Here, we break down the individual components of a snorkel and look at their function. Whichever snorkel you choose, the most important features are fit and comfort. All snorkels need a large bore, smooth rounded bends, and have smooth rounded bends as will be explained below. Optional extras such as valves, splash guards and contours will also be explained. Most snorkels are made from either plastic or silicone or a selection of both these materials.
The bore is the name given to the opening of the tube, some tubes open out at the end to create a larger angled bore, which helps to prevent water from entering the tube, though it is more common just to have a valve fitted to the end. It is important that the bore is not too narrow as this will restrict your breathing ability, you don't want a snorkel the width of a drinking straw!
Tube / Barrel
The tube, otherwise known as the barrel, is the length of the snorkel. Some are a little longer than others, with the longer ones being more suited to sea snorkelling and the shorter suitable for calmer waters like lakes or pools. If the snorkel is too long, it is hard to clear and you rebreathe a lot of your own air. About 43cm or 17 inches give or take, is usually a suitable standard length.
It is generally recommended to purchase a snorkel that is smooth on the inside of the tube; this will make airflow smoother; making purging and breathing easier. Snorkels with sharp bends add resistance making breathing more difficult.
This is at the very top of the snorkel and fits over the bore, it is used to prevent unwanted water entry. Not all snorkels have these and there are many different types which provide different levels of protection against water access, the two main options of which are the semi-dry and the total-dry.
This is a small clip on the tube of the snorkel and is used to attach it to the mask so that is doesn't fall loose when you remove the mouthpiece. This is one of the cheapest and most commonly replaced parts of the snorkel, as it can break quite easily. It is available in a plastic design which swivels or in a simple silicone loop ring.
These snorkels are becoming increasingly popular as they allow the position of the mouthpiece to be altered easily. The bottom half of the barrel is made from corrugated tubing which means it contours to the shape of your face easily. It also falls down once you remove the mouthpiece meaning it does not interfere with talking or swapping to your regulator.
This part of the snorkel prevents water from entering the mouthpiece and makes purging the snorkel much easier than it would be otherwise. It is a simple but effective addition which comes as standard with most professional snorkels nowadays. Simply breathe out hard and it removes the water via a small valve underneath the mouthpiece without having to manually remove and empty it.
This is the soft part of the snorkel that fits into your mouth, making it easy to use the snorkel, many snorkels have an easily replaceable mouth piece, as they are soft and often damaged due to biting during use.