Best Snorkeling Bags

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

31 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
465 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best snorkeling bags

Last Updated October 2019

Until you start snorkeling regularly, it’s hard to imagine how quickly your gear can accumulate.  A great trip requires more than just a snorkel and a mask. To be prepared for changing conditions, you need to pack sunscreen, defogging spray, mustache wax, and more. 

Having a dedicated snorkeling bag can simplify and streamline your preparation for your trip. Otherwise, you risk forgetting something that could, in turn, derail your day. Keeping your bag stocked with must-haves means you won’t forget your sunscreen or snorkel vest in a different duffel.

But not just any bag will do. A snorkeling bag needs to be lightweight and comfortable enough to go the distance. There must be enough room to fit your mask, fins, snorkel, booties, and more. Most importantly, it needs a place where you can store wet items as well as items that need to stay dry.

Which snorkeling bags are up for the challenge? Keep reading to learn more. When you’re ready to buy, check our recommendations for the best snorkeling bags on the market.

Long or short fins? Make sure you know which you have before you order a snorkeling bag. The fins are one of the trickiest items to fit in a bag.

Key considerations

Materials

Whether you invest in a snorkeling duffel, backpack, or tote, it will likely be made of heavy-duty mesh that allows your equipment to drain and dry. These bags can be easily rinsed to remove salt and sand from your gear.

Mesh is lightweight and convenient, but it doesn’t provide much structure or protection for other items. To solve that problem, many snorkeling bags have external pockets made from PVC, nylon, or polyester. These durable, water-resistant materials provide some structure to hold sunscreen, lip balm, and more. Double-check that the pocket on your bag is fully waterproof before using it to store sensitive items like your phone or key fob. Some bags have larger compartments made of these same materials to hold towels and clothing.

How many pockets — and how big of a bag — do you need? To answer that question, you need to think about how you typically get to your snorkeling spot.

How you get there

Boating: Those who typically boat to their snorkeling spot can get away with a small duffle-style bag. Your main concern is keeping your basics together, not packing a bag with a day’s worth of supplies. We recommend a lightweight bag with room for your mask, vest, snorkel, and fins, as well as small items like anti-fog spray, wax, or silicone. Keys, towels, changes of clothing, spare gear, and other equipment can be stored in the boat.

Beach front: If you normally snorkel at the beach, your options are flexible. You may opt for a smaller bag for snorkeling equipment only, packing towels and dry clothing in another bag left in your vehicle or on the shore. Or, you may decide you prefer an all-in-one bag that can hold your snorkeling equipment as well as your dry goods. In this case, there are duffel bags and backpacks that would suit you well. Either way, you’ll need to decide whether you’re comfortable leaving your keys on the beach or if you’d prefer a waterproof box that you can bring into the water with you.

Remote location: Some adventurous snorkelers like to hike to remote spots known for their diverse sea life. If this sounds like you, you will need to choose your bag carefully, balancing size and comfort.

Snorkelers who trek far from the car don’t have the luxury of going back for towels, snacks, or dry clothes. Therefore, the bag must have space for any gear you might need, as well as food and water to sustain you on the way back. If you’re traveling a significant distance, it’s wise to bring a phone to call for help in case of an emergency. And you’ll definitely need a spot for your keys — a waterproof spot, if you have an electronic key fob.

But unless you own a pack mule, you probably shouldn’t spring for the biggest bag you can find. After all, you’ll need to carry it out to your destination and back again after a long day in the water. Your bag should be roomy but efficient in its space. Backpacks are the most practical; many feature padded straps that ergonomically balance weight to help you avoid shoulder and back strain.

If you must take everything with you into the water, look for bags that double as dive flag buoys. Many locations require you to post a flag where you’re snorkeling, so this option gives you more bang for your buck. But the bag must float, so it shouldn’t be packed to the brim. It will also limit your ability to dive below the surface.

EXPERT TIP

Some snorkeling bags float and double as buoys for dive flags that you can tether to your waist.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Waterproof compartment

At the end of the day, you want your dry goods to be dry and your wet gear to be drying. A snorkeling bag with separate chambers can help you achieve both goals. A waterproof compartment will help prevent wet masks and snorkels from soaking your towel and shoes. Ideally, the compartment should be on the side of the backpack that rests against your back or the bottom part of your duffel. That way, your wet equipment will be on the outside or the bottom, protecting you and your dry goods from drips.

Drainage

You’ll also want a dedicated compartment for wet equipment so it can continue to dry. Some manufacturers achieve this by installing drain holes in an interior compartment; others install a mesh pocket along the outside of the bag. Both options have advantages and disadvantages: an interior chamber poses a higher risk for mold and mildew, while a mesh chamber is more susceptible to catches and tears.

Exterior pockets

A good snorkeling bag will have plenty of external pockets to accommodate sunscreen, anti-fog spray, and more. These pockets provide quick access and save you from having to dig through your bag when you need an item. Make sure your pockets are large enough to hold the items you’ll want to grab easily.

Padded straps

Even basic snorkel gear isn’t light. Whether you carry it in a tote, duffel, or backpack, you’ll need to make sure your bag has padded straps that are comfortable on the shoulder or in the hand. Avoid thin straps that may distribute weight poorly and/or dig into your shoulder.

Other additions that can make your snorkeling bag a winner include the following.

  • A built-in safety whistle, in case of emergencies
  • Additional straps at the waist and sternum (for comfort)
  • Accessory loops for hanging items that don’t fit in pockets

 

EXPERT TIP

Sick of fighting with sandy, salty zippers? Look for mesh compartments that close with drawstrings and toggles.


Staff  | BestReviews

Snorkeling bag prices

Inexpensive: You can find budget snorkeling bags for $25 to $30. In this price range, bags will be made from mesh and may have an exterior pocket for small accessories. They’ll have room for the basics but not much more. 

Mid-range: Higher-quality snorkeling bags often cost $30 to $40. Bags that cost this much should be made from sturdy mesh with sizable water-resistant compartments to store items you want to keep dry. Whether duffle or backpack style, they should have padded straps for comfortable carrying.

High-end: High-end snorkeling bags cost $40 or more. Bags in this price range should have durable mesh pouches thoughtfully placed so as not to soak you or your dry items. They should have sizeable dry compartments that can hold a towel. They should be large enough to hold all of your gear and designed to distribute the weight of your gear so it doesn’t strain your back or shoulders.

EXPERT TIP

Even expert snorkelers often keep their valuables in a zip-seal sandwich bag inside their snorkeling bag for an extra layer of security.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Measure large items like fins before buying a snorkeling bag to ensure that they will fit in the bag.
  • If you’re traveling to snorkel, look for a bag that dries quickly and folds down easily for packing in a suitcase.
  • If you choose a bag with a waterproof compartment, make sure the compartment’s seal is free from hair, dirt, and other debris before closing. Even a small gap could leave your belongings soaked.

Other products we considered

We like the looks of this versatile Meister mesh duffel backpack. While it’s made from heavy-duty mesh, it’s extremely lightweight and weighs less than two pounds when empty. The design allows you to carry it as a backpack or a duffel bag, and its water-resistant compartment is large enough for a hoodie or towel.

If you have to take it with you, this floating snorkel bag from Hotspear gives you a safe spot for your valuables while you’re in the water. Triple air chambers keep your phone, keys, and towel afloat, and a tether allows the bag to follow you at a comfortable distance. Your snorkel, mask, and fins would need to be clipped on with a carabiner, though.

If your bag is heavy, carry it by the shortest handles, which are usually able to support the weight more easily.

FAQ

Q. What’s the difference between a snorkeling bag and a dry bag?
A.
A snorkeling bag is designed specifically to hold a mask, snorkel, and fins, the last of which can be pretty awkward. Snorkeling bags often have chambers intended to protect dry items from water; good ones focus on letting your wet gear drain. Dry bags, by comparison, are simply large bags designed to keep their contents dry in a single chamber. They tend to be awkward and bulky, and they don’t have a separate place for wet items. What’s more, most dry bags aren’t fully watertight. You close a dry bag by folding any extra fabric over multiple times and then securing it with a buckle or Velcro. This prevents water from dripping or leaking, but if the bag is accidentally submerged, its contents will likely get wet.

In short, a dry bag may be a good item to have in your collection, but it’s not a substitute for a snorkeling bag.

Q. I usually snorkel with a partner. Do we both need a bag?
A.
Snorkeling with at least one other person is more fun, and it’s also a good safety precaution. But unless one of you is a linebacker, you should each carry your own bag. Snorkeling gear — especially the fins — can be heavy and carrying more than one pair could strain a shoulder or back. An injury like that can make it hard to swim. Having separate bags spreads the weight around and prevents confusion over equipment.

Q. Should I put my keys in a snorkel bag?
A.
Many people are uncomfortable leaving their keys on the beach, and for good reason. It’s best to bring your keys in the water with you — which is no problem if you have a standard metal key. However, many late-model cars have keys with electronic components that can’t get wet. If you’ve chosen a combination dive flag/snorkeling bag, you can leave your keys in the flag component that stays above water. If not, it’s best to look for a waterproof container that attaches to a belt so you can keep your keys with you at all times.

The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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