The Riffe Stable snorkel is by far the absolute best snorkel that I have ever used. When looking at this snorkel you will notice that is is a little different from other snorkels and those differences are what makes it in my opinion the best snorkel. This snorkel it is produced by Riffe which is a very well known spearfishing company, with that being said this snorkel is amazing for any activity free diving, scuba diving, snorkeling but was designed with spearos in mind and it shows.
Lets start off with the features of this snorkel because despite it being a snorkel there is a lot of design and thought put into this piece of equipment.
Tapered shape: one of the first things you will notice when holding the stable snorkel is the taper shape of the tube, instead of a standard round tube it is teardrop shaped to give it a more hydrodynamic shape in the water. While this may seem gimmicky there is almost no drag from this snorkel and i easily forget about it when I am diving with it.
Oversized Purge: the purge on this snorkel is huge and makes clearing water out of the snorkel effortless, I have never had to clear the snorkel twice to get out residual water.
Oversides purge reservoir: this reservoir allows for any water that is left in the snorkel after clearing to be as far from the users mouth preventing water droplets from being inhaled by the user.
Backwards Facing Splash guard: This is probably one of the subtle features that most divers wouldn’t appreciate, the splash guard is backwards facing, it keeps with the hydrodynamic design and leaves a very large opening at the top of the snorkel, the added benefit of this design is that the opening is the perfect size to block with a thumb to force any residual water out the purge of the snorkel. This also allows users to clear that negative air space that is created in the tube of the snorkel.
Flexible Tube: The tube of the stable snorkel is made out of a flexible plastic that is rigid enough to keep its shape but can also be folded and shoved in a pocket of a bcd if not in use.
Corrugated Silicone section: This is pretty standard for most standard snorkels and is a nice feature for one that can be used for scuba diving as well as free diving.
Replaceable mouth piece: this is something that is also fairly standard for most snorkels these days but being able to swap out another mouth piece if it is damaged is always a great feature.
With any design there will always be flaws that deserve improvement for the most part this is a perfect snorkel my only gripe with this snorkel is the lack luster snorkel keeper and the sub par mouthpiece. Both of these are easily replaced or swapped but I wish that they just used the same snorkel keeper that Riffe Uses on their J-tube snorkel. And the mouthpiece while not the worst I like it better than aqualung mouthpieces i just din’t find it as comfortable as I would like.
The last thing worth noting is the price, for a semi-dry snorkel the Riffe Stable snorkel is a little expensive but if you factor in all the features I think it is well worth the value. Standard retail pricing in the US for the Stable Snorkel is about $52. If you are in search of a new snorkel and you are tired of the basic bargain bin snorkels but don’t need the fancy dry tops check out the Riffe Stable snorkel I assure you it will be the best purchase you have made on dive gear.
The snorkel is probably one of the most under appreciated of the basic diving equipment, especially by seasoned divers. The purpose of the snorkel of course is to allow the diver to breath face down in the water without waisting air from the tank. Many divers will remember that snorkels are required during the open water certification, mostly for surface skills like the snorkel regulator exchange and skin diving skills. Beyond these many divers find little use for their snorkel, I have met quite a few divers that have abandoned their snorkel because of how annoying it can be, they also dive primarily off boats and do not see the value in snorkels.
First lets analyze the different styles of snorkels and put an optimal use for each style.
J-Tube Snorkel: This is the most basic form of a snorkel it is usually a single piece of silicone or plastic with a silicone mouthpiece shaped like a J. These tend to be the least expensive option because they do not include a purge valve. This type of snorkel while functional for scuba diving is more ideal for snorkeling or free diving.
The Purge Snorkel: This is usually the most common style for snorkels for diving they usually have a long tube made of some sort of plastic, connecting to a silicone corrugated section then a purge and mouthpiece. These are ideal for diving because the corrugated section allows the snorkel to be out of the divers face while it is not in use. Most if not all snorkels in the following categories will have these features with additional features added on.
Semi Dry Snorkel: These are almost identical to the standard purge snorkel with the exception that they will have a splash guard on the top of the snorkel. The splash guard is a piece of plastic that will prevent water from coming directly into the snorkel if a wave splashes over the top. The semi-dry snorkels are not air tight they will fill with water just like a standard purge or j-tube snorkel. These are becoming more popular for diving, as more brands are phasing out the standard purge snorkels for semi-dry.
Dry Snorkel: The dry snorkel like the semi dry has all of the same features as the purge snorkel with the exception of the dry top mechanism. This mechanism is usually some kind of bobber on a hinge that will seal the snorkel if it is submerged underwater preventing water from entering from the top of the snorkel. These snorkels are most ideal for people doing mostly snorkeling, this is because if a diver is using it and their mouth is not on the snorkel it will fill from the mouthpiece and function just like the purge and semi-dry snorkels. The dry snorkel is usually a moderate price increase compared to most other snorkels.
Travel Snorkel: The travel snorkel is once again featuring many if not all of the same features of the purge snorkel with the added benefit of being made entirely out of silicone, or with additional silicone sections to be made flexible and foldable to be kept in a pocket for emergencies. These tend not to have any additional features like the dry or semi- dry tops but some will. If you are a diver that is not a fan of snorkels but understands they can be useful in certain situations this is the ideal snorkel.
Keep in mind that for the purpose of diving, snorkeling, or free diving any of these snorkels are functional, but there are situations were one of these may be more suitable for the situation than the others. personally i have separate snorkels for different activities like i have different mask and fins for different activities. I have a j-tube that I use for free diving and spearfishing, and a hybrid purge/semi-dry/travel snorkel for diving. And for those that may be wondering or reading this to figure out what snorkel is best, personally i would recommend the Riffe stable snorkel, it is a bit expensive but it is a great all around snorkel, good for free diving, scuba diving and snorkeling. I will be sure to do a review in the near future.
The good news with snorkels is that for the most part between brands they are all about equal, each brand makes some of each style and i wouldn’t personally rank any brand of snorkel higher than any other. They are a pretty simple piece of equipment that is pretty hard to mess up. My only gripe about any snorkel on the market is the keeper, or the clip that attaches the snorkel to the mask. I have yet to find any with the exceptions of some j-tube snorkels, that I like or trust to keep my snorkel on the mask permanently. I understand that it is convenient to disconnect the snorkel from the mask and store the mask back in the box but at the risk of having to buy a new snorkel i would rather permanently or be it semi permanently attach the snorkel to the mask with a proper keeper. So do yourself the favor and when you buy a snorkel ditch the plastic keeper that is attached to the snorkel and replace it with a silicone keeper like this one and you will never loose your snorkel again.