- Allows you to breathe on the surface while your face is in the water.
- Makes swimming at the surface easier.
Snorkels allow you to comfortably breathe at the surface without lifting your face from the water. They are used by snorkels and divers to make swimming at the surface easier, and they are needed by divers to help reduce the need to waste air breathing from the scuba tank at the surface.
Types of Snorkels
There are several types of snorkels that are suited for different kinds of snorkeling and diving.
- J-Style Snorkel. A solid curved tube snorkel, typically used by free divers and some snorkelers. This type of snorkel does not drop away when it is taken out of the mouth. For this reason, a J-style snorkel is generally not used by divers as the end can get in the way of the scuba regulator. An example of the J-style snorkel is the Mares Dual Snorkel.
- Open Tube Snorkel. An open tube snorkel is a snorkel that has an exposed end. This makes for simply construction, but it does not provide any protection from waves or splashing that can cause water to come down the tube. Many J-style snorkels are open tube. An example of an open tube snorkel is the Atomic SV1 Snorkel.
- Semi-Dry Snorkel. A semi-dry snorkel has a splash guard of slits in the end of the tube to help deflect water from coming down the tube. While they do not block water from coming down the tube if the snorkel is submerged, they generally do reduce the amount of water entering the tube from waves. The Atomic SV2 Snorkel and Cressi Beta Snorkel are examples of semi-dry snorkels.
- Dry Snorkel. The dry snorkel is the most advanced type of snorkel. They feature a mechanism on the end, generally equipped with a float, that seals the top of the tube when the snorkel is submerged. Most also have splash guards that deflect water from waves. Dry snorkels reduce the snorkeler or diver’s effort in the water by significantly reducing the need to clear the snorkel. The Cressi Alpha Dry Snorkel and the Mares Ergo Dry Snorkel are good examples of a high quality dry snorkels.
Tips for Purchasing a Snorkel
Here are some things to consider when buying a snorkel.
- Choose a comfortable mouthpiece. The mouthpieces on all snorkels are not created equally. If you are going to be sending a lot of time on the surface breathing from your snorkel, you want a good quality silicone mouthpiece that will not fatigue your jaw. Also, make sure to choose a snorkel with a mouthpiece that fits your mouth. A mouthpiece that is too large or too small will cause water to seep in around your lips.
- Find a good clip. If you have a good quality mask, you will want to store it in a solid mask box when you are not using it. That means you will need to remove the snorkel. A quick disconnect snorkel keeper will make disconnecting and reconnecting your snorkel easy. Snorkels like the Atomic SV snorkels come equipped with a good quick disconnect, but you can also buy a quick disconnect snorkel keeper as an after-market accessory.
- Consider a flexible end. J-style snorkels are generally solid body snorkels. This can be a problem if you are a diver as the snorkel can get in the way when you are using your regulator. Also, a flexible end can be more comfortable for snorkelers as they are less rigid and adjust more easily. Flexible ends do create more drag, however, and for this reason they are generally not used by free divers.
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