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Best Snorkel Vest

When it comes to snorkeling, or any activity for matter, safety is top priority.  This is especially true for beginners or nervous snorkeling enthusiasts who might be relatively new to the hobby.  Sometimes even strong swimmers, experienced in snorkeling like to wear a snorkeling life vest.

And whilst you can’t put a price on safety, you can however examine different snorkel vests in terms of their value for money.  

We’ve got some reviews coming up shortly of our favorite snorkel vests out on the market today.  And to help you choose which one/s you may need, we’ve also got a handy information guide which goes into the different benefits of a snorkel vest, different types of snorkel vest, and how to size for a snorkel vest.  Hope it helps!

Best Snorkel Vests

OUR TOP PICK

The Jetty Inflatable Snorkel Vest from Wildhorn Outfitters provides the perfect balance of comfort and stability.  Which makes it great for low impact water sports such as leisure surface snorkeling.

What we love about it is that, rather than being a one size fits all item, you can pick from four different sizes according to your height and weight.  They’ve got sizes designed to fit people from pre-teens right the way through to heavier adults.

We also like that it does away with the need for the crotch strap that you’d get with a horse collar snorkel vest.  Instead there’s single sided entry for easy on and off, and adjustable straps for a comfy and cosy fit.

And thanks to the ergonomic positioning of the secure lock valve on the vest, it's very convenient for inflating or deflating quickly as you tread water, giving you the option to either stay afloat at the surface, or go for a little dive.

It’s constructed from top quality materials designed to resist snorkeling’s wear and tear. It provides that all important safety and buoyancy yet at the same time is also quite stylish too. 

Pros:

  • Different sizes for a better fit
  • No crotch strap
  • Ergonomic lock valve
  • Inflate or deflate
  • easy on and off
  • Stylish and comfy

Cons:

  • Premium product at a premium price

EDITORS CHOICE

This snorkel vest from Scubpro is great for keeping warm in the open water.  This is thanks to its nylon and neoprene construction which also gives it real strength and durability.  

It’s also super comfortable to boot.  The handy zipper closure makes for an easy on and off, and the warm neoprene is stretchy, making it feel really snug.  

There’s also some additional comfort which you may notice more when you take the vest off.  The Scubapro Cruiser is designed to protect your back from sunburn, which is great because your back tends to meet with a lot of sun while you’re snorkeling at the water surface.

The other thing we love about this vest is the super convenient pocket.  You could either store a handful of personal items there in a waterproof pouch, or you could use it to keep an underwater camera.

The oral inflator gives you the option of increasing or decreasing your buoyancy as you please.

Pros:

  • Protects from sunburn
  • Handy pocket
  • No crotch strap
  • Inflate or deflate
  • easy on and off
  • Stylish and snug

Cons:

  • Tends to ride up in the water
  • No crotch strap

BEST VALUE

The OMOUBOI inflatable jacket is a good choice of vest for beginners and less confident swimmers.  This is because it provides more buoyancy than you get compared to some other brands.  This extra buoyancy is down to its double layer high density fabrics.

We love that it's available in different colors.  And all of these colors are high visibility, which is so reassuring when you’re preparing for emergencies.

Although it comes in a one-size-fits-all model, you can achieve a good fit by adjusting it’s waist strap.

It’s easy to inflate and deflate as you choose, which is great.  And when deflated will slide easily into a backpack or carry-on.

We also love it’s breathable mesh back, which makes it feel that bit more comfortable under the hot sun.

Pros:

  • Very buoyant
  • Compact
  • High visibility colors
  • Inflate or deflate
  • Ideal for nervous newbies
  • Good value for money

Cons:

  • Only available in one size
  • Bulky when fully inflated 

RUNNER UP

This is a great little snorkel vest from Innovative Scuba Concepts.  It may not look too fancy, when compared to the jacket style snorkel vests, but we feel it provides excellent value for money, and is available at a more than reasonable price.

We would argue that it provides the perfect level of buoyancy for snorkeling in, but if you did fancy diving further down into the water, it won’t prevent you.  And if you find yourself deeper than you’d like to be, you can use the special screw-down oral inflation mouthpiece to inflate the vest even while underwater.

The black model is sleek and minimalistic.  But you can also get it in a couple of bright colors, if you wanted to go for high visibility, which makes it so much easier to spot the wearer.  Bright colors can make for a good choice for newbies and children.

All that and it’s comfortable too, with adjustable straps for a customizable, tailored fit.

It’s also super durable with its 210 denier urethane-coated nylon material.

Pros:

  • Good value for money
  • Affordable
  • Perfect buoyancy
  • Black or colored
  • Comfortable
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Only 3 sizes available

RUNNER UP

This little snorkel vest from Rrtizan made our list because of its unparalleled affordability.

This horse collar snorkel vest comes with a straightforward and intuitive inflation/deflation system that lets you adjust your buoyancy whilst in the water.  Which is always a nice feature.

It has a durable canvas and PVC construction, and is available in a number of different high visibility colors, which is always a good thing in our book.

It’s designed for people who weigh between 80 pounds and 220 pounds.  And to get it to fit right you can adjust both the crotch strap, and an additional strap around the waist.

Pros:

  • Really affordable
  • Inflate or deflate
  • Durable construction
  • High visibility
  • Adjustable straps

Cons:

  • Fiddly strap system
  • Not too comfortable

RUNNER UP

At first glance, you may think that the Lyuwpes Inflatable Snorkel Vest and the Rrtizan Adult Inflatable Snorkel Vest are pretty much the same, but there are some differences between the two, including the different color options available in each.

Like the Rrtizan, it’s horse collar styles makes for an easy on and off, and it also features adjustable straps around the waist and crotch, and is intended for people of weights between 80 pounds and 220 pounds, so it will fit individuals from pre-teens through to adults.

Its ergonomic mouthpiece allows for quick and easy adjustment of your buoyancy whilst in the water, which is a really nice option to have.  And it inflates in just seconds.

It will also deflate quickly, and is very compact once deflated, making it a cinch to get it into your luggage.

Its fairly comfortable to wear and is lightweight, and it with its polyester outer its also super easy to clean to boot.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Inflate/deflate
  • Compact
  • High visibility
  • Easy on and off

Cons:

  • Features a crotch strap

RUNNER UP

We wanted to include a children’s snorkel vest, because children like to snorkel too, and it makes great family fun.

The Rrtizan Children vest is very much like the Adult one, but with the main difference being that the children’s one is specifically designed for children aged from 5 up to age 14 and up to a weight of 130 pounds.

It has a horse collar design with adjustable straps that are fastened around the waist and the crotch.

It inflates fully in a matter of seconds, with a conveniently placed mouthpiece for instant buoyancy adjustment.  It’s really nice for kids to have this adjustable inflation, since they’re more prone to whine and moan if they are left treading water for too long.

It’s constructed from the same materials as the adult version, so you can be assured of its durability.  That said, we strongly recommend that you regularly check the snorkel vest for punctures.  Better to be safe than sorry, especially if the child in question is not a confident swimmer.

Despite its low price, it does its job very effectively and as such offers excellent value for money.

Pros:

  • Excellent price
  • Adjustable buoyancy
  • Easy on and off
  • Suitable for many ages

Cons:

  • You might want to take extra care of it, since its intended for a child, and occasionally check for punctures  

RUNNER UP

This buoyancy aid vest from Scuba Donkey is great for the more experienced snorkelers.  

Unlike the many of the other snorkel vests we’ve shown you, the wearer doesn’t have the option of adjusting the buoyancy levels.  It’s buoyancy level is such that you can go diving with it on should you wish, but when you get tired of swimming or treading water, the vest will help you to stay afloat at the surface of the water.

It’s available in a wide range of sizes from XS and all the way through to XXL, and will fit many teens as well as adults.

There’s an easy on and off, thanks to the zipper and fastener design.  And best of all there’s no crotch strap to worry about.  The straps on the side are adjustable to fit your particular body shape, and you can even adjust the vest’s length.

Another thing we love about it is the water leakage design which makes it’s drying-out super quick.

Once in place you’ll find it’s very ergonomic and it’s top quality soft nylon material feels gentle against your skin.

Pros:

  • Optimum buoyancy for experienced snorkelers
  • Good chance of finding your perfect size and fit
  • No annoying crotch strap 
  • It has an easy put on and take off
  • Nice feel against your skin
  • It’s quick to dry out afterwards

Cons:

  • You can’t adjust the buoyancy
  • Its has a tendency to ride up
  • A little cumbersome for travelling with

RUNNER UP

Again, we have another very affordable snorkel vest, this one from Sealbuddy.

It comes in bright neon colors to ensure fantastic visibility, and is well suited to a range of light water activities, including snorkeling.

It folds up very compact when deflated, which is great for fitting into a suitcase for a vacation.

It’s excellent buoyancy capabilities make it a great choice for beginners, or unconfident swimmers.

It features a horse collar design for easy on and off, and to get the best possible fit you can adjust straps horizontally around the waist as well as vertically.  Unlike most horse collar snorkel vests however, there are two separate straps for the crotch area for better comfort.

It comes with it’s own mesh bag, which is a handy place to store it when it’s wet.

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • High visibility
  • Compact for travel
  • Excellent buoyancy
  • Great for beginners
  • Easy on and off
  • 2 vertical straps

Cons:

  • Only available in one size

RUNNER UP

Our final snorkel vest from Scuba Choice makes a greater choice for the slightly heavier adults amongst us, being specifically designed for adults weighing over 200 pounds.

The Scuba Choice comes in just one color, bright neon yellow.  Which is actually a very good choice of color should the wearer ever need to be rescued at out see, given it’s particularly high visibility.

To look at it’s much like the Rrtizan snorkel vest.  It’s a horse collar vest with both waist and crotch straps, and has a little inflation device, for whenever you choose to add to your buoyancy levels.

What we really like about it is its space on the front for a name tag, which is great if you’re part of a large crowd enjoying the snorkeling spot.

We also like the price point, and how easy it is to fit into your luggage for travel.

It’s also available in other sizes if the large one is not for you.

Pros:

  • High visibility
  • Inflate or deflate
  • Affordable
  • Compact
  • Name tag space
  • Great for heavier adults

Cons:

  • No choice of color

Frequently Asked Questions

Who needs a snorkel vest?

There are some snorkelers who feel they don’t need a snorkel vest.  These tend to be very proficient swimmers who can swim for hours on end with no point of exhaustion.  They often swim competitively and swim with very high levels of confidence.

For these snorkelers, life vests are actually more of a liability.  The vest creates unnecessary drag in the surface waters, reducing their swimming speed.  In these instances, rather than wearing a snorkel vest, a better safety measure to take might be to mark the snorkeling spot with a divers flag.

For everyone else however, a snorkel vest is an essential piece of kit.  We would argue that even strong swimmers, with the above mentioned group excepted, should wear a snorkel vest when snorkeling in the ocean.  If the wind starts to really pick up or a strong tide comes through the area, you’ll be very glad you’re wearing your snorkel vest.

If you don’t particularly like the idea of having an inflated snorkel vest, remember you can always have it around your body unflated while you’re snorkeling, ready to inflate in the event of an emergency.

Snorkel vests can also be great for children and beginners, as it’s a perfect way to get them comfortable in the water whilst still being able to swim under the sea surface to see all the fish or coral.

If you’re taking a group of newbies snorkeling, you will likely feel more at ease if they're all wearing snorkel vests, because it can be hard to vigilantly keep an eye on everybody.

And since snorkel vests are worn so universally by snorkelers, wearing one does not imply that you cannot swim, or that you’re a particularly weak swimmer.  There are a number of reasons why snorkelers wear a snorkel vest besides the buoyancy they offer.  And that leads us nicely onto our next section.

Benefits of using a snorkel vest

Of course, the main benefit of using a snorkel vest is that it can save your life.  And that’s certainly something not to be taken lightly.  The piece of mind they can bring in that respect is priceless.  But they can do more besides.

One of the main benefits of wearing a snorkel vest is that it means you don’t have to constantly tread water.  Over a long period of time, treading water can be quite exhausting and will eventually deplete you of energy.  But with an inflated snorkel vest on you can avoid having to tread water altogether, and just concentrate on enjoying the fish and the coral.  You can simply tuck your legs in, relax and let the snorkel vest do all the floating for you.

Furthermore, with your snorkel vest taking care of the floating for you, you can concentrate on perfecting your snorkel technique if you're a beginner.  And concentrate on correctly identifying the sea life before you.  You don’t have to constantly kick your legs or more your arms, and you can simply enjoy being in the water doing your snorkeling, with nothing else to worry about.

The other benefits of a snorkel vest is how it can help to keep you warm.  This is handy because open water is typically colder than your core body temperature, so anything that can help keep you warm is a plus.  And the snorkel vest acts like an upper wetsuit in that it traps your natural body heat around you.  And when you’re snorkeling much of your body is often on the surface, so you’re still fairly subjected to the elements.  

Different types of wearable floatation devices

The first thing we need to make clear is to distinguish the differences between a snorkel vest, a snorkeling life vest, and a life vest/jacket (also known as a personal floatation device).  All 3 of these items are flotation devices designed to keep their wearer buoyant in water.  However there are a few significant differences between them.

Snorkeling vests tend to be smaller than life jackets and are inflatable, whereas life jackets are typically filled with a buoyant foam.  Snorkeling vests are not generally made to act as life preservers in emergency situations, but rather they’re more intended to act as a swimming aid to give you rest from treading water.  And they’re designed to allow you to swim with your head in the water.

Life jackets and life vests on the other hand are specially designed to preserve the wearer’s life for rescue, ensuring that the head of the wearer is always kept above water so that they can still breath even if unconscious.  These items are classed as personal flotation devices or PFDs for short.

A snorkeling life vest meanwhile, is kind of a cross between the two.  It looks very much like a full personal flotation device but the difference being that it only inflates on the front.

Now let’s take a look at the different types of snorkeling vests, and then we will look in more detail into snorkeling life vests.

Types Of Snorkel Vests

Snorkel vests also differ from each other in a number of ways.  They differ according to what they’re made of, how you put them on, and how you use them.  Regardless of their design, you’ll find they're always made from, or at least filled with, very buoyant materials such as inflatable rubber, neoprene, and styrofoam.  

Horse Collar Vest

There are two main types of snorkeling vests - a horse collar design and a jacket design.  A horse collar snorkel vest is worn kind of like a horse’s saddle over the head, and has inflatable rubber embedded within.  Then there’s a strap that reaches around your back and between your legs to secure it.

When you want to go underwater, you can leave it deflated, and later when you want to ensure you stay afloat, you just blow through the attached pipe to inflate the embedded rubber.  When inflated this horse collar snorkel vest acts much like the buoyancy compensator devices that divers use.

This function is why this kind of snorkeling vest is sometimes referred to as an inflatable snorkeling vest.  And an inflatable snorkeling vest offers the most versatility for your snorkeling endeavours.  Beginners might like to use it fully inflated until their confidence improves.  Or you could try using it half inflated, allowing you to go underwater now and again, but then popping you straight back up.  Or just keep it deflated until your limbs are too tired to swim or tread water any more.

Jacket Style Snorkel Vest

The jacket style snorkel vest, like the name suggests, is worn much like a jacket, with holes for your arms to go through, and then you simply fasten it with it’s zips, straps and buckles.  With this kind of closure in place, unlike with a horse collar vest, you can be guaranteed that the vest will stay in place, regardless of strong currents and big powerful waves.  

Jacket type snorkel vests are typically made constructed of neoprene embedded with styrofoam packs.  And it is this that ensures the wearer will stay afloat on the water surface for the duration.  Unfortunately of course this means the wearer doesn’t get to go fully underwater, and this in turn will restrict just how much the wearer will be able to see in the water when they’re snorkeling.

Hybrid Snorkel Vests

In addition to horse collar and jacket style snorkel vests, you can also get hybrid jackets, which are kind of a cross between these two types.  These snorkel vests are composed of both inflatable rubber bladders and also small pockets of neoprene and styrofoam.  This combination generally provides the best buoyancy possible, but you can always add more air into the device by simply blowing into the attached pipe.

Children’s Snorkel Vests

You can of course also get children’s snorkel vests.  You cannot simply put an adult’s snorkel vest onto a child and expect the same results.  This is because getting the right size vest is very important to getting the best use out of it - a bad fit could be disastrous.  We’ll come onto how to get a good fit shortly.  A child’s vest is pretty much like an adults’, except that it’s smaller, and on a child’s vest there’s usually an under strap.

Snorkeling Life Vests

We mentioned snorkeling life vests earlier, but they’re worth an additional mention here because they offer the best of both worlds - the buoyancy and safety of a life jacket, but with the facility to keep your head underwater to snorkel.  In fact, you may have seen that we have included several snorkeling life vests in our Top 10 picks earlier.

How to size a Snorkeling Vest for Adults

Getting a decent fit in a snorkeling vest is important.  An extra large vest on a small body can believe it or not restrict movement, which is not great when you’re swimming in the ocean.  Similarly a very small vest worn on a large body can, in worse case scenario, restrict breathing.

When purchasing a snorkel vest, there should be a size guide available to check against.  You will usually have to determine the right vest size by going by the wearer’s weight, since this is what the sizing charts often go by.  Sometimes this will be in kilograms, while other times it will be in pounds, so you may have to convert one to the other if you don’t know both.

Sometimes the sizing chart also contains waist or chest measurements etcetera, which can be determined by using either a pliable tape measure, or alternatively by using string, which you can then measure later.  If in any doubt however, you should always go by the person’s weight, since this will be what the vest’s buoyancy is measured against.

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