How to choose the right snorkel for you

How to choose a snorkel

Last Updated on June 26, 2024 by Steve Weinman

We’re going back to basics and breaking down the snorkel. If you’re new to scuba diving or snorkelling, you’ll be faced with many designs, and some can be better for certain types of divers while others can hinder.

There are plenty of choices on our sponsor scuba.com, which has a huge website full of the latest snorkelling and scuba diving equipment, as well as two dive-centres.

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J Snorkel

This is the most fundamental type of snorkel. Up at the top is the opening where the air goes in and, down from that, you have a slight bend so that the top wraps around your head.

They can sometimes be straight, but if it wraps around it’s a bit more hydrodynamic. You then have a way of attaching your snorkel to your mask in the form of a clip, in this case a figure of eight. 

How to choose the right snorkel
Rigid J-type snorkel

A lower bend below that wraps the lower section of the snorkel around your jaw so that the mouthpiece can sit in your mouth. There’s a trap just below your mouthpiece which is the lowest part of the snorkel, where any water that finds its way inside will collect but leave the airway clear and, finally, you have the mouthpiece.

In snorkels like this one the tube just stops and is open. These are the cheapest because they're the easiest to make, and you do need a certain amount of airway control, choosing when to inhale and where to inhale from. 

If there’s any water around your mouth, you need to be comfortable with that. Any splash from a wave, or you duck your head a little too deep, the water is going to find its way inside the snorkel so, if you don’t like water around your mouth, this is not the style for you. 

If you are more comfortable in the water, these J models have the fewest failure points and are quite multifunctional as well. 

Deflector tops 

How to choose the right snorkel
Deflector too

Deflector tops like this one have some kind of shielding that obscures the opening, so if a wave splashes over the top some water might find its way through but most of is likely to be deflected away from that airway opening. 

Again, very few failure points but it protects that airway a little more. The name is a little exaggerated but it will help reduce water splashes, and a small float built into the top of the snorkel on a hinge floats up and blocks the opening if it ever gets submerged. 

So if you dive under the water a lot, these can be quite nice because the entire snorkel doesn’t fill up with water and need clearing once you get back to the surface. If you're swimming in choppy waters, too, it helps to prevent water from filling up that snorkel. 

But do be prepared for the snorkel to close halfway through a breath in rougher waters and stop you from inhaling. It’s a weird sensation but it can happen. If they close and you continue to inhale, you can basically suck and hold that seal in place, so you won’t be able to breathe even if you do come back up above the water. You need to exhale a little just to push that seal open and continue to breathe. 

Floats

Most snorkels are a perfect circle in cross-section but some are slightly oval, which just brings it a little closer to your head to help reduce drag.

Some snorkels have a small float built in, so if you accidentally drop it in the water you’ll find it floating on the surface. It should float even if your mask is still attached and you drop them both connected into the water. 

Flexibility

Then it comes down to flexibility. A rigid snorkel like this one has its benefits in that the airway stays open and there's no way for it to old over, but it can get a little waggly sometimes if there's a strong current. With semi-flexible ones it’s quite nice to have a bit of flex. 

How to choose the right snorkel
Rigid snorkel

Flexible bodies allow that bit of bend and flex instead of breaking, but there are degrees of flexibility. Some are completely flexible while others I’d call moderately flexible because while it does bend it always snaps back to its original shape to keep that airway open. 

How to choose the right snorkel
Plenty of flexibility

Foldables

Folding snorkels curl up completely into themselves to fit in a pocket. They’re more convenient if you don’t want to use them all the time but you just need to make sure that when you do open it up the airway isn't constricted because they can sometimes just hold themselves closed. 

Clips

How to choose the right snorkel
Snorkel clip for easy attachment to the mask

Clips range from a basic hook to fully articulated removable clips with slides and hinges. The figure of eight is probably the most universal, just a very simple piece of rubber that slides over the snorkel. It can be a touch fiddly because you either have to slide both loops over the snorkel with the mask in place or you have to rethread the mask-strap through that and then through the mask buckles.

Some articulated clips are fixed onto the snorkel. You can slide them up and down and they often have a bit of a hinge so the snorkel can angle as you need it to. Some snorkels have a removable clip – you can remove a section, leave that part attached to your mask and then just attach the snorkel when you want to use it. 

If you have that on your mask all the time it can be a little bit cumbersome to pack together, because your mask has its own little box and your snorkel won’t fit inside that. 

Fixed angle

Below the clip, the lower bend can be at a fixed angle, which is best for pure snorkelling. If you use it while scuba diving it can get in the way of your regulator and if it's not a perfect fit you might feel some kind of pull on the mouthpiece trying to hold it in place. 

With a softer lower bend, the corrugated section can allow the mouthpiece to sit wherever is comfortable, and if you’re scuba diving and let go of it to switch to your regulator the mouthpiece just drops away to give your second stage a bit of space. 

How to choose the right snorkel
Flexible corrugated section makes the mouthpiece easier to position comfortably

The lowest part of a snorkel is usually a bit oversized so that any water that does find its way in settles at the lowest point. Even if there’s a fair amount of water inside, as long as you don’t gasp the air in, if you breathe gently then you can actually breathe past that water. 

A lot of snorkels have a small one-way valve at the bottom of these traps so that any water that does get caught will be pushed out each time you exhale firmly. Without that lower purge valve, you’ll need to exhale and blast any water all the way up out of the snorkel to be able to clear it, so it’s a lot easier. 

How to choose the right snorkel
Water trap with one-way valve

With the mouthpiece in you bite down gently on these two side-bits – bite too hard and you’ll chew through it because it’s just soft silicone, and if it’s a fixed mouthpiece you’ll then have to replace the entire snorkel.

With some you can change just the mouthpiece, but most mouthpieces will sit nicely in your mouth without a need to bite down and your lips can actually hold on to it. 

Full-face snorkels

How to choose the right snorkel
Full-face mask

The full-face snorkel has several benefits but it is very important to understand just how dangerous they can be if not used properly. Full-face snorkels are an all-in-one mask that covers your face and lets you breathe through your nose and mouth. It’s difficult for water to find its way in and snorkellers who really don’t like water anywhere near their face prefer this style because of the comprehensive seals all the way around. 

However, every single snorkel extends your dead airspace, which is simply the volume of exhaled gas that doesn’t leave your trachea completely when you finish exhaling. The gas inside this dead airspace contains a little less oxygen and a bit more carbon dioxide compared to fresh air. 

When you breathe normally, it's not that much of an issue because your next lungful of fresh air just dilutes it. However, when you add extra volume onto that, the volume of a standard snorkel or, worse, a full-face snorkel with its much larger volume, you need to take good proper lungfuls of fresh air rather than shallow breathing, because you want to clear out as much of that dead air space as possible. 

Because full-face snorkels are a relatively new concept, there isn’t really any standardised testing. We have seen too many cheap designs on the market, so it’s very important that you buy a reputable brand as well as taking big breaths and flushing out as much of that dead airspace as possible to maintain nice fresh air in your lungs. 

Deep breaths

The same is true of regular snorkels: you do need to breathe properly and not too shallow. Check out the brand: if it has a decent website and some kind of accountability there’s a better chance of it producing a decent product. 

There are too many anonymous manufacturers that make these products without any accountability and they are best left alone. 

If you do decide to get a full-face snorkel, look for large airflow openings. On some of the designs I have seen very small openings but you want big airways coming in and going out, and proper one-way valves so that you know that your exhaled gas is being kept separate from your inhaled air.

Always be careful with full-face snorkels: take big deep breaths and every five or 10 minutes just take it off and get some fresh air before you continue. If you ever feel anything is off, get the mask off, catch your breath and get to safety. 

How to choose the right snorkel
A simple snorkel can be used to provide rescue breaths

I use a basic J-type snorkel, I don’t wear one on my mask when I go scuba diving because they have a very shallow operating depth and my regulator will always be better when I need to breathe, even on the surface. When I go snorkelling I’m fairly confident in the water.

My air control is pretty good and if a snorkel has lots of valves and deflectors and things you can’t use it for inwater rescue breaths.

Instead of having to climb out of the water to do in-water rescue breaths, you can just fit the mouthpiece in the victim and then breathe into the tube.

I prefer a simple snorkel with a little bit of flex but not too much. It’s good for packing, a bit more convenient and it’s less likely to break. 

Colours

Colour is up to you. Former legislation has relaxed so snorkels don’t necessarily require a bright orange or yellow tip and don’t have to be overly bright, but to help you be better seen in the water reds, pinks, yellows and oranges tend to be best. 

By the left

Most snorkels are designed to go on the left side of your head, so you might find that the mouthpiece is angled slightly. If it feels weird when it’s on the right, as a rule of thumb if it has any kind of logo designed to be on the front it won’t be on the side facing your chin, and it’s normally angled to go on the left because scuba regulators come in over the right shoulder.

Spend a little time finding the right snorkel for you and don’t forget to check out our sponsor scuba.com.

Also on Divernet: THE JOY OF SNORKELLING, ED FLAGS FOR SNORKELLERS: HOW TO STOP THE QUIET DEATHS, FULL-FACE SNORKEL MASKS ‘POSE IPO RISK’, BLUE-RINGED STOWAWAY SURPRISES SNORKELLER

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@stanleysadventres
#AskMark What are some things you wish you wish you found out before you started diving?

#scuba #scubadiving #scubadiver
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Become a fan: https://www.scubadivermag.com/join
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We partner with https://www.scuba.com and https://www.mikesdivestore.com for all your gear essentials. Consider using the affiliate link above to support the channel.

The information in this video is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional SCUBA Training. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained in this video is for general information purposes only and does not replace training from a qualified Dive Instructor.

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@jaketarren
#askmark, Heyo! Longtime listener, first time caller, etc. Went with a BP/W for my first set and I'm having a really hard time keeping the power inflator on my shoulder; the corrugated hose keeps flipping off my shoulder and getting twisted up or just ending up behind the backplate and dangling down the back of the wing. Is there something I can add to my harness to keep it in place? I don't want to tie it to the D ring since I wouldn't be able to lift it to deflate. I'm using the cheap DGX Gears wing for reference. Thanks!

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Website: https://www.divernet.com ➡️ Scuba News, Underwater Photography, Hints & Advice, Travel Reports
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FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/scubadivermag
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We partner with https://www.scuba.com and https://www.mikesdivestore.com for all your gear essentials. Consider using the affiliate link above to support the channel.

The information in this video is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional SCUBA Training. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained in this video is for general information purposes only and does not replace training from a qualified Dive Instructor.

@jaketarren
#askmark, Heyo! Longtime listener, first time caller, etc. Went with a BP/W for my first set and I'm having a really hard time keeping the power inflator on my shoulder; the corrugated hose keeps flipping off my shoulder and getting twisted up or just ending up behind the backplate and dangling down the back of the wing. Is there something I can add to my harness to keep it in place? I don't want to tie it to the D ring since I wouldn't be able to lift it to deflate. I'm using the cheap DGX Gears wing for reference. Thanks!

#scuba #scubadiving #scubadiver
LINKS

Become a fan: https://www.scubadivermag.com/join
Gear Purchases: https://www.scubadivermag.com/affiliate/dive-gear
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Website: https://www.scubadivermag.com ➡️ Scuba Diving, Underwater Photography, Hints & Advice, Scuba Gear Reviews
Website: https://www.divernet.com ➡️ Scuba News, Underwater Photography, Hints & Advice, Travel Reports
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Website: https://www.rorkmedia.com ➡️ For advertising within our brands
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We partner with https://www.scuba.com and https://www.mikesdivestore.com for all your gear essentials. Consider using the affiliate link above to support the channel.

The information in this video is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional SCUBA Training. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained in this video is for general information purposes only and does not replace training from a qualified Dive Instructor.

YouTube Video UEw2X2VCMS1KYWdWbXFQSGV1YW84WVRHb2pFNkl3WlRSZS4xODVDRjcwQzY3NkIxNjYz

How Do You Keep Your Corrugated BCD Hose in Place? #askmark

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OUR WEBSITES

Website: https://www.scubadivermag.com ➡️ Scuba Diving, Underwater Photography, Hints & Advice, Scuba Gear Reviews
Website: https://www.divernet.com ➡️ Scuba News, Underwater Photography, Hints & Advice, Travel Reports
Website: https://www.godivingshow.com ➡️ The Only Dive Show in the United Kingdom
Website: https://www.rorkmedia.com ➡️ For advertising within our brands
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FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/scubadivermag
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/scubadivermag
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We partner with https://www.scuba.com and https://www.mikesdivestore.com for all your gear essentials. Consider using the affiliate link above to support the channel.

The information in this video is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional SCUBA Training. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained in this video is for general information purposes only and does not replace training from a qualified Dive Instructor.
00:00 Introduction
01:17 Ears
05:13 Scuba.com
06:05 Hydrate
08:12 Clean

#scuba #scubadiving #scubadiver
LINKS
Ear Treatments at Scuba.com:
https://imp.i302817.net/Mm9qL3

Become a fan: https://www.scubadivermag.com/join
Gear Purchases: https://www.scubadivermag.com/affiliate/dive-gear
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
OUR WEBSITES

Website: https://www.scubadivermag.com ➡️ Scuba Diving, Underwater Photography, Hints & Advice, Scuba Gear Reviews
Website: https://www.divernet.com ➡️ Scuba News, Underwater Photography, Hints & Advice, Travel Reports
Website: https://www.godivingshow.com ➡️ The Only Dive Show in the United Kingdom
Website: https://www.rorkmedia.com ➡️ For advertising within our brands
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/scubadivermag
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/scubadivermag
INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/scubadivermagazine

We partner with https://www.scuba.com and https://www.mikesdivestore.com for all your gear essentials. Consider using the affiliate link above to support the channel.

The information in this video is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional SCUBA Training. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained in this video is for general information purposes only and does not replace training from a qualified Dive Instructor.
00:00 Introduction
01:17 Ears
05:13 Scuba.com
06:05 Hydrate
08:12 Clean

YouTube Video UEw2X2VCMS1KYWdWbXFQSGV1YW84WVRHb2pFNkl3WlRSZS42QTlDMjkyRjNGMEYwQzcz

Post Dive Body Care #scuba #howto

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