Hey now!

I’m just getting into snorkeling and scuba diving and want to get a really good mask/snorkel/fins to begin with. Unfortunately, I do not live anywhere close to a dive shop and have to order these items online. The store has said not to worry about sizes, as I can send back and exchange sizes at no charge to myself (which is really rare and nice of them). But I am not sure which brand or model to go with, especially for fins.

What would you consider to be the very best set of fins, if money was not an issue? Atomic? Mares? Should I get split fins?

Do dry snorkels really work? Do they close when submerged? If you have a good dry snorkel what brand did you get?

Thanks a bunch. Any extra advice or abuse you want to include for a rookie scuba diver/snorkeler would be appreciated. I will be taking a PADI or NAUI course in the winter on vacation, but wanted to practice snorkeling all summer and fall.

You have to decide if you intend to dive in warm climates or cold climates first. If you intend to dive anywhere other than those southern states that are along the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll have to have cold climate fins which accomodate your foot + a 3-5 mm bootie whereas warm climate fins slip right onto your bare foot. Hopefully you know this already.

If I assume cold climate, then I’m a Mares Volo believer! This fin has a pivot point in the middle of the fin to make your kick a little easier with more propulsion. If you go with a Mares Quatro, you’re not going to like it! I have this fin, and it was "the most powerful" back in the day when I bought my "best equipment". This sucker has some great propulsion, but only if you have tree trunks for legs! To kick this fin for a whole dive will get your legs cramping up real quick unless your in better than average athletic shape.

Soon after these fins came out, the split fins came out. At that time, it helped let people kick a little easier with more propulsion than regular fins but not quite as much as the Quatro. Then Mares came out with a middle fin, the Volo. The addition of the pivot made the Quatro design easier to kick.

As for snorkels, there’s a few considerations. If you intend to do a significant amount of snorkeling then a dry snorkel is definitely worth the price. They definitely stay 95-99% dry, and they’ll stay mostly dry underwater. BUT, that’s a good *and* a bad thing. Good for obvious reasons, but BAD because when you scuba dive, that air in the snorkel will *pull* up on the side of your mask because there’s air in it! That really sucks. It’s really uncomfortable on the side of your face. I have an Ocean Master dry snorkel, and I don’t even use it on most dives for that reason–the only time I bring it is if it looks like the conditions warrant it, but that’s not a good habit, you should always bring a snorkel.

Another thing to consider: stiffness. If your snorkeling, stiffness keeps the thing pointed in the right direction. If your diving, the stiffness only bangs against the side of your face while it wobbles on the side of your mask.

My preference/recommendation would be to have a medium stiff soft rubber snorkel for diving without the dry feature.

Other advice. 90% of my equipment I bought at Diver’s Direct in Florida. I can say without a doubt, they have *the* best prices and they have *the* best customer service. I’ve ordered from them online, and I’ve even been to their stores and in both ways, they people are knowledgable, friendly and helpful! You can quote me on that! But also remember that when possible, always try to buy what you can afford at your local dive shops, nobody really gets rich selling equipment, you’ll just be helping out fellow divers and that’s a great thing!

Hope this helps and good luck!