The snorkel vest is an often overlooked part of any scuba experience. Designed to offer a convenient way to increase buoyancy, these simple devices allow you to spend less time worrying about staying afloat and more time enjoying the view. While an inflatable snorkel vest cannot take the place of a dedicated floatation device, such as a life vest or foam belt, they offer an affordable, easy to use way to enhance your scuba experience regardless of skill level.

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Common Snorkel Vest Features

  • Manual inflation
  • Security straps
  • Distress whistle
  • Bright colors
  • Light weight materials

The concept behind the snorkel vest is simple. Most designs are worn over the shoulders and neck like a bib. After securing the vest using plastic or nylon fasteners, you can easily increase your buoyancy by blowing into a valve near the collar of the vest. This allows you to float leisurely on the surface of the water or rise from depths easily. Deflating the vest to dive deeper is as simple as pressing the valve and releasing air.

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Popular Brands

It is easy to find a snorkel vest online, at scuba shops or at outdoor equipment retailers. Popular brands include:

  • Scubapro snorkel vest
  • Aeris
  • Edge
  • U.S. Divers
  • Cressi
  • Scuba Max
  • Oceanic

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Shopping Tips

When searching for the best snorkel vest, there are a number of factors to keep in mind. These tips will help you find the ideal vest for your needs:

  • Fit

The vest should secure without restricting movement or breathing. Most snorkel vest manufacturers offer at least two sizes. Common sizes include children’s or adult’s sizes. Children’s vests are often designed for those weighing less than 110 pounds. Adult vests are often designed for those over 110 pounds. Reading all documentation with your snorkel vest will ensure proper safety and functionality.

  • Design

Most snorkel vest designs consist of an inflatable bib that secures around the waist and between the legs. Advanced designs include reinforced, lightweight sleeves, front-clasping bodies or additional waist ballasts for increased buoyancy. The best design is often a matter of personal preference and comfort.

  • Materials

The majority of snorkel vests use a nylon bladder. This can be uncomfortable against sensitive skin. Should irritation occur, rash guards or dive skins can help to reduce irritation and provide an enjoyable experience. Advanced snorkel vests, such as Oceanic’s Reefsport snorkel vest use unique materials to increase comfort and avoid irritation.

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Safety Tips

A snorkel vest should be inspected prior to any dive to ensure maximum benefit and safety. To make sure your snorkel experience is as enjoyable as possible always:

  • Check all fasteners. Check the nylon straps and fasteners for debris or damage. This is easy to do by running your hand along each strap and clasping each fastener a few times before entering the water.
  • Check adjustors. Prior to entering the water, you should tighten and adjust any buckles or clasps. This ensures a snug fit and avoids discomfort or malfunctions.
  • Check the bladder for leaks. Manually inflate the snorkel vest before any dive. By submerging the inflated vest, you can check for leaks easily. If you notice bubbles, you should immediately take your snorkel vest for repairs.

Having an effective and comfortable snorkel vest will make your dive more enjoyable and worry free. Follow the tips above and you’ll sure to enjoy the most out of your snorkeling experience.