Snorkels are used by snorkelers and scuba divers to help them breathe by the surface while looking down at the underwater world below. The snorkel must be properly attached to the mask so that it is held in place and easy to access. Properly attaching the snorkel to the mask also ensures that it does not get in the way of other equipment so you can have the smoothest snorkeling or diving experience.
For snorkelers, the mask and snorkel are the two most essential pieces of equipment. Using a snorkel while scuba diving is a point of contention among many divers. Many argue that because its use is limited to the surface, it’s just deadweight that increases drag once submerged. A solution to this problem is to bring a foldable snorkel so that it can be stowed in the BC pocket and easily accessed when needed.
Use a snorkel keeper
The snorkel attachment used to attach the snorkel to the mask is known as a snorkel keeper. Snorkel keepers are small rings or clips that secures the snorkel to the mask. The ring is in the shape of a figure-eight and is made of neoprene or silicone, and the clip is made of hard plastic.
Whether you use the ring or clip attachment, it will help hold the snorkel in a 90 degree position when your face is submerged underwater at a slight angle looking upwards. Snorkel keepers are inexpensive, readily available, and easy to use. You should always keep some with you just in case your current keeper breaks.
Now that you know what’s actually holding the snorkel to the mask, the next step is to figure out how to put it on!
Attaching the snorkel to the mask
Get a properly fitting mask
This step is crucial because all of the other steps that follow depend on it. You need to find a mask that fits your face. Everybody has a differently sized face and facial structure, and sometimes the shape of the mask just isn’t compatible with your face.
How do you know if a mask fits you? Here’s a simple test. Hold the mask to your face with just one finger and leave the strap off. Begin inhaling and let go of your finger. The mask should be held in place by the vacuum you are creating with your nose. If it doesn’t, that means the mask skirt is not able to seal tightly against your skin. In other words, the fit isn’t good and you should look for a new mask.
Once you have a mask that passes the test above, wear the mask for real and adjust the straps so that it has a snug fit. The fit should be a balance between firmly being held in place but still comfortable. If the mask or strap is digging into your skin, it’s too tight so loosen it slightly. Also, smooth out the strap if it is twisted or tangled in your hair.
Attaching the snorkel
If you’re using the clip snorkel keeper, place the snorkel’s mouthpiece in your mouth and support it with your hands such that the tube runs past your temple. Direct the snorkel to a position that you like where it is over the strap and then slide the clip over the strap so that it can hold the snorkel at that location.
If you’re using a ring snorkel keeper, first grab the snorkel and the ring keeper. Stretch one of the rings out and pull it over the snorkel. Now one end of the ring should be holding the snorkel. Next, manipulate the middle section of the keeper and fold it over the strap from the bottom and looping it over the top.
Next, using the remaining open ring of the snorkel keeper, stretch it out and slide it over the snorkel. So now both the rings should be stretched over the snorkel, securing it in place with the mask strap in between them.
In case you’re having trouble following along, you can just watch this video instead.
Frequently asked questions
What are the differences between a ring and clip keeper?
Although both the ring and clip design can hold the mask and snorkel together, there are some differences between these two types.
The clip is composed of two assembly pieces. One part is affixed on the mask and the other on the snorkel. Both pieces need to be connected in order to secure the mask and snorkel together. Clip snorkels are made of hard plastic which can get worn down over time and eventually break.
The ring type keeper has a figure-eight design and is made of the more durable silicone or neoprene materials. These are handy because of how flexible they are. They can serve as a handy replacement if the clip breaks on your snorkel. Silicone and neoprene and stretchy and easy to manipulate which is important because of how they need to fit around the snorkel.
Should I use a ring or clip?
As we mentioned, the clip design is made of hard plastic, so overall it is not very flexible and can break faster than silicone. Furthermore, it’s very easy to clip long hairs by accident, whereas the likelihood is lower with the ring style.
On the other hand, the flexibility of the ring style keeper can work against it at times, especially if it hasn’t been set up properly. For instance, the snorkel might slide around more and basically won’t stay in place as much if the waters are rough. With that said, most snorkelers and divers seem to prefer the figure-eight ring keeper over the clip style.
Can I replace my snorkel keeper?
Whether you have the plastic type clip keeper or the silicone type, wear and tear affects them all. Eventually, your snorkel keeper can crack, dry out, and break. The same can be said of your snorkel. You just need to replace what broke; you don’t need to replace the whole set. Snorkel gear are designed to be somewhat compatible with each other.
Since snorkels and snorkel keepers come in all shapes and sizes, you should ideally take your gear to the shop (or read the measurements online) to ensure that the clip you get is compatible with your snorkel. The ring style keeper is the more versatile keeper since it can stretch to fit. The plastic clip keepers are harder to get the right fit because you can’t stretch it without breaking it.
Should the snorkel be on the left or right side?
For snorkeling, you can attach the clip on either side. However, you need to make sure that the snorkel is designed for the side that you want. Many snorkel mouthpieces are designed to work only on the left side; otherwise the positioning of the mouthpiece will be off. Scuba divers must attach the snorkel on the left side because the regulator’s air hose comes in from the right side.
How should I position the snorkel?
The snorkel should be positioned such that when your face is submerged underwater and tilted slightly upwards so you can see what’s ahead of you, that the snorkel will be perpendicular to the water’s surface. In other words, the snorkel must be pointing straight upwards in a vertical position.
Many beginners make the mistake of positioning their snorkels too far forwards. This causes the snorkel to be at a slanted angle when their face is submerged, and it is very easy for water to enter the tube. To get an idea of how the snorkel should be pointed, when you’re standing up with the snorkel in your mouth, it should be pointing behind your head at a 45 degree angle.
Can you attach snorkel to swim goggles?
It is not recommended to attach snorkels to swim goggles. Swim goggles are not designed to support the extra weight and drag that a snorkel would introduce. The extra bulk of the snorkel can easily break the seal of the goggles and cause water to leak in. Swim goggles are too small and the snorkel would be violently shifting all over the place. The keepers need a little bit more bulk to effectively secure the snorkel in place.
Furthermore, if you are wearing swim goggles, then you are not able to skin dive. Skin diving is more advanced snorkeling where you occasionally dive down to get a closer view of marine life. When you dive down, the pressure inside the swim goggles will increase and squeeze against your eyes. You need a dive mask that can be equalized in order to prevent mask squeeze, which the swim goggles cannot.
Are there other snorkel keepers?
Yup, another type are quick-release velcro snorkel keepers. They work just like clip keepers with one part on the mark strap, and the other part on the snorkel. They are easy to use and hold the mask and snorkel firmly together with the power of velcro.
Typically, velcro has a fabric covering on one side. With a velcro snorkel keeper, both sides are velcro for a tighter grip, so you can rest assured that it won’t come undone during a snorkel or dive session. Velcro keepers are more expensive than the traditional clip and ring keepers, but they are worth it.
These are the most common ways to attach a snorkel to your mask. However, new technologies and innovations are always being made, so maybe there will be superior attachment methods in the future.
However, if you want to snorkel and dive in peace without worrying about the snorkel coming off the mask, then you need a good snorkel keeper. Alternatively, you can try wearing a full face snorkel mask instead of the traditional mask and snorkel setup. There are even full face masks for kids and they are just as safe and perhaps more convenient than snorkels.