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You would think snorkeling is fairly simple. Stick a tube in your mouth and you can breath with your head submerged, right? But then you see all these terms like “dry snorkel” and you might think this means you can breath underwater whilst wearing one. Let’s clear up exactly what it means.
So, can you breathe underwater with a dry snorkel? As long as the snorkel tube is poking out of the water, then yes you can breathe underwater with a dry snorkel. However, like with any snorkel, you cannot breathe if you dive underwater with a dry snorkel.
In the rest of this guide we’ll look at what a dry snorkel is and how it differs from other types of snorkel.
What is a Dry Snorkel?
Dry snorkels are different from other types of snorkels because they have a float valve at the top of the tube. This valve prevents water from entering the tube when it’s submerged. So if the snorkel becomes submerged, you won’t have to clear it by exhaling a burst of air when you resurface. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean you can breathe underwater whilst wearing one!
They also tend to have a purge valve. This sits at the bottom of the snorkel and makes it easier to expell any water that does happen to get into the snorkel. It’s a one way valve that allows water to leave the snorkel but not enter it. This means as you exhale to clear the tube the water can escape via both the top of the tube and the valve.
Dry snorkels are great for beginners or those who don’t regularly dive underwater when snorkeling. This is because if you accidently submerge the snorkel, you won’t be surprised with a mouthful of water when you try to breathe in!
However, if you like to dive underwater frequently for a closer look at the marine life, a dry snorkel might not be for you. Since dry snorkels prevent water from entering the tube, they are bouyant when submerged and will create drag making it harder to swim underwater and may tug at your mask.
Wet and Semi-Dry Snorkels
Wet snorkels are on the opposite end of the scale to dry snorkels (as you can probably guess). It’s the most simple design consisting of only a mouthpiece and J-shaped tube. This means water can easily get into the snorkel and it’s harder to clear, but the advantage is that there’s no air in the tube or additional parts that causes drag.
These snorkels are mostly used by free divers and spear fisherman who are experienced with diving deep underwater. Recreational snorkelers tend to dislike wet snorkels and you will be better off with a dry or semi-dry snorkel.
Semi-dry snorkels sit inbetween wet and dry snorkels. They tend to have a purge valve like dry snorkels to help you clear the tube but they don’t have a float valve to prevent water entering. However, they do have a splash guard that can help to reduce water entering the tube, but it won’t do anything if the snorkel is completely submerged.
Semi-dry snorkels are ideal for recreational snorkelers who are comfortable in the water and would like to dive underwater occasionally for a closer look.