The purpose of snorkeling is having the ability to breathe, as you hover on the surface of the water, while observing in the beautiful ocean life that surrounds you. Seeing a magnificent coral system and not worrying how you will get the air you need to breath.
Other pieces of snorkeling equipment are rendered useless if the snorkel itself is no good. Having a good snorkel allows you to breathe air, instead of the salt water in which you swim.
Categories of Snorkel (opening at the top)
The classic snorkel has an opening at the top that is generally an oval or circle shape. This category is usually the default snorkel used in every setting, from the kids in the backyard swimming pool to the multitude of vacation excursion businesses all over the world.
The classic style snorkel is also relatively inexpensive and can be purchased in almost every retail outlet, including some corner stores. This type of snorkel is easily used by seasoned snorkelers, but less experienced snorkelers like children, may have difficulties operating this “contraption”. Water will flow freely in and out of the tube just as air does. With snorkels, water ingress occurs in a few ways.
The most common of which are, accidentally go below the surface, passerby snorkeler splashes water in through the top of your snorkel, or high waves pushing water over the top of the snorkel. If you are a skilled snorkeler, you understand that the water is easily removed, and you simply blow it out.
This can be difficult if you are a novice snorkeler and that is trying to familiarize themselves with the new equipment, while in the salt water. Some classic snorkels are designed with purge valves allowing water to easily be blown out while swimming. The snorkeler can purge out water from the snorkel with minimal effort, while keeping their head in the water.
- Dry Snorkels – Dry snorkels have a float valve that closes fully when submerged in water. This float valve aides in restricting the flow of water into the mouth. Some people find these to be ideal for snorkeling. However, some report that this dry snorkel design restricts their breathing, resulting in an uncomfortable snorkeling experience.
- Semi-dry snorkels – This style snorkel has a partially closed, slanted top with various slits and vents to avert water from entering the hole. This snorkel is popular because it diverts most of the water, without causing a significant obstruction to breathing.
Regardless of what snorkel you choose, be cognizant that cracks can occur in the snorkel tube. Inspect the tube thoroughly prior to starting your adventure in the water. If you have a leaky snorkel, you will have and unpleasant trip. Spending considerable amounts of time removing water from your snorkel can even ruin the day for even the most seasoned snorkeler.
The barrel (or tube) comes in various shapes and designs. Some barrels are flexible, some maintain the rigid ‘J’ shape, while others are contoured around the head of the snorkeler. Most barrels are made of a combination of silicone and plastic. Many snorkelers prefer the total length of the snorkel to be between fifteen and seventeen inches, though there are various lengths available. Determining which shape, size, and style are right for you is a matter of personal preference and comfort.
The mouthpiece should fit securely inside your mouth. You should be able to comfortably seal your lips around the mouthpiece. If the mouthpiece is too big or too small, water can leak inside your mouth.