So, you decided to take to the waters and explore the seas around you. Now it is off to your local dive shop to buy your first set of gear. With excitement in your step and the thrill of starting this new adventure, what exactly do you need to buy. When you walk through the doors of the scuba shop you become a little overwhelmed by the number of choices you need to make. Do you want a dry snorkel or semi-dry or open J tube? Maybe you want a high visibility mask, free diving mask, go-pro mount or tinted glass? Do you want fins that are adjustable and require booties or do you prefer full footed? Should you get split fins or carbon fiber?
That is a lot to think about. We can go slow and look at each piece of equipment. Let's take a breath and, well to take a breath you will need a snorkel. What kind of snorkel should you buy. Let's take a closer look at the main differences. There are three main types of snorkels to consider, dry, semi-dry and the traditional J tube.
The J Tube
The J tube is an inexpensive snorkel and is very simple in design. It is fine for pool use or flat water snorkeling, like in a lake. It is still widely preferred among free-divers. The main drawback to this design is that the bore opening allows water to fill the tube and subjecting you to a mouthful of water.
The semi dry snorkel is designed to minimize the amount of water allowed through the bore. There is a deflector at the top of the snorkel that will divert the majority of the water away while on the surface. The semi dry will still fill with water if submerged. Many of the semi dry snorkels do have a purge valve, which is a one way valve at the base of the snorkel, that helps clear the tube and mouthpiece when resurfacing.
Last, but certainly not least, there is the dry snorkel. The dry snorkel is designed to keep out the majority of water both on surface and when submerged. This design does cause a bit of buoyancy in the tube and therefore, not preferred by some scuba divers. Most dry designs do have a purge valve since the mouthpiece can still fill with water.
Be sure to consider your needs before making your purchase. The staff at the scuba shop can certainly lead you in the right direction. Tell them exactly what your plans are and they will be more than happy to get you geared up for your new adventure.