Snorkels have come a long way since the days of the rubber black tube with a mouth piece. It is let you breathe while floating on the surface of water so that you can save some air of your scuba tank.
Today’s snorkel offers a lot of exciting features like easy clearing purge valves, semi-dry drain valves at the top of the snorkels and dry shut off valves also at the top of the snorkel. In this post, I will tell you how to choose a snorkel.
If you are confused about what types of scuba snorkel you should buy, this post can help you to choose the right snorkel.
If you are interested in snorkeling as well, here I have written a best snorkel gear reviews for you.
Choosing the right snorkel depending on how much you will snorkel and what you are the most comfortable with, you may want to choose any of those types.
Another crucial thing I have to mention, it also depends on how much you want to spend for a snorkel. But to the question, is there really a dry snorkel?
The answer is yes and no, I mean what is really dry? Does water still get into a dry snorkel? Yes! Why would a so-called dry snorkel have a purge valve if water never able to enter?
The answer is water does get in, but the designs are good and do eliminate most water.
Types of scuba snorkels and the best choice for your scuba diving
- Purge Snorkel
- Semi-Dry Snorkel
- Dry Snorkel
The Purge Snorkel was one of the best additions to the old black tube with a mouthpiece design and has come a long way to helping divers clear the snorkel and make snorkeling more comfortable and easier.
Besides the one-way purge valve that drains water when you exhaust air, the purge reservoir allows you to breathe even if your exhale does not fully clear the snorkel.
This is a big benefit when your surfacing and almost out of air and don’t have enough air for a full force blast needed to fully clear.
Purge snorkels are known for the gurgle affect the snorkeler hears when you can still breathe but the snorkel really could use another final clearing blast of air.
Most of today’s dry and semi-dry snorkel incorporate a purge valve with a reservoir.
Semi-Dry Snorkels generally use some type of water diversion technique to keep water from entering the top of the snorkel. There are two basic types:
The first is the simple two or three angle cuts in the top of the snorkel that diverts water from entering the top. In my opinion, this type is junk.
It blocks and reduces air-flow and makes clearing water out of the top even harder. See the basic diverter style picture and never buy one.
Aqualung patented or licensed the second style and is used in the Impulse Snorkel. This is one of those designs when you first see it; you hit your forehead and say “It is so obvious why didn’t I think of that”?
The Impulse design uses a purge grain at the top of the snorkel that takes into account water’s natural tendency to stick to and follow a surface.
To see what I mean, take a cup of water and pour the water out but don’t tilt the glass so it pours out in a stream but just enough so that the water runs out the outside edge of the glass.
Maybe you’ve even seen water defy gravity by running along the bottom of a leaky pipe.
The Impulse uses this design to keep water out of the snorkel and ten years ago was the best design on the market. Some people still think it is the best design and many divers use this snorkel.
The Dry Snorkels generally use one of two types of snorkel top: The Slider cage or the Hinged shut off valve.
The slider cage works by having a float slide up and cover the snorkel tops opening when submerged.
The design works well but still allows splashed water to enter and it is not as good under water if you are upside down, like when you are diving to the bottom. The float can open if your head is in the wrong position.
Oceanic and Aeris uses the newest style of patented design. They use a hinged float mechanism that shuts a valve when submerged.
The design is better for keeping waves and splashed water out and doesn’t have the tendency to open as easily when upside down.
Other companies do use a hinged design to keep water out of the snorkel but the design that Oceanic/Aeris use is the best.
Flexible Mouthpiece VS Rotating Mouthpiece
There are two others important things to consider in your snorkel choice: smooth bore flexible mouthpiece or a fixed pivoting mouthpiece.
Flexible smooth bore, and it must be smooth bore to clear properly, is nice because it drops out of the way when you have your regulator in your mouth.
The basic pivoting style allows you to turn it out of the way when exchanging to your regulator. I like the flexible style because it doesn’t pull your mouth to one side and for me, is more comfortable to use.
There are good reasons to choose to not dive with a snorkel, like if you are cave or wreck diving and don’t want the snorkel sticking up so that it can get caught on something.
In those cases, I recommend a foldable pocket snorkel so you can carry it but not have it mounted on your mask.
Your choice for a snorkel may depend on the type of conditions you dive in the most.
In rough seas where waves are washing over the top of the snorkels a lot, I prefer the Impulse snorkel above all others.
It is always open and most of the water that gets in goes out the top purge allowing you to breathe even if it is a gurgling breath. A dry snorkel will often close due to the rough seas and block air flow.
If you are going to be in calmer seas and most dive situations are in somewhat calmer seas, the dry snorkel like from Oceanic or Aeris is the right choice.
Try both styles and see what make you breathe easy.