You might have heard the words ‘purge valve’ being thrown around amongst snorkelling talk, and if you’re not familiar with the term then it can really sound like a bunch of mumbo jumbo. Not every snorkeller is fully familiar with their equipment, and that’s perfectly fine – some of us just snorkel to enjoy the stunning underwater views! For others, it’s a huge comfort to know exactly how their equipment functions.

In this article we’ll first look at what a purge valve is for those who aren’t quite sure, then explore how it works to create a smooth and relaxing snorkel experience. If you’re wondering whether or not to purchase a snorkel with a purge valve, read on!

What is a purge valve on a snorkel mask?

First thing’s first, what is a purge valve? Well, you may have noticed that your snorkel is quite a fancy bit of equipment. It may not look like it, but there’s a lot happening inside your snorkel to allow you to do things like breathe and see underwater. And, you guessed it, a purge valve is one of those things.

The purge valve in a snorkel is designed to make it easier for water that enters the snorkel to drain back out. It’s basically a one-way valve that sits at the bottom of the snorkel, just like a drain in a bathtub! If water gets into your snorkel, a purge valve makes it easy to force it back out with an exhale.

Snorkels that don’t have a purge valve can be quite a nightmare when it comes to expelling water that’s leaked inside. One advantage is that you end up with the strongest lungs ever, but the disadvantage is that it’s generally more of an effort, and more reason to panic for those of us who aren’t 100% comfortable in the water yet.

How does a purge valve work?

Before purge valves existed, water could travel only one way through the snorkel – back up the way that it came in! With purge valves it’s the opposite, as water that’s leaked into the snorkel can only drain downwards. So how exactly does all this happen?

Basically, water that leaks inside the snorkel tube will collect at the bottom, where there is a little valve. With a light exhale, there is enough force for the water to just drain down through the valve (instead of having to blow it back up through the tube with a huge gust of air). You can do this with a normal exhale, from the position you’re in, without having to chuck your head back or do any crazy aerobatics (as you might have to with a snorkel without a purge valve).

Should I get a snorkel with a purge valve?

The choice is completely up to you, however we will let you know this. Purge valves are quickly becoming an industry standard when it comes to snorkel masks, and that’s because they offer such a great advantage when it comes to having an enjoyable snorkelling experience.

Dealing with water that’s leaked into your snorkel mask was one of the biggest issues and pet peeves of snorkellers, and is something that’s quickly and easily resolved with a purge valve. At the same time, fear of water getting into your snorkel is a huge fear of wannabe or new snorkellers, and purge valves can do a lot to help ease and calm these worries. So we’ll put it this way: buying a snorkel without a purge valve is like going for the iPhone 3 instead of a newer version 😉