One of the biggest debates within the diving community is whether you really need a snorkel for scuba diving or not. It’s interesting that of all the equipment involved in diving, the snorkel would be the cause of such heated disputes.
We’re not even saying the phrase ‘heated disputes’ lightly, because, in fact, it could well be seen as an understatement. Bring up the question of to carry a dry snorkel or any other snorkel or not to a rook of divers or on any dive forum and oh boy, you’ll start a passionate argument.
Some dive organizations, such as PADI, support snorkel use while diving, while some, see snorkels as nothing but death traps strapped to your face. And in the end, snorkels fall somewhere on the spectrum between lifesavers and accidents waiting to happen.
In the following post, we’ll discuss some of the pros and cons of snorkel use during a dive.
Should you Carry a Snorkel When Scuba Diving?
So, is a snorkel necessary to have when we are scuba diving? Not really, well maybe. Maybe you should look into just how does a snorkel work to really comprehend this piece of gear to begin with.
We would refer this piece of dive gear similar to that of a dive knife. It all comes down to personal preference whether you carry one with you. Just like a knife, wouldn’t you rather have one and not need it, than need one and not have one?
Nowadays, many of the big brands produce compact and even fold up snorkels that fit in the pocket of your BCD, making it easy to carry in the event you should ever need to use one on your dive and in your chosen snorkel destination.
For many of us, using a snorkel while we’re diving is kinda academic, because we were encouraged and taught to during the Open Water courses we took when we were first learning.
There was never any debate, it was just taken as a done thing. Some, however, have never used one and while there’s many of us who see them as lifesavers, there are others who see them as a nuisance on a dive.
As it’s something that many people seem to be arguing about, it’s worth discussing. So, we’re going to look at some of the main pros and cons of wearing a snorkel below. Then, that will hopefully help you to decide whether you want to carry one or not.
Pros of Carrying a Snorkel When Diving
1. Water & Weather Conditions
When you’re looking at the water conditions from above the surface, say, from inside the boat before a dive, entering the water wearing a snorkel and mask is the most effective and easiest method for checking the visibility and current.
2. Entry Point Swim
When you’re diving from shore and there’s a relatively long swim before you reach the entry point, you can use a snorkel to avoid wasting valuable air in your tank. It helps to make your swim more comfortable also.
3. Towing a Diver
If you ever find yourself in the situation where you need to tow another diver, whether it’s a student or buddy, a snorkel is useful for those surface-swimming parts.
It could also aid a stressed-out diver in getting their breathing under control in choppier conditions.
4. Waiting for the Boat
A snorkel can also be useful if you must swim towards your boat in rough and choppy conditions or need to wait to be picked up from a boat.
Without a snorkel, you may find that you end up using all your tank just trying to stay comfortable on the surface. That is obviously not good for either your stress levels or your equipment.
5. Surface Assistance
It’s also much quicker to grab a snorkel than putting all your diving gear if you need to get into the water again to help another diver having problems at the surface of the water.
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Cons of Carrying a Snorkel When Diving
1. Not Essential Part of Gear
For many divers the reason they don’t take a snorkel along on their dives because they have never had to use it. Many divers have never been in any of the situations that warrant the use of one, as outlined above in the pros section, and therefore do not carry a snorkel when diving.
2. Additional Drag Underwater
Snorkels are responsible for creating additional drag while you’re in the water. If you’re trying to swim and dive in a stronger current, your diving mask can even move.
What often happens when you enter the water from a boat, is that as the snorkel creates additional drag, it can just come off completely. Particularly if it has not been secured properly.
3. Inconvenient Piece of Gear
Snorkels, to some people, can be known as inconvenient. It’s a little surprising and completely frustrating, especially for divers out there with long hair.
Some brands of snorkels have not produced a clip that won’t get tangled up in your hair, which can sometimes cause you issues.
Many of the clips produced either break within a short time after they’ve been purchased or just don’t hold your snorkel correctly in place, making it more of a nuisance than a potential piece of dive gear.
4. Skills Practice
In the beginning, when you’re just learning the basics of diving, having a snorkel can make it more difficult to master the skill of mask-replacement. It’s important to remember, that in some diving courses, you will have to carry a snorkel with you at all times.
However, it can get entangled in your hair or the strap of the mask or just get in the way in general. There are even times when it can get tucked up under the shoulder strap of your BCD.
5. Confusion in Gear
Another issue that snorkels cause for many beginner divers is confusion with the equipment. Many newbie divers confuse the inflator for their snorkel and vice versa.
While it’s true that there will never be a definitive answer as to whether you really need to use a snorkel when you’re diving, it’s clear that there’s sound reasoning on both sides of the argument.
Conclusion – or Not
In the end, though, it is up to you whether you carry a snorkel or not. At the end of the day, you need to do what’s right for you and what suits you. Everyone has their own opinion, but no one will expect you to carry a snorkel or not.