Best Snorkel Vests
You might assume that all that you need before hitting the water to check out some marine life is a mask and a set of flippers. However, you might be surprised just how handy and helpful strapping a snorkel vest to your back can be. When you head to the rental shop to pick up some gear, these products typically live on the “optional” part of the shelves. However, if you decide to give one a whirl, you might wonder why you waited so long to give snorkel vests a try.
Swimming is a lot of fun, but after a while, it can take a lot out of you. These products typically have a little hose located on the breast to allow swimmers to inflate or deflate it to adjust for buoyancy. Basically, they are a simpler version of the BCD vests used for scuba diving.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 14 hrs of research
Composed of high-quality neoprene
Various sizes available
- Scubapro Cruiser
- Scuba Choice
- Innovative Scuba
- Phantom Aquatics
- Typhoon Sports
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Expert Interviews & Opinions
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Scubapro Cruiser
Composed of high-quality neoprene
Various sizes available
Some find the zipper to be a bit flimsy
This is the Cadillac of all of the other models out there on the market. And just like a Cadillac- you are going to pay a higher price tag. This model looks incredibly sharp when equipped, it has some additional features that swimmers will really appreciate, and it is incredibly comfortable. It does, however, come in at a significantly higher price point than a lot of the others that you will find out there.Read more
While most others are designed to look like a vest or a life jacket, the Scubapro Cruiser looks like you are wearing an inflatable sleeveless t-shirt when fully equipped. Instead of fastening in the middle, it fastens at the side. It is offered in two very bright colors: orange and yellow, to make sure that you won’t get lost in the shuffle.
The materials used for this product are incredibly durable and will hold up in the harshest of saltwater conditions. It is made from ⅛ inch neoprene that is not only a really tough material, but it will also serve to keep you a little warm if the water is a little colder than you might prefer.
You shouldn’t have to worry about something that doesn’t quite fit right, because this is offered in a myriad of sizes. Sizes include extra small, small, medium. Large, and extra large. Scubapro urges that if you find that you are between sizes that you should order the next size up because it is better if it is a little big than a little small).
In order to adjust your buoyancy, or to completely deflate the unit in order to dive underwater to investigate an interesting reef, simply use the hose found on the vest to inflate or deflate as you see fit. What makes this unit extra special is that it has a few pockets that can be used to hold important things that you want to keep on your person as you are swimming.
It is important to note that this product costs significantly more than a lot of the other design out there on the market. However, the higher price point is due in part because it sports a superior fit, and it made from high-quality materials.
2. Scuba Choice
Easy to use oral inflator
Adjustable and won’t ride up
Some find that it is a little big, even when adjusted
This design is the most prevalent design currently on the market. The Scuba Choice horse collar design is made to fit just about anyone, and it is offered at an affordable price that won’t eat into your vacation funds. Users love how simple and effective this particular design was for them.Read more
The model used for this is called a horse collar design. It looks like a traditional life jacket, but it has the option to be inflated and deflated as you see fit. It is offered in just one color- safety yellow and has the brand name printed on the front in big black and red letters.
The materials used for this design is incredibly lightweight. The bladder compartment is made from durable plastic. The snaps and buckles that keep it in place are made from thick nylon that is held together with heavy-duty plastic buckles that were designed to hold up in harsh salt water.
This is a one-size-fits-all type of scenario. It is even able to fit securely on adults that weigh over 200 pounds. The straps and buckles are designed to be adjusted to various heights and weights to provide a comfortable fit.
There is an oral tube that sits right next to the right breast that is used to inflate and deflate the entire unit. The inflator is made from durable plastic and it is very easy to use, especially if you are already in the water.
Users love how easy this product is to adjust and use, and it is made from high-quality materials that are sure to last you many years of underwater adventures. Plus, the price is incredibly affordable, so there is no reason not to give it a try this summer.
Larger neck area
Blows up in 15 seconds
Comfortable canvas exterior
Some feel the straps cut into their skin
The Lesberg design is another horse collar design that has a few differences in the harness as well as the materials used. It sits really comfortable on your neck and has mechanisms that are simple to use for when you need to make adjustments while in the water.Read more
This horse collar design slips up over your head and then cinches in place with a series of straps and buckles. Unlike some of the others out there on the market, this design comes in more colors than just the standard safety yellow. Users can also choose from (in addition to yellow), orange, pink, and aqua blue. It also has a collar that is just a little bit longer than some of the others, offering a little bit more room for adjustments.
Instead of simply using high-grade plastic like many of the other horse collar models, the Lesberg also utilizes a thin layer of canvas on the top to provide a comfortable fit against the skin, while also adding another layer of durability. The straps that hold it in place are made from stitched nylon, and the buckles are constructed from a sturdy plastic.
Just like all horse collar models- this is another one size fits all scenario. To ensure that you have a proper fit before you hit the water, simply pull the straps so that they fit securely against your body. The straps go around your waist, and there is also a strap that goes under your crotch that prevents ride up.
The one thing to note about this design is that it has an oral inflator along the breast that is incredibly easy to use- especially in a pinch. If need be, it can go from deflated to inflated in about 15 seconds using the inflator. Also, it folds up to be incredibly compact and is just a little bit bigger than a smartphone, making it a cinch to throw into a suitcase without taking up that much room.
If you are in the market for something that is easy to use, made for fit most body types, and is incredibly comfortable- this is going to be an excellent addition to all of your ocean adventures. Plus, it comes in at a price that is incredibly adorable.
Inflates in 10 seconds
Soft and durable canvas exterior
Mesh carrying case
Bottom strap isn’t long enough- users complain it rides up their middle
Some complain it rubs against their neck
This is a really great design that looks great and is a snap to throw up over your neck and snap into place. Plus, it comes in a lot of fun colors that will make you stand out from the crowd. It’s made to fit a wide array of body types, and the best part is that the cost is incredibly affordable.Read more
The Rrtizan sports a horse collar design with an incredibly large neck hole. Some users find that smaller neck holes can be a little constricting at times, and Rrtizan sidestepped this issue by crafting a neck hole that is larger than most on the market. It is also available in multiple colors that include yellow, orange, and pink.
This model utilizes two distinct types of materials for the bladder that serve very specific purposes. The interior of the bladder is constructed from a PVC membrane- which is very durable as well as simple to inflate. The top of the bladder is coated with a canvas material that feels comfortable against the skin, but it also incredibly durable against punctuation.
Much like all horse collars, this is a one size fits all type of product. However, the additional straps and buckles make it easy to adjust to any body shape. It is designed to fit comfortably for persons that weigh between 80 to 220 pounds.
One of the best things about this design is that it is incredibly easy to inflate and deflate. The oral nozzle on the right breast is able to fully inflate the unit in approximately 10 seconds and can deflate just as fast. This easy to use nozzle is great when you want to adjust your buoyancy while you are swimming. When you are done using it, it stores up neatly and compacts in a mesh carrying case that is included with purchase.
If you are in the market for something that is simple to use, affordable and has a larger neck hole that a lot of the other designs out there on the market- this is going to be a perfect fit for all of your needs without breaking the bank.
5. Innovative Scuba
Durable oral hose
Size options available
Simple to adjust
Some feel the bladder is difficult to blow up via oral hose
The Innovative Scuba design offers a few extra features than some of the other more traditional horse collar designs that are currently out there on the market. Those additional features, however, come at a slightly higher price point.Read more
The design of this horse collar model is a little bit more compact than some of the others you might come across. The neck, for instance, is a bit smaller than some of the others- which might prove to be a little uncomfortable for some, so keep that in mind while considering this design. It is offered in three colors- black (which you don’t see very often with these types of products), pink, and safety yellow.
The materials used to construct this design are of high quality and made to withstand the harshest of salt water. The bladder is constructed of 210 denier urethane coated nylon which makes it incredibly tough. It also utilizes straps that are made from a tough nylon and plastic squeeze style buckles that made for an easy release when it is time to pack up and head home.
Unlike a lot of the other horse collar designs out there- this isn’t a one size fits all type of situation. There are three different sizes that you can select from, and they include a child size (up to 100 pounds), and adult size (100-190 pounds) and an extra large that will hold up to 230 pounds). It fastens in place with a series of straps and buckles that are easily adjusted into place up the middle and around the waist.
This unit has an oral inflator that is easy to use, and it is made from high-grade materials that won’t break down over time. To use, simply unscrew the mouthpiece to fill the bladder with air, and leave the mouthpiece open if you wish to deflate it in order to dive underwater. One thing that is included with purchase that other products don’t have is a safety whistle that affixes right next to the oral value for easy access if you ever need it (and we hope you don’t!)
If you are in the market for something that doesn’t come in bright and flashy safety colors and fits incredibly comfortably in place- this is going to be a great fit. Keep in mind, however, that it’s set at a slightly higher price point than many of the other similar horse collar designs.
6. Phantom Aquatics
Easy to put on and adjust
Will keep you warm in cooler waters
Lack of crotch straps makes it tend to rise up when swimming
We are going to take a brief break from the horse collar designs to show you an alternative jacket model. This design is a little bit bulkier than its horse collar counterpart, but it offers quite a few more features and innovative designs- albeit at a significantly higher price point.Read more
The jacket design is made exactly as it sounds- it slips on over the shoulders exactly like a jacket. It is a little bit bulkier, but there are some added benefits to the additional materials. It is only offered in one color option- a black top with a safety yellow bottom.
The back of this unit is made from soft yet durable neoprene, and the front is constructed from nylon- making is resistant to becoming punctured or wearing out quickly. It has reflective yellow tape on the surface to ensure that you are never overlooked in the water, and an adjustable nylon waist strap to help keep the entire unit in place at all times. These materials are designed to not only keep you comfortable but also keep you warm if you are swimming in cooler waters.
The downside to this unit is that it doesn’t come in various sizes. This can be a problem due to the fact that it fits like a jacket, and not all shapes of people can wear the same jacket. Users don’t seem to find this to be an issue, however- most likely due to the adjustable straps around the waist.
There is a nozzle that is located to the right of the breast that is able to blow up the interior bladder with air if you find yourself tired of swimming. When you decide that you want to dive down under the water, simply deflate the bladder and dive down. The neoprene and nylon materials will keep you warm even if you dive under some chilly waters.
If you feel that you would not like the horse collar design, and want something that fits like a piece of gear instead of a life jacket- this will be well worth the slightly higher price tag.
Easy to inflate and deflate- hands-free
Some find that the straps are not long enough
The KUYOU design is everything that one would want in one of these designs- is simple, easy to use and adjust, and comes in at a really affordable price point. The cost of this will likely set you back the same amount of money that you spent on lunch today. Plus, it’s really easy to throw into a suitcase without taking up all that much room.Read more
This horse collar design is offered in two safety colors- yellow and orange. It has sharp black accents along the edges, and the KUYOU logo printed in the bottom left corner. To put it on, you simply pull your head through the medium sized neck hole at the top and adjust it into place.
The exterior is made out of a type of material called TPU. TPU stands for thermoplastic polyurethane, and it is a mixture of both hard and soft plastics- perfect for making a bladder that is both durable but flexible. The straps used to adjust it into place are constructed from stitched nylon, and the buckles are made from hard plastic.
Much like all horse collars, this one is a one size fits all. To ensure that you get the proper fit before you hit the water, be sure to adjust the straps that run along the waist, and the ones that run under the crotch (to avoid it riding up around your neck while swimming).
Along the breast, there is an oral hose that is used to inflate and deflate the bladder. If you find yourself getting tired, simply squeeze the oral mouthpiece together with your teeth and blow to inflate it, and squeeze it together without blowing to let the air out of it. When you are done, it will fold up and fit nicely into a mesh carrying case that is included with purchase.
If you are in the market for something that has a really simple design and that is easy to use- this is going to be an excellent addition to all of your ocean adventures this summer. Plus, it comes in at a really great price point that is hard to refuse.
8. Typhoon Sports
Front zippered pocket
Locking oral hose
Easy to store
Some find that the center strap digs into the crotch area
For those that want a horse collar design that offers up just a little bit more than many of the other similar models on the market- Typhoon Sports is going be your best bet. They set out to offer all of the features that you might find from a more expensive jacket design, but with the lower price tag that comes from a model that slips on over the head and fits around your neck.Read more
This is offered up in one simple color- safety yellow. It is accented along the edges with sharp black stitching, a heavy duty zipper in the middle of the bladder, and the Typhoon Sports logo at the bottom in black letters. The neck hole is a little smaller than some of the others that you might see on the market- however, some users actually prefer the smaller neck.
The interior and exterior of this design are made from a high quality 420 Denier Nylon that is resistant to becoming punctured or losing air easily. The straps are made from stitched nylon, and they lock in place with the aid of hard plastic buckles.
Fortunately, this is offered in three different size options- which is rare for these types of over-the-neck designs. It comes in a child size (up to 80 pounds), an adult size (80-180 pounds) and an extra large option for those that are 180 pounds and up.
What makes this unit stand out from the crowd is the addition of a zippered pocket on the front. These types of pockets are pretty standard on the jacket designs, but you don’t see them very often on the horse collar options. It also has an oral hose that has a locking mechanism so that you can be sure that you will not be losing air when the bladder is completely full.
If you are in the market for something that has some of the features of a jacket design but doesn’t come with the heavy price tag- this is going to be the best option to suit all of your nautical needs on your next vacation. Plus, it folds up compactly to be able to throw into a suitcase.
Folds up easily
Not meant for swimmers over 180 pounds- limited size options
Easy to accidentally release air while in use
This is another really solid horse collar design for those that just want something that is really simple and easy to use (and store). It doesn’t have a lot of different color options offered, or a lot of additional features- but these discrepancies are forgiven when users look at its incredibly low price point.Read more
This of offered in the classic horse collar design that slips up and over your neck. It doesn’t come in a lot of different colors- simply safety yellow. The edges are stitched with black accents, and the oral hose and straps are also black.
The bladder of this design is made from tear-resistant materials that if perfect for ocean adventures. The straps that hold it into place against your body are constructed from stitched nylon, and the buckles used to fasten it into place are designed from hard plastic.
Unfortunately, this is a one size fits all type of scenario- and it is only functional for adults that weight between 100-180 pounds. While the bladder might work for those that weigh more than that- the straps are what might be a little to short for users that weigh over 180 pounds.
There is an oral hose that is located on the right breast that is used to inflate and deflate this design. To inflate it, simple unscrew the nozzle to the hose and blow air into the bladder when you feel you are getting tired of swimming. When you are ready to dive down or pack it up for the day, simply leave the nozzle unlocked and press the air out of the bladder. When it is time to travel back home, it folds up to fit easily into a suitcase or even a carry-on.
If you are looking for something that is simple, affordable, and easy to travel with- this is really going to be your best option without breaking the bank.
Can accommodate up to 330 pounds
Some find the strap that goes between the crotch is uncomfortable
Easy to lose cap to the oral nozzle
The Plceo design is significantly smaller than a lot of the other options out there on the market. It doesn’t come down as far on your waist like some of the others- which some users actually prefer. It is offered at a really low price point that really gives you no reason not to give it a try on your next summer vacation.Read more
Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to this design. It is offered in only two colors- safety orange and yellow. It has black accents around the trim, the oral hose, as well as on the black straps used to secure it in place against your body. To put it on, you simply pull it over your head and secure it in place.
The bladder of this product is made from a quality plastic material that will hold up in harsh saltwater conditions. The straps that are used to hold it in place against your body are made from stitched nylon, and the plastic buckles are designed to be squeeze release so that you can put it on and take it off without much of a struggle.
Unfortunately- this is a one size fits all situation. The good news is that it claims to be able to support weights that range from 80 pounds to an impressive 330 pounds (far surpassing any other brand making this list).
To inflate the bladder, simply unscrew the top cap and blow into the oral hose. When you are ready to dive underwater, simply leave the cap off and press on to the unit itself to let out the air. The downside to this design is that it isn’t very practical to have to take off a cap while in the water- you will probably lose it upon your first trip into the water.
If you are in the market for something that is affordable and has the range to accommodate most body types- this design is offered at a really incredible deal.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
As for what it looks like- all of these products on the market all share just about the same similar shape. With the horse collar designs, there were a few variances in the shape and size of the neck hole, as well as the length. A larger neck hole made it easier to throw over your head and fasten into place. Between the two designs- we found that users preferred that jacket models over the horsecollar models because they didn’t have the nylon strap that runs up between their legs.
The downside about the jacket model, however, is that has a tendency to ride up around the neck when it is fully inflated and you are floating on top of the water. Designs that utilize materials such as neoprene and canvas are not only significantly more comfortable than their PVC counterparts, but they will also keep swimmers just a little bit warmer when submerged in cooler waters.
Typically, products that use canvas as a lining with PVC or other plastics for the interior membrane were significantly more durable and comfortable than those without. We made sure to favor the designs that used canvas or neoprene on the exterior because they are significantly more resilient to harsher conditions in salt water. For the buckles, we shied away completely from designs that used steel of any kind. While steel is considered to be a lot stronger than harder plastic- it will rust over time, especially in salt water.
This was a tricky thing to keep an eye on because a lot of these come in a one size fits all type situation. We liked to select models that have various sizing available with clear parameters as to that body type each size would fit. If they were a one size fits all, we tried to distinguish if it was really true based on the feedback that past users left. If we discovered that there were a lot of customers that felt it did not fit them well- we knew that the straps provided must not be the proper length, and swiftly moved on to the next product.
Everyone likes extra features! We tried to keep a lookout for products that offered just a little bit more than just added buoyancy. One thing that we really liked that came standard on a few models that we included were zippered pockets. There typically isn’t a lot of room to put anything- such as keys or jewelry- on a swimsuit, so it’s nice to have a place to put some of the things that you don’t feel comfortable leaving back on the boat or at the shoreline. We tried to select models that had the oral nozzle used to blow up the interior bladder that was easy to use and could be operated without the use of your hands. And, of course, the addition of a carrying case was an added plus that we liked because it made traveling a lot easier.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Although these products are dedicated to snorkeling, you can use them for many other activities. If you are engaging in any water activity where you need a little extra help to improve your stamina so you will be able to stay out in the water longer, these products will be a welcome addition to all of your vacation activities such as surfing, bodyboarding, paddle boarding, or kayaking.
If you are a good swimmer- it might not seem like a snorkel vest is something that you want or need, especially since it takes a similar shape of a lifejacket. But trust us- it is something that will change the way you go snorkeling. Even if you are the best swimmer in the world, there will eventually come a point where you use up all of the energy in your tank, and you have to swim back to shore, even though there is more of the ocean that you would like to explore.
Other Factors to Consider
No one likes to spend money on gear for it only to last for one family vacation. It makes packing for the trip back a little easier if you decide to leave some of your broken gear behind at the hotel- but that situation is less than ideal. To ensure that we selected designs that would be able to travel back with you on your way home, we took a look at two things: the materials that were used and the things that users were saying about them.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Why do I need one?
While they aren’t considered necessary in order to have a good time swimming in the ocean this summer- they are something that can really come in handy and make you wish you had been using one all along. Swimming can tend to take a lot out of you, and it would be a shame if you had to get out of the water before you saw everything you wanted to see just because you became too tired. The great part about these products is that it allows you to inflate it up and float a bit to conserve energy. The more energy that you conserve, the longer you can be out there on the water. You have probably spent a lot of money to take the family out on a nice beach vacation- you want to be able to milk it for every penny that it is worth before you have to head back home.
q: How do they work?
They work by utilizing an internal bladder that can be filled with air by the use of an oral nozzle located on the side of the vest. Often, they come in bright colors that you will be sure to be seen by other swimmers, as well as other boats that are on the water if you happen to swim too far off course. When you want to swim on top of the water and conserve your energy, you simply blow up the bladder with the oral nozzle and skim along the surface. When you are ready to dive down, simply let all of the air out and you will be able to dive into the water. These also serve a safety purpose as well. If you get stung by a jellyfish you will have something that will help you swim to shore. Also, if you get swept out by a current, you know that you have a piece of gear that you can blow up to keep you above water if you become tired.
q: Are they comfortable?
Surprisingly, yes. While they may look like life jackets on the outside (which are notoriously uncomfortable) they are made from materials that are incredibly lightweight and comfortable. Some of the horse collar designs can be a little awkward- according to a handful of past users. What makes these types of designs a little bit more uncomfortable than most is two things: a neck hole that is too small, and a series of straps that are too short. If the straps are too short- you are really going to have a bad time, because one set of straps goes over the crotch area. If you want to sidestep straps that go over your crotch- the jacket options are a little more comfortable (albeit a lot more expensive in some cases).
q: Do they travel easily?
Yes, these products are very easy to travel with. The jacket designs are a little bit bulkier but will take up as much room in your suitcase as a pair of jeans. If you are really running tight on extra space, the horse collar designs are perfect for traveling because they barely take up any space at all. Some product out there on the market claim that when they are folded up completely and placed into their respective mesh carrying cases- they don’t take up any more room than a smartphone. This design makes them perfect not only to carry in your suitcase, but they can even be placed on a carry on bag. Plus, this small design makes it perfect for throwing into your beach bag when you are making your way to go snorkeling for the afternoon, and you won’t feel like you are being weighed down by excess gear.
q: What’s the difference between the horse collar design and the jacket design?
The first difference you might notice between the two is the price. The jacket models are typically priced at double at what the horse collar designs are placed at. This is due in part because the jacket designs are a little bit more complicated, and often made out of superior materials such as neoprene. These types of materials used for the jacket designs sit more comfortably on the torso, and easy to take off and on without pulling anything up over your head, and are significantly warmer- which could be a great benefit if you are swimming in cooler waters. The horse collar slips up over your head and around your neck similar to that of a lifejacket that you might wear on a boat. It is significantly cheaper and doesn’t offer the same level of warmth as a jacket model. Plus, the horse collar type uses a strap that goes right between your legs to keep it from riding up to your chin while inflated. If that doesn’t appeal to your sensibilities- you might want to dish out the extra money for the jacket design.
q: Do they also work as a life preserver?
No, they cannot. The function of these products are made purely for recreation while engaging in a variety of water sports, and they are not made for people that cannot swim. If you wish to purchase a product to keep on a boat as a life preserver, we suggest that you buy products that are specifically labeled as life preservers.
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