Snorkeling is a fun and leisurely pastime, but it can also be dangerous. Of course, if you’re not a strong swimmer, there is a risk of drowning. But even competent swimmers can grow tired and have trouble returning to shore without some help. That’s why most people do wear a snorkeling vest or some other swimming aid. Many confuse a snorkeling vest with a life jacket, but these are two different things.
Snorkeling Vest or Life Jacket?
Most of us are familiar with the life jacket. It is a mandatory accessory for almost any watersport, from kayaking to jet skiing. Snorkeling vests are smaller, and they’re also inflatable. Life jackets are usually made out of some kind of foam. While life jackets are designed to act as life preservers, snorkeling vests are different. They are not made for extreme rescue situations and you should never rely on them alone to keep you afloat. A snorkeling vest simply offers a little extra buoyancy, so you won’t tire as easily. With this vest, you don’t have to work as hard to stay afloat, but you still have to swim.
Snorkeling vests are ideal for this sport because you do want to be able to submerge your body. With a life vest, you may have trouble snorkeling.
Different Types of Snorkeling Vests
There are a few different kinds of snorkeling vests, but the most popular is the horse collar. This is a circular vest with just one inflatable bladder that goes around your neck and upper chest. One strap connects between the legs to help keep the vest in place. The second type of snorkeling vest is the zip jacket. This is often confused with a life jacket because their looks are similar. Its design looks more like a regular vest than the horse collar does. Still, there is just one inflatable bladder.
Deciding on the Right Snorkeling Vest
If you’re going snorkeling, you’ll want to get a snorkeling vest. They will allow you the freedom to swim with your face in the water, and they’ll even help you stay afloat. There are some vests that were designed for those who have trouble swimming. If this describes you, look for a Type II or Type III PFD, which provide added buoyancy, allowing you to venture farther off shore without having to worry. If you really cannot swim at all, snorkeling may not be the best sport for you. You can try a life jacket, but it doesn’t offer the range of motion that you’ll get with a snorkeling vest. You may find that you’ll have trouble getting your face in the water at all.