Having never been big into snorkeling, or really any underwater activity, I recently made the decision to change that. It’s not that I dislike marine life or the ocean, it’s just that I’d long carried with me a childhood fear of the deep blue unknown, and I never really thought about trying to overcome it. Only recently, when I was invited on a snorkeling excursion in Turks and Caicos did I throw caution to the wind and agree it was time to let this silly, old fear expire.
Long stories of personal epiphanies and appreciations for a whole new world aside, I loved the experience and instantly wished I could turn back time and spend more of it underwater. Alas, I can only handle the present and future, so I turned my attention to another quirky fear: I’m not a fan of using rental gear that touches my mouth. I needed a mask and snorkel set that wasn’t just mine to use for any future excursions, but also one that would fit easily into my medium-sized weekender bag.
That’s when I got my hands on ReefTourer’s X-Plore 2-window adult combo snorkel set, which is as good as advertised. For starters, the mask and snorkel tucked nicely between my SeaVees in the shoe pouch on the bottom side of my Herschel Novel duffle bag, but getting the set to the destination is nothing. What matters is how the mask and snorkel work and fit.
As far as style and appearance, I’m a big fan of the 90s Batman movie vibe put forth by the X-Plore mask, but I was also very pleased with how quickly I hooked the snorkel to the mask and adjusted the strap to fit my admittedly large head. Strap adjustment was crucial and convenient, because at first I had the mask too loose and instantly took on water, but a few quick pulls and it was not only a perfect fit, but it wasn’t irritating my face at all.
How was the View?
I tested my new mask and snorkel on a two-stop excursion in Aruba, first hitting the choppy waters surrounding the SS Antilla, followed by a nice swim in some calmer waters near Baby Beach. Fortunately, my friends at Sport Diver gave me a heads up on prepping a new mask, so I didn’t have to worry so much about fogginess blocking my views. Instead, I had a great look at the Antilla and a variety of fish, and I had so little to worry about that I ended up checking on and helping some of the less experienced snorkelers on our boat. (They were using rental gear that, while not bad, made me very happy with my decision to bring the Reef Tourer set.)
The silicone mouthpiece also served me well, not rubbing against my gums or causing any discomfort in my mouth. Once the trip was wrapped, the mask and snorkel fit right back into their mesh bag that I conveniently tied to the side of my KeySmart backpack, so as not to get any water on my other gear.
Bonus Accessory: Underwater Viewing Bucket
Getting into the water was about more than overcoming an old fear. As the father of a three-year-old boy and uncle of an 8-year-old niece, I saw this as an opportunity to introduce two new sets of eyes to life underwater. My son isn’t yet a swimmer, so I used ReefTourer’s underwater snorkeling viewing bucket and the one-window youth mask and snorkel set to let him have a beginner’s look at the far more limited aquatic setting of grandma’s pool.
Fortunately, the easy adjustment of the mask strap eliminated any concerns with comfort as both he and my niece had no complaints. Keeping their snorkels straight up was the biggest problem, but they both showed comfort with the snorkels when we removed the bucket and let them swim freely in the pool.
Best of all, their eagerness to try again made it very easy for me to start planning the return trip to Aruba.