Best spearfishing snorkel

  • A snorkel is a simple but essential piece of gear. It's very difficult to freedive for an extended period of time without a snorkel, so almost any snorkel will be a big improvement. But when you've gotten used to a good snorkel having the right features, using a bad snorkel is no longer an option. So as with all our spearfishing gear the snorkel receives its share of attention. Following is an in depth write up about what makes a good spearfishing snorkel.

    If you want to skip straight to the conclusion, this is a good snorkel Speardiver Freediving Snorkel.

    And this is one of the worst snorkels.


    1. Flexible vs. contoured

    A freediving snorkel should be contoured rather than flexible. The contoured snorkel will help you effortlessly keep the mouth piece in your mouth. The bottom/corrugated half of the flexible snorkel is straight and to put the mouth piece in your mouth you have to flex it. The tube then wants to go back to straight at the same time pulling the mouth piece out of the mouth. This results in a slight effort (pursing your lips) that has to be maintained to keep the mouth piece of a flexible snorkel in the mouth. Flexible snorkels are for scuba divers in order to keep the mouth piece out of the way while they're sucking on the regulator.

    A contoured snorkel should have a moderate curve. If the curve is exaggerated the end of the snorkel will not be sufficiently raised above the water.

    Flexible snorkel (bad).

    Contoured snorkel with moderate curve (good).

    2. Dry snorkels

    The snorkel has to be top light. There are snorkels that proclaim themselves to be dry, meaning they don't allow water to come in through the top of the snorkel. Some actually keep water out and others are just gimmicks but either way a dry snorkel comes at the expense of having a big mass sitting a top of the snorkel. You can feel this when you're surface swimming and when you take the snorkel out of your mouth to dive, it dangles, bangs against your head, and creates drag.

    Some snorkels have a very simple dry system installed, it consists of diagonally placed partitions at the top of the snorkel. I find that this system restricts air flow and requires more effort to purge the snorkel.

    In conclusion any advantages gained by allowing less water to come into the snorkel are offset by making the snorkel top heavy and/or restricting air flow. A simple open ended tube is the best. What controls the amount of water entering the snorkel when freediving should be your breathing. When you build up experience freediving you'll develop a feel for when water is about to enter the snorkel and will automatically exhale rather than inhale.

    Dry snorkel (bad).


    Snorkel without dry system(good).

    3. Purge valves

    There are a variety of snorkels with purge systems. Some are much bulkier than others. The really bulky ones add significant mass to the snorkel. This is bad for the same reasons mentioned with regards to the dry snorkel system.

    It has been my experience that some of the more streamlined purge systems simply don't work. Rather than push the water out with your exhale effort the purge valve allows air to escape from it leaving less air to travel up the snorkel to push the water out. Sometimes the purge valves work well when the snorkel is new but start to malfunction after some use. The best system is a simple tube with no purge valve.

    Snorkel with purge valve (bad).


    Snorkel without purge valve (good).

    4. Tube stiffness

    If you put a hard plastic snorkel under a mask strap as opposed to using a snorkel keeper it would put unnecessary pressure against the side of the head and/or ear.
    Soft snorkels made of Silicone are available. The softness is demonstrated by twisting the tube. If the snorkel is too soft and you like to tuck it under the mask strap it might get compressed to the point of restricting air flow. If the snorkel is too soft and you're swimming in current the snorkel could bend impeding air flow.
    I prefer a soft Silicone snorkel of moderate stiffness, one that will keep its shape under normal conditions at the same time no so hard as to leave dents in my head if it were pressed against it.

    Soft snorkel made of silicone, moderate stiffness.


    5. Tube bore

    The bore or inner diameter of the tube is important, too small and air passage is impeded, too big and it's difficult to blow out water. I can't provide a measurement that's ideal because I have not yet used a tube that was too small. But between two otherwise equal snorkels where it is evident that one is smaller bore than the other I will choose the larger.

    Larger bore ----------------- Smaller bore.

    The mouth piece is where the choice becomes highly personal, but I still believe in some general guidelines.

    6. Mouth piece height

    Below is an example of a snorkel that is elegant and representative of freediving, but I will not use a snorkel with such a mouth piece. The distance between the mouth piece and the tube underneath is too small to get my lips around the mouth piece properly. My lips are prevented from sealing around the mouth piece by the tube underneath. I'm amazed this snorkel is even sold.

    Mouth piece too close to tube (bad).


    Conversely here is a mouth piece that extends too far out of the bottom of the snorkel. This allows the bottom of the snorkel to create leverage on the mouth piece. Any movement of the snorkel is amplified at the mouth piece and tends to pull the mouth piece out of the mouth, resulting in increased effort pursing the lips to keep the snorkel in the mouth. This effect is most often seen with snorkels that have a purge system.

    Mouth piece too far from the tube (bad).

    This is a mouth piece that I found to have ideal height.

    Mouth piece a correct distance from the tube.

    7. Mouth piece shape

    Some mouth pieces are replaceable, they are the same size as the mouth piece on a scuba regulator. I find those to be too large. The mouth has to stay open too wide to hold on to them. Scuba divers are in the water for 30-45 minutes, we're in the water for hours, over this time the discomfort of a large mouth piece tires the mouth muscles. This kind of mouth piece is often seen on snorkels with a purge system.

    Mouth piece too big (bad).

    Mouth piece good size.

    There are many cheap snorkels available that do not use a scuba style mouth piece, this makes them inherently more suitable for freediving. But there's one further feature I've seen that makes a mouth piece even better; just at the point where the tube joins the mouth piece the width of the the tube is reduced further. This makes the air hole in the mouth piece a little smaller but it increases the comfort of the mouth piece significantly. The mouth is able to maintain a more natural just slightly open position while effortlessly holding on to the mouth piece.

    Describing all the various little nuances of a mouth piece shape will take too long. When you select a snorkel you should really put it in your mouth before buying because that's the only way you'll know how it fits you.

    8. Snorkel keeper

    There are guys who tuck the snorkel under the mask strap. I don't like this because it feels like it's pulling the mask out of alignment, and also the tube puts pressure on my head. The mask straps putting pressure on my ears is uncomfortable enough by itself. Also I'm so used to the snorkel being connected to the mask that I'm worried at some time I'll forget and take the mask off without holding on to the snorkel and lose the snorkel. It's convenient knowing that the two are always together. One real advantage to tucking the snorkel under the mask strap is how well it keeps the snorkel out of the way on a dive and stops it from bouncing around.

    With that said fancy snorkel keepers are completely unnecessary and often put painful pressure on the head at the point of contact, the first thing I do is remove them and throw them out. The best snorkel keeper I used for years is a simple figure 8 shape that I cut out of a bicycle inner tube. My main consideration for a snorkel with regards to a snorkel keeper is how easily I can get rid of the original snorkel keeper without affecting the functionality of the snorkel. A snorkel like the one below is out of the question just because of the built in keeper.

    Snorkel with built in keeper (bad).

    The Speardiver Low Profile Snorkel Keeper pictured below has a very low profile, it's similar comfort wise to my old homemade bicycle inner tube snorkel keeper, and is more durable. It's the snorkel keeper I've been using for years now. At $2.50 it's a good investment.

    Speardiver Low Profile Snorkel Keeper

    9. Price

    I've been seeing some crazy prices for snorkels. Many snorkels marketed for freediving and spearfishing are upwards of $30, some as high as $50. For a piece of gear that is best in its most simplest form those are some outrageous prices. I believe that from the retailer's standpoint there are items on which money can and should be made, while other items are more of a service to the customer. Snorkels should fall into the latter category IMO, they are fairly cheap to make once the design is right.

    The snorkel pictured below has ALL the bad features that I don't want to see; flexible, small bore, dry, purge valve, large mouth piece, and a built in snorkel keeper. I'm sure it's priced accordingly.


    A good snorkel that has all the desirable features I mentioned is this post is the Speardiver Freediving Snorkel. That's all I have to say about snorkels for now :)

  • You should write a book.

    I agree with you Dan, the simpler the better. I don,t like snokels with a lot of sh!t on them and hate those with them valves and stuff on top. BTW I been using the same snorkel since 1989 and only replaced the mouthpiece once!

  • I agree with ALL the above and would like to add that I like a CLEAR snorkel.

    1. I can see whats inside it before I put it in my mouth.
    2. I can see through it to see if it needs a good cleaning.
    3. It is a better camouflage in the water.

  • Some people like a highly visible snorkel to be visible on the surface, that's what the red tops are for on many snorkels. It does make divers more easily identifiable from a boat. Many times all you see is the top of the head and a snorkel.

  • IMO.....Red tops on snorkels being more visible is what everyone likes to believe...if they can't see a boat with a dive flag and floats with flags in the water, I don't think they'll see a red top bobbing up and down....

  • great write up Dan, thanks for sharing all of your always i find that your research has shed some very insightful light on this topic and i would like to respond and add some of my thoughts.

    I am currently using a Tusa snorkel and it is clearly a scuba snorkel, but it has some serious pluses that i can't find in a freedive snorkel so I stick with it.

    The most important part of any snorkel to me is the mouthpiece.. I like a stiffer mouthpiece as the soft ones always seem to difform mid dive and really annoy me. I like a plastic structure with silicon around it. this is the most annoying thing to me about all the freedive snorkels I have used.

    I generally do not like the bendy snorkels, but on the rare occasion where the snorkel is shaped right, the bend does not pull away from your mouth but actually makes there be a lot less pull on the mouth. this is still really annoying when the snorkel has been spit and you are just swimming underwater as it vibrates and does other annoying things.

    I have had no problem with smaller streamlines purges, but is can see them failing so I believe that you are correct in that they are superfluous...the presence of a purge value though might add stiffness to the mouth which i prefer.

    the tusa has a unique strap keeper that is actually permanently attached to the tube is only a small nub..there is a dock that you put on the strap that the nub locks into...while this is annoying if you want to switch the snorkel from mask to mask (something i have neber done in the water) but it is never going to fall off. and it is super easy to remove and reconnect to my main mask.

    I think it is super important to have color or tape on the end of the might not help you from a drunk boater, but it is infinitely easier to find dive buddies who have one than not....and not getting separated is important too.

    i like to spear fish

  • I'm probably the odd one. But in rough seas i like to have a valve on my snorkel. for ease of clearing and getting that annoying little bit of water out when i'm doing my breath up. The mouth piece i like are soft. But depending on brand and shape sometimes the soft ones may rub my gums a little to much and can cause discomfort. If the waters are calm a good simple snorkel will do. I take my snorkel out of the motuh if i'm diving deep. If in the shallows i dont take it out. and clear the snorkel before getting to the surface so i dont have to be touching the snorkel with the hands all the time. I had a small incident with a fire coral back in the days. Went for a bug and after i retreive it. my glove was full with the slime of the fire coral. when i grab the snorkel and put it in the mouth i touch the lip/face area and got burn really bad cutting my fishing day short. So i learn not to remove the snorkel if not really necesary(just deep dives).

  • I don't understand exactly what happens there. But then I always spit out the snorkel before a dive, it's correct technique.

    you are correct Dan, I was not clear in my original post...what i meant was in the middle of my diving day. I have a habit of biting too hard and as such i make an effort to not it the mouthpiece but just hold it with my teeth. On the really soft and bendy mouthpieces this usually translates into the mouthpiece closing and restricting the air flow or just being the wrong shape for comfort

    i like to spear fish

  • " Omer is soft. I don´t like it because vibrates when ascending.....Marco "

    Marco, who makes the kind of snorkel you are talking about (simple, big bore and stiff enough to not vibrate).

    First breathe-up... May 1937

  • " Omer is soft. I don´t like it because vibrates when ascending.....Marco "

    Marco, who makes the kind of snorkel you are talking about (simple, big bore and stiff enough to not vibrate).

    The one I prefer is a very old one I bought at Decathlon in Spain. Large bore, soft mouthpiece, hard tube and no valve or other trouble causing devices….

    Marco Melis

    A bad day fishing is ALWAYS better than a good day at work.

  • with the figure 8 keeper you attach one side the snorkel and the other? the mask straps? have a picture of how it fits? i've been sooo use to the easy snap snorkel clips that i cant picture it at the moment.

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member to leave a comment.