This holiday season we're following the birdsheading south for the winter for some snorkeling in Belize. What gear (fins, mask, snorkel) should I try to stuff in the wife's stocking before we go? Marcus Long Island, New York
Magnum 2 Mask
But I digress. Yes, you both need some swim gear, plus some other good stuff. As for your basic snorkeling setup, it should go something like this: Start with a Sherwood Magnum 2 Mask ($40; www.sherwoodscuba.com), which is sized to fit nearly any face and offers excellent underwater visibility. Pair with an Oceanic Pocket Snorkel ($40; www.oceanicww.com), an extremely compact snorkel that's just right for travel. For fins, try the Aeris Velocity full-foot fin ($50; 1-800-647-0605), one that's ideal for snorkeling because it's compact, comfortable, and offers good propulsion. Recommended for warm water.
For her, add an Ex Officio Tank Top ($26; www.exofficio.com), a fast-drying top that's just right to throw over a swimsuit après diving. You might like Mountain Hardwear's Canyon Shirt ($65; www.mountainhardwear.com), a sun-protective shirt that's also lightweight and easy to dry. And you'll both look good in a Tilley Hat ($50; www.tilley.com), which will keep the sun from baking your brain while shedding a little rain if a shower blows through. Lastly, don't forget some good sunglasses, something like Coyote's PZ-21 ($75; www.rei.com), good-looking eyewear that is polarized for use around water.
And if you're not going to invite me down, at least send us a postcard.
For more travel gear, shades, luggage, and stylish beach threads, check out Outside's 2004 Buyer's Guide.