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Gear Guy

What snorkeling gear will make the perfect stocking stuffer?

This holiday season we're following the birds—heading 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

A: Mmmm...Belize. Warm water, white sand beaches, tropical forests. Take me along, will you? It's freezing where I live, and by morning a storm promises winds of up to 50 mph. The only good news there is that the leaves I've left accumulating on my lawn will migrate.

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;, which is sized to fit nearly any face and offers excellent underwater visibility. Pair with an Oceanic Pocket Snorkel ($40;, 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;, a fast-drying top that's just right to throw over a swimsuit après diving. You might like Mountain Hardwear's Canyon Shirt ($65;, a sun-protective shirt that's also lightweight and easy to dry. And you'll both look good in a Tilley Hat ($50;, 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;, 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.

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Lead Photo: courtesy, Sherwood Scuba