Guide to Buying Snorkels and Snorkel Sets

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Guide to Buying Snorkels and Snorkel Sets

A snorkel is a key piece of equipment for a successful snorkeling or scuba diving experience. A well-fitting snorkel will allow the user to breathe underwater while enjoying the scenery of the dive. If the snorkel is being used for scuba diving, it will also help conserve air in the tank when surfacing. Snorkels and snorkel sets can be used in any underwater setting, from vast oceans to backyard pools.

Types of Snorkels

The type of diving a person is doing will impact the type of snorkel he or she should use. Different types of snorkels are designed to offer different features to enhance the diving experience for their users.

Traditional J Snorkel

At its most basic, the traditional J snorkel is a curved tube in the shape of a letter J that allows the user to breathe air from the surface while the face is underwater. J snorkels are the simplest model available, made of rigid plastic tubing fitted with a mouthpiece. They are inexpensive and easy to maintain. Snorkelers using these have to be careful not to splash water into the open top, which could result in a mouthful of salt water.

Semi-Dry Snorkel

The semi - dry snorkel does not just have an open top like the traditional J snorkel. It includes a splash guard to prevent most of the water from entering the snorkel tube upon contact. However, it does not block water from entering the tube if it is fully submerged.

Dry Snorkel

Dry snorkels include more advanced features than a traditional J and semi-dry snorkels. They have a splash proof opening at the top, which helps minimize water flowing into the opening and into the snorkeler's mouth. They also have a one-way water-purge valve at the bottom of the snorkel that flushes water out when the user exhales, which allows the diver to breathe uninterrupted. A diver that is using a dry snorkel should never to have clear it for air, which saves energy and makes for a comfortable surface swim.

Some dry snorkels feature splash guards that operate via a moving mechanical device. These are not always the best option, because the moving parts tend to jam when sand gets stuck inside them. Simplicity is key with a splash guard; the only job it has is to do is guide water away from the opening. No fancy parts are necessary for this piece to function well.

Features of a Snorkel

When looking to purchase a new snorkel, a diver should consider a few key features that will pay big dividends in the ocean. The size of its parts, structure type, are all important elements of a snorkel.

Comfortable Mouthpiece

Before purchasing a snorkel, always make sure that the mouthpiece is comfortable to wear. The snorkeler should not have to bite down to keep the mouthpiece from popping out. Also, it should sit comfortably in the teeth and stay put when the user's jaw is relaxed. If the store does not allow the shopper to try on the mouthpiece, check to make sure it is made out of silicone. The silicone material offers a long-lasting mouthpiece that is flexible, which provides the most comfortable fit.

Rigid or Flexible Build

Snorkels either have a rigid or flexible bend at the bottom adjacent to the mouthpiece. The rigid type features a hard, inflexible build, and is used mainly for J snorkels. The flexible type allows for some give when the angle of the mouthpiece doesn't line up nicely with the attachment point on the mask strap. It features an accordion-like piece between the barrel and mouthpiece, which allows the diver to angle the mouthpiece out of the way when it's not being used. If the angle of the mouthpiece going into the diver's mouth is not quite right, the snorkel will twist around and can be very uncomfortable. Some flexible snorkels can be folded or rolled into a ball for easy storage and travel.

Length and Diameter

Having a large-diameter tube on a snorkel will allow for easier air flow during breathing. The more air the user has access to, the more oxygen goes to the lungs while swimming. If the tube length of the snorkel is too short for its user, it's likely to frequently fill with water. If it is too long, the diver will have a harder time getting a full breath and clearing the tube of any carbon dioxide buildup and water. Similarly, the smaller a snorkel's diameter, the harder it is to inhale and exhale. However, while breathing is easier in large-diameter tubes, excess so-called dead space makes it harder to clear the tube. The ideal length and diameter of the snorkel will differ from diver to diver, depending on their size and lung capacity.

Snorkel Sets

There are a few essential accessories to go along with a snorkel while diving. Most commonly, masks and fins accompany snorkels when purchasing a snorkel set. It is important to know what to look for in these accessories, as they will make a big difference when the user is out on a dive.

Snorkeling Mask

The most important element of any snorkeling mask should be proper fit. The skirt of the mask (the rubber-like portion that makes direct contact with the face) should make a watertight seal against the skin, ensuring no water leaks in during a dive. A skirt that doesn't properly seal against the user's face will cause problems such as leaking, fogging, and fatigue. A slow leak will force the diver to constantly tread water in order to empty it out, zapping energy and interrupting the dive. Emptying water due to a mask leak will also result in fogging. When the mask is pulled away from the face, new moist air enters and condenses against the cold inside the lens surface.

It is important to try on a mask before purchasing, but once the correct size has been determined, it's easy to find excellent prices online. When trying on a snorkeling mask, a diver should hold his or her breath and gently placing the mask up to the face, press lightly, and let go. A well-fitting mask should stick to the face without being held in place. When putting on the mask strap, tighten it just enough to keep the mask from shifting on the face when the head is turned from side to side. The majority of the seal should come from the skirt of the mask, not from the tightness of the strap.

In general, a diver should make a few additional considerations when choosing a snorkeling mask. First, the skirt of the mask should be wide. The more this edge comes in contact with the skin, the more likely it will make a good seal. Also, the skirt should be made from silicone. Rubber skirts will become brittle and crack over time, while silicone material will last through years of diving. The user should also look for "no fog" lenses, which will keep the fog levels extremely low while diving. Vision-enhancing coatings are meant to increase clarity during less-than-perfect light conditions, making the view crisper and clearer by cutting down on glare and filtering certain wavelengths of incoming light.

Snorkeling Fins

Snorkeling fins are a great accessory to a snorkel set, allowing the user to expend his or her energy wisely while diving. Fins efficiently propel a person through the water faster and more easily than bare feet. Since fin sizes may differ slightly per manufacturer, it's not always sufficient to buy according to normal shoe size. Fins should be snug, but never tight to the point where the foot feels squished, or too loose that the fins may slip off in the water. Fins come in two types, full foot pocket or heel strap. A full-foot-pocket fin covers the entire heel area of the foot as well as the toes, while a heel-strap fin fits over the toes and then is strapped around the heel to hold the fin on the foot.

Finding Snorkels and Snorkel Sets on eBay

Now that all of the tools are in place for choosing the best snorkel and snorkel sets, it is time for the shopping to begin. eBay offers thousands of options, so buyers should be able to find diving or snorkeling equipment of any brand or type they are interested in.

To begin with a keyword search, visit eBay's homepage and type either snorkels or snorkel sets into the search box at the top of the page. Both snorkels and snorkel sets also can be found by navigating through eBay's categories. Users can start at Sporting Goods, then click on Water Sports, SCUBA & Snorkeling, and finally, Snorkels & Sets. From there, narrow your results by specifications like condition, price, buying format, or even things like seller location or shipping options.


Whether a diver is planning to explore the oceans or simply go for a leisurely swim in the pool, snorkels and snorkel sets are an indispensable accessory. Snorkeling allows people to breathe easy while navigating the waters of their choice. By adding fins and masks with a snorkel set, the diver can experience enhanced elements of beauty and efficiency within his or her surroundings. Numerous options are available on eBay for any snorkeler's particular style and taste.

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