Outdoors

Review: A snorkel that makes you feel like Aquaman

Review: A snorkel that makes y...
The Powerbreather comes with different attachments depending on whether you'll be swimming in calm or choppy water
The Powerbreather comes with different attachments depending on whether you'll be swimming in calm or choppy water
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The Powerbreather comes with different attachments depending on whether you'll be swimming in calm or choppy water
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The Powerbreather comes with different attachments depending on whether you'll be swimming in calm or choppy water
The shorter tubes are for swimming pools
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The shorter tubes are for swimming pools
Wearing the Powerbreather in public is sure to turn heads — not necessarily in a good way
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Wearing the Powerbreather in public is sure to turn heads — not necessarily in a good way
The first time you put your face in the water with the Powerbreather is strange, but you quickly get used to it
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The first time you put your face in the water with the Powerbreather is strange, but you quickly get used to it
The longer tubes are for ocean swimming and keep you breathing water-free even in turbulent seas
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The longer tubes are for ocean swimming and keep you breathing water-free even in turbulent seas

Combined with a pair of your own goggles, the Powerbreather would work well for snorkel trips
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Combined with a pair of your own goggles, the Powerbreather would work well for snorkel trips
Hard plastic construction and a soft swivel mouthpiece mark the Powerbreather as a high-quality product
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Hard plastic construction and a soft swivel mouthpiece mark the Powerbreather as a high-quality product

Two rigid tubes keep the water out while you swim
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Two rigid tubes keep the water out while you swim
The Powerbreather is loosened and tightened with a ridgid plastic strap controlled by a wheel
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The Powerbreather is loosened and tightened with a ridgid plastic strap controlled by a wheel
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A swimmer's snorkel can dramatically change the way you bang out laps in the pool. Unlike a regular snorkel, these devices typically have a single tube that extends from a special mask up the center of your head so that you can swim without the need to turn your head from side to side to breathe. Ameo announced that it was fundamentally changing the design of the swimmer's snorkel in 2012 with its Powerbreather model. The company has finally released it and I had a chance to try it out.

The Powerbreather's main differentiator among swimmer's snorkels is that it consists of two tubes that run on either side of the head, rather than just one in the middle. There's also a unique membrane built into the mouthpiece called the Ameo Fresh Air System. Both tubes bring fresh air to you and you can exhale through your nose or mouth. When you exhale through your mouth, the air exits into the water through the membrane rather than going back through the tubes, as is the case with other snorkels. This is supposed to decrease the amount on your own exhaled air you rebreathe and, consequently, the amount of carbon dioxide you take in.

While it was not possible for me to test out this specific claim, I can report that the snorkel worked beautifully and did, indeed, revolutionize my swimming routine.

Two rigid tubes keep the water out while you swim
Two rigid tubes keep the water out while you swim

Unlike Ameo's initial proposed Powerbreather model, which had the tubes connected behind the head in the circle, the production version has the two tubes separated, each with their own endcap, which can be swapped out based on need.

The snorkel is made from hard plastic and there is a plastic strap that dials tighter and looser behind the head. This keeps the silicone mouthpiece securely held in your mouth. Once the mouthpiece is in and the strap is tightened, you can pivot the tubes to where they best work for you.

The Powerbreather is loosened and tightened with a ridgid plastic strap controlled by a wheel
The Powerbreather is loosened and tightened with a ridgid plastic strap controlled by a wheel

While this system seems smart and secure, I did have an issue at one point during the testing. I executed a spin kick underwater and didn't blow out the water that had gotten in the snorkel as I was supposed to. When I next inhaled, I took in a lungful of water and started to choke a little. While this was entirely my fault and not the snorkel's, I wasn't able to simply spit the mouthpiece out because of the tight seal the plastic strap had formed. Instead, I had to reach back and turn the dial to get out of the contraption. It took seconds, but it's certainly something to be aware of if you're a skittish swimmer.

Other than that, the snorkel worked extremely well with no water entering the breathing tubes no matter how much I splashed.

I first tried it out in a pool and, although it is strange at first to understand that it's not necessary to turn your head to breathe while swimming laps, it quickly becomes quite a luxury. Freed from worrying about where my next breath was coming from, I could focus on my form better than ever before and relax more than I'm used to in the pool.

Something else that took a little getting used to was the fact that it's a bit harder to breathe through the snorkel than I anticipated. This is a deliberate part of the Powerbreather. By restricting airflow ever so slightly through a built-in membrane, you eventually build up your lung capacity, so in addition to improving your muscles you're bettering your lungs as well when you swim using the snorkel. I had to take breathing breaks the first few times I used it, but I eventually got comfortable enough to swim through my normal routine.

The longer tubes are for ocean swimming and keep you breathing water-free even in turbulent seas
The longer tubes are for ocean swimming and keep you breathing water-free even in turbulent seas

The Powerbreather is available with a longer set of tube toppers that are meant to be used when swimming in the ocean. So when I took to the waters off Naples, Florida which had a little chop, I had a chance to try them out. As in the pool, the snorkel behaved admirably, never allowing a drop of water in. In the past, when I've swum laps in the ocean, I tend to drink quite a bit of it, as getting your mouth high enough out of the water can be a challenge with waves rolling by. The Powerbreather eliminated this and, again, allowed me to focus on my form without the slightly panicky feeling that comes from swimming in surf. It was a bit like having a superpower a la Aquaman.

For those who can execute underwater flip turns better than me, the Powerbreather also comes with tips to go over the tubes to help with the maneuver. When done correctly, you simply breathe deep before spinning forward underwater, then you twist, kick and emerge back to the surface where you blow out through the snorkel, expelling any accumulated water. I did eventually get the hang of the move and the Powerbreather never let me down.

The Powerbreather is now available for sale on Ameo's site. It retails for between US$109 and $149 depending on the tube attachments you order. Shipping is available worldwide. In case my explanation of the gizmo isn't quite clear enough, this video should do the trick.

Product page: Ameo

POWERBREATHER - A guide how to wear it correct!

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12 comments
Tanstar
" Unlike a regular snorkel . . . so that you can swim without the need to turn your head from side to side to breathe."
Why would you turn your head to the side to breath with a regular snorkel??? That would just put the tube under the water.
And it's a snorkel that intentionally makes it hard to breath? If true, they missed the point.
Roger Garrett
A hundred bucks for a snorkel!?!? OK, I get that this is their first product and no doubt they're trying to recoup their substantial initial investment. But they're going to go broke at that price, because very few will want to shell out that much money for a snorkel, even i f it does look cool.
Dave82
So if the tube one side is for intake and the other for expelling spent breath how do you blow the air out of the intake tube? To put it another way, If I do a tumble turn and come up with a snorkel full of water then when I blow surely it would only clear the exhale side? sounds like a great way to swim I wish It was cheaper. I supose it wont be long before someone makes something similar for much cheaper.
Jay Finke
I like to chew gum when I swimming, can I do this with this unit ? This unit looks bulky and is no way powered, so should be called the hair grabber breathing apparatus thingy.
Grunchy
I tried snorkeling in Hawaii for the first time in January, it was fun! I got the $10 snorkels they had at the supermarket, which worked admirably. The trouble with snorkels is it seems that swimming pools have universally banned them, so you cannot practice with them anywhere except at the beach. We played with them for awhile but you can't wear them all the time, and eventually they got blasted out of our hands by big waves. It took a long time to find them in the surf after that. If I had paid $100+ a pair, I'd have been pretty "choked".
Michael Crumpton
A fancy solution for a problem that does not exist. Most good snorkels are single curved tubes that end behind your head, and many have a valve that let you clear the snorkel just by blowing while covering the end of the tube. Virtually none cost over $100.
LakeeshaGobeatcha
My snorkle doesn't let water in ... so why does this one? Ridiculous.
Nik
This could be useful for learner swimmers, by allowing them to breath when their face is immersed, and give them some confidence that they wouldn't breath water. However, the price seems excessive, for a few pieces of plastic, and I cant see how it is justified, and it's likely to deter purchase in any quantity, I suspect.
JanusSunaj
# "if you're a skittish swimmer" ... then you should not be snorkeling.
Recon7
This is a "snorkel" for folks that have no clue about snorkeling. Really, there is NO NEED for a fancy device if one if comfortable with swimming and traditional snorkeling.