A snorkel purge valve helps you to easily get rid of any water inside your snorkel without blowing it back out through the tube itself. The purge valve is positioned close to the mouthpiece and activated by a semi-strong exhale.
Let’s first cover the basics. After that we’ll focus on their pros and cons. We finish with available gear and some personal tips.
About Snorkel Purge Valves
Most snorkels these days come with a built-in purge valve. It’s a little extension just below the mouthpiece as the picture below illustrates. Maybe you remember your first snorkel set that you bought from a beach shop? Well, chances are they didn’t come with a purge valve. In order to get rid of any water inside the snorkel we had to strongly exhale. By doing so, we forced the water back out through the top of the tube.
With purge valves, things are now totally different. They really make snorkeling a whole lot easier. Any water that enters the tube is collected in a separate section right below the mouthpiece. Not only will this decrease your chances of tasting any water, but it also makes snorkeling very enjoyable.
A semi-strong exhale will allow the purge valve to release any collected water. This works while you’re snorkeling. The air you exhale opens a passage that remains closed at other times. In other words, you won’t be struggling with blowing unwanted water out through the top. Let’s illustrate things with pictures:
Now that we know how to recognize a purge valve on a snorkel, it’s time to illustrate how it all works. We explained it to you already, but sometimes pictures make things easier to understand.
It’s important to understand that activating the purge valve takes less effort than blowing water out through the top. If you practice a couple of times, it will all go naturally. Another thing to be aware of is that once you stick your head out of the water (including the snorkel mouthpiece), any remaining water will be released automatically.
Why Would You Get One?
It should be obvious that a snorkel purge valve is not necessary in order to enjoy the marine life. However, there are a few advantages compared to the traditional “simple” tubes.
By now it should be obvious that these snorkels provide you with a lot of comfort. The chance of actually getting any water in your mouth is limited. Once you understand how it works you’ll be able to use it on auto-pilot. No more distractions from salty water or possible coughing, just relaxed snorkeling. If you prefer to dive down for a few seconds, this is definitely the type of gear to help you out.
If you’re just getting started it’s important to make things as easy as possible. Sure, a regular “simple” tube will allow you to breathe, but it takes more effort to remove any unwanted water. The same goes for people who are scared to snorkel. Comfortable breathing is of big importance in that case. People sometimes stress out whenever they put their head underwater, especially once they start to taste water. If this is you, consider a snorkel with a purge valve.
Even though snorkels these days come with a so called “splash guard”, rain or waves can still cause leakage. If you snorkel in the rain or if a splash of water finds it’s way towards you snorkel, you might need to remove water more often. If you don’t have a purge valve, you might need to strongly exhale continuously. This takes effort and distracts you from observing fish and coral. Something to think about.
Important Tip (Downside)
There’s one last important thing (call it a downside if you want) to be aware of. Even though the purge valve stays sealed whilst you’re swimming, excessive movements should be avoided. Swimming at high speed or turning your head too quickly could have a slight impact on the seal. Water drops could enter the snorkel if you move around aggressively.
Which One Should I Choose?
Good question. There are a lot of similar products to choose from, and most of them will work just fine. If you don’t have a mask yet, maybe a snorkel set is your best option. We share one of our favorite sets in our snorkel gifts list. A more in depth review can be found in our article called best snorkel sets for adults and kids.
If however you already own a mask and you’re looking for a separate snorkel, here’s our top pick to consider. We always go for quality, and Cressi is a well-known brand in the snorkel industry. This is their “Supernova Dry”, a snorkel you’ll be able to enjoy for years to come. For around 20 bucks the price is quite average for this kind of equipment. In our opinion a “best bang for your buck” product.
More details and latest prices at Amazon can be found here.
Even though a snorkel purge valve is not necessary for a fun underwater adventure, they really make a difference when it comes to comfort. They help you to efficiently get rid of any remaining water whilst not exhaling too hard.
In order to enjoy your equipment for years to come, consider to also read our guide about cleaning snorkel gear. Cleaning is simple and won’t take too long. You really want to avoid mold or nasty bacteria.
More information about the Cressi Supernova Dry (and updated versions) can be found at their official website.