Should a Snorkel be on the Left or Right Side?
Snorkeling is a fun and easy water activity, which is suitable for people of almost all ages. In order to have a great experience, you need to make sure that you get the right snorkeling gear and that it fits right. Here is everything you need to know about your snorkeling equipment including how to use it properly.
Should a Snorkel be on the left of the right side of the mask? Technically, it doesn’t make a difference. For scuba diving, it has to be on the left as the regulator comes over your right shoulder. For snorkeling, it wouldn’t matter but pretty much all people have the snorkel on the left
What is a Snorkel?
In basic terms, a snorkel is a tube that helps you breathe when you’re under the water surface. It may either come separately or be attached to your snorkel mask. One end of the snorkel tube fixes into your mouth, and the other end allows exhaled air to flow out of the top. Over time, many different snorkel designs have come up to help snorkelers breathe comfortably in the water.
Why it’s Important to Wear Your Snorkel Properly
It’s essential that you fit your snorkel properly in order to be able to breathe comfortably. A snorkel tube may be on the left or right side of your face, depending on the way it has been manufactured and which side is more comfortable for you. This prevents the snorkel from coming loose in the water or any water seeping into it, making you cough, choke, and in the worst-case scenario, lose control in the water.
The first step is to get the right snorkel before you move on to fitting it properly.
Choosing the Right Snorkel
In order to have an enjoyable experience, it is imperative that you select the right type of snorkel.
The Basic Snorkel
A basic snorkel is just a simple tube with a mouthpiece and no added features. It can be bent around a little, but it is not very flexible.
The Flexible Snorkel
This type of snorkel features a flexible tube and is likely to have additional features, such as a purge valve. The purge valve collects any water that enters the tube in a space below the mouthpiece and allows the water to be drained from here rather than having to blow it out from the top of the tube.
The flexible body of the tube makes it much more comfortable to use and is easier to rotate and move around if it starts pulling at the mouthpiece. The tube also drops down when it’s not in use rather than staying in front of your face.
The Semi-Dry Snorkel
This snorkel has a flexible tube, a purge valve and a splash guard. A semi-dry snorkel prevents water from splashing into your snorkel tube, but it won’t be of much use if your face is completely submerged in the water or there’s a sudden high wave.
The Dry Snorkel
Dry snorkels are completely sealed from the top to prevent any water from penetrating into it. However, it’s important to get the right type to avoid purchasing a tube, which blocks out air as well.
Can You Breathe Underwater With a Dry Snorkel?
Dry snorkels feature a valve that prevents air and water from seeping in and keeps the inside dry and comfortable for breathing. However, they don’t prevent water seepage in the mask and are often used simultaneously with a splash guard.
Once under the water, dry snorkels create drag, which may cause water to enter the tube. They are also not suitable for diving deeper under the surface because of the excessive inflow of water.
The Full-Face Snorkel Mask
The full-face mask combines the tube with the mask with no separate elements. The advantage of a full face snorkel mask is that you also don’t have a mouthpiece from a snorkel. You can breathe through your mouth or nose which makes it a lot more comfortable for many snorkelers to use.
The Key Features of a Snorkel
When getting a snorkel, it’s not just about wearing it properly, but it’s also about buying/ renting the right equipment. Make sure you look at the specifications of your snorkeling gear.
When given the option, always choose a silicon mouthpiece over a plastic one. It is safer, more comfortable and flexible. Some snorkels come with the option of getting a detachable mouthpiece, which is great because if you need a new one, you won’t need to replace the entire snorkel.
The diameter of the tube will be different for people of different sizes. This is because the size difference means that they have different lung capacities. A smaller-sized person using a tube with a large diameter will find it difficult to breathe hard enough to allow the exhaled air to escape from the tube. There are separate snorkels for children.
Why Do Scuba Divers Wear Snorkels?
A snorkel is not a hundred percent necessary for scuba snorkelers. Many snorkelers are simply trained to use one from the start. Let’s weigh in on the pros and cons of using a snorkel for scuba diving:
The snorkel allows you to swim on the water surface without having to waste air from your tank. However, once you’re completely submerged, the snorkel gets pulled by the water current, which can cause water to seep into your mask. It can also get caught in seaweed and wrecks underwater.
Scuba diving rarely involves staying at the water surface for too long, which is why many snorkelers feel that it isn’t necessary to use a snorkel when scuba diving. Once you’re deep into the water, it’s just an added burden which you have to look after so that it doesn’t get stuck anywhere.
For many snorkelers, having a snorkel on gives an additional feeling of security. It allows snorkelers to safely breathe under the water surface without having to raise their head above. If a diver experiences sudden shortness of breath, they can stop and breathe through the snorkel tube and avoid inhaling the salty water. It’s also useful if you’re waiting for your dive boat to reach you and you’re just paddling and floating at the water surface.
Many snorkelers feel more comfortable if they have a snorkel tube with them. However, it is advisable to have a lightweight tube without too many fancy features. It can come in handy in cases of emergency.
The lightweight tubes are less costly than the more advanced tubes, they are foldable and easy to carry and they create less drag (the force of the water that pulls the snorkel away from the diver).
How Do You Attach a Snorkel to a Mask?
Once you have the right gear, it’s only a matter of properly attaching it. Your snorkel tube will have two ends: the mouthpiece and the open end of the tube.
The mouthpiece will have an indent, which will mark the area that sits over your teeth. Make sure you fix it on properly so that it doesn’t come loose once you’re in the water.
The other end of the tube will be above the water surface to allow the exhaled air to pass out. In case you’re using a dry snorkel, this end of the tube can also be submerged in the water.
Does the Tube need to be on a Particular Side?
Often, snorkelers have asked the question of whether the snorkel tube should be on the right or left side.
It doesn’t really matter which side you choose. Different snorkelers are comfortable with different sides. You can test out each side to see which one you prefer.
However, there are many snorkelers who only use the snorkel on the left side for two reasons:
- They’ve been trained to use it on the left during their practice sessions.
- Commercial tubes are designed to be used on the left side.
Despite both these factors, it is important that you should feel comfortable breathing in the water, irrespective of which side the tube is on.
Are Snorkels designed to be used on a Specific Side?
Snorkels may be manufactured for use on the right or left side. The most common ones are usually designed to be worn on the left. However, despite the design, you can still wear the tube on whichever side you’re comfortable with when snorkeling.
Is it Different for Snorkeling compared to Scuba Diving?
Unlike snorkeling where you can attach the snorkel based on your personal preference, the same rule does not apply for scuba diving. The regulator used when scuba diving is always on the right, which means that you have to place the snorkel tube on the left side of your scuba mask.
This is also why most snorkelers have the snorkel on the left side. If you go to get training for snorkeling then your teacher will most likely have you put the snorkel on the left. Similar if you buy a snorkel kit you will end up with the snorkel by default being attached to the left side of the mask.
Get in the Water!
Once you have the right snorkel gear and are comfortable using it, it’s time to get into the water. It’s important not to panic because this will make it uncomfortable for you to breathe through the snorkel tube. Just stay calm and have a good time.