Do you Need a Snorkel

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BCSGratefulDiver

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I'm not demanding that you use a snorkel, I'm just asking you to marshal a rigorous defense as to why you don't. Frankly, I'm happy to undergo that sort of examination as concerns any piece of gear that I choose to take into the water or that I refuse to take into the water, and I would expect any thinking diver to do the same. I have yet to hear any defense of not diving with a snorkel (except in O/H) that doesn't appear to me to translate into anything but, "I'm really not comfortable with it."

Nonsense. Any choice in scuba equipment that you make boils down to personal preference ... because there are always alternatives. No "rigorous defense" is needed. You choose what you choose because you want to. Any other reasons you come up with are rationalizations. And as we see here on ScubaBoard every day, there are endless rationalizations for every piece of dive gear out there ... from backplates to spare airs to split fins.

I'm completely comfortable with a snorkel ... I used one for decades before I ever learned how to scuba dive. I carried one for several hundred dives after I learned how to scuba dive. When I carried it, I almost never used it. Since I've stopped carrying it, I've never found myself wishing I had it. So why carry it?

The question posed by the OP was "do you need it" ... my answer is "no". I don't even find it particularly convenient, much less necessary.

If it works for you, fine. But please ... please ... don't pretend you're somehow superior with your skills because you choose to carry a snorkel. That's just damn silly.

... Bob (Grateful Diver)
 

japan-diver

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I do not use or see a need for a snorkel while scuba diving. I also am quite adept at using one- have hundreds of hours of freedive spearfishing, teaching freediving and rescue swimming below a helo I know all the advantages and disadvantages of having one and know how to wear it but can not find one reason to have one while scuba diving. Breathing on the surface in choppy seas while waiting for a boat is not made any easier with a snorkel -especially if you have a BC that can generate lift to put your face high out of the water.

Thal although I agree with you on alot of things - the snorkel as a safety device is highly overrated and being oversold. I also agree that many divers do not know how to properly wear or use a snorkel and many of the "new and improved" snorkels are not conducive to proper wear or use . I run a dive boat and see it all the time. Divers that are truly comfortable in the water can just as easily breath with or without a snorkel - it comes down to a personnel choice if you prefer to wear one or not.
 

Sas

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I'm not demanding that you use a snorkel, I'm just asking you to marshal a rigorous defense as to why you don't. Frankly, I'm happy to undergo that sort of examination as concerns any piece of gear that I choose to take into the water or that I refuse to take into the water, and I would expect any thinking diver to do the same. I have yet to hear any defense of not diving with a snorkel (except in O/H) that doesn't appear to me to translate into anything but, "I'm really not comfortable with it."

There are lots of pieces of gear I am comfortable with though, but that I do not use when diving. Basically because I do not find them useful.

Say one is indifferent to actually wearing a snorkel (i.e. comfort-wise) but did not find it useful, why would they bother taking it? It is an extra piece of gear to purchase (I know it is cheap but there is still a cost) and remember to take on a trip. Then there are risks of negative feelings such as if one loses it or someone steals it or something :wink: Also if one does diving where a snorkel is completely unnecessary like cave diving, then they have to remove and add it to their mask each time they swap between the environments. Also seals seem to like to attack them and I don't like seals biting around my head region.
 

Thalassamania

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Nonsense. Any choice in scuba equipment that you make boils down to personal preference ... because there are always alternatives. No "rigorous defense" is needed. You choose what you choose because you want to. Any other reasons you come up with are rationalizations. And as we see here on ScubaBoard every day, there are endless rationalizations for every piece of dive gear out there ... from backplates to spare airs to split fins.
There we part company, but then you've likely never been in a situation where you've had to justify every diving equipment choice to a board of experts, often down to make and model. Doing that for thirty years, or so, changes one's perspective.
I'm completely comfortable with a snorkel ... I used one for decades before I ever learned how to scuba dive. I carried one for several hundred dives after I learned how to scuba dive. When I carried it, I almost never used it. Since I've stopped carrying it, I've never found myself wishing I had it. So why carry it?
And it is likely that you'll go another long period of time before you need one. But when you do hit that situation, you will be sorry that you don't have one. Hopefully that will not be in a really tight spot, but even if it is in a fairly trivial one, my point is that the cost of carrying one is so, very, very, low ... why not do so.
The question posed by the OP was "do you need it" ... my answer is "no". I don't even find it particularly convenient, much less necessary.

If it works for you, fine. But please ... please ... don't pretend you're somehow superior with your skills because you choose to carry a snorkel. That's just damn silly.

... Bob (Grateful Diver)
Actually it is not, most of the people that I have worked with who resisted using a snorkel did not, in fact, know how to mount it properly or use it properly. Applying such generalities to all and sundry is never a perfect fit, but it does work in most cases.
 

DCBC

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The selection of diving equipment is a matter of personal preference. To some, a snorkel is a valuable piece of equipment; to others it's just a superfluous piece of kit.

Whether or not a snorkel is carried usually depends upon a diver's personal experiences. I can understand if a diver has never had cause to use a snorkel, why they would leave it at home. It would appear however, that others have found themselves in different conditions where it's valuable.

When my students do their first open water dive, I have them check their buoyancy for correct weighting (previously done in the pool) then we dive using only MFS (they're equipped with SCUBA but it's not in use). We swim a circuit on the surface, with and without a snorkel and do diver tows and assists in the surf (paying particular attention to the hazard of waves, current and jagged rock). Perhaps if everyone had a similar experience they might look at the snorkel a bit differently, as the last place you want to be is on your back unless you're the victim. I do agree that for some diving conditions, it's not required.
 

jaycanwk

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Sounds like a lack of familiarity with breathing through a snorkel.
Sounds like a lack of familiarity with breathing through a snorkel.
Sharks are your friends, and some say your ancestors.
A snorkel doesn't prevent heads up scanning 360, it just provides other options.
I agree that they are not needed here.
Sounds rather poor training combined with a lack of experience.
Sounds rather poor training combined with a lack of experience.
Sounds like someone doesn't know how to wear a snorkel.
Sounds like a lack of familiarity with breathing through a snorkel.



I have at one time or another encountered the following conditions:

- choppy water
- I'v had to make a 200 yd swim back to shore
- Had to wrestle with tag lines, etc. while boat diving
- currents
- etc.

Not once did it occur to me that my snorkel would have been handy or helped me in any way.

It's totally personal preference.

I do use my snorkel when snorkeling though :D



.
 
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Krenath

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When I'm helping my instructor teach a class, we always wear snorkels, and we teach the students to do so as well. We explain to them all the arguments for snorkels such as surface swimming in choppy water with a BC that is weighted to dump you on your face.

...But once we're out diving in salt water without students, the snorkels either stay in the dive bag or get crammed into a BC pocket as a concession to 'what if'.

I'm tired of grabbing it when I'm reaching for my inflator hose, of it occasionally hooking my BC somewhere and preventing me from turning my head easily, and of it occasionally getting twisted and tensioning my mask strap for me. I also dislike how restrictive the snorkel feels when breathing through it as compared to a scuba regulator or normal breathing.

Now, maybe none of the above ever happens to anyone else. But it happens to me just often enough that I find my snorkel to be a distraction, and I don't want to be distracted in that manner while diving.

I've been in rough seas while waiting for a boat and have surface-swam a few hundred yards back to a boat and a handful of the other situations we explain to students as good reasons to carry a snorkel, and while a new diver might not have the comfort level or skill level to omit the snorkel in these situations, I find myself far more comfortable without one. Surface swimming on my back, I cen get my mouth well clear of the water just fine and unlike with a snorkel, I have plenty of warning if for some reason I dip below the surface. My snorkel warns me by either sealing closed suddenly or by just letting me suck salt water.

No matter who else may need a snorkel or why they might need it, I personally don't need one. But we're going to continue teaching students to use them because they might.
 

k11dorf

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This is my original submission to the "Ask An Expert" feature for the August 09 issue of Scuba Diving Magazine, pre-editorial control, on the subject "Are Snorkels Necessary?" The .pdf of the actual article is too large to attach:

Thirty years ago I purchased a cutting edge piece of equipment called the Scubapro Shotgun Snorkel – a massive, rigid breathing tube with a black rubber torture device for a mouthpiece and a conjoined twin of a chamber for newfangled ease in draining and clearing. Though long since consigned to my collection of vintage gear, I remember it...fondly. Because of these, uh, fond memories, I tend to roll my eyes at divers who complain that today’s streamlined, low-profile, lightweight and flexible (read that as having comfortable silicon mouthpieces that drop or swivel out of the way) snorkels are too cumbersome. Admittedly, there are certain diving applications – cave diving for instance – where a snorkel is both unnecessary and a potential liability, but for the vast majority of recreational diving, the snorkel is an asset and should be an integral part of the kit.
Any diver heading to a site from shore is well aware of the advantage of surface swimming with a snorkel versus using precious air from the cylinder. Even certain boat entries necessitate a surface swim to a down line, often against the current, where the snorkel once again preserves irreplaceable dive fuel.
As Instructors, we are passionate about teaching proper air management, and in a perfect world every diver would return to the surface with at least 500 psi. In the real world, divers occasionally surface with less than optimal air supplies. Here, too, the snorkel is invaluable for the return swim or even just awaiting pickup by the boat. As the former owner of a charter operation specializing in drift diving in oftentimes substantial currents, I was only too familiar with divers who would surface at unplanned and, shall we say, generous distances from the boat. The presence of a snorkel during such longer waits for pick up – especially in swift, Gulfstream-spawned surface currents and wave action – was a matter not just of convenience and comfort, but of absolute life-safety. And for those who complain that a snorkel is an impediment in drift diving and increases drag, after rolling my eyes I suggest investing in a convenient folding type like the Aqua Lung Nautilus that fits easily into a BCD pocket and can be attached in seconds. No diver wants to have to deploy a surface signal device, but only the foolish would consider making a dive without one. The same should be true of the snorkel.
Here at Pro Dive, all candidates in our Career Development Curriculum are required to have snorkels, pursuant to PADI's training standards. Pro Dive staff instructors are expected to lead by example, to assure that the next generation of instructors we train will themselves become role models to their own students. The snorkel is an essential part of promoting best practices. And they even come in colors now.
 

Nemrod

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Do you need a snorkel while recreational diving, I've heard in some places it's illegal to dive without one but it's always in the way.

Illegal, you are kidding? So, state or provincial legislatures or federal congressmen and senators actually voted a federal or state statute stating that scuba divers must have a snorkel, I don't think so.

Believe it or not, scuba ABC agencies do not have the authority to pass legislation or to enforce anything at all.

N
 
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