a female snorkeler in a snorkeling vest

What Is A Snorkel Vest (And Who Should Wear Them)?

Snorkeling is one of those activities that almost everyone wants to try. Anywhere where holidaymakers or adventurers congregate near the water there will be a snorkeling tour nearby.

Marine life can be observed in the open ocean with stunning underwater terrain, all surrounded by a tropical paradise. It’s just too tempting to miss.

While it’s a sport that attracts many, it also involves swimming which can fill some with unease. Non-swimmers and people who aren’t confident in the water can love the idea of snorkeling but remain hesitant to commit because of this problem.

One option people hear about is a snorkeling vest, which seems ideal, but what is a snorkel vest?

A snorkel vest is an inflatable garment that is worn around the torso to aid buoyancy. They are designed to be unobtrusive so that someone not confident in the water can remain on the surface. A snorkel vest allows a non-swimmer to try snorkeling without fear.

Snorkel vests normally come in highly visible colors to aid in rescue. 

They strap around the waist so that the snorkeling vest will not ride up, but envelops the torso. They aren’t designed as life jackets, just flotation aids for those that feel the need to wear something buoyant.

a snorkeler on the surface

Will A Snorkel Vest Keep Me Afloat?

You may see some snorkeling vests made of foam, but most will be inflatable. They are easier to store and travel with.

Once inflated they act somewhat like a life jacket in that the trapped air will definitely keep you afloat.

They are designed to have enough air so that you will float. If you relax on the surface the snorkeling vest will help you float and prevent you from going beneath the surface. They have enough buoyancy within to keep a non-swimmer on the surface.

You will find it exceedingly difficult to deliberately dive beneath the surface, but they are not life jackets, which are designed to keep your head above the water.

male and female snorkelers on the surface in vests

How Is It Different From A Life Jacket?

If you are looking for help concerning buoyancy with your snorkeling then a snorkeling vest is ideal.

While the snorkeling vest and life jacket may look the same there is a difference. They are both designed to keep a human body on the surface, so to the uninitiated, they seem similar.

The snorkeling vest is an aid, not a lifesaver. It’s possible to be unconscious in a snorkeling vest and face down.

A life jacket is designed to remain highly buoyant, even in rough weather, and keep the head out of the water. Their purpose is to save your life, not just keep you buoyant.

As such they are more unsuitable for snorkeling as they are quite obtrusive.

a male snorkeler on the surface in a vest

Final Thoughts – Parting Waves

If you are not confident in the water, this is a more common situation than most may think. Not everyone enjoys the water.

Snorkeling has such an attraction though, that many want to overcome their hesitation and give it a go.

For those less than confident a snorkeling vest is an ideal piece of kit. It can wrap around the torso tightly, and be inflated to the buoyancy you require to be comfortable.

They aren’t designed as lifesavers, as your head isn’t supported above water, but they will help a snorkeler who isn’t confident with their swimming ability to snorkel.

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