Modern snorkels may not seem complicated, but the newest models have come a long way from the hollow reeds once used for underwater breathing. Case in point: the two-way snorkel, with separate passageways for inhaling and exhaling. Older, single-tube snorkels create a dead pocket of air in the tube, explains "Snorkel Bob" Wintner, inventor of Snorkel Bob's MOFLO Snorkel ($46). When you inhale through a single-tube snorkel, one-third of what you're taking in is air you just exhaled—loaded with carbon dioxide, which can induce dizziness and nausea. The two-way design overcomes this problem by using different tubes for intake and exhaust. But there's a catch. Both the Fresh Air and another dual-channel snorkel, AirTech's Air Tech ($45), require two or more blows to clear water. And the Fresh Air's one-way valve honks when you exhale, emitting a sound akin to the call of an amorous sea lion.
The Wet Rainbow
Unlike sunglasses and ski goggles, dive masks have traditionally offered an uninspired selection. But the latest model from Sea Vision (Ultra, $100) incorporates a rose-tinted, color-correcting lens in a low-volume, versatile-fit mask that has diving enthusiasts wondering why companies didn't combine these design features sooner. The lens filters out the blue range of the spectrum, thereby making subaquatic colors look normal. "Underwater, the blue light saturates all the other colors," says Alan Smith, Sea Vision's sales manager. "That's why everything looks kind of gray at depth." So how does the undersea world appear through these aquatic rose-colored glasses? A hand looks flesh-toned, instead of bleached like a dead mackerel; seaweed is red instead of brown; and rainbow-hued tropical fish shimmer with new intensity. —ANDREW RICE
Snorkel Bob: 800-262-7725 Airtech Snorkels: 248-684-8551 Sea Vision Masks: 800-732-6275
Photographs: Clay Ellis