The Prime Scuba


Snorkels: The Basics

For a seemingly simple piece of equipment, there sure are a lot of options. It can be a bit overwhelming for new snorkel buyers, but don’t be intimidated. Here are some simple tips that will help ensure that you buy the right snorkel for your needs.

Snorkeling or Scuba Diving?

This is the first question you must answer, even before you hit the stores. If you’re just going to be snorkeling, you’ll want a very simple snorkel with a streamlined tube and mouthpiece. Leave the bells and whistles for the scuba divers. You won’t be needing them.
On the other hand, if you’re a diver, some of those advanced features can really come in handy.

The Snorkel Tube

The snorkel tube (sometimes referred to as a barrel) in its most basic form takes the traditional “J” shape. Other, more modern versions are designed to wrap around your head as you wear it. One isn't necessarily better than the other. It's all about personal preference and what feels more comfortable. The higher end units usually come in a more contoured shape, which divers tend to find more comfortable. But regardless of countoring, you'll want the tube's diameter to be large enough, so you can breathe naturally. If the tube is too small, it'll restrict your breathing and make it difficult to clear water. On the other hand, if it's too large, it will slow you down under water.

You'll also have some options for attaching your snorkel tube to your mask. You may attach it by clip to your mask strap. If you're going this route, hold your mask face down under water, but be sure the tube is facing up.

You may also use a snorkelkeeper to attach the tube to your mask. The keeper is a flexible piece of rubber or neoprene that sits between your head and the mask strap, and it is secured in place with two loops.

If you find snorkel keepers and clips to be too much trouble, you may consider a quick-release device. These devices make it easy to attach and detach your snorkel without too much of a fuss.

Getting the Right Fit

Fit is extremely important. One surefire way to know that your snorkel doesn't fit right is if the tube fills with water when you're swimming at the water's surface. To avoid this, follow the guidelines below.
Try on your snorkel whenever possible. If you have to buy online, and sometimes that's the only option, check the return policy to be sure you won't be stuck with an ill-fitting snorkeling mask.

When you try on the snorkel, observe how the mouthpiece feels. It should be comfortable, and it should never pinch your skin. It should also flex enough to fit naturally between your teeth; you shouldn't have to clamp down on it. One less thing to think about!

To keep your snorkel working like new, replace the mouthpiece whenever it seems worn. We recommend keeping an extra on hand because this is something that can creep up on you.


Purge Valve:If you use a scuba regulator or octopus, you're probably familiar with the function of a purge valve. It helps push air out of your tube, so you don't have to throw your head back and push the air out with your mouth. A purge valve is standard for divers, but it's an option for snorkelers.

Dry and Semi-Dry Snorkels:If you really don't want to deal with water getting into your tube, you may consider a dry or semi-dry snorkel. Dry snorkels block all water from entering the tube, while semi-dry snorkels block about 95% of water; no need for a purge valve. Sounds good, right? But there's a catch. While blocking the water, dry and semi-dry snorkels also block some air.

Folding snorkels: This type of snorkel is not as common as the others, but it is popular with snorkelers who frequently dive below the surface because it's easy to remove the snorkel from the mask, which can reduce drag when submerged.