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Planning a snorkeling trip and thinking about purchasing a floatation belt? Whilst floatation belts are a great choice for some people, there are some things to consider.
In this guide, we’ll cover who should wear a floatation belt, the alternatives, some useful tips, and our recommended floatation belt for snorkeling.
Let’s dive in!
Why Wear a Floatation Belt Whilst Snorkeling?
A floatation belt isn’t for everyone. If you’re the type of snorkeler that likes to dive underwater for a closer look, a floatation belt is not for you.
However, there are a few benefits to wearing a floatation belt that many snorkelers will find useful:
- More comfortable snorkeling experience – Wearing a floatation belt whilst snorkeling allows you to float around without putting any effort into treading water.
- Easier to alter mask, change camera settings, etc. – If you’ve ever tried altering your snorkeling mask without a floatation aid, you’ll know how much of a nightmare it can be! A floatation belt allows you to put your attention to the task at hand rather than trying to stay above the water.
- Easier to put your fins on – Putting on your fins before a snorkeling session can get a little bit awkward. With a floatation belt, you can simply take your fins into the water with you, lie on your back, then put your fins on as the belt keeps you afloat.
Will a Floatation Belt Keep Me Safe?
No! A floatation belt is not a suitable replacement for a life jacket. All they are designed to do is make your experience more comfortable by giving you some extra buoyancy as you float around on the surface.
If you get into trouble in the water, a floatation belt won’t be effective at keeping your head out of the water like a life jacket is designed to do.
If you are a non-swimmer, you need to wear a life jacket when you go snorkeling. Although a better option would be to take some lessons and become a competent swimmer before you go on your snorkeling trip.
Floatation Belts vs. Other Buoyancy Aids
You might be wondering how a floatation belt compares with other floatation devices when you’re snorkeling.
The table below gives you a quick summary of alternative buoyancy aids for snorkeling:
If you’re a non-swimmer, the only floatation device you should use is a life jacket (and you absolutely should wear one).
Life jackets are designed to keep your head out of the water because this is crucial if you find yourself in trouble in the water. Other floatation devices, including snorkeling vests, are not designed to do this.
Unfortunately, the fact that life jackets keep your head above the water isn’t ideal for snorkeling. Obviously when you’re snorkeling, you want your head in the water. It is possible with a life jacket, it just makes it a bit harder.
So, if you are a competent swimmer, a life jacket isn’t ideal and you will be better off with a snorkeling vest or floatation belt which will make it much easier to keep your head underwater.
Read More: Can You Wear a Life Jacket When Snorkeling?
Snorkel vests are the closest alternative to a floatation belt for snorkeling. They both attach to your body, they both keep you afloat, but neither are designed as a life saving device.
The choice between a snorkel vest or floatation belt comes down to personal preference. Some people prefer a snorkel vest because they create less drag as you swim, others prefer floatation belts because they feel less restrictive than a snorkeling vest.
You might want to consider trying on both and deciding which you think you will find more comfortable when you’re snorkeling.
You might not have expected to see wetsuits here, but as well as keeping you warm and protected from the sun, they do help you float.
The downside is that they’re quite expensive, bulky, and tricky to take on and off. A wetsuit probably won’t be worth wearing for light snorkeling in warm water, but worth considering if you’ll be snorkeling in cold water.
Read more: A Guide to Wetsuits for Snorkeling
Float or Noodle
Some people enjoy snorkeling whilst holding a float or noodle. Deffinetely an option to consider but remember you will have to keep hold of it unlike a snorkel vest or floatation velt which attaches to you.
A float or noodle is deffinetely not suitable as a safety measure. If you were to find yourself in trouble in the water, there’s a good chance you will end up letting go of the float.
Tips for Wearing a Floatation Belt Whilst Snorkeling
Here are a few tips which you might find useful if you decide to purchase a floatation belt:
- Wear a rash guard – Some people have found that a floatation belt rubs against their skin which can be uncomfortable. Wearing a rash guard under the belt will prevent this and is a good idea anyway to protect yourself fromthe sun.
- Try the belt in a swimming pool first – It might take some getting used to swimming with a floatation belt and you might want to spend some time finding the most comfortable position and tightness for the strap. You’re better off doing this in a swimming pool rather than the open water.
- Try wearing the thick side on your front – Wearing the thick side on your front can help you stay horizontal by pushing up the middle of your body. Wearing the thick side on your back will make you float more vertically.
Should I Rent or Buy a Floatation Belt?
You might find it more difficult to rent a floatation belt than a snorkel vest or life jacket. But if you know they are available to rent where you are going, it can be a good idea.
The advantage of purchasing your own floatation belt is that you can spend some time trying it out and getting used to it.
It’s worth considering that floatation belts aren’t too bulky or expensive, so if you plan on using one on multiple snorkeling trips, you’re probably better off buying since you will end up spending more money renting after a couple of sessions.
Which Floatation Belt Should I Buy?
If you decide a floatation belt is the right choice for you on your next snorkeling adventure, the Aqua Fitness Deluxe, available on Amazon, is worth checking out.
Our Recommended Floatation Belt for Snorkeling – Aqua Fitness Deluxe
- Great Reviews from Snorkeling Users
- Reasonably Priced
- One Size Fits All
- Recommended for Ages 14 and Up
It has great reviews from users who have worn it whilst snorkeling. They found it keeps you in a comfortable position for snorkeling, although one user found it does rub a little bit so you might want to consider wearing a rash guard.
Read more: Do I Need a Rash Guard for Snorkeling
The Aqua Fitness Deluxe is also very reasonably priced and you might find you can’t rent one for much cheaper than the cost of this belt. It’s also black in color which makes it fairly discreet compared to other belts which are more brightly colored.
Wrapping it Up
Floatation belts can certainly make for a more comfortable and relaxing snorkeling experience, but they are no substitute for a life jacket if you’re a non-swimmer. There are a few alternatives to consider too such as a snorkel vest. If you decide to purchase a floatation belt for snorkeling, make sure to read our tips in this guide, and our recommended belt is the Aqua Fitness Deluxe.