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If you’ve been looking to purchase a snorkel recently, you may have come across the term purge valve and wondered what it is and does.
So, what is a purge valve? A purge valve is a one-way valve on the bottom of a snorkel to trap and expel water when you exhale. This means you don’t get a mouthful of water when splashes enter the tube and it makes it easier to clear any water that enters the snorkel.
In the rest of this article, we’ll look at which snorkels have purge valves, their pros and cons, and whether or not they are worth it.
What Is a Snorkel Purge Valve?
The purge valve is a one-way valve that sits at the bottom of the snorkel to allow any water in the snorkel to escape. It acts as a sort of trap for any water that enters the snorkel so you can still inhale without getting a mouthful of water (as long as its only a few drops). Then, as you exhale, instead of having to force the water all the way back up the tube, the valve opens allowing the water to easily escape.
Do All Snorkels Have Purge Valves?
Not all snorkels have purge valves. Most dry and semi-dry snorkels have purge valves, but wet (or J-type) snorkels don’t.
A purge valve (or lack of one) isn’t the only difference between snorkels. Some snorkels have a float valve at the top of the snorkel to prevent water getting in if it’s submerged.
You can read more about the different types of snorkel in our guide:
Pros & Cons of Snorkel Purge Valves
The advantages of a purge valve are quite clear. Water that enters the snorkel has somewhere to sit without going into your mouth. And then when you exhale, it’s much easier for the water to escape.
But what, if any, are the disadvantages of a purge valve?
There are basically three disadvantages to purge valves:
- Cost: A simple J-type snorkel without a purge valve is very inexpensive so you don’t need to worry too much about breaking it or losing it.
- Drag: Whilst not a lot, a purge valve does add extra weight to the snorkel which can create drag and slow you down if you’re diving underwater.
- Leaks: If the seal on the valve can’t close properly then the snorkel can start to leak which ironicaly makes the problem the valve is trying to solve even worse! There’s much less to go wrong with a J-type snorkel.
So, Are They Worth It?
For recreational snorkelers I would absolutely recommend a snorkel with a purge valve. Especially if you’re not a regular snorkeler that is used to clearing water from a J-type snorkel.
J-type snorkels without purge valves are popular with free divers and spear fishermen who are used to using a snorkel without purge valve and prefer not having any extra parts causing drag.