Guide to Snorkeling Vests

Who doesn’t enjoy going on adventures? Of course, everyone enjoys going on picnics and visiting water parks, but for some adventurers out there, the thrill is everything. Snorkeling is the activity for you if you’re one of the adrenaline-seekers looking to satisfy your craving.

But anyone would get goosebumps at the thought of swimming alongside the marine life deep underwater. But if it’s your first time, snorkeling will be the most exciting experience of your life. You can swim with exotic sea creatures, which is an amazing experience, but you’ll feel safer if you have your snorkeling vests on.

A snorkel vest is a practical addition to your snorkeling equipment, especially if you struggle with buoyancy control or tire easily while swimming. It is a crucial safety accessory that can increase both adults’ and children’s confidence in the water.

Read our article on how to pick the best inflatable snorkeling jacket to learn practical advice on care and upkeep.

Girl in snorkeling mask dive underwater with coral reef fishes

Safety is a Must 

Safety should come first, regardless of whether you are an experienced snorkeler or you are just starting out in the world of adventure. Now that snorkeling is not just for experienced swimmers, anyone can try it if they have the right equipment. If you feel safe, you can have the time of your life and fully enjoy yourself. The most essential piece of equipment you need to keep yourself alive in the event of an accident is a snorkeling vest. Additionally, snorkeling vests help to improve your experience while also ensuring your safety in case of any accidents.

In order for you to know what to look for when purchasing one for yourself, we have put together thorough information on snorkeling vests along with a buying guide. If you’ve been wanting to snorkel to get rid of your fears but have been concerned for your safety, keep reading. The two main categories of snorkeling vests will be covered, along with considerations for choosing the best one.

Life Jacket VS Snorkeling Vest

Alright, let’s get started. Even the most robust and long-lasting life jacket cannot be used in place of a snorkeling vest when snorkeling underwater. The technicality and reason behind why both vests are made account for the cause. You will stay afloat thanks to the life jackets. They are made of thick floatation foam that is mostly stuffed in the front of the jacket to hold you in a tilted position with your head held high. The life jacket will attempt to make you lean backward and raise your head above the water, which is the main reason you cannot use it as a snorkeling vest.

Snorkeling vests, in contrast, contain air. For use, they must be inflated. Air has more room for movement because it is much less dense than floatation foam. You will become more exhausted if you wear a life jacket while snorkeling because you will constantly be battling to move forward and not upward toward the surface. 

Types of Snorkeling Vests 

 No matter which model you choose, the snorkeling vest needs to be lightly inflated when in water in order to provide enough lifting capacity. There are two models available on the market: the horse collar over-neck and jacket design. Both are compact, lightweight, easy to use, and equipped with an oral inflation tube for easy and fast inflation/deflation. However, they differ in terms of design.  

Horse Collar Over-Neck

This is among the most common varieties of vests for snorkeling. It fastens with straps or clips around the torso and has a U-shaped neck hole. Never use it without inflation in the hopes that you will use it later. Not only is a deflated jacket useless, but dealing with inflation during an emergency wastes time that could be used elsewhere. Technically speaking, it’s a small, inflatable roundish-oval air chamber that you need to put over your neck and secure with adjustable straps. The crotch strap runs vertically while the waist strap runs horizontally. To keep the vest from riding up and turning around, the straps must be secure. To store small items like keys or room cards, some manufacturers include an extra pocket. 


This kind of snorkeling vest is relatively new. It has a life-vest-like design. In contrast to the straps in the horse collar design, this type of snorkeling vest has soft fabric at the back that helps protect from the sun’s UV rays. These jacket-style snorkeling vests typically have neoprene on the back, making this model a good choice for those who don’t want to struggle with straps. However, these snorkeling jackets allow less flexibility when it comes to adjustments, so make sure the size you order will fit! Note: Some older models had CO2 cartridges for quick and easy inflation in the past, but they were discontinued for safety reasons. Do not purchase one of these if you still come across one.  

Considerations when buying a snorkeling vest 

To ensure you get the best snorkeling vest suitable for you, here are some considerations to think about before purchasing your vest: 

1. Design

This is the first consideration when buying a snorkeling vest, and it is entirely up to you. Both types of snorkeling vests work well for their intended purposes. For beginners, the jacket-style snorkeling vest’s fabric-covered back may make it safer.

2. Size

When looking for a snorkeling vest, this is one of the most crucial factors to take into account. As important as inspecting all the other safety features is choosing the proper size vest. The straps on snorkeling vests are adjustable and they come in various sizes. The snorkeling vests are typically purchased based on the wearer’s height. However, it is crucial that you also take the person’s weight into consideration. The vest’s buckles, straps, and zippers should all be snugly cinched around the wearer’s body. The snorkeling vest size charts are not universal, which is the most important point. From one manufacturer to the next, the sizes might be different. Therefore, before making a final purchase, always make sure to check the snorkeling vest’s maximum weight limit.

3. Non-Corrosive Material 

Checking the material of the straps and buckles is an important step whether you choose a snorkeling vest with a jacket-style design or a horse-collar style. Metal zippers and buckles run the risk of corroding because of this. However, straps are typically made of nylon or plastic.

The buckles or straps should be non-corrosive, regardless of the material, for your safety and the equipment’s longevity. Your safety may be in jeopardy if you neglect to take into account this crucial factor. Additionally, the corrosion will make your jacket useless after a few uses.

4. Inflator Tube 

Snorkeling vests are advised to be partially inflated. The semi-inflated snorkeling vests aid in smooth movement in addition to being safer. They make it easier for you to move around. Regardless of the material, choose an inflator tube that is sturdy. Plastic and metal are both used to make inflator tubes. Both have benefits and drawbacks of their own. Plastic inflator tubes are more flexible, whereas metal ones may prove to be more durable and therefore tougher.

5. Appearance and Style 

These days, snorkeling vests are available in more colors than just those dull neon ones. Due to the growing popularity of snorkeling among people of all ages, manufacturers are now able to meet demand. The flashier, brighter colors of the more recent designs draw in both men and women. For safety reasons, though, we do advise that you get yourself a color that can be easily seen in the distance in water. Some snorkeling vests come with small pockets as well to protect your personal items.

How to use snorkeling vest

A snorkeling vest is not very difficult to wear. Once you pass the snorkeling vest through your head, the straps on it are fastened. Snorkeling vests have straps across the chest and back that are fastened at the front to keep them in place. With your lips, you inflate the vest by forcing air inside of it. A snorkeler’s confidence can be increased with as little as a small amount of air in their vest, and a fully inflated vest makes them feel more at ease at the surface.

Advantages of wearing snorkeling vest

Snorkeling vests are incredibly useful and keep you safe while snorkeling.  The snorkeling vest has a number of advantages, including:

  1. They give you self-assurance and ultimately help you unwind underwater.
  2. Your snorkeling vest has pockets where you can store your extras and other items.
  3. Some varieties of snorkeling vests are excellent at keeping you warm.
  4. You are kept safe while snorkeling underwater with a vest. It is crucial specifically for snorkeling purposes.

What is the Manufacturing Material of Snorkeling Vest?

The quality and strength of the Snorkeling Vest are determined by the manufacturing material. The materials that are most frequently used by manufacturers to create snorkeling vests are polyester and neoprene. 

The following characteristics of these two materials make them popular choices for snorkeling vest construction:

1. Polyester

It is utilized along with a mesh. Because polyester fibers are so strong, they do not easily break, stretch, or pill like cotton and other natural fabrics do. Because polyester fibers deflect liquid droplets, the fabric quickly evaporates moisture rather than absorbing it. Unlike linen or cotton fabrics, which can retain wrinkles and thus call for ironing, polyester is resistant to wrinkling and will better maintain its shape, draping, and rigidity.

2. Neoprene

Neoprene is in some way resistant to chemicals, fluids, heat, fire, oxygen, and ozone. Neoprene is significantly more heat- and chemical-resistant than natural rubber. Because of this material’s excellent weather and sunlight resistance, it lasts a very long time and does not require frequent replacement.

Is the Snorkeling Vest Safe for Non-Swimmers?

Non-swimmers should wear a full life jacket instead of a snorkeling vest, which is not advised. Snorkeling involves lying face down in the water with your head submerged. The fact that Snorkeling Vests are designed specifically for snorkeling makes it simple to do so. If you’re a confident swimmer who just needs a little extra buoyancy, this is fantastic. However, unless you’re a non-swimmer who gets into trouble, you’ll prefer the Snorkeling Vest to hold you upright and out of the water. There are also other accessories and items besides the vest that you will need to have a much safer time snorkeling. To know more about these items, check out the Guide to Getting Outfitted with Snorkeling Gear.

An underwater vest for snorkeling is not the best choice if you cannot swim. We advise using a full life jacket as an alternative. Additionally, wearing a life jacket while snorkeling has drawbacks. With a life jacket on, it won’t be possible for you to complete this task, so you’ll have to exert significant effort to fully submerge your head. While this is bad, it is well worth it for a non-swimmer to go through this minor discomfort in exchange for a safer encounter.

 How Should You Care for Your Snorkeling Vest?

After each snorkeling excursion, whether in the ocean, pools, or lakes, it is strongly advised to wash all of your snorkeling gear, including your snorkeling vest, in lukewarm fresh water with a bar of mild soap and other detergent. Typically, all you need is some warm water, some dish soap, and a little bit of it. Avoid cleaning your equipment with chlorine-based products like bleach because they could cause fading, cracking, and other issues.

Clean, wash, and dry the equipment thoroughly before storing it. Although it may be tempting to dry your snorkeling vest in the sun, experts advise against it because it could cause the colors to deteriorate and become ruined. To protect your vest, it is highly advised that you keep it in a cool, dry place away from sources of direct sunlight. This will preserve the components of your vest and stop them from deteriorating. Verify again that your snorkeling vest is in good working order before you leave for your upcoming seaside adventure. Investigate for straps and other items. Verify that everything is in order and prepared for use.