If you’re tired of spending money on rental snorkel equipment that has been used by dozens of tourists, it’s a good time to consider purchasing your own snorkel gear. If you’re wary of going with the combo snorkel sets and want to be more choosey with your snorkel, purchasing one individually will give you the freedom to select all the features that are important to you.

Snorkels usually come in two sizes: child and adult.  The child’s barrel is made to be proportionate to a lung capacity that is less than an adult’s; this is accomplished by decreasing the bore in the tube. An adult trying to breathe through a child’s snorkel would feel as though they were trying to breathe through a straw and a child trying to breathe through an adult snorkel wouldn’t be able to circulate new air sufficiently. Making sure you use the appropriate size is paramount.

Rubber and silicone are other common options. Many divers choose black rubber bear because it’s less expensive than silicone. Silicone has become more popular lately because it is more resistant to the elements and less likely to crack when exposed to UV rays or chlorine. Black rubber snorkels don’t age as well as snorkels made from silicone. It often falls victim to dry rot and will crack when exposed to the air over time. Silicone isn’t perfect, either, and may yellow with age. It’s just a cosmetic issue and won’t affect its performance.

The mouthpiece will also vary from snorkel to snorkel, offering either a replaceable or non-replaceable option. If you tend to bite your mouthpiece, it will wear over time and having a snorkel with a replaceable mouthpiece may be wise. High quality mouthpieces are made of soft silicone and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Comfort is key; plastic alternatives aren’t as comfortable, flexible, or long lasting. Many snorkels also have a purge valve which is a one way opening at the bottom of the mouthpiece that helps you clear water from your snorkel, requiring less effort than trying to propel ocean water out of the top of the snorkel. If a diver or snorkeler has water that enters the tube, the user simply expels a short burst of air to rid the snorkel of water through that valve. Snorkels with purge valves are exponentially easier to use and have nearly become an industry standard.

Some other snorkel options are fixed vs. flex, and basic, semi-dry or dry. Fixed and flex refers to whether the barrel has a silicone tubing portion that allows the mouthpiece to bend to the contour of your face. If it’s fixed, that section is usually made of the same material as the rest of the snorkel barrel and is not as custom fitting. Snorkels without the dry option are usually less expensive and have far fewer functions. The opening to the snorkel is open and cannot ward against intruding sea or ocean water. If you ever dive below the water line or have a wave crash over you, the barrel fills with water. Dry snorkels are designed to close off the air flow totally when the snorkel falls below the water line. Manufacturers make a variety of designs available to the public and the industry is constantly trying to improve the design of dry snorkels to make them less bulky and more user friendly.

Sunplay carries snorkels with many different features from the professionals at Head and Mares. Click on each individual product to read more about their distinct qualities and find what will work best for you.