Snorkeling is an amazing activity for enjoying the water, and pretty much anybody can do it! However, anytime you are in the open ocean you will still want to make sure you're thinking of safety. Inflatable snorkel vests are great pieces of gear to ensure you stay afloat - increasing your safety at sea while also taking away some of the effort involved on your part. In the article below, we take a look at some of the best inflatable snorkel vests out there, which can range from sleek and comfortable vests to just the bare basics. Let's dive in!
Best Inflatable Snorkel Vests
Best Overall Snorkel Vest
Wildhorn Outfitters has provided a product that is sorely lacking in the snorkel space: a halfway decent looking snorkel vest that works really well without looking, for lack of better words - extremely dorky.
Other than being obviously more stylish than any other vest, the Jetty vest is also very well designed. The inflatable portion spans across your entire torso, which better balances the air and doesn't leave you fighting to keep your body parallel with the water as you swim.
Additionally, the single sided entry is easy to work and makes it super simple to take on and off. It is also designed so that the webbing and buckles are never pressed up against you. This differs from other straps that have awkward strap placements that may rub you the wrong way.
It's worth noting that Wildhorn markets their vest specifically as saying it is "not a certified life jacket", but rather designed for leisure surface snorkeling and other low impact water sports.
Still, this is without doubt the best combination of function, fashion, and quality that is on the market and is by far our favorite inflatable snorkel vest.
Best Value Snorkel Vest
The OMOUBOI vest is a great middle ground option for those looking at inflatable snorkel vests at a lower price point.
While not quite as comfortable as the more expensive Wildhorn or ScubaPro options, it still fits and looks better than the very basic vests. A breathable mesh back is a nice touch for additional comfort and airflow on hot days.
Otherwise, the ripstop polyester and thick PVC inner liner create a durable product that can be used repetitively. The inflation valve is easily accessible and can be fully blow up in about 10 seconds. Meanwhile, leg straps combat the issue of the vest floating upward and riding too far up your torso.
Overall, this vest has great function and durability while looking slightly better than the basic options. At the price, we think it's an excellent value for anybody in the market for an inflatable snorkel vest.
Cheapest Snorkel Vest
The snorkel vest that is manufactured with durability, and comfort in mind. They make it using a high-density mix of polyester and PVC that creates a smooth vest while providing the right buoyancy. There are mesh sides to provide just the right breathability for the user and a zipper that allows the wearer to keep the vest snug and in place.
The color used for the vest will ensure that the wearer will be visible even at a distance; it comes in two colors, such as bright teal and orange variations. The vest fits great as it has a 46-inch waist strap keeping the vest in place and lessens the possibility of it going up while on the water.
With an easy inflate feature, any user can have themselves enjoying the water in seconds. They also design it for partial inflation for those who prefer half buoyancy. Another advantage when you buy this vest is getting a year of warranty, so you will have something to fall back on.
Most Comfortable Snorkel Vest
A safety vest that does not compromise on quality. They made it with Neoprene material that is 1/8" thick, which helps in keeping the wearer comfortable even in varying water temperatures.
It also includes a zipper that is durable and will not break down after a few uses. The Velcro strap helps in keeping the zipper closed, not permitting the zipper to slide open while you are underwater. A pocket is also included, so you have a space to store your belongings such as keys or other minor items you need near you.
This vest is made with comfort in mind as it offers the user the best fit for them. There are also various sizes that a buyer can choose from and will depend on the size, that is preferable for their body shapes.
Your options don't stop there because you can also choose the color as it comes with Hi-Viz orange and Hi-Viz yellow. These colors make spotting you at a distance extremely easy, and are thus a really useful feature.
At the end of the day, this is one of the most comfortable snorkel vests because it is really a wetsuit vest with a inflatable portion. The neoprene vest is therefore warm and fits snugly. If you don't want the awkward and clumsy feel of the super basic inflatable vests, then this ScubaPro option is for you.
Most Basic Vest
The snorkel vest is brought to you by one leader in the selling of scuba gear. The company has been selling gears that are not just durable, and authentic, but also afforded by many enthusiasts in this activity.
For buyers who would like to have a snorkeling vest that is durable and affordable, this is the best to beat. It gives users the mobility they prefer as it fits snugly without getting out of place while you wear it. It is a one-size-fits-all design where users can still look good while wearing it.
There are back straps without constricting movement, especially when you are in the water. You will have the right range of motion while keeping you safe while snorkeling.
The vest comes in one design and color to fit an adult with a neck size of 27", and weighs over 200 pounds. The color is a bright neon color that makes it easy for you to be visible wherever you are in the water.
It also comes with an easy oral inflator to help you inflate the vest in just a minute or less. Deflating is as fast.
It is a vest that only requires less time to inflate and will have you enjoying the waters in no time.
This is a quality vest that does not compromise on comfort, even with its affordable price. It is also versatile, as they also consider it a life jacket and a vest that can be used for swimming and snorkeling.
Materials used are high quality, durable, and sturdy and it is built exceptionally, so users will have the best experience while snorkeling.
Inflating it is also simple cause you can do it even when you are in the water. Deflating it takes a few seconds, and drying it and transporting this vest is as easy.
The addition of straps ensures that this vest will keep you safe at all times and will provide you with the right buoyancy that you need. With different color options, but if you are concerned with being visible, your best option is yellow and pink.
How to Choose an Inflatable Snorkel Vest (Buying Guide)
Reasons to Wear a Snorkel Vest
The primary reason to wear a snorkel vest is for safety. You never know what can happen out in the ocean - strong currents, high waves, or the possibility of getting lost are all present. Snorkel vests have buoyancy properties that will help keep you afloat for long periods of time if necessary. This provides an additional safety net should anything go wrong in the water.
Additionally, because of their buoyant properties, snorkel vests help you conserve your energy in the water which can make snorkeling or other water activates less tiring. Conserving energy allows you to go at your own pace and enjoy the activity you are doing without feeling like you have to work too much.
Types Of Snorkel Vests
A snorkel vest is a floatation device and containing positively buoyant materials and/or air inflating methods that can help keep a person afloat on the water. They can be made of a variety of buoyant materials like inflatable rubber, neoprene, and styrofoam, but snorkel vests are classified according to how they are constructed.
Horse Collar Snorkel Vest
Horse collar vests are worn over the head and has straps that are used to help secure it in place. They can be made of both inflatable materials, or more stationary buoyancy materials like styrofoam padding.
Jacket Type Snorkel Vest
Jacket style vests are the easiest to use as you simply wear it like a jacket and fasten the straps, buckles, or zippers to guarantee that it will stay in place. This snorkel vest is usually made out of neoprene embedded with styrofoam packs, making it constantly buoyant. In other words, this style does not inflate and deflate as you please. This may be considered a limitation as you cannot deflate to purposely go underwater in the event you want to take a closer look at coral or fish beneath the waves. However, it does ensure you will be completely buoyant and stay afloat no matter what.
Hybrid Snorkel Vest
There are some models out in the market that combine the qualities of both inflatable horse collar vests and the jacket style vests. This hybrid snorkel vest will initially give you optimum buoyancy courtesy from the small integrated styrofoam pads. If you need more buoyancy, air valves are included so that you can blow additional air as needed for additional buoyancy.
Inflatable Snorkeling Vests
While some jackets are mainly made of styrofoam paneling to keep you afloat, other vests use air as the method of buoyancy. These vests can be inflated or deflated as you please through the use of an air valve that you blow into. The adjustability of these vests is great, as you can add or deflate air as you need.
For example, you can deflate the whole vest so that you can take a quick deeper dive underwater for a close up look at coral or to pickup something you dropped. Once you are back at the surface, you simply blow into the valve to inflate the vest again. It is also more comfortable above water to wear because you can deflate it entirely so that the vest doesn't feel bulky or heavy.
Other Snorkel Vest Considerations and Features
Size & Fit
Snorkel vests can be quite uncomfortable in the water if they don't fit right. Straps can be abrasive, or the vest can float up to far and get in your face. It is important to find one that fits properly and that you take a minute to get accustomed to your device and dialing in the proper fit before getting in the water. The vest should be snug without being abrasive or constricting.
Vest materials can vary, but it is usually some combination of PVC and polyester, though neoprene can be used sometimes as well. PVC and polyester are both durable options that should be able to sustain use for a long time. Neoprene, while less common, is form fitting and can be both warmer and more comfortable, especially if you get the sizing right.
Color options for vests can actually be for functional use and not just a style option. Being able to spot your party in the water or from afar is important in the ocean, and makes the buddy system easier to use. Vests often come in bright or neon colors to be ultra visible in a variety of situations. Take advantage of this and make sure to choose a color that can grab attention if needed.
Inflatable snorkel vests are obviously going to be much easier to pack down than bulky, styrofoam filled jackets. That is one of the primary advantages to inflatable vests. It's worth noting in the product descriptions just how small the vest can pack down so that you know how much space you can save or have to accommodate for when packing for your snorkel or beach trip.
Clips, Buckles, Straps, and Zippers
Depending on your style of vest, there are a variety of mechanisms used to dial in a proper fit and keep the vest securely fastened to your body. Clips, buckles, straps, and zippers on the vest are all used to adjust the fit. It is essential that these components are quality because if they break, rust, or degrade and the vest can no longer be fastened properly, then the snorkel vest is no longer viable and will need to be replaced.
It's also worth noting the placement of these small fasteners and straps. On some products, they are placed in areas that awkwardly or uncomfortably rub up against your body. The best snorkel vests are designed so these things aren't abrasive and don't impact your comfort while on the water.
Obviously for inflatable snorkel vests, the use of the inflator tube is key. This is the mechanism that will allow you to easily inflate or deflate the vest as needed. It should be easily to reach, easy to operate, but not get in your way or be annoying while in the water. The tube should also be reinforced to withstand heavy use to ensure it will not succumb to damage and stop functioning properly. If your air inflator valve doesn't work, the inflatable vest becomes useless.
Frequently Asked (FAQSs)
What Is A Snorkel Vest?
A snorkel vest is a buoyancy device that helps keep you afloat in the ocean. It can be used as a safety device, but can also be used simply as a light aid that helps a swimmer conserve their energy. Vests range from full life preservers, to light inflatable devices.
Who Needs A Snorkel Vest?
Anybody partaking in light aquatic activities can benefit from a snorkel vest. For beginners, the additional aid provides a layer of safety and also provides mental stability and comfort in the water. The vest can assist in flotation for people who aren't as strong or confident of swimmers. For the more experienced, snorkel vests can still be helpful in conserving energy during aquatic activity and the safety component still applies regardless of experience.
How To Size A Snorkeling Vest?
Measure your waist and measure around your chest just beneath your arm pits. Compare these measurements to the manufacturers size charts to determine the best size snorkel vest for you.
What are the Benefits of Using a Snorkel Vest?
Snorkel vests increase safety, allow you to conserve energy, and are often in colors that allow you to easily be spotted by your partners or the boat crew. Also, the additional coverage over your body will protect the covered areas from UV rays and help you avoid sunburn.
How Do You Operate a Snorkel Vest?
Operating a snorkel vest depends on the type. For non-inflatable, styrofoam filled vests and preservers, you simply put it on and adjust the buckles and straps as necessary to ensure a proper fit. For inflatable snorkel vests, you blow into the air valve (inflator tube) usually located on one of the shoulders. This will inflate the vest and increase buoyancy. You can increase or decrease the amount of air as needed to increase or decrease buoyancy, respectively.