- A snorkel is an important piece of equipment for freediving, as it allows the diver to breathe while remaining underwater on the surface before dives. Many freedivers utilise a snorkel, while others do not, believing that not using one gives a purer dive.
- Freedivers can choose from various snorkels, including those specifically designed for freediving. When selecting a snorkel, the most important factor is fit and ensuring a balance between rigidity and flexibility. You will also want to opt for a lightweight design to reduce drag in the water.
- At Agulhas, we design all our freediving gear with comfort and safety in mind. Our sustainable products are amongst the best on the market, with our modular designs bringing new innovations to the world of freediving.
Freediving is an exhilarating sport that allows you to explore our oceans. You’ll use a variety of gear and equipment to stay safe and comfortable and ensure you can dive deeper. One of the essential pieces of a freediving kit is your snorkel. Freediving requires divers to hold their breath for long periods, so having a good snorkel to conserve energy at the surface is essential. But how do you choose the best one for you?
In this article, we’ll look at how different diving disciplines use a snorkel. We’ll look at the advantages of wearing a snorkel and why you might not want to. Then we’ll provide tips to help you pick out the best freediving snorkels and introduce you to our own freediving equipment here at Agulhas.
Agulhas is revolutionising the game as freediving gear goes, creating freediving equipment that’s beautiful, comfortable and sustainable.
So, let’s dive in and get started!
Snorkelling vs Skin Diving vs Freediving
Before we begin, it’s important to denote the difference between snorkelling and freediving. Although there is some crossover here, they are not the same thing, and the snorkel is important to both disciplines in different ways.
Many would argue that snorkelling is the most popular activity of the three we’re highlighting. The discipline is accessible and one of the most common pastimes of those on vacation in exotic locations with high water visibility, warm weather and interesting wildlife and fauna.
Snorkellers will use full-foot fins, masks and a snorkel for swimming underwater. The snorkel is used to breathe whilst moving around with the face still submerged. It’s important to note that breathing techniques and regulation of one’s breath aren’t something a snorkeller will be well versed in. The depth level of a snorkeller is strictly close to the surface, with the observation of any interesting points beneath the water done from a top-down view. While some snorkellers will travel to depths, this is not as common as with freedivers or even skin divers.
Skin diving is something of a cross between freediving and snorkelling. The discipline is ancient and derived from an era when fishermen would dive beneath the waves for their catch.
For the most part, skin divers use a snorkel the same way as those going snorkelling. The key difference is that skin divers often travel to depths greater than the usual snorkeller but generally not as deep as freedivers. They do this when they see a target for observation, diving down for a closer look rather than continuing the top-down viewing of the snorkeller.
Having visited our website today, we expect that you need little introduction to the sport of freediving. But we will talk a little about the role of a snorkel in your freediving gear.
While a snorkel is used in freediving as a breathing aid on the surface, it also provides another vital function – energy conservation. A freediver’s time on the surface is limited, with diving to depths being the core experience. As such, freedivers will find they want to limit their time on the surface, conserve energy for the dive to come and keep these moments for reoxygenation. As such, the snorkel is useful to freedivers in achieving this, amongst many other advantages we’ll discuss later in this article.
How the Ideal Freedive Snorkel Differs from Other Snorkels
For Freedivers, having the right freediving snorkel is essential. Freediving snorkels are designed to provide low resistance and drag, and the best-in-class models are made with hydrodynamic shaping to minimise any turbulence while you swim. Freediving snorkels also feature a shorter curved tube design that allows for more comfortable breathing and an ergonomic mouthpiece, ensuring comfort during your dive.
Do You Want to Use a Freedive Snorkel?
While many freedivers will use a snorkel, many will not, making freediving snorkels an optional piece of freediving equipment. Those who don’t choose a snorkel believe that not using one gives a much more pure and free form of freediving.
Whether you choose a snorkel or not depends entirely on your preferences and approach to freediving. However, you should be mindful of how you prepare for your dive during the breath-up, your overall comfort in the water, the environment and your intention with your freediving.
The Advantages of Having a Snorkel as Part of Your Freediving Gear
Despite some deciding not to choose a snorkel as part of their freediving equipment, there are, in fact, many advantages to having one. Besides what we’ve mentioned, here are a few more:
- The ability to view underwater conditions before diving: Freedivers will often use their snorkel to not only plan the length and depth of a dive but observe the area they plan on diving before making a commitment. This makes them aware of underwater hazards and obstacles that could potentially harm their dives, and a snorkel is the best way to do this.
- Easier breathing-up: While some freedivers prefer to complete their breathing-up on their back, others prefer to do it face down. Using a snorkel here is key and will allow the diver to trigger the mammalian dive reflex (MDR).
- Monitoring others in the water: Freedivers using a snorkel can observe the other freedivers in their group from the surface and ensure everyone’s safety. It’s much easier to do this when face down.
- The ability to use both freediving and snorkelling techniques: Some freedivers might prefer to perform a mix of freediving and snorkelling. For example, a snorkel is ideal for exploring shallow reefs or for those who don’t feel they’re advanced enough to dive into certain objects but still want to view them, such as shipwrecks. A snorkel is also ideal for those looking to scout an area and judge where they want to freedive and where they want to avoid.
As you can see, there are many advantages to having a snorkel as part of your freediving equipment. With so much to consider, you should be mindful when choosing the ideal model and look for specific features. Let’s explore.
What to Look for in the Best Freediving Snorkels
If you’re ready to choose a snorkel, you’re probably wondering what to look for to find the best freediving snorkel. To this end, we’ve constructed a handy list of points to be on the lookout for:
A Simple Basic Model
With other pieces of freediving equipment, such as a freediving watch, you’ll want something with many bells and whistles. Here, however, features aren’t as important. Having a freedive snorkel with things such as dry air valves, purge valves and lock-out systems isn’t necessary, and these additions can hurt your freediving performance as they increase drag and resistance.
Instead, you want to focus on reducing these things while maintaining comfort. As such, a simple J-tube snorkel is among the best freediving snorkels and, likely, even ideal.
The Right Material
While a simple snorkel might be best for freediving, that doesn’t mean you should add any basic tube to your freediving gear. Choosing the right material is important as it will affect the flexibility and the quality of your experience underwater. Your snorkel needs to cut a fine line between flexibility and rigidness.
For example, too-hard a material will cause the snorkel to wobble when diving, which can be uncomfortable. It must be flexible enough to bend in the water or against objects. However, it must also be hard enough to spring back into place. A snorkel with medium stiffness made from hypoallergenic silicone or special polymers is ideal.
Don’t be afraid to splurge on the highest quality materials, and read reviews to get an idea of the quality and performance of the snorkel before you make a purchase.
A Comfortable Mouthpiece
The mouthpiece is part of the snorkel that goes into your mouth, so it has to be comfortable. Freediving snorkels usually have a soft silicon or rubber material for comfort, but you’ll want to ensure you get one that fits your jaw perfectly.
A freedive snorkel will usually have a smaller mouthpiece than its scuba and snorkelling counterparts, and it’s important to ensure that this is at a comfortable angle and the right distance from the tube.
The Perfect Tube
As far as the freedive snorkel tube goes, there’s much to consider. You want an adequate diameter for optimal airflow and a tube that isn’t too long, as, again, this can increase drag and resistance. The best freediving snorkels are usually around 40-50 cm long, depending on the model, and you don’t want anything that makes you feel like you’re breathing through a straw!
Equally, you’ll want the tube to be flexible. You should be able to bend the tube inward; otherwise, again, you’re going to be experiencing extra drag and resistance.
A Snorkel-to-Mask Clip
Another feature to look out for is a clip at the end of the tube that attaches it securely to your freediving mask strap. This prevents the loss of the freedive snorkel during dives and stops an unsecured snorkel from bouncing around in front of the diver.
A Dry-Top System
Finally, some divers may seek a freediving snorkel with a dry-top system to keep water out when freediving below the surface. This is achieved via a valve mechanism known as a float valve, which seals out the water and ensures that the inner tube is dry.
However, a dry top system adds weight to the snorkel and restricts airflow. Most freedivers want to dive as lightly as possible with no extra weight that reduces the effectiveness of breathwork.
How to Make Sure Your Freediving Snorkel Fits
Once you have chosen the best freediving snorkel, it’s time to ensure it fits. The perfect fit depends on your mouth shape and size, and finding a snorkel that is both comfortable and exits the water at the ideal angle can be challenging.
The best way to ensure a secure fit is to try it out. If you can use a pool or other safe body of water, that would be ideal.
You’ll want to ensure that an air-tight seal can be created between the mouthpiece and your lips. When you breathe through the snorkel, air should only move through the tube, not anywhere else. The mouthpiece should be sufficient, so you can place your tongue inside to block the mouthpiece and stop water from entering. The mouthpiece should also feel natural in your mouth and not like it’s been forced inside. If it doesn’t, changing the angle can sometimes work.
Finally, check how well the snorkel clips to your mask. You’ll want to ensure the tube points vertically, and the snorkel should feel comfortable clipped against the mask strap. If it’s not, then it’s likely your mask straps are excessively tight or the material of the snorkel tube is too rigid.
Finding the Best Snorkel for Your Freediving Kit
Having looked at a freediving snorkel’s features, it’s time to choose one for your freediving kit! Whether you are looking for something basic, as we suggest, or want to go for something more advanced, there is a freediving snorkel out there for everyone.
Most freediving stores will stock a wide range of snorkels and will be able to provide advice on what could work best for you. Alternatively, if you want something more unique or bespoke, it may be worth looking online at some of the more specialist freediving stores.
As such, it’s time to introduce you to Agulhas.
Here at Agulhas, we are taking freediving gear to the next level with our innovative range that is revolutionising how freedivers think about their equipment. Sustainability and longevity are at the core of our philosophy, ensuring you get the best value from your precious equipment.
All our freediving kit is designed to be modular. Should any piece of that equipment break, you simply have to replace the component, not the whole thing. This not only makes repairs much easier, particularly if you suffer damage during a dive, but it saves you money in the long term.
But not only that, it helps keep our oceans free from excessive waste. Horrifically, we’ve all seen the terrible effects of trash in our oceans, and by reducing waste, we’ve helped provide a sustainable future for our beloved oceans. All our freediving equipment is made with the most eco-friendly materials possible, meaning you never have to worry about harming the planet.
This care for you as a freediver and our oceans at large comes from the fact that we here at Agulhas are freedivers ourselves. Our freediving gear is designed by eminent freediver Hanli Prinsloo, world champion swimmer Peter Marshall and acclaimed designer Alexander Taylor.
So why not check the rest of our website and explore our catalogue to find the perfect freediving kit for you?
Freediving can be an incredible experience, but ensuring you have the right gear to keep yourself safe and comfortable while exploring is crucial. Choosing the best freediving snorkel for your kit is an important part of this process, one that requires careful consideration. The most important thing when selecting a snorkel is comfort and fit, which will ensure you get the most out of your diving. The other key factor is ensuring it fits well with your mask, creating an air-tight seal when breathing.
At Agulhas, we understand these needs better than most, designing our gear to ensure maximum safety and comfort. Why not check out our range of freediving equipment today and revolutionise your freediving gear?
What type of mouthpiece should I use?
The most comfortable type of mouthpiece is made from silicone or similar soft materials, as this material conforms to your teeth and jaw shape for comfort and ease when breathing.
Is it necessary to have a purge valve in my snorkel?
No. A purge valve is unnecessary for a freediver as the snorkel shouldn’t be kept in the mouth when freediving. However, those who intend to use the snorkel to also go snorkelling may find some value in the feature.
Are there any safety tips I should follow while using my snorkel?
Yes, absolutely! Make sure you always dive with a buddy so that someone is watching out for you in an emergency. Additionally, properly secure your mask and snorkel to ensure that nothing gets detached during a dive. Lastly, return to safety and check your equipment if you feel your breathing is difficult or uncomfortable.
How do I care for my snorkel?
After use, rinse it in fresh water to remove salt or other residues. Additionally, store it away from direct sunlight, as this can damage the material over time. If any parts need replacing, get them from a reliable manufacturer so that they are of good quality and compatible with your specific model. Lastly, keep an eye on the mouthpiece and replace it if necessary to ensure proper functionality. Remember, all of Aghulas’ freediving equipment is modular, so it’s easy to replace single components instead of the whole thing.