Best Snorkel Vests

Best Snorkel Vests

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Best Snorkel Vests
Phantom Aquatics Adult Snorkel Vest

Made in USA. Supports 100-180 lbs. 18" wide and 20" tall. Crotch and waist straps. Brass inflator. Overall well-reviewed. A very small number of people complain about it not holding air that well. 

Best Snorkel Vests
Our #1 Rated
5 out of 5
In the Vests category
Best Snorkel Vests
Scubapro Cruiser Snorkel Vest

Excellent snorkel vest. Different sizes available. For those approaching or exceeding 200 lbs, the XL size could be a good option. High quality metal inflator. This is an expensive vest, but depending on your budget and how much you will use it, could definitely be worth it. 

Best Snorkel Vests
Our #2 Rated
5 out of 5
In the Vests category
Best Snorkel Vests
ScubaMax Snorkel Jacket Vest

Jacket style. Two front pockets with velro seal. Heavy duty zipper, neoprene back for comfort, adjustable waist strap. Great snorkel vest. A little more expensive, but should last longer and is generally a little more comfortable.

Best Snorkel Vests
Our #3 Rated
4 out of 5
In the Vests category

Who needs a snorkel vest?

Snorkel vests are highly recommended for those just learning how to snorkel, as well as children. One problem that inexperienced snorkelers often notice is that physical exhaustion sneaks up on them. For example, they may be having fun exploring, and as such, are putting in lots of physical effort to move around. This, coupled with a lack of experience in the water, can create a sense of exhaustion that occurs rather suddenly, which can cut the exploration short, or even create a dangerous situation.

Personally, as a snorkeler with at an intermediate skill level, I usually use a snorkel vest when I know I will be swimming around for a while trying to find a cool spot, if it's a longer snorkeling sessions in general, or if the water conditions aren't very nice. I have found it extremely helpful at times.

Some advanced snorkelers find it a snorkeling vest to be a bit much to deal with while in the water. The reason for this is simply because a snorkel vest is an added piece of apparel . Additionally, some advanced snorkelers don't like having to deal with inflating and deflating the vest while in or near the water. That being said, many advanced snorkelers still wear them in particular situations and agree that it is a good safety device.

In summary, here are some pros and cons of using a snorkel vest:

Pros of using a snorkel vest

  • Safety 
  • Ability to delay exhaustion, prolonging time in the water.
  • Adjustable inflation levels

Cons of using a snorkel vest

  • Another piece of equipment to deal with.
  • Some may find it a hassle to inflate/deflate while in the water (or preparing to get in the water)

What to look for in a snorkel vest

There are two main styles of snorkel vests. One is a horsecollar design, which looks similar to a bib. Basically it looks like one piece of material with a hole for your head to go through, and the strap usually goes around your wait or abdomen to prevent it from floating away. There is usually one single bladder inside instead of multiple pockets.

These are pretty easy to fit as they don't depend too much on body shape. There are some slight variations between different vests, for example, the shape, taper, strapping, and maybe even extra little features. However, overall they are all fairly similar.

The other type of snorkel vest design is the jacket style snorkel vest. This fits like a shirt and looks more like a vest you would wear on land. The bladder is usually only on the front, but there is some variation across brands. There is also a bit more strapping to ensure a nice fit, and often there is a zipper down the front.

How do you know if a snorkel vest is the correct size?

It can sometimes be difficult to determine what size of snorkel vest to get, especially because sizing can vary across brands (just like any clothing). However, the main thing is knowing your weight. If you're snorkel jacket can't support your weight in the water, then it will be totally useless. So making sure the vest can support your weight is the most important thing to know.

Another thing you may want to look for is the length of the straps. This can be a little trickier on the jacket style snorkel vests, but at the same time, you can get an idea by looking where the strapping is on the jacket (and therefore on your body) and use a tape measure to estimate if the strap will be long enough. Of course, this won't be totally accurate, but could provide a reasonable estimate.

A lot of snorkel vest companies provide sizing charts based on more typical measurements. Try and look for sizing charts before purchasing, as this can help confirm whether or not it's the correct size snorkel vest, which may help prevent any inconvenience of having to return the product.

Other features of a snorkel vest

We have already mentioned zippers and straps. These can come in a wide variety of materials and designs. Generally speaking, metal zippers are more durable than plastic zippers, webbed straps are more durable than elastic straps, and the locking ring in the oral inflation tube is also better quality when it is metal, ideally brass.

All this being said, plastic can work just fine, and it's up to you how you want to balance budget and quality. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for, but the increase in cost isn't always proportional to the increase in quality. Plus it's often easy to find sales and deals, especially online.

How to Wear a Snorkel Vest

Check out the good resource below for learning how to properly wear a snorkel vest!

Phantom Aquatics Adult Snorkel Vest
Our Rating
Best Snorkel Vests

Chosen by us as Best Value Snorkel Vest, this is one of the better snorkeling vests on the market. Although it may look relatively cheap and simple, we actually consider that a strength, particularly if this is your first snorkel vest.

For a horsecollar style snorkel vest, the size is pretty standard (18" wide and 20" tall). The crotch and waist straps are adjustable and help ensure the vest doesn't ride up too much when you're in the water. It supports 100-180 pounds, which is a fairly wide range, but many larger adults may need to look for something else unfortunately.

One of the most surprising features of this snorkel vest is the tube inflator that has a brass closure fitting. Typically, higher quality tube inflators use brass, so being able to get a vest with this feature at a low price is definitely an advantage.

If you have snorkeled with a vest before and are really prioritizing comfort, then you may want to steer away from the horsecollar design and look for jacket style vests. However, those tend to be a little more expensive.

At the end of the day, we highly recommend this Phantom Aquatics Adult Snorkeling Vest to anyone looking to stick within a strict budget, first time users who are unsure of what they want (and therefore don't want to risk spending lots of money on something they don't end up liking), or any level snorkeler who prefers a horsecollar design. 

Scubapro Cruiser Snorkel Vest
Our Rating
Best Snorkel Vests

This snorkeling vest is pretty much on the other end of the spectrum as the Promate snorkel vest that we reviewed above. It's definitely more expensive, but the jacket style design, added durability, and enhanced comfort (depending on preferences) could be worth your while, as it's definitely one of the top snorkeling vests.

The main advantage to this vest over other cheaper ones, particularly compared to the horsecollar design vests, is an added level of comfort and convenience. Although quality and durability is better in this vest, many people find that the comfort and convenience is what really makes a difference in their trips. This makes sense, as vacations aren't usually taken for a long period of time where you would cycle through more than one vest, so you will likely notice the short-term benefits more.

When we talk about convenience, mainly we mean the fit, as well as pocket features that have velcro closures. This will allow you to bring items with you in the water if you need (should still be waterproof items), or even little things like if you want to take out jewelery that you forgot about and are already int he water.

The tube inflator is high quality, as is the construction and material. Generally speaking these are form-fitting vests, but if you end up with one that is a little large on you, there may be an issue with it riding up to high on your body when it is inflated. This problem can be solved with a crotch strap, but for top-level comfort, a snug fit is definitely a better option.

Overall, we recommend this jacket style snorkeling vest for snorkelers of any skill level, but ideally you will already have some experience wearing a snorkel vest, just so you have a better idea about fit. It's quite a bit more expensive than base level vests, but if you are planning on doing lots of snorkeling or don't really care about the price point, then we definitely recommend trying it out. 

ScubaMax Snorkel Jacket Vest
Our Rating
Best Snorkel Vests

If you're looking for something better than the Promate snorkel vest, but don't want to jump to a level as high as the Scubapro Cruiser snorkel vest, than the ScubaMax snorkel jacket vest could be a great compromise.

The main differences, albeit slight differences, between the two are durability and fit. Keep in mind, we're comparing two jacket style snorkel vests, so the difference is still less than if we were comparing horsecollar snorkel vests versus jacket snorkel vests.

Regarding the fit, the ScubaMax jacket snorkeling vest is a more simple design, so it may accommodate a wider variety of people, but isn't necessarily as "form-fitting" as the Scubapro jacket vest. However, the ScubaMax vest still boasts some great features, like two front pockets with velcro enclosures.

One other thing to keep in mind is the oral inflator tube is made entirely of PVC, so it's not as high-grade quality as metal, particularly brass. If you are testing out this vest and already know you may end up preferring something else, then it's not a huge issue. However, if you want something you know will last and are committed to wearing this once you buy it, you may want to spend the extra couple bucks for something that consists entirely of high quality components.

Overall, we recommend this snorkel vest for all skill levels, but is probably best suited to those who want to try a jacket-style snorkel vest without spending a lot more money. 

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Overall Recommendations

Overall, we highly recommend snorkel vests for children and those who are unsure of their swimming abilities. like myself, intermediate-level snorkelers may find some beneficial aspect to wearing a snorkel vest, in which case it would be recommended to at least try one (e.g. borrow or rent). Most advanced snorkelers don't need a snorkel vest, but again, if they are in the water for a long time they may find it beneficial at time.
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