Looking for the best snorkel vest to keep you safe while exploring the ocean?

Snorkeling is a fun activity for those of all ages for many reasons. It is a great way to exercise, you get to see a variety of fish, coral, and other underwater scenery, and you can have an amazing adventure with the whole family. But as with any water activity, you need to consider your safety while you enjoy yourself.

That’s why it’s a good idea to add the a snorkel vest to your snorkel gear bag. These vests are easy to put on and to use, even when you’re already in the water. They are also lightweight and easy to pack, no matter how little space you have in your suitcase.

They can be inflated as much or as little as you need, allowing you to lay flat with your face in the water to check out the scenery, or just drift along with the vest holding your weight while you catch your breath.

If you plan on doing any snorkeling on your next vacation, check out our snorkel gear reviews to find the right snorkeling equipment for your trip.

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Comparison Table of the Best Snorkel Vests of 2018

NameImageTypeInflatableSizesPriceOur Rating
ScubaPro Cruiser Snorkeling Vest
JacketYesXS, S, M, L, XL$
See It
5
SealBuddy Inflatable Snorkel Vest
Horse collarYesOne size$$$
See It
5
Phantom Aquatics Snorkel Vest
Horse collarYesOne size$
See It
4.5
Scuba Choice Neon Yellow Snorkel Vest with Name Box
Horse collarYesKid, L, XL$$
See It
4.8
Phantom Aquatics Jacket Snorkel Vest
JacketYesOne size$$
See It
4
Innovative Scuba Concepts Snorkel Vest
Horse collarYesKid, Adult, XL$$
See It
4.5
Rrtizan Portable Inflatable Snorkel Vest
Horse collarYesOne size$
See It
4
Auto-Vox Inflatable Snorkeling Vest
Horse collarYesOne size$
See It
4
Scuba Choice Snorkel Jacket Vest with Pockets
JacketYesOne size$$
See It
4.3
Scuba Choice Kids Snorkel Vest
Horse collarYesOne size$$
See It
4.5

Snorkel Vest Reviews

ScubaPro Cruiser Snorkeling Vest – Best Snorkel Jacket 2018

The Cruiser snorkel jacket by ScubaPro keeps you safe while exploring deep water without limiting your movement. It is made of durable nylon combined with the comfort of neoprene.

Together, these give you a wide range of movement while you swim without the risk of tears that could leave you struggling in an emergency, and has the added benefit of keeping you warm in the cooler water.

There is an inflatable bladder on the front of this ScupaPro vest fills quickly and easily using the oral inflator located at chest level. When it’s time to come out of the water, just open the dump valve for fast deflation.

The bright yellow color on the front keeps you visible to rescue boats should you need help, and the security pocket is perfect for storing anything you prefer to keep close at hand.

You can read more reviews and see the latest price on Amazon

Tech Specs

Material: Nylon and Neoprene

Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL

Pockets: Yes

Special Features: High visibility yellow color, inflatable front bladder

SealBuddy Inflatable Snorkel Vest – Top Snorkel Vest 2018

With three bright neon colors to choose from, you’ll never have to worry about losing your group when sporting SealBuddy’s scuba vest.

Finding your size also won’t be an issue, since there is only one to choose from. Just slip the horse collar over your neck and loop the waist and crotch straps around, tightening them for the right fit for your body.

The mouthpiece is located within easy reach so you can inflate it quickly when you need it for the right amount of buoyancy for any situation. Even beginners trying out snorkeling equipment for the first time won’t have any trouble using this vest, and it will give them the confidence they need to expand their underwater horizons.

Included with this snorkel vest is a bonus mesh carry bag to store it in when you’re not using it, or for an easy to pack travel accessory.

You can read more reviews and see the latest price on Amazon

Tech Specs

Material: N/A

Sizes: One size

Pockets: No

Special Features: Mesh carry bag, 3 color options

Phantom Aquatics Snorkel Vest

The nylon material that makes up the Phantom snorkeling life vest is very strong, so you won’t need to worry about it falling to pieces at the worst possible time. It comes in two bright colors that will keep you visible to those around you.

The oral inflation tube is placed in the optimal position for easy access. This allows you to blow it up when you need a bit of extra buoyancy while you’re snorkeling, and adjust it as needed if the water becomes rougher.

The horse collar slips easily over your head. The crotch and waist straps keep this snorkel vest from floating up around you while you swim, and both straps are adjustable for the perfect fit.

At about half a pound, this vest is easy to pack when traveling, making it a great addition to your snorkeling gear.

You can read more reviews and see the latest price on Amazon

Tech Specs

Material: Nylon

Sizes: One size

Pockets: No

Special Features: 2 color options

Scuba Choice Neon Yellow Snorkel Vest with Name Box

There are two adult sizes to choose from with this Scuba Choice snorkel vest. Both are for those weighing between 100-200 lbs. The smaller version is 21 x 17.5 inches with a neck size of 25″, and the X-large measures 27 x 19 inches, with a 27″ neck hole.

The oral inflator is easy to use, whether on land or in the water, allowing you to add as much or as little air as you need. The crotch strap can be secured while your vest is inflated to keep it from floating in front of you and interfering with your strokes.

As an added bonus feature there is a small, white name box on the bottom of the vest, so you’ll never question which one is yours. With its easy use and durability, it’s no wonder this is the top snorkel vest Scuba Choice has to offer.

You can read more reviews and see the latest price on Amazon

Tech Specs

Material: N/A

Sizes: L, XL

Pockets: No

Special Features: 3 color options, Name box

Phantom Aquatics Jacket Snorkel Vest

This one size fits all snorkeling life jacket from Phantom Aquatics has a durable nylon body with neoprene on the back for added protection from the cold when the water temperature drops. The full coverage also keeps the sun off your back and shoulders, preventing burns.

For additional safety, the bright orange or yellow material also has reflective tape on the front and the back to keep you extra visible in the water. Buckle closures on the pocket keep your belongings from floating away while you enjoy the beauty beneath the surface.

The waist strap is adjustable to keep the bottom of the snorkeling jacket tight to your body so it won’t ride up while you move through the water. The heavy-duty front zipper makes it easy to put on or take off, even if your snorkeling gear is soaking wet.

You can read more reviews and see the latest price on Amazon

Tech Specs

Material: Nylon with Neoprene back

Sizes: One size

Pockets: Yes

Special Features: 2 color options, front zipper closure, rolled edge collar, 3M reflective tape

Innovative Scuba Concepts Snorkel Vest

This compact inflatable snorkel vest is as easy to pack as it is to use. It can be folded or rolled into a tight package for anyone who has limited space. The durable nylon material will also remain intact no matter how rough the baggage handlers are.

The screw down inflators come with either a standard plastic valve or a metal one for those who prefer the additional strength. The inflator is positioned within easy reach of your mouth for fast inflating. Hanging next to it is a safety whistle, in case you are out of sight of your group or in need of some help.

The crotch straps keep the underwater snorkel vest from floating around your face and constricting your movements. This diving vest comes in either black or bright yellow.

You can read more reviews and see the latest price on Amazon

Tech Specs

Material: 210 denier urethane coated nylon

Sizes: Kids, Adult, XL

Pockets: No

Special Features: Optional plastic or metal inflator valve, safety whistle, 2 color options

Rrtizan Portable Inflatable Snorkel Vest – Top Budget Option

The durable canvas material of this snorkeling life vest resists abrasions for a longer lasting piece of snorkeling gear. The composite storey strength TPU membrane can hold up to 220 lbs, making this an ideal vest for most adults.

Though there is only one size for kids and one for adults, there are adjustable straps at the waist and the crotch, which give you the perfect fit, no matter what your body type is.

The best snorkel gear can travel with you to exotic destinations, and this vest meets these standards. It folds down small for simple packing. The bright colors are easy to spot in the water in an emergency, and the inflation tube lets you fill your vest fast, keeping you safe in the rough water.

You can read more reviews and see the latest price on Amazon

Tech Specs

Material: Canvas outer material with TPU membrane

Sizes: Children, Adult

Pockets: No

Special Features: 3 color options

Auto-Vox Inflatable Snorkeling Vest

Whether you`re just learning how to snorkel or a pro with years of experience, the Auto-Vox snorkel vest is a great addition to your snorkeling kit.

It is made of lightweight nylon, with a durable inner TPU membrane. The horse collar slips easily over your head, with 2 straps that allow you to adjust this vest for the perfect fit. The quick release buckles make removing your snorkel float a breeze, even when it`s wet.

You can leave the inner bladder empty while you swim below the surface, then fill it when you need the buoyancy on rougher water. But this vest is also handy for other water adventures, such as water skiing, windsurfing, sailing, and bouncing on a water trampoline. It packs easily to take wherever you need to go.

You can read more reviews and see the latest price on Amazon

Tech Specs

Material: 420 high tenacity nylon outer, composite storey strength TPU membrane

Sizes: Adult

Pockets: No

Special Features: 2 color options, quick release buckles

Scuba Choice Snorkel Jacket Vest with Pockets

There are two sizes to choose from with this snorkel jacket. The smaller kid’s size can hold up to 100 lbs. The adult size can fit a waist size between 30″ and 52″. There is an adjustable waist strap on both for a tight, yet comfortable fit.

The oral inflator is located near your mouth for fast and easy inflation when you need it. This allows you to leave it empty when you want to dive beneath the waves, and fill it as much as you like when you want your head above the water.

There is one mesh pocket on each side of the snorkeling life jacket, giving you ample room to store those waterproof items you’d like to keep close to you. There are Velcro closures on the pockets, so you won’t lose your belongings during your swim.

You can read more reviews and see the latest price on Amazon

Tech Specs

Material: N/A

Sizes: Kids, Adults

Pockets: Yes

Special Features: Highly visible neon yellow color, name box

Scuba Choice Kids Snorkel Vest – Best Kids Snorkel Vest

When it’s time for the little ones to learn to snorkel, you want to make sure you have a reliable and high quality snorkel vest to keep them safe. This model by Scuba Choice fits kids up to 100 lbs and has both adjustable waist and crotch straps to make sure it will give them the support they need in the water.

The oral inflator is easy to use, so kids can learn how to properly inflate it when they need it, or let out some air when they are ready to explore the world below the surface.

There are two colors to choose from, including neon yellow with a blue back, and an overall purple vest. Both have a name box on the bottom, so your kids will always know which snorkel vest is theirs. These vests are lightweight, so there should be no complaining when the kids have to carry their own.

You can read more reviews and see the latest price on Amazon

Tech Specs

Material: N/A

Sizes: One Size

Pockets: No

Special Features: 2 color options, name box

best-snorkel-vests-buying-guide

Snorkel Vest Buying Guide – Find the Best Snorkeling Gear

What is a Snorkel Vest?

A snorkeling vest is a piece of safety equipment you wear while snorkeling. It looks similar to a life jacket, but is lighter in weight and made of thinner material.

These vests are made to be submersible, so you can wear them when you dive below the surface of the water without any restrictions. But when you need some buoyancy, or if you are just learning to swim and need to stay above the surface, they can be filled with air using the oral inflator located near your mouth.

Many of these vests are also capable of providing you some protection from the cold, using neoprene to lock in your body heat. This is especially important for those who are going to be in the water for longer periods of time.

Aside from wearing safety gear you should know the best ways to stay safe while snorkeling before heading out into the ocean.

Types of Snorkel Vests

When you’re shopping for your snorkel vest, there are two types to choose from. They vary in looks and features, so it may be a good idea to try on both before you buy, so you know which one will be most comfortable.

Horse Collar Snorkeling Vest

The horse collar vest is the smaller of the two, with a neck hole that you slip over your head. They usually only come in one size, but there are usually two straps to adjust the fit and to keep the vest secure.

The first strap wraps around your waist. The second strap extends from the back of your neck and loops up between your legs to attach to the bottom front of the vest. Buckles or clips hold them tight but can be released easily when it’s time to take the vest off.

Snorkeling Jacket

A snorkel jacket looks more like a normal life jacket, only thinner when not inflated. It has coverage over the front like the snorkel vest, but also extends around your body for more protection and warmth at the back. They are usually warmer than the vests, making them the best snorkel gear for colder temperatures.

A snorkel jacket can come in a variety of sizes to accommodate different people. You’ll need to check out the width and the height, as well as the weight limit, before you buy one of these, to be sure you have the right fit.

Many of them have adjustable waist straps, though few have crotch straps. Some of these jackets also include pockets for added convenience.

Kid’s Snorkeling Vests

You want your little ones as safe as possible, which is why snorkeling gear comes in smaller sizes for children. There are both vests and jackets available for kids, with similar features of the adult versions.

These are great for teaching kids to swim since they can give them the buoyancy they need to gain some confidence in the water. When they’re ready to go below the surface, the vest or jacket gives them maneuverability under the water but can be inflated quickly if they should need it.

These vests are easy to use, even for small children since they just need to blow into the inflator to puff them up. And the vests come in bright colors so you won’t lose them in the water.

Benefits of Using a Snorkel Vest

There are numerous benefits to buying and using the a high quality snorkel vest. They are lightweight enough to strap on while you’re swimming without getting in your way. This gives you the freedom you need to dive down into the deeper water without restriction.

Then, if you get tired or the water gets a bit rougher than you anticipated, you can easily add some air to your snorkel jacket or vest to keep yourself above the surface.

Snorkel vests come in a variety of bright colors, so you won’t lose anyone in your party during your adventures, including the younger members who may wander off while chasing a neat new fish.

snorkel-vest-snorkling-gear

Reasons Why You Should Get a Snorkel Vest

The main reason to get a snorkel vest is that they keep you safe in the water. They are easy to inflate, giving you some buoyancy while you’re swimming. You can adjust the inflation as you need to, adding only a bit of air when you plan on diving below the surface, and fully inflating it if you get tired and need it to hold you up for a rest.

These vests and jackets are also smaller and easy to fold up. This makes them ideal for travel. They won’t take up a lot of space in your bag or put you over any weight restrictions during air travel.

Snorkel jackets also give you more protection from UV rays while swimming. Without one, your back is exposed and you risk a painful sunburn that could ruin your trip.

Should I Get a Snorkel Vest?

Whether or not to get a snorkel vest depends on a few factors. First, if you are not a strong swimmer, or are just learning, it is definitely a great addition to your snorkel set. They are easy to use and can be inflated as much or as little as you need while you gain some skill in the water.

The longer you spend in the water, the more tired you’re going to get. Having a snorkel vest can give you a break from swimming or treading water. Also, if you are in colder areas, a snorkel jacket can give you some protection, keeping you warmer and making the trip more worthwhile.

But for stronger swimmers, it may not be necessary. It is another piece of snorkeling gear you need to carry with you everywhere you go, so only take it if you think you’ll need it.

Snorkel Vest Vs. Life Jacket

When you’re above the water, having a life jacket on can save your life if you should happen to fall overboard. But in the water, they are much more bulky, restricting your movements when you are trying to dive down to see what’s below the surface.

Snorkel vests are designed specifically for snorkeling. They have specific features to make snorkeling easier, such as lightweight material, adjustable buoyancy, and structural differences that give you a wide range of movement.

Since a life jacket is meant to hold your head above the water, it is not a good replacement. It will hamper your abilities when you’re trying to see what’s under the surface. A snorkeling vest lets you dive down as far as you want, while still providing you with the safety of a fully inflated vest to prevent drowning.

Keep in mind that though you can use a life jacket for snorkeling if you choose to, it is best not to replace a life jacket with a snorkel vest for other activities.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Snorkel Vest

Type

There are two types to choose from, the horse collar vest and the snorkel jacket. They have many of the same features, including an inner bladder, oral inflators, and durable material.

But which one is the best snorkel vest for you depends on where you plan on going. The horse collar vest is easy to use, but many of them come in only one size. Though the straps are adjustable, the length may be too long for shorter people, leaving them with longer straps hanging between their legs.

The horse collar design also doesn’t offer you much protection from the sun beating down on your back, so if your sunscreen isn’t strong enough, you could end up with a nasty burn.

The jacket style is better for more coverage and usually come in a variety of sizes for a better fit. They protect you from the sun and the cold, thanks to the neoprene material. But they are a bit bigger and may take up a bit more room when traveling.

Size & Fit

When choosing your snorkel vest, the most important thing to look for is the weight capacity. If your vest can’t support you in the water, it isn’t going to be much help in an emergency.

Next, check out the length of the straps to be sure they are long enough to wrap around you comfortably. The horse collar vests usually have longer straps to accommodate a wide variety of body types. The jackets are a bit more restrictive since they cover the whole body and can only fit those within a certain range.

Don’t assume that if you are a small in your clothing size, you should buy a small in your snorkeling gear. Different companies use different ranges for their sizes, so be sure to check out the size chart to be sure you are getting the right snorkel vest for you.

Material

Most of the snorkel vests on the market are made of nylon, though some use other materials, such as canvas. Nylon is lightweight and a bit softer on your skin. This is important when you’re moving around in the water and your vest is rubbing against your body. You don’t want it to irritate you, causing a rash.

Canvas is thicker and heavier, and a bit more durable than nylon. That doesn’t mean the nylon will tear easily, it just won’t last as long. The downside of canvas is that it absorbs water, becoming heavier as it gets wet. Though this shouldn’t affect you while it’s inflated, it may weigh you down under the water, tiring you out faster while you swim.

But the thickness of the canvas can also keep you warmer in cooler temperatures, holding in your heat for a more comfortable adventure.

Visibility

When choosing a snorkel vest, make sure you consider the color as well as the size and material. Though you may want to pick according to your personal taste and style, this may not be helpful in an emergency.

That’s why most snorkeling vests come in brighter colors, like neon yellow, orange, or green. If you get separated or are in need of some assistance, those around you will see these colors much easier than if you choose a darker blue or black vest. This is especially important for children, who have a tendency to wander away if left unsupervised for even a moment.

Another feature to look for is reflective tape. This will help others to spot you, whether searching for you from a boat or using an underwater flashlight to find you beneath the surface.

Packability

Though most of us would love to live by the ocean and spend as much time as possible scouting out the scenery beneath the waves, this isn’t an option for everyone. That’s why having one of the best snorkel vests can make it easy to go where the action is whenever you can.

These vests are lightweight and flexible, making it easy to fold or roll them up to pack them in a bag. They take up very little space, reducing the need to leave behind any of your other essentials due to a lack of suitcase room.

This is also important when you consider the amount of gear you need when you get to your destination. Snorkel goggles, fins, and masks all need to fit into your snorkel bag, so having this extra piece of gear won’t be so much extra weight that you’ll regret buying it.

Other Features

When you’re browsing through the lists of the best snorkeling equipment, be sure to check out the perks a few models have to offer.

Pockets can be handy for carrying items you wish to take with you, but don’t want to hold in your hand the entire trip. This could be a waterproof camera for taking some great pictures or a small waterproof flashlight for darker areas. Many have velcro to secure your belongings, keeping you focused on the beauty around you.

Whistles are also a handy feature, especially if you get separated from your group or are in need of some help. Many snorkelers have suffered from heart attacks, jellyfish bites, or other emergencies while in the water. In these situations, a whistle might just save your life.

Though a name box doesn’t make or break your vest’s capabilities, it can be handy to have, so you always know which one is yours.

Clips & Buckles

There are a few different options when it comes to securing your vest to your body. The straps wrap around, then use either buckles or clips to hold them in place.

The buckles are made of heavy duty plastic, which is quite durable and can resist the strain if your straps get caught on something and start to pull. The snap clips attach to a D-ring, and can secure your straps as needed, but are a bit thinner and can’t handle as much pressure.

If you have purchased a snorkel jacket, you may also have a zipper to deal with. These come in plastic or metal. Despite being in the water most of the time, the metal ones are stronger than the plastic, though they may corrode over time.

Price

The type of vest you buy will determine the amount you’re going to spend. Horse collar vests use less material, making them smaller and more compact than the jackets. This also helps to decrease the price you pay for it. A decent horse collar vest can cost anywhere from $25.00 to around $40.00.

Because the jackets use more material to give you extra coverage and protection for the sun and the cold, they can run you at least double, and sometimes triple the cost of even the top rated horse collar vests.

If you’re on a budget or are sticking to the warmer regions, the cheaper horse collar models will meet your needs. But where protection is concerned, the best snorkel vests on the market are the more expensive jacket models.

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The Bottom Line

No matter what you’re doing, safety should be your top priority, and snorkeling is no different. Anything can happen when you’re out in the water, and having the extra protection of a snorkel vest can keep the worst from ruining your trip. The added benefit of being easy to travel with makes this piece of gear almost impossible to leave behind.

If you are traveling on a budget, and just need a cheap vest that can still meet your needs while you explore the underwater world, the Rrtizan Portable Inflatable Snorkel Vest is a great budget model on our list.

For those who prefer a snorkel jacket, the Phantom Aquatics Jacket Snorkel Vest is decently priced and has a few bonus features, including reflective tape for added visibility and a handy storage pocket. The ScubaPro Cruiser Snorkeling Vest is a top rated snorkel jacket.

You can also read our guides to the best dry bag, the best waterproof gear bag, the best travel backpack and other recommended travel products here.

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