Snorkeling is one of the funnest things you’ll ever experience. The thrill of swimming alongside strange creatures and exploring the beauty under the ocean’s surface can hardly be matched. But like with any water-based activity, there’s always the risk of accident or danger in the ocean.
This is especially true if it’s your first time snorkeling. Making sure you’re prepared is important, and bringing along a snorkel vest can be a great investment into personal safety.
Our 4 Favorite Snorkel Vests
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Best Snorkeling Vests for Adults
While pretty much any snorkel vest will provide some level of buoyancy to help when snorkeling, the comfort of the ScubaPro Cruiser is what sets it apart and makes it so popular. Unlike the typical bulky “horse collar” design of other vests, the Cruiser has a zipper on the left side which still allows you to easily put it on but it just feels a lot more secure and form-fitting.
If you’re not a very strong swimmer, this style of snorkeling vest will give you the confidence to snorkel as much as you want. The neoprene covers your back from the sun so while everyone else’s back will look like a lobster after an hour of snorkeling, you’ll be protected.
On the front is an easy to use valve to inflate or deflate. Simply blow into it to add air or open the valve to let some air out. The front pocket is a nice touch to be able to store small items and makes you wonder why all vests don’t have this. Overall, the high quality of the ScubaPro vest is quite noticeable when compared to others. It’s also a lot more stylish if you’re worried about that type of stuff. Available in both yellow and orange, it’s a pretty slick looking vest.
Being the best snorkeling vest still has its negatives. For one, you will be paying a premium for the style, comfort, and quality of construction. You just need to ask yourself if it’s something you’ll use multiple times or just once on that long overdue vacation to Hawaii. If it’s the later, you might be better off going with the “runner up” option below.
Also, because there is no crotch strap (which can be a good or bad thing), some users have reported that the vest rides up a bit after prolonged usage. Sizing is pretty accurate to what the manufacturer states. It may feel a bit tight when putting it on but that’s how it’s intended to be.
If you’re looking for more of a traditional snorkel vest that’s also more budget friendly, the SealBuddy is your best bet. With its horse collar style, you simply slip it over your head to put it on. The attached crotch and waist straps work well to keep the vest from riding up. These straps are absolutely necessary for this style of snorkeling vest. While not as comfortable as the ScubaPro for snorkeling long periods, it’s as good as it gets for this price point.
The SealBuddy is a “one size fits most” kind of vest simply due to the adjustable straps. It’s available in three bright colors (yellow, pink, and orange) which is always recommended when out at sea. The inflation valve is located in a perfect spot and just as easy to use as the ScubaPro although the quality is a bit lower.
Since your back will be exposed to the sun, make sure you apply LOTS of waterproof sunscreen before getting started. All in all, the SealBuddy is an excellent snorkel vest for first-timers or those who go snorkeling every once in a while.
Rrtizan’s second-generation swim vest is designed for comfort and convenience, and not just safety. A high-density mix of 60 percent polyester and 40 percent PVC leave this vest feeling smooth and less plastic than other snorkeling vests while also providing more buoyancy. The mesh back creates superior breathability and a zipper allows you to wear it as a regular vest while on the beach.
Fitting into this vest is much easier, thanks to the 46-inch waist strap and ability to support people weighing between 80 and 220 pounds. When not in use, the compact design allows it to be stored in the same amount of space as a book.
Safety is the primary concern with any snorkeling vest, and this one inflates quickly and easily. The design allows for partial inflation for those times when you don’t need full buoyancy, although the lack of pockets or a crotch strap have kept it from being perfect. Rrtizan offers a one-year warranty on the vest, allowing you to rest easier even when not in the water.
Best Snorkeling Vest for Kids
Kids love to go snorkeling too. The problem is that most adult snorkeling vests are too big, life jackets are too buoyant, and kids snorkeling vests are too hard to find. Scuba Choice solves all those problems with their kids size snorkel vest for children up to 100 lbs.
Kids as young as 4 or 5 can now enjoy snorkeling without you having to worry about their safety. Of course, they should have some basic swimming experience as this is merely an aid but it does a good job of keeping them afloat. The crotch as waist strap keeps the vest securely on them but it would have been nice if the straps were a bit shorter as there’s lots extra.
On front is a tube for inflating/deflating (might need mom or dad’s help) that’s almost identical to those found on adult size vests. Takes up little room in a suitcase and is a must own if you’re planning on going snorkeling with the kiddos. It would have been nice for other colors to be available if you have more than one child, but at least the color (bright yellow) is fine for both boys and girls.
It would also be nice if the vest was a bit cheaper since there’s less material than an adult version but until there’s more competition from other brands, that probably won’t happen. Still well worth the money for the confidence your kids will have snorkeling and for your peace of mind.
What is a Snorkel Vest and How Does it Help?
A snorkel vest is a safety device that you can wear while snorkeling. It’s roughly the same as a life vest, though it typically includes an additional strap around the thighs and is generally made out of a plastic material. They come in a variety of sizes and colors, and are easily affordable.
There are many benefits to wearing a snorkel vest. First, they provide extra buoyancy. This allows you to fully enjoy the experience rather than worrying about getting tired, focusing on keeping level along the water’s surface, or preventing your snorkel from going under. They also typically come in bright, neon colors, which can help parents keep track of where their little ones are at all times.
If you’ve snorkeled before, then I’m sure you know how terrible the sunburn can be on your back. Snorkel vests can provide valuable UV protection against the sun, saving you a bit of money otherwise spent on Aloe Vera. Last, but not least, nearly all snorkel vests allow you to adjust the buoyancy. If you need a break or want to have a bit more control, you can simply adjust the buoyancy for the desired effect.
The many benefits of a snorkel vest make them useful for newbies, snorkeling experts and everyone in between.
Snorkel Vest vs. Life Jacket
Some of you might ask “why can’t I just use a life jacket instead of a snorkel vest?” It’s a fair question. Obviously, life jackets are excellent pieces of safety equipment. However, life jackets are a general answer to all things water sports. Snorkel vests on the other hand, were specifically created with snorkeling in mind.
The added features in a snorkel vest (buoyancy adjustment, type of material used, structural differences) are not present in a life jacket. A life jacket can (sort of) work if you’re going to snorkel, but they’re functionally designed to keep your head out of the water rather than level with the surface. A snorkeling vest is more in line with the activity, and generally less cumbersome and restrictive than a life jacket. That said, a snorkel vest has a specific purpose and is not a replacement for a life jacket.
Guidelines for Using a Snorkeling Vest
Here are some friendly safety reminders for snorkel vests:
- Snorkel vests are specifically designed to be used for snorkeling. They aren’t a functional replacement for other water based activities. A life vest is by far a better choice for activities like boating, kayaking, or waterskiing.
- When adjusting buoyancy, you’ll have to blow air into the tube by mouth or release it depending on what result you want. If you happen to come across older models that have CO2 cartridges used for inflation, don’t use them. They are potentially unsafe.
- Children should be supervised while in the water at all times, even if they have a vest.
- Always check for holes and wear and tear on the snorkel vest.
- Most people will use a snorkel mask and fins to complete the setup. But at the very least, a good set of swim goggles and even water shoes (to protect your feet from corral) are a good idea.
Many snorkel vests will come with specific instructions for adjusting buoyancy or how to tighten the vest. If these aren’t available or difficult to understand, this site has instructions on adjusting air pressure or vest tightness.
Got Your Vest? Time to Snorkel!
Once your vest is on, fitted correctly, and adjusted for size, then it’s time to snorkel! Always stay safe, and enjoy the wonders of the ocean!