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Valve snorkels

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Jan 26, 2003
Hi all,
I'm surprised that I cannot find any previous posts on this topic.
I would like to know the opinions of all types of freedivers on the use and/or the safety of snorkels with purge valves in them.
Are they more dangerous if doing a deep, long dive where you surface and are desperate for air?
Are they just that little bit easier to use if doing shallow, short dives?
Do you get what you pay for? ie Are the most expensive ones the best?
I look forward to the comments of those with more experience than me.
hi seamouse

during my time working in various dive shops i had the opportunity to test a whole bunch of valve snorkels. in my humble opinion they are quite useless.

when you are snorkeling and you know how to properly clear an ordinary snorkel, you won't have a need for a valve anymore. not even in choppy waters.

when scuba diving i never have the snorkel attached to my mask, cause it dangles about and pulls on the mask strap. the valve models are also bulkier and drag is worse. especially in a current.

when freediving you don't want to keep the snorkel in your mouth. when returning to the surface, and you are desperate for air, you get your head out of the water, that simple. plus the spotter that you are hopefully having with you will have the possibility to look at you and check for signs of bo. eye contact is important.
also blacking out with a snorkel in your mouth will increase the likelyhood of water entering your lungs.

furthermore a valve will leak sooner or later, which means you'll support your local dive shop again by buying a replacement valve.

maybe try to get your dive shop into letting you try a few models and then you choose one.

keep it simple, that's my opinion.


Hi Carol, welcome to the board!

Immerlustig is abolutely right. For diving go with a plain old tube or no tube at all. I have to say though, that if you are just going to be snorkeling around on the surface, the valves aren't bad. Actually kinda nice. I borrowed my wifes once and have to admit that on the surface I really got to like it. It's strong points were that it was very easy to clear when it had just that little bit of gurgling water in it + it had a more comfortable mouth piece than mine. Still, it does have a failure point, the valve, and for that reason I can't recommend them. Still.. I'd be lying to say it wasn't nice. Learn to clear a plain old tube though with the "little puff of air" technique and the valves are really unnecessary, even from being just 1/2 meter under the water you can clear a plain tube easily.

Do the Hodgie

I could never reliably get the snorkel bone-dry until I learned the "Hodgie" maneuver. Until I learned that trick, I had a soft-spot for the purge valves (despite the increase in dead-air, drag and the reliability problems).

Here's Paul Kotik's article on the Hodgie.

BTW, I hope Paul Kotik writes another article soon -- I think he's one of Deeper Blue's greatest assets.

follow your impulse

After 20 years of not wanting to use a purge valve snorkel, I bought an Impulse snorkel, and I love it. :)
I use it spearfishing or freediving when it is a bit choppy. There is nothing more annoying than breathing up and on the last breath getting a mouth full of water, and that anoying little bit that you can never get rid of. My impulse is noisy, bulky, ugly, and expensive. But, It's the best dammend snorkel I've used. You mouth gets so dry you have to take the snorkel out and fill your mouth with salt water every now and then. :p It's especially good on long distance swims in a chop, or long days when you are tired. Borrow one andd try it out.
I would have to agree with Reid and a little with Fred. I learned to use a snorkel well before dry snorkels existed and purge valve at the bottom was just starting to become popular. My first use of a dry snorkel was after buying one for my wife. I bought it wanting to make it easier for her with no intentions of ever using it myself.

I really like them when spearfishing, for two reasons. First, because I spearfish in unprotected water which usually has chop. There are so many things I am concentrating on when I’m at the surface that it’s nice to not have to worry about getting any water.

Second, when fighting a fish, I can take a quick breath when the snorkel breaks the surface, while keeping my eyes on the fish and the structure underneath. I have been pulled down a few times after taking a breath and its no big deal. I just fight the fish back up and take another.

When doing dynamics or diving deep, I remove it. There is definitely a noticeable difference in drag.

PS I made the mistake of buying one of those double tube ones. Forgot the name, something “fresh air”. Your exhale goes out one tube and inhale comes in the other, so that your inhale never has and CO2 in it. Cool idea, but it was the wettest and hardest to clear snorkel I have ever used. I know a few shops have quit selling them, because of complaints
I have to agree that having a purge valve makes life so much easier. We tend to dive in a lot of chop so having the purge valve really helps. I currently use the Impulse 2 and refuse to use anything else. I have used the straight tube, bent tube, bent tube with purge valve and like I said before, the Impulse is untouchable. The one thing I did notice was that if you keep the Impulse in your mouth on your decent, there is a small stream of bubbles that escapes from the snorkel. If the fish you hunt are really spooky, then you have to spit the snorkel out before tipping over. I do this on deeper dives anyway as it seems to help with my bottom time. Hope this helps.

Just to clarify. There are four types of snorkels.

Non-purge straight.

Purge – snorkel gets water inside, but purges down to water level when a diver comes up. The idea is to have less water to blow out.

Semi-Dry – Has a water deflector at the top to minimize water splashing in. They usually have a purge at the bottom and may sometimes have one mid-way too. Snorkel still gets water inside of it when you dive.

Dry – Has a valve that closes at the top to keep water from coming in. Snorkel is supposed to stay dry, but nothing is perfect. Valve can stick open, or some of the valves will leak beyond a certain depth (pressure).

Oceanmaster has a dry snorkel that they guarantee 100% dry at any depth. Don’t know what the guarantee is our how you would prove it. If you shop you can usually find more than one brand name for the same snorkel. There are only a few manufactures. The prices for the same snorkel can vary depending on brand name.

I have Oceanmaster’s dry snorkel. I have only got water in it a couple of times. More common is for the valve to stick close. A little blow usually unsticks it.
I use different snorkels for different things.

For freediving I use a basic snorkel with no valves. I spit my snorkel when I descend and don't put it back in until I'm done hook breathing on the surface.

For underwater hockey I like a snorkel with a purge valve on the bottom. This is because I keep my snorkel in my mouth during hockey and I don't always have the breath to clear it out when I hit the surface. While I like to use a purge snorkel for hockey, I don't like to use one with any gizzmos on the top, because it bounces around too much on me.

I have tried my wife's Oceanmaster DRY snorkel adn I can't stand it.
If you keep it in your mouth when you dive it will start to create a suction when you hit about 10'. If you keep swimming down with it in your mouth, that suction will increase and start sucking your tounge out of your mouth and down the tube of the snorkel!:duh
Maybe Gene Simmions got his start this way?;)

I have used the Impulse, and Impulse II, inthe past, but I find them to be too bulky on my freediving mask. They are great to use in a rough sea and I could understand why someone would want to use them under some circumstances.

In the end, you need to use whatever is best for you in your own situation.

Personally I always dive with an Impulse 2 'dry' snorkel. Using a no-valve snorkel might be acceptable for recreation or spearing, but in a freediving competition, you have a 30 second window to start your dive, and one wave flooding your snorkel at the wrong moment could cause you to start late, and be DQ'd.

However, I use my Impulse 2 even when not in competitions. I have never had a problem with the valves. The upper valve is the best part. I also have the oceanmaster dry snorkel. The funny thing with the oceanmaster is that if you keep the snorkel in your mouth as you dive, your tongue gets sucked into the snorkel as the air in the snorkel compression. You can then 'equalize the snorkel' and take it down to any depth, totally dry! But, somehow I have gotten water in it on the surface, and so I like the Impulse 2. I never attach my snorkel to my mask, the impulse is way too big for that. I just hold it in my left hand (by the neck of the snorkel), during dives, and since I always use a stiff neck snorkel, it stays in position on the surface. For very deep line dives, I ditch the snorkel and my friends grab it, although this procedure is risky and I have lost about 10 Impulse snorkels from doing this...

By holding my snorkel in my left hand during dives, it comes in useful as a tool to annoy crabs, and defend myself from aggressive ling cods and seals.

I breathed through an Impulse snorkel for every deep dive I've ever done!

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
Hi folks,
I'd like to thank all of you who have replied to this post.
I found your experiences with snorkels very interesting and also some of your web sites :)
3 of you mentioned the Impulse 2 snorkel and I searched for it but several dive shops in UK (and Deeperdive shop) do not appear to stock it.
Is it available only in US? Who makes it?
Thanks again for sharing your experiences.
To my knowledge the Impulse 2 is no longer in production and must be purchased off Ebay, or from a used gear shop. I often stock up on them on ebay.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
I didn't know these were discontiued. I just saw a bunch in a local fishing supply last week. Maybe I should get me a backup huh.

Brad :martial

i had no idea that there are obviously quite a few real benefits to some of you. i think i'll give the valve snorkels another chance....even though i do like my plain omer tube a lot.

thanx for that thread

After snorkleing and spearfishing for 30+ yrs of believing "purge valves leak" and "the simpler the better" in snorkles. When I was scuba diving regularly it was always with the same circle of friends and the snorkles stayed in the gear bags on the boat. I found myself in a situation where I was trying several different pieces of gear from different manufacturers. One snorkle in particular was the ScubaPro Shotgun II. Now I've always been a fan of the large barrel, wrap around design because on choppy days I can use my head to break the waves and get less water down my snorkle, but this gizmo didn't have a purge valve, the thing had two of them :hmm . Not only that, but also had a joint in the middle of the barrel and a partition inside the barrel :confused: . What a hodge-podge of gee-whiz selling features :yack . When i got where I had planned on hunting it was rough. I went in the water with it for a few hours anyway and after an hour into my hunt a neon sign went off in my head. That was, without a doubt, the absolute driest snorkle I had ever used. Any waves that did splah in the barrel got separated by the partition and went out the upper valve just like it was designed and the lower valve made clearing a breeze, even though I normally clear my snorkle before I break the surface sometimes there's that little irritating bit of water that didn't come out. Now the Shotgun II's are the only snorkles #1 (10 yr old son) and I use. We still have our old ones, but they're relegated to "loaner and spare" status only.:D

That being said in defense of purge valves. I still wouldn't get a mask with one.
I have never even SEEN a snorkel with TWO valves!!
Can I ask? Does this dry space between the valves not mean that dead air (ie loaded with CO2) is trapped in that space
I never really thought about it, but I guess the area behind the partition could be a sort of dead air space. It gets flushed out every time the snorkle is submerged and the barrel floods with water though. I don't think that enough CO2 could stay there long enough to build up or would be a problem.:)
All totally dry snorkels have trapped air spaces in them. That doesn’t mean they are loaded with CO2. The air that is left in the snorkel when you submerge (with it in your mouth) is air that came from your last inhale, but didn’t make it into your lungs or mouth. It’s the start of any breath, after an exhale through the snorkel, that has a little more CO2 than the surrounding air.

After reading so many posts about the Impulse II, I looked in leisurepro.com and they have “AquaLung Impulse 2 Snorkel” for $22.95. I don’t know if this is one Eric, Brad, and John are talking about. Maybe they could look and comment. I believe leisurepro.com will ship to Europe and other places.
Thanks Don for clarifying that.
After finding out the Impulse was made by Aqualung I have tracked it down in the UK - not yet found price but at least its here.
Thanks again,

impulse 2


I checked out the site and that is the correct snorkel. They also have a pretty good price on it.

For spearing, or freediving, in rough water it would be a very nice snorkel. That would be the only time I use mine.

I know that Eric carries his around with him when he dives to be more streamlined. I can't do that because I always have a camera, speargun, or hockey stick in one hand and need my other hand to clear my ears.
I have found it to be to bulky for the freedivng I normaly do.

You need to find what's most comfortable for you and go with it.

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