Most people get into diving through the simpler, cheaper alternative of snorkeling.
It is much cheaper than scuba diving, and really all you need is a mask, a snorkel and the ability to look down.
It’s a fantastic way to open up your eyes to the wonders that lie under the water. And for lots of people, snorkeling is the beginning of a lifelong love affair that grows from snorkeling to scuba diving and beyond.
Here’s a question. Did you know there was more than one type of snorkel?
You might have done, given you’re on this website and you clicked on the link for this page, but plenty of people around the world have no idea.
There are three main types of snorkel:
- The traditional
- The semi-dry, and
- The dry
We’ll talk trad and semi elsewhere on the site, but here and now, let’s focus on the dry snorkel.
There are huge numbers of different dry snorkels out there. Seriously, Google it and you’ll see. So how are you supposed to know which are the best, and why?
Relax. Breathe. Then let us show you the best dry snorkels available right now. You’ll breathe a whole lot easier once you know.
It can be a great thing, moving last year’s must-haves to the bin of “What were we thinking?” But it can also lead us down some strange alleys.
If there’s going to be a rule that applies to both life and snorkeling, it should probably be “Don’t buy something just because it’s popular.”
Popularity does not necessarily mean quality.
But the trouble with that truth is that some things are popular, some things are fashionable because they’re really good. Because they’re excellent. Because they’re the best, even.
So, rule #1 should be “Don’t buy something just because it’s popular.” The first amendment of retail should be “Find out why something is popular, and if it works for you, go right ahead and buy it.”
So – to the snorkel store.
First principles of dry snorkel buying?
1. Avoid mouth fatigue.
Try ordering brunch when you’ve had an uncomfortable snorkel in your mouth for a few hours, and get back to us. Mouth comfort – high on the list. Mouth fatigue – an utter drag. Buy for comfort. We like comfort. Comfort is our friend.
2. Dry means dry.
If you’re going to buy a dry snorkel, make sure you get one that doesn’t let the water in – at least, not more than you can purge. Any dry snorkel that lets that much water in would be considered an epic fail. Not to mention a waste of money, and a heck of a thing to only discover when you take it out that first time. Whenever possible, buy for dryness.
Everything else that differentiates one dry snorkel from another is either quirky, fun or a useful addition. With that said, let’s go snorkel-shopping!
Best Dry Snorkels For Scuba Diving
OUR TOP PICK
Talking about brand reputation, have you met Cressi yet?
Italian. Massively popular – yes, yes, don’t buy something just because it’s popular… - and with a long-built strong reputation for quality and durability.
Welcome to the Cressi Supernova dry snorkel. The Supernova comes with a flexible barrel, which you’ll appreciate when your face is underwater.
There’s something you may not have discovered about snorkeling yet.
With some models, if you want to turn your head and breathe at the same time, you have to pay a toll. The toll is paid in jaw ache and fatigue, because you have to strain to keep the snorkel in your mouth while turning your head.
Flexible barrels. We love flexible barrels. If the barrel flexes, your jaw doesn’t have to, which is better for everyone.
It’s compact, it’s lightweight and it’s not likely to ring alarm bells at airports.
Think that’s a lame claim?
Ever had a suspicious baggage handler open up your suitcase in front of everyone and hold your snorkel in the air, demanding “And what is this?”
Didn’t think so.
“It’s my snorkel” might not be quite the worst possible answer to that question, but it’s pretty close.
Embrace the small and mighty power of the Supernova.
For practical purposes, there’s a one-way purge valve in the Supernova, which means in the snorkeler’s eternal battle between air and water, it’s easy to win. You can get rid of any water that wants to gently drown you, and take your next breath.
The Supernova has a mouthpiece made of soft, soft silicone, and as we mentioned, it’s got the flexibility and length to save you from any tedious jaw stress.
Finally, it’s a great dry snorkel for not a lot of money. The price point leaves you with the feeling that Cressi has done you a solid, and you think well of the company as a result.
In the Supernova, it’s developed a mouth-kind, go-anywhere dry snorkel with a simple, effective purge valve.
Oh, and then it’s made it pretty! The Supernova’s available in over 20 colours.
We’re not technically suggesting you pick one up in every shade.
We’re just saying you could. If you wanted to.
And then you’d have 20 world-beating dry snorkels.
So, there’s that.
Last is rarely least on our list. Last is the special treat, the Easter Egg, the post-credit teaser in a Marvel movie.
The Tusa Hyperdry Elite II scuba diving snorkel has that feel of a treat about it. You’d happily sit through credits to find out more about this snorkel.
Tusa is known for great designs and high-quality diving gear. The Hyperdry Elite II is a snorkel that makes you really ‘get’ what the company is going for.
The company lowered the drag on this snorkel. That means you can even use it horizontally, which is going to give you greater speed through the water that any other configuration.
Try that with most models and even as you do it, you’ll be thinking “The water’s going to get in…”
With the Hyperdry? Not an issue.
As ever, it’s only good manners to back up even the cleverest technology with a purge valve, and on the Hyperdry, the valve has a large diameter. Why? What’s that bringing to the party?
Speed of clearing. The bigger the diameter, the more you can purge in one moment.
The breathing tube has a large diameter too, but in that case, it’s to funnel the sweet, sweet air to you when you need it. That and a comfortable mouthpiece make for reasonably effortless breathing. Just like you’d be doing on land.
Aqua Lung has a strong reputation among divers.
It’s a reputation the company’s earned over years of delivering high quality practical equipment that adds both ease and joy to divers’ lives.
The Impulse 3 2-valve does the useful thing that 2-valve systems bring to the snorkeling experience. With a chamber underneath the mouthpiece, it keeps your air flow water-free and easy to purge. To purge the system, just give a gentle puff. Boom. Bye bye any water that makes it into the tube.
That’ll be partially a useful add-on, but mostly a system that fulfils our ‘Buy for dryness’ maxim.
Just breathe normally. Give an occasional puff of surprise to purge the system, but otherwise, just breathe.
The Aqua Lung Impulse 3 is pretty much free of the drag you get with some other snorkels too, so as a grab-and-go, do-everything-you-need model, it’s a great first pick.
The Impulse 3 is also available in a Flex model. With that version, you can undo the release clip and drop the mouthpiece – better if you’re going scuba diving.
Mouthpieces are replaceable on the Aqua Lung Impulse 3 too, so it’s not like you’re going to ruin it forever. They also come in two mouth sizes, checking that ‘Buy for comfort’ box we mentioned.
Part of the Aqua Lung reputation is that it makes long-term durable equipment. The Impulse 3 2-Valve is a great representation of what the company does. If you’ve never used Aqua Lung before, it’s a fabulous introduction.
If the Cressi Supernova raised the game on compact snorkels – and it did – make way for the Phantom Aquatics snorkel.
You can fold this snorkel up and throw it in your day bag. That’s some real impulse-snorkeling temptation right there.
No more lying to yourself that ‘The equipment’s too bulky to go snorkeling, I should do chores.’ Now if you want to blow off a boring day and jump in the ocean, the Phantom’s your partner in crime.
The Phantom has an oval slick bore, and an angled mouthpiece which is extremely comfortable. It also uses a dry top to stop any water getting in. It’s an effective piece of simple thinking – and it works.
Here’s how. If and when it’s underwater, the opening to the tube…closes. If some water still gets in, the one-way purge valve lets you blow it out easily.
When you’re ready to put the Phantom away, you can detach it single-handed with its quick-release clip.
And if the mouthpiece starts to fail, it’s not the end of your snorkel. You can replace the mouthpiece on your Phantom indefinitely.
That means you should get lots of use out of your Phantom, turning boring days into snorkeling days – the best kind of days there are.
It’s just possible we have a little bit of a snorkel-crush on Cressi.
The Alpha Ultra Dry though is not a snorkel we could leave off this list.
It’s a bit of an opera, this snorkel.
It’s the story of what happens when edge-of-your-seat technology and the very best materials come together. The result is utter harmony.
Technically, that’s not the clever part. Anyone can have flexible materials and make a pretty good jaw-relieving snorkel. The clever part is using those materials to realize a lightweight design. Lightweight, flexible, Italian – there’s no bad there.
It means you can spend more time with your head underwater without getting any of the jaw fatigue that comes with less well-designed snorkels. A wide opening lets the air in for you, meaning you breathe pretty much as normal.
And as a useful add-on – remember, we mentioned those would be a thing? – there’s an auto-float mechanism in case you lose the snorkel.
If you’re a multi-modal underwater freak, going from snorkeling to scuba and back again, you’ll love the self-draining purge valve on the Alpha Ultra.
And the discretion-junkies at Cressi have made the Alpha Ultra foldable for storage and transport, meaning it’ll fit in any bag or travel pack.
Sure, we might have a tiny snorkel-crush on Cressi. But read all of the things the Alpha Ultra does, and tell us you don’t have one too.
Scubapro, like others on our list – well, it is a list of the best – is a company with a strong reputation among divers for making quality, high-performance products.
The Scubapro Laguna 2 is only going to underline that reputation. It brings a patented lightweight valve design to the game of snorkels. It closes on contact with water, so even if you’re dealing with waves, you’re fine.
Clearly, the clever people at Scubapro are scuba-pro-comfort. There’s an ergonomically-shaped mouthpiece here, for extreme comfort. You won’t quite forget you’ve got a mouthpiece in, but it’ll be closer than most manufacturers can get.
And like some others, the mouthpiece on the Laguna 2 is not only adjustable, but replaceable. That extends the working life of you snorkel by at least 100%. Again, taking the thought through from snorkeling to scuba, the snorkel will automatically fall away with the release clip when you want a clear scuba view.
The self-draining purge valve is extremely well designed too, allowing you to eject any water droplets that make it into the system.
All in all, the Laguna 2 takes competence, gives it a makeover, makes it super soft and comfortable and buys it dinner.
You can do much, much worse than getting yourself a Laguna 2. In fact, if you’ve had some days with a harder mouthpiece, the Laguna 2 could be your “take it easy” snorkel while you get over the jaw stress. Or you could just ditch the harder mouthpieces altogether. Just a thought.
Reputation, reputation, reputation.
This was always going to be a red carpet round-up for the reputations of snorkel-makers.
Step forward, Mares, it’s your time to shine.
Yes, the company has a great reputation. Yes, it designs and builds absolutely stellar diving equipment. Even by its own standards though, the Ergo snorkel is something a little bit special.
We really do mean a little bit – the Ergo weighs in at just 4.8 ounces! That makes it one of the lightest snorkels on the market. It’s also got a flexible snorkel tube, so it’s easy to store. And potentially, easy to lose if you don’t put it back where you know it should be.
That title’s taken by the one-way water purge valve and the ultra-comfortable curved mouthpiece. Valve-wise, we’re looking at a dry top to stop water coming in, and an exhaust purge valve in the mouthpiece to stop any water that beats the system from ruining your snorkel session. And the ultra-comfortable mouthpiece just makes itself almost forgettable, meaning you get to snorkel for longer, in comfort, any day you use the Ergo.
We’re going up a notch on the expense scale with Riffe Stable.
Take a water-free breath, and let’s deal.
The thing is, there are genuine reasons this snorkel makes it onto our list. It’s not just because it’s more expensive, and so it must be better.
There’s a beauty and an elegance in the low-profile design of the snorkel tube, attached to a mouthpiece moulded to fit perfectly. Beauty, elegance and sublime function…yeah, those are going to cost you.
The Riffe Stable snorkel has a shark-fin shape which adds to its hydrodynamic qualities. That means it’s extra effective at avoiding debris, seaweed and other sub-aqua gunk. That in turn means it’s an easy snorkel to clean. And once it’s clean, it’s also easy to store and transport, folding down the corrugations of the tube.
Elegance, form, function and a fold-down tube. Who can ask for more than that in this life?
Oceanic is a company that can’t get enough of its own patented technology.
That’s usually no bad thing, and it’s cornered bits of several markets by applying that technology to benefit divers.
Here, in the Ultra-Dry 2, it’s applying its technology to the matter of keeping water out of the snorkel. It backs up that patented cleverness with a more standard purge valve so you keep control and can clear the tube if you need to.
There’s a mask clip here, meaning it can drop away conveniently should snorkeling lead to any heavy scuba.
They won’t if they choose the Ultra-Dry 2.
The mouthpiece on this snorkel is made of flex-style silicone for prolonged comfort underwater.
Joining some others on the list in its future-proofing techniques, the mouthpiece is also removable and replaceable, giving the snorkel a longer active life.
Comfortable mouthpiece, patented technology, ergonomic design and a low profile, meaning a great airflow through the snorkel. It might not be as spectacularly dazzling as some on our list, but there’s lots for a snorkeler to love about the Oceanic Ultra-Dry 2.
Nature abhors a vacuum, they say.
Snorkels? Not so much.
The 3D Flex dry snorkel from XS Scuba outperforms a surprising number of its competitors, largely on the quality of its zero tolerance water policy.
It has an impressive floating valve system. You’ve heard at least some of the story before – Top touches water, top closes up instantly. Purge valve backs up the system by allowing for easy expulsion of any water that gets in.
The purge valve here is button-operated though, allowing you to go lower in the water without any particular ill effect.
As and when the top of the snorkel escapes the water, boom – immediate re-opening, collapsing the vacuum in the tube.
While its silicone-based mouthpiece is probably not quite as luxuriantly soft and moulded as some on our list, XS has gone to some trouble to give us an adjustable mouthpiece, which should let you get on with your snorkeling or diving without pain or hassle.
Best Dry Snorkels for Diving - Frequently Asked Questions
Like many hobbies, diving is a mostly personal experience. You know how you want the experience to be. Somewhere out there, someone’s making equipment that can deliver that experience for you.
Finding them’s the tricky part. As yet, there’s no Tinder for dive gear, where you swipe right for silicone mouthpieces, and swipe left on small, ineffective purge valves.
Everyone’s particular preferences are their own, and building up a picture of the perfect dry snorkel for you depends on your thoughts about lots of elements. Flexible snorkel tube or stiff? Dry top? Floating valve? You name it, it’s out there.
The key is first to decide what your preferences really are. Then you can find the piece of equipment that meets them. Got to have a snorkel-dream to make a snorkel-dream come true, they say.
We can’t hope to find those answers for you. But we can at least cover the basics. The question everybody asks when they’re new to the world of dry snorkeling.
What does a “dry” snorkel mean?
A dry snorkel is a snorkel with a valve and a splash guard on the top.
The valve will close when it hits water, so the water can’t make its way down the tube and into the hapless snorkeler’s lungs.
Why have something like that? Because with traditional snorkels, the snorkeler was almost constantly having to blow up the tube to ward off incoming water if they didn’t want to drown.
Can you breathe underwater with a dry snorkel?
No, that would be gills you’re thinking of. Or a scuba tank. Or a submarine.
With a dry snorkel, you breathe when you’re swimming on the surface, probably with your head part-submerged, and the tube open to the air.
The dry snorkel will stop water getting to your lungs when you’re underwater. But technically, you’ll be underwater, so air won’t be able to reach you either.
What is the difference between a dry and semi-dry snorkel?
It’s a difference of buoyancy and depth.
A dry snorkel tube will fill with air, and not water, thanks to the top valve.
A snorkel full of air is useful of course. But perversely, air is lighter than water, so it also adds buoyancy. That means doing anything like freediving with a dry snorkel is frustrating to the point of being great TikTok material.
A semi-dry snorkel, when you go underwater, will fill with water. Not ideal for breathing, we agree, but perfect for freediving.
How do you use a dry snorkel underwater?
We can’t really stress this strongly enough. A dry snorkel will not let you breathe when both you and it are underwater.
What it will do is let you breathe the moment you surface.
As opposed to the mad, gasping scramble to clear the tube of a traditional snorkel so as not to choke on a lung full of water.
Are dry snorkels safe?
Any form of snorkel carries some element of risk. Any time you go underwater at all carries some element of risk.
Dry snorkels are as safe as any other form of snorkel, and probably safer than trad snorkels.
Being aware that they’re not an underwater breathing apparatus is probably key. Try and use them that way, you’re going to be disappointed.
Although probably not for long.
The real concern with dry snorkels is that the buoyancy created by a tube full of light air will add drag to your progress. Doesn’t sound so bad, but if you’re diving with a snorkel mask and tube, drag can lead to leakage.
When was the last time you used “leakage” to mean something positive?
Bottom line, dry snorkels can be a brilliant tool to introduce people to the wonders of the underwater world. They’re safe if you know what they do and how they do it. And hopefully, finding the perfect dry snorkel to unlock the underwater world for you is now just a little bit easier.