Flotation vests for snorkeling are small lightweight inflatable jackets. Often snorkelers will wear a flotation vest to increase buoyancy and to enable safe relaxation at the surface of the water.
So, why do some people call a snorkel flotation vest 'a life jacket for snorkeling'? The main reason is because many of these types of floating devices have a jacket style harness wrap around design.
As a general rule of thumb, you should not use them as a life preserver vest while swimming in water.
The most important reason is mainly due to the safety issues regarding its buoyancy design.
Typically, when you buy a snorkeling life jacket online, it will likely be made from polystyrene or foam material.
Hence, it can lose its buoyancy characteristics quite quickly when it's immersed in water for a long time.
Traditionally, a snorkel vest is a small inflatable device worn commonly by beginners and non-swimmers, or small children.
Using a flotation vest can help to improve buoyancy and allow you to save energy by keeping your body above water while drifting around at the surface.
Be cautious about the different prices and buoyancy characteristics of a buoyancy aid vs. life jacket.
Furthermore, always follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to use snorkel vests.
The best inflatable life vests for snorkeling provide additional buoyancy which assists the wearer to relax on the surface.
In fact, the wearer can inflate some styles of snorkeling vests orally (e.g. by blowing into a small rubber tube).
A special device also allows for the removal of air (to deflate the vest).
Note: Pressing a small release valve means you can drop down below the surface and perform some skin diving duck dives below the surface.