Dry snorkel or semi-dry for snorkeling?

Dry snorkel has many advantages that will make snorkeling safer and more comfortable than using a classic tube. This buying guide will help you to clarify the differences between traditional and new dry top models and help you to decide what type will work the best for you.

How do you breathe through a dry snorkel?

If you are a newbie snorkeler, let us help you with a little explanation how a snorkel work and why you need one. While snorkeling, the main purpose of your activity is observing the underwater life without raising your head out of the water, and this is the point when the necessity of having a good snorkel comes in. The snorkel is a breathing tube that helps you to breathe air from the surface when you face down and your mouth is under the water. It consists of a tube and a mouthpiece. The drawback of traditional models is that water can get into the tube when a wave comes over you or you turn your head. To prevent this, we recommend using a dry snorkel that won’t let any water enter the tube providing you a better snorkeling experience.

What are the different types of snorkels?

Interesting fact is that they first snorkel we have records about was invented in Greece in 400 AD and technically it was a piece of bamboo used for breathing while surface swimming. Luckily, equipment developed a lot and nowadays a wide selection of snorkel gear is available that gives us comfort and safety. All snorkels might seem similar at first sight but if you look closer there are differences that determine how they perform in the water. It will depend on the underwater activity you intend to do what the best snorkel is for you. For scuba diving choosing a semi-dry is the best. Dry snorkels suit the most for snorkeling, while classic J type snorkels work the best for freediving.

J Type snorkel

The traditional model that is technically a simple tube with a mouthpiece at the end. Usually, these classic models are not so ergonomic because of the fixed mouthpiece and snorkelers find them not comfortable since the top of the tube is open where water can enter so you need to learn how to clear the snorkel. Although, simple J snorkels that are lightweight and create less drag, therefore they are the best for freedivers.

Cressi Corsica J Type

  • classic J snorkel from Cressi
  • light and comfortable
  • flexible and foldable
  • anatomical silicone mouthpiece
  • perfect for freediving, spearfishing and scuba diving

Semi-dry snorkel

A semi-dry snorkel has a splash guard on the top of the tube that prevents water entry when a wave comes over but not sealing the tube. This means, if you submerge, the tube will fill up with water, therefore this is a good choice for scuba diving. Most semi-dry snorkels also include a flexible tube for the best fit.

Cressi Super Nova Dry

  • bestseller snorkel from Cressi
  • completely dry system that seals off water
  • easy attachment to the mask strap
  • flexible tube that reduces jaw fatigue
  • soft hypoallergenic silicone replaceable mouthpiece

Ameo Powerbreather

There is a revolutionary design on the market called dual snorkel tube. The Ameo Powerbreather can be used by recreational swimmers, general snorkelers and by athletes too providing an advanced breathing experience. With the Ameo Powerbreather dual tube design you inhale from the top tubes and exhale through the bottom. The air channels are completely separate. This patented fresh air system guarantees that only fresh air will enter your lungs and prevents inhaling used air containing CO2. The one-way valve opens for inhales only and keeps water out. Like this, you can stop worrying about gulping water. The complete Ameo Powerbreather set includes different caps for different conditions. For open water swimming in choppy water, you will have long vents that provide 1 inch more length to prevent water entry. The Powerbreather can be used with scuba mask or with swimming goggles. The Ameo Powerbreather Beach edition is designed for snorkeling including a mask and the long vents that will keep the tube completely dry. This set provides you a similar breathing experience like a full face snorkeling mask but allows you to equalize on the traditional way.

Powerbreather from Ameo

  • a revolutionary new dual-tube design for snorkeling and recreational swimming
  • separate air channels for inhaling and exhaling
  • one-way valve system prevents water entry
  • breathe pure fresh air only and never used air that contains CO2

Tip: read our how to choose mask for snorkeling post too to know what are the best masks! If you need flippers too, the best snorkeling fins guide will help you to find the best!

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

What is a purge valve on snorkel?

Modern types of snorkels usually come with a purge-valve that helps to keep the tube clear by collecting a small amount of water in a sump area that makes clearing the tube easier. When you blow out, a little one-way valve opens and lets the collected water to clear. All types including simple J models, semi-dry and dry snorkels can feature a purge valve. Important is to rinse the purge-valve after snorkeling to remove the salt and sand otherwise it can get clogged.

How to clear your snorkel?

Learning how to clear your snorkel is an important step if it comes to snorkeling safety. Always practice the techniques in a pool or calm, shallow water before heading to open water.

Tip: read our snorkeling safety guidelines for more useful advice!

Blast clear

An easy technique that works with all types! You need to blow the water out through the tube by exhaling sharply when resurfacing. If your snorkel has a purge-valve, water will flow out over that valve as well making the clearing faster.

Displacement clear

This method works if you don’t have a purge-valve on your tube. When underwater, exhale a little air into your snorkel. This air will expand when you surface and will force the water out of the tube. Alternatively, if you don’t manage to clear your snorkel with this methods and if water conditions allow, stay horizontally in the water, raise your head out, remove the mouthpiece and let the water simply flow out.

How to attach a snorkel to the mask?

All snorkels come with an attachment that will secure the tube to the mask. This can be a simple plastic hook or a 2-piece plastic attachment. In case you have the second version, one part has to be on your mask strap while the other on the tube. If you don’t like these plastic versions, you can get a silicone snorkel keeper  that fit any type and size of tube. If you would accidentally lose or break the keeper, don’t worry. You can attach the tube to the mask simple by putting it under the mask strap. Freedivers often use this trick in order to reduce the drag and get a more secure hold. You might wonder which side of the mask does the snorkel go on but it is super easy to decide! Because of the common mouthpiece design, snorkel goes always to the left side of your mask.

Anett Szaszi

Anett is a certified scuba diver, freediver and an expert in snorkeling with more than 10 years experience. She fell in love with the ocean when she put her head underwater in the Red Sea in 2008. Since then , she is traveling all over the world to discover our waters. Wherever she goes, she takes her mask, fins and underwater camera with her. Visiting mega-cities is not her style but getting lost in tiny coastal villages, capturing the beauty of the sea while snorkeling. She is interested in sustainable traveling and marine conservation. She is hoping to inspire people to protect our oceans by sharing her underwater stories. Find her photos on @anett.szaszi Instagram too!

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