Snorkels are fantastic pieces of equipment to have when engaging in water activities. However, what most people do not know is that from spearfishing to exploring new territory, each type of snorkel has its own purpose.
In this guide, we will help you answer how do snorkels work by exploring the finer details of dry, semi-dry, and traditional snorkels. Additionally, we will also help you figure out which is best for each activity you might be interested in.
How Do Snorkels Work?
To fully experience what the ocean has to offer, a snorkel is a great way to introduce you to a stunning world. No matter if you’re going on vacation, or if you’re interested in learning a new skill, you will need to know how snorkels work and gather experience with snorkeling before you even plan your trip to the beach.
Below are the most common types of snorkels:
- Dry Snorkels
Arguably the simplest snorkel design, dry snorkels aren’t recommended for every activity. With that being said, they are found to be the best option for observing marine life in a more relaxed environment.
Dry snorkels are also ideal for beginners who are delving into the world of snorkeling for the first time. This is because they stop water from entering your airway and prevent panic.
- Semi-dry Snorkels
Semi-dry snorkels are frequently considered the happy medium between dry and traditional snorkels. Just as their name suggests, they don’t keep all of the water out of the tube. Though, you’ll find they are quite useful for preventing splashing water when not submerged.
Semi-dry snorkels also have multiple features that direct water away from the snorkel tube. Similar to dry snorkels, semi-dry models feature purge valves, flexible tubes, and as mentioned, splash guards.
You might be wondering why anyone would opt for a snorkel that allows water into the tube. This is because they are designed to be more compact and are easier to use compared to dry snorkels. Additionally, they give scuba divers the ability to save oxygen in their tanks while on the surface.
- Traditional Snorkels
The third way to answer, how do snorkels work, is to consider traditional snorkels. People who enjoy spearfishing most commonly use these. They’re also the equipment of choice for freedivers.
Traditional snorkels are manufactured in a way that prevents any drag, giving you optimal agility while in the water. With that being said, they’re recommended for more advanced snorkelers.
Traditional snorkels are ideal for people who want to reach maximum depths without using a full diving rig. You’ll be able to dive deep on a single breath of air, which is why they’re preferred for spearfishing. Once you rise to the surface, you’ll be required to purge (or blast) the J-tube, as it will be completely flooded.
One of the largest recommendations for anyone using a traditional snorkel is to take classes first. This will give you the experience you need when it comes to knowing how to blast your tube successfully when necessary. Additionally, you’ll be able to train your body to take deeper breaths of water, so you don’t panic while submerged.
On Dry Snorkels
You’ve likely seen a dry snorkel before. They are devices that feature a tube with a covering mechanism (known as a float valve) that repels water while above and under water. When you submerge yourself, the covering mechanism engages and stops water from entering the breathing tube (J-tube).
The float valve automatically engages even if you accidentally go under the water. Nevertheless, if water does enter the tube, you can easily clear it by sharply blowing into the tube.
There is a second safeguard added to dry snorkels, known as a splash guard. Splash guards are useful when snorkeling above the water line. They repel water from being able to splash into the tube, as the float valve won’t engage unless you are submerged. The higher quality your dry snorkel is, the better the float valve and splashguard will be.
As an added ounce of comfort, the tube on dry snorkels is entirely flexible. This means that you can adjust the snorkel to avoid water from entering based on how you’re diving. At the end of the day, you’ll have three different ways to prevent water from entering your mouth.
On Semi-dry Snorkels
At first glance, semi-dry snorkels look quite similar to dry snorkels. The majority of their differences lie within the finer details.
Compared to dry snorkels, the semi-dry varieties don’t feature a float valve. This means that while underwater, it’s likely that water is going to enter the breathing tube. With that being said, this is one of the better options for staying above the waterline.
Due to their more agile build, they’re recommended for viewing marine life that is closer to the surface. As long as you stay above the water, the integrated splash guards will prevent waves from making water enter your breathing tube.
On Traditional Snorkels
You’ll quickly realize that traditional snorkels are designed quite differently from their dry and semi-dry counterparts. This is very much obvious in the fact that they won’t feature any safeguards, such as the float valve.
As mentioned, as you go underwater, the J-tube is sure to fill with water. A traditional snorkel features a plastic tube that is crafted into the shape of a “J” and a mouthpiece.
As you won’t find many features on a traditional snorkel, they’re the most affordable models that you can get your hands on. It’s also important to mention that the J-tube isn’t flexible, which can make it uncomfortable for beginners.
Choosing the best snorkel should be based on experience, usage, and personal preference. People with limited experience are far better off opting for a dry snorkel, as it’s highly unlikely you’ll have water in your mouth. This offers a more peaceful and calm snorkeling experience, especially for beginners. However, they are typically the most expensive variation and are slightly bulkier than semi-dry and traditional snorkels.
If you’re looking for a mix between dry and traditional snorkeling, semi-dry is your best bet. They’re compact and relatively agile, and they are also recommended for snorkeling above the waterline, as they have high-quality splash guards. However, it’s important to remember that semi-dry snorkels won’t repel water while you’re submerged.
For more experienced snorkelers, traditional models are an affordable and useful piece of equipment. While they certainly don’t prevent water from entering the J-tube, they allow you to dive deeper and quicker. They’re the most agile compared to the other two designs and are the easiest to set up and use.