What is a Dry Snorkel? How it Works, Advantages and Disadvantages


Last Updated on June 23, 2023 by Snorkel Ken

We talk a lot about (and review a lot of) snorkel gear with dry snorkels. We think that when primarily snorkeling, then a dry snorkel is the way to go. Of course, free diving for sport or spear fishing will have different requirements and the dry snorkel may not be best in those situations where “simpler is better”.

However, to be able to relax and just observe the marine life below while snorkeling and to be able to clear water easily and prevent water from entering your snorkel then we usually recommend a dry snorkel: Especially for beginners. Having that dry snorkel as a person who is just starting out with snorkeling can do a lot to keep water out, prevent panic, and just let you get used to using the snorkel and enjoying the experience.

In this articles about dry snorkels we will answer the following questions:

  • But what exactly is a dry snorkel?
  • How does it work?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Part 1: What is a Dry Snorkel?

Dry snorkels are snorkels with a cover and mechanism at the top of the tube that prevents water from entering the tube from both the surface or when submerged. With a dry snorkel, a snorkeler should never have a tube full of water.

Part 2: How do Dry Snorkels Work?

Dry snorkels have a mechanism at the top of the tube that closes when you submerge under water. It also has a covering at the top to prevent surface water from splashing into the top of tube.

The dry snorkel has a valve/hinge mechanism at the top. When you submerge underwater, accidentally or purposely, the hinge reacts via a float mechanism and closes onto the top of the tube and seals it which prevents water from filling the tube. Any water that does get into the tube should be minimal and can be easily cleared  by blowing sharply into the snorkel. The water will escape through a purge valve at the bottom of the tube OR be blasted out of the top of the snorkel like a water cannon.

Part 3: What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Dry Snorkel?


Minimum Water in the Tube: Obviously this is the main feature and benefit of a dry snorkel. It’s almost inevitable that you’ll get a mouthful of water from time to time but with a dry snorkel that will be reduced greatly which will enhance your snorkeling experience and, especially with children, prevent coughing, choking, panic or worse.

Uninterrupted Snorkeling: With less water in the tube and having to clear your snorkel less, your time in the water and actually exploring beneath the surface will be much better and longer. You’ll be able to swim for as long as you can endure it without having to surface, adjust, clear, or choke on sea water. This also saves energy as the snorkeling and swimming will be more even-flowed and less choppy.


Unexpected closes: The dry snorkel valve will sometimes close when it’s not supposed to and you’ll be able to get the breath of air when you planned it. The key is to not panic. This still happens to us and we have gotten used to it. It’s pretty simple to reach to the top of your snorkel and light tap the valve open and do so without interrupting your snorkeling. It’s all one fluid reaction after enough time.

Float and Bob: A dry snorkel is a bit bulkier and the added luxury of a dry snorkel valve causes the snorkel to be more buoyant in the water and to “bob” around on the strap and snorkel keep. This can bother some people and, to be honest, it gets on my nerves sometimes. However, the advantages of longer snorkel times without water getting into the tube outweigh my occasional adjustment of the snorkel on my mask.

Most of the snorkel sets and snorkels that we review here on SnorkelStore.net will be of the dry or semi-dry (this means that they keep surface water out only but don’t have the valve to close when submerged). We absolutely recommend dry snorkels for the hobbyist or recreational snorkeler and positively recommend them for the new snorkeler as they just seem to cause less stress on the experience.

Don’t forget to check out our Snorkel Gear Buying Guide!

Thanks for reading. Snorkel safe!


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