I recently read over this post: What to consider when buying fins for recreational snorkeling and found some great advice in what to look for when purchasing fins for snorkelling.

However I was wondering what to look for when buying a snorkel. I've snorkelled a lot before, mostly on holidays in the Mediterranean, in swimming pools and once I was lucky enough to do it on a reef off the island of Mauritius. I've always either; brought a cheap set that literally lasts a week or two (whatever the length of my holiday) then it becomes too worn to use, or I rent / borrow equipment from someone.

When looking over potentially buying my own decent set (which is what lead me to the above post) I found myself coming up with a few questions:

  1. Which is better, an L or J shape (or would this solely depend on the shape of my face?)

  2. Is there a preferred material (eg. Rubber or plastic?)

  3. Is it worth buying one with a sump in the mouth piece?

  4. Is it worth buying one with a ball and cage?

2 Answers 2


I like a few features on my snorkels.

  • A purge valve on the bottom near the mouthpiece. This allows for much easier purging since you don't have to push the water all the up the snorkel.
  • A splash guard of some kind at the top. This greatly reduces the amount of water that can get in the tube. The ball & cage you mentioned works well.
  • Replacing the mouthpiece with a form fitted one. I prefer SeaCure brand. It's molded to your mouth & teeth by warming it up and biting into it. It saves a lot of fatigue on your jaw muscles.
  • Streamline design. Just stays out of the way better.

Master SCUBA Diver
Assistant SCUBA Instructor

  • "Jaw fatigue?" I haven't been snorkeling/diving in a while but I don't recall actively clenching/clamping my jaw while snorkeling/diving. As I recall simply closing my mouth like I do everyday on land is sufficient to hold the snorkel/regulator (second stage) mouthpiece in my mouth. That is true even in the surf. The only time the snorkel was ripped out of my mouth was due to being tumbled by a breaking wave, and I lost the mouth piece was lost. I ended up swimming back to shore breathing through the plastic body of the snorkel.
    – Erik
    Feb 12, 2016 at 23:00
  • I myself would get jaw fatigue with the old style mouthpieces. I have also talked to many, many others who have experienced the same. If you google jaw fatigue snorkeling, you'll get about 250K results. Jaw fatigue diving gets you about 350k results. You may not ave experienced it, but it is real. Feb 13, 2016 at 3:07

Usually the face mask is the important decision when purchasing snorkeling gear. I bought a pair of prescription lenses, for example, that has made all the difference. Once you have the mask, it usually comes with a snorkel, and attaches in some fashion.

What you are looking for is something that is comfortable, easy to clear, and easy to attach. The shape of the snorkel basically determines how easy it is to clear.

I have personally found that a simple J, made out of rubber, is very easy to clear just by blowing. It's cheap, it's easy, and it works.

Interestingly, when I went to Xel-Ha, they just let you keep your snorkel as a souvenir, and my girlfriend kept hers. The snorkel itself just isn't all that important- the mask is.


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