First of all, what exactly is a snorkel vest? It is important to understand the striking differences between a snorkel flotation vest and a life jacket. The purpose of a vest or a jacket is to keep you afloat in water.
Even so, it is astounding how often snorkelers do not wear a personal flotation device or PFD. You can call us a tad ‘safety paranoid’ about the snorkeling buddy system. Nonetheless, we think snorkeling without a life vest is like jumping from an airplane without a parachute.
Non-swimmers should always wear a snorkel life vest for snorkeling. Even strong swimmers can get into trouble with foot cramps while swimming or become overexerted and tired a lot sooner than you might expect.
Most snorkeling flotation vests are specifically designed to keep you buoyant. Even so, the modern bladder styles also to allow you to lower your head into the water.
Snorkel Vest vs. Life Jacket : Key Differences
A modern inflatable snorkeling vest has a facility that allows you to add and release air. Doing so provides you with the ideal level of buoyancy.
Generally, as long as you wear the appropriate size and lift capacity, snorkel vests work as well for children when snorkeling as the adult versions.
Whereas, a snorkeling life jacket is in fact meant to keep your head above water.
That means it can be a little cumbersome and awkward at times.
Water is much denser than air – around 800 times more in fact. Thus, moving through sea swells and currents will make you feel tired very quickly.
So, be a savvy and safe snorkeler. Add one more piece of equipment to your basic mask, fins, and snorkel kit. Go ahead and buy a snorkeling flotation vest from our online snorkeling shop in Thailand.
Best Snorkeling Vest Design for Buoyancy
Inflatable snorkeling vests are designed to offset some of your body’s negative buoyancy. When you add positive buoyancy, either by wearing a foam or inflatable device, you can float and rest much easier at the surface.
This is the most important difference when you compare the best snorkel vest vs. life jacket. In fact, you can snorkel in a life jacket (e.g. the kind you might find in an aircraft or on a ship). But, the design is that of a life preserver, meaning it keeps you afloat for much longer in the water.
The two basic styles of snorkeling flotation vest are horse-collar or wraparound – commonly called jacket style.
The best snorkeling vest or ‘PFD’ usually depends on size and weight. How the device actually feels for your personal comfort is also important. You may prefer to use inflatable life jackets rather than polystyrene foam filled jackets.
Either way, we cannot stress enough how important it is to choose an appropriately sized and working flotation device when you go snorkeling.
It is not an expensive item to buy a snorkeling flotation vest that is lightweight which will also make you more visible in the water. Make a note of the chart sizes before you buy the best snorkel vest that you can afford.
For example, the manufacturer’s sizing of a small (SM) or an extra-large (XXL) vest, may both have the same size label but have different lifting capacities. Be sure to read the instructions for the maximum recommended body weight. You may be surprised that there is often a difference of up to ten (10) kilogrammes between the different designs.
Note: It is important to be aware that many polystyrene and neoprene assemblies lose their flotation characteristics after being wet for long periods of time.
Horse Collar Snorkeling Vest
The horse collar snorkel vest is very popular in some snorkeling hot spots. The main reason is because this type of device is quick to slip on and comfortable to wear.
An oval shaped single bladder simply slips over your head – like the collar on a horse. You secure it using adjustable nylon straps and buckles.
Some horse collar vests also have a crotch strap running between your legs. This helps to avoid the bladder riding up high around your head.
Jacket Wraparound Vest
Another popular snorkel vest is the wraparound vest or jacket. You wear it like a jacket by sliding your arms through the side openings. You fasten the vest at the front using the nylon straps and male to female quick release snap buckles.
Although they are not expensive to buy, they have limitations on adequate lift capacity and ability to float. Even so, they often contain small foam pockets or only a front bladder.
This design often has no crotch strap. They often have a zipper instead of heavy duty plastic front fasteners. One of the main advantages of the jacket style vest is the range of sizes.
Most major manufacturers now supply a range of snorkeling equipment for kids. They cater for small children with tiny vest sizes going all the way up to the most generous plus size life jackets.
There is no valid reason to test your swimming skills against the might of the ocean. In simple terms, the best snorkeling vest or jacket on the market is not going to help you unless you wear one.
Note: We provide the best snorkeling vests for all customers who join one of the organised snorkeling tours in Pattaya, Thailand!