A snorkel is one of the most common 4WD accessories fitted, and for good reason. They have a number of benefits, and if you use your 4WD on dusty roads, or for crossing any water at all they are worth considering.
We’ve run a couple of different Safari Snorkels over the years, and now its time to do a comprehensive, unbiased review.
Like all of our reviews, you should know that we paid normal retail price for our Safari snorkel on the Dmax, and our 80 Series Land Cruiser came with one already fitted. We are not ones to take products and to promote them without being very clear about where they came from.
Why a Safari Snorkel?
For us, a snorkel isn’t really a negotiable accessory. You only need one water hole that’s a bit deeper than you expected and your entire motor can be at risk of hydraulic locking, and needing a complete replacement.
It then becomes rather simple; what’s the best 4WD snorkel on the market in terms of value, quality and construction? Safari are the original snorkel manufacturer, and they’ve been doing it for years. Our 80 series Snorkel was nearly 30 years old, and still looked new with exception of the small grill breaking, which was likely knocked at some stage.
Safari have a significant engineering team to test and build snorkels that not only look as good as possible, but that flow plenty of air, and dissipate any rain or water that manages to make its way inside.
I have heard of a number of other brand snorkels allowing heavy rain to enter the airbox, which is a pretty scary position to be in. In some cases, the snorkel is butted up close to the top of the windscreen, and in heavy rain the water runs up the windscreen and straight into the snorkel head. Clever design.
Fitting a Safari Snorkel
I’m pretty sure we paid about $450 for our Dmax Safari Snorkel, and then I paid a few hundred for it to be installed at ARB. You can do it yourself, and a lot of people do, but I don’t have the time to play with it, and I’d rather be able to take it back if anything is done wrong.
You need a big hole saw, or decent cutters, a lot of confidence (measure 10 times before you cut it!), and some paint to touch the panel up before you put the snorkel on. They can be fitted quite quickly, but I’ve seen some pretty terrible shortcuts taken.
What are the cheap knock offs like?
You can get snorkels from a heap of different places, and a few years back some copies started appearing on eBay, for about a quarter of the price of a Safari Snorkel. I’ve never used one, and probably wouldn’t risk my vehicle to save a few hundred dollars. Fitting a snorkel modifies (and essentially wrecks) your guard, and swapping snorkels down the line isn’t something you really want to be doing.
I’ve had to replace the other quarter panel on our Dmax and managed to pick one up for about $250, but its just not worth the hassle.
One of the big selling points for the Safari Snorkels is that the plastic is UV stabilised, and when you feel how hot they get in the sun, its incredible that they can live outdoors for 30 years and still look like new. I’m not sure how a cheap knock off will fare after 30 years, but at the end of the day if it suits your purpose go for it.
To be fair, I’ve never seen a knock off fail, or deteriorate badly either. Does it happen? You tell me!
What about OEM, or TJM, or Ironman?
A lot of competitors make snorkels. You can get OEM ones (direct from your vehicle manufacturer), or head to other aftermarket 4WD accessory shops. Have a good look at the shape, and size. I’ve seen some pretty tiny looking snorkels that would struggle to move enough air if you ever did any performance upgrades.
One thing to consider is what needs to be removed to install the snorkel. I have seen one particular brand on the Dmax that removes a heap of panel support in order for the snorkel connection to go through, and the result after many kilometres of corrugations is front end panel cracking that is hugely expensive and difficult to repair. Sometimes there’s a reason one brand is head and shoulders above another, and those below it just make similar copies.
Snorkels are inherently ugly, but some look far worse than others and if you care about how your vehicle looks, this can be a big selling point. In fact, its probably one of the main reasons people go for stainless steel snorkels!
Safari Snorkel Review
Ultimately, these are just a piece of plastic and some connections. They aren’t complicated, but they need to be well engineered, built correctly and installed well. Safari has been the leader in the snorkel game for ever and a day, and I don’t feel that’s going to change any time soon.
We are really happy with both of the safari snorkels we’ve had, and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to anyone else. Yes, you pay a bit more, but its not that much more than the competitors for a product that is clearly class leading.