Picking a snorkel for your next underwater adventure? There are actually a number of things to consider.
A snorkel is how you breathe when you have your face in the water watching the amazing underwater world.
The snorkel attaches to the side of your face mask strap, and will allow you to breathe in a variety of head positions while you are snorkelling.
The snorkel has a mouthpiece that is soft and comfortable and that seals out any water.
Your mouth comfort is very important, so make sure and get one that is a good fit for your mouth size and the right tube size if it is for kids.
Types and options
A classic snorkel is a solid tube with a mouthpiece, also known as a ‘J’ tube. Sometimes these can be bent to a specific shape, but they are generally not as comfortable to use as one with a flexible tube section.
They have no splash prevention, and no purge valves, and if you dive underwater or have a wave fill the tube, you will need to clear it by exhaling forcefully. We prefer at least a splash guard on top.
Benefits Of A Classic They are cheap. But note – they may be cheap, but are basic and far harder for the inexperienced snorkeller to use.
Flexible with purge
The next level up of has a partial flexible silicone tube and will most often have a purge valve. This is a common feature of a many snorkels. Basically there is a sump area with a valvle. Any water that has come down the tube will collect (it is lower than your mouth and keeps small amounts of water from entering your mouth).
A flexible tube below the strap attachment point is often more comfortable than a classic snorkel with a single piece of hard tube.
Benefits Of A Flexible Tube It does not pry on your mouth as much, and you can rotate the top and mouth piece to different angles for a better fit to your face. It will also drop away from your face when you are not using it, which is nice.
Benefits Of A Purge Valve When you blow, out it will clear water from the tube, instead of having to blow it all out the top. It takes much less effort.
Semi Dry With Splash Guard
A semi-dry snorkel has a splash guard on the top. This is a guard that prevents splashed water and spray from easily entering the tube. Each company has their own method of protecting the opening. This is a worthwhile feature to have. Choking on water is not fun. A splash guard will not stop water from entering when you go underwater or if a good sized wave covers your snorkel.
These snorkels will often also have a flexible tube and a purge valve.
Benefits Of A Splash Guard The guard prevents splashed water and spray from easily entering the tube. Note that a splash guard will not stop water from entering when you go underwater or if a good sized wave covers your snorkel.
This is the kind we like to use. Old dry valves used to have lots of problems. They would not seal effectively. They would stop air coming in at weird times. But more modern designs have cured most of those problems and we have found these to be the most comfortable to use.
Benefits of a Dry Valve The valve on top of the tube that completely seals out all water (and air) when a wave comes over, or when you dive underwater. That way you don’t have to clear them when you come back to the surface. When done right, this is a great feature.