Snorkel vests may seem a little tacky to non-snorkelers, often resulting in first-timers forgoing them all together, but oh how quick they learn. Unless you have a lifetime spent swimming around in ocean currents, you will find that snorkeling without a vest can get pretty tiring, pretty quickly. For those that choose to go without a vest, they often find that the fatigue sneaks up on them, and it is a dangerous realization to find that you barely have the energy to get back.
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Yet while your average life vest works on keeping you afloat in the water and conserving your energy, a snorkeler will find it hard to maneuver in the water and impossible to dive. This is where the specially crafted snorkel vest really shines. With the ability to inflate and deflate quickly, these vests will keep you afloat and also let you dive at your leisure.
Snorkel vests come in three different designs – Jacket, Horsecollar, and Hybrid – with each having their own benefits. No matter which design you prefer, here are our top 5 picks for best snorkeling vests.
When it comes to the Horsecollar design, Promate is often the popular choice, though mostly because it is a brand that snorkelers can trust. Using the Horsecollar design, the Promate jacket allows for snorkelers to slip their head into the hole while still having easy access to the inflate/deflate valve.
While this snorkel vest is the most affordable option, the small head hole can be a little claustrophobic around the neck.
Like the Promate model, SealBuddy, a lesser known brand, also makes a Horsecollar-style snorkel vest. However, while it boasts the same easy inflate/deflate valve, bright colors, and body straps, it also features a wider neck hole. This allows it to fit comfortably around the back of the neck while leaving some space at the front of the neck so that it doesn’t feel quite so choking.
The major benefit of the Jacket-style snorkel vest is that is feels a lot like your typical life preserver. However, for snorkelers, the Jacket-style consists of an air pocket in the front and just neoprene or mesh material in the back. The Phantom Aquatics model has the same elongated inflation and deflation valve as the Horsecollar style, but features the nice snug fit that you get with a life jacket.
The Scuba Choice snorkel vest is in the final design, the Hybrid design. It looks similar to the Jacket vest style, but it features more air pockets, effectively combining the inflation of a Horsecollar with the comfortable fit of a Jacket style. The major selling point of this particular vest is the mesh pockets where you can store odds and ends like your defogger. However the mesh does add a bit of drag while in the water.
When snorkelers think of Hybrid designed vests, they think of the Scubapro Cruiser. Featuring neoprene sides for flexibility and comfort as well as an air pocket that circles behind the neck, this design is the ultimate of Hybrid flexibility. Unfortunately, while it fits excellently and is incredibly sleek and drag-free in the water, it is one of the most expensive vest options on the market. However, it is one of those vests that you will only need to buy once in a lifetime.