among others, a 5.5/6.5 size – this would fit a ladies 9).  Most fins in rental programs also tend to me a mid-range width.  For this reason, finding your perfect fin fit might not be possible with rental fins.  In this “best of existing options” scenario, we ask our renters to try on their fins, stand flat footed, then stand up on their toes.  As long as the fin doesn’t pop off your heel when you’re on your toes, it should stay on fine in the water, even if it feels a little loose.

If you’re buying a pair of fins, consider what you’re looking for… do you want a small pair, easy to pack?  Or perhaps something longer with a stiffer fin, for more propulsion in the water?  Do your research and decide which type will best serve you.  I personally prefer an adjustable fin – I believe it offers a superior fit – but it truly is a matter of preference, and a full spectrum of products means that your perfect fin is out there.

Have any questions about equipment, fit, or snorkeling in general?  Please post your questions in the comments section, and we’ll do our best to answer!

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