Scubapro Apnea Folding
Appeared in DIVER November 2018
I’m a really keen snorkeller, but as a scuba-diver I just don’t get this thing about always wearing a snorkel on your mask-strap. After all, you’re hardly likely to go snorkelling in your scuba kit. It would be like putting on your motorbiking leathers and helmet to drive your estate.
In fact, wearing a snorkel on your mask-strap introduces scope for human equipment fail-points. I’m sure I’m not the first diver to have made the mistake in training of switching between regulator and snorkel at the wrong time – as I descended.
In fact, as an instructor teaching alternative air-source use, I wasn’t fast enough to stop my own student putting his snorkel into his mouth instead of his regulator 3m down.
Plus, when I did toe the agency line and wear a snorkel on my mask, it would vibrate in current or catch on wreckage as I stuck my head in a hole, and then my mask would flood.
That said, there are real reasons why you should carry, rather than wear, a snorkel on almost any recreational scuba-dive.
One is in case you want to fin to the dive-site at the surface to save air. Far more importantly, a snorkel can be a lifesaver if you’re on the surface and out of air in a choppy sea. In that situation, it’s all too easy to drown.
It’s for this reason that I always carry a snorkel when I dive – only not on my mask-strap.
So where to keep it? In the old days it would be stuffed down the straps of the man-sized Navy dive-knife on your calf, where it would survive a few dives, then fall out and be lost.
The modern solution is the one Scubapro and some other manufacturers use – make a snorkel that folds.
A flexible snorkel can be rolled up and stuffed into a BC pocket until needed. I’m a convert, having carried one for more than a decade.
Design and Use
The Scubapro folding snorkel is a simple design. There are no easy-clearing drain valves (Scubapro invented the first snorkel with an easy-clear valve that the scuba industry actually trusted back in the late 1970s). So if you need to clear it you’ll have to use blast or displacement methods, both of which work fine. Or take the mouthpiece out.
As its primary role is for use by a scuba-diver at the surface, it’s unlikely to ship much water anyway.
The snorkel easily scrunches up for life in your pocket, but instantly reverts to its proper shape as you take it out.
The barrel has a removable top section for those who like their snorkel a little shorter. It clips in without tools, and seems secure.
The mouthpiece swivels to follow the angle of your jaw and has a very soft mouth/lip seal and bite tabs, all of which makes it comfortable to use. I did find that if I tried to take the really deep breaths I need for my best efforts at snorkelling under the water (let’s not claim any freediving ability, given that DIVER tells it like it is), I tended to crush the mouthpiece stem just a little and create some breathing resistance.
I’d use the Apnea as a “snorkelling snorkel” at a pinch, and it is certainly better than my own folding snorkel for that, because of its slightly less-supple construction, but for choice I’d use something else. It’s best to see this simple device as an excellent safety aid and, in my personal opinion, a far better option than a snorkel on your mask-strap. Recommended.