If you’ve ever gone snorkeling before, you already know how fun and interesting the activity could be. But unless you snorkeled with a quality pair of fins, you won’t be getting maximum fun from your snorkeling sessions. The thing is that fins just make snorkeling better. They make your body appear more streamlined and you are almost swimming in the water like a fish.
Navigation, even in a large water body is made significantly easier when you use a snorkel fin. You get to enjoy better control, balance, and buoyancy with the aid of these fins. Fins also give you the ability to go further in the water. Also, traveling or swimming in water for an extended period is made an easy task with these fins at your feet.
You get to move faster, as it propels you especially when you are using a high-performance snorkel fin, you don’t even get to expend too much effort. The hands are not even needed for swimming when using a snorkel fin. Energy is conserved, yet you cover a wider area and get to enjoy a smooth and jolly adventure in the sea as opposed to using your bare feet.
This piece brings to you the features you need to look out for when trying to replace your old fin or planning to get a snorkel fin for the first time. Enjoy!
Why Do You Need Snorkeling Fins?
Being a snorkeling enthusiast myself, I’d tell you that fins are important gear for all snorkelers, and scuba divers as well should have fins. There are a lot of benefits you get when you make use of this simple gear. Swimming with fins makes a whole lot of difference from just doing it with your legs.
Swimming in the ocean or sea is incomparable to swimming in a pool or any small water body. Ocean waves can always toss you around. Hence the need to have a snorkeling fin that essentially gives you the much-needed buoyancy and control.
I thought it was just fine to just swim with my legs alone until I tried with fins. Then I never looked back.
Snorkeling fins help you conserve energy when swimming as you do not even need to use your hands when swimming. With a few movements of your feet from your ankle region, you get the needed force to propel you into the water. Also, with these fins, you get to cover more distances while expending little energy.
Also, in the case of great water currents, these fins might just be what saves your life. The extra buoyancy and control they grant you might just be what gives you a fighting chance in such situations. In conclusion, I’d advise anyone that chooses to go water diving or snorkeling to get a fin before dashing into the ocean. In fact, you’d probably not find anyone doing these sports without using this gear. Get one as soon as possible!
Buying Fins vs. Renting Fins
Most excursion houses often have fins of different sizes for hire. Many lovers of outdoor activities may choose not to buy their gear, especially those who practice them as a fun activity. If you snorkel once in a while, then renting fins makes more sense. However, if you snorkel regularly, you should get your own fins.
There are a couple of times I can remember renting a fin and guess what! It mostly ends in disappointment. Most of these fins are of poor quality. There was even a time I had to use my bare feet as I was already frustrated. I have a very small foot, so finding my size was even less of a problem. Comfort in the water was my major problem. Those with bigger feet, find it hard to get their perfect fit. Fins are either too small or too big. Smaller fins often lead to blistering your feet. Bigger ones may even get lost in the sea.
Other than comfort in the water. Many people wear these fins on their bare feet. I guess that should make them a ‘personal belonging’. There are people with different skin diseases, an example is athlete’s foot. These diseases may get transferred among persons during the sharing of this supposed ‘personal item’. I would just go on to say what you’ve been expecting. Get your snorkeling fin!
Types of Snorkeling Fins
Snorkeling fins can be grouped into two major groups. A detailed view of these two types of fins would be discussed below.
Open Heel Snorkeling Fins
These sets of fins are also referred to as strap fins. One major feature that makes these groups of fins special is their adjustable size. They reduce sizing issues among snorkelers, especially those with large feet. Also, they can be shared amongst family and friends. Excursion houses too, often choose to invest more in these classes of fins, as they tend to fit well into individuals with different feet sizes.
These fins are an amazing choice for snorkelers. However, they leave your heels unprotected making them exposed to damage by rocks, debris, or sea organisms. Some scuba divers protect their heels when using this fin type by wearing scuba booties or dive boots.
Full Foot Snorkeling Fins
Unlike the open heel fins, a full foot fin as the name indicates covers the whole foot. They provide total protection from whatever is encountered during the snorkeling adventure. However, sizes cannot be adjusted like in the open heel. This might make getting a perfect fit difficult to come by, especially for those with large feet.
Full foot snorkeling fins tend to be more compact than the open heel type, ensuring easier storage in traveling bags. When it comes to carrying out their activity of propelling you in the water, both fin types are almost on par. It mainly depends on the choice of the user.
Since most scuba divers wear dive booties when using open-heel fins. It is often said that open heels are best for cold water environments The booties provide the needed warmth for the feet. While full foot fins are used for warm water activity.
How to Choose Your Snorkel Fins?
Here are some characters you need to look out for when choosing snorkel fins:
Everyone sure wants what would provide comfort. To get comfort from snorkel fins, the first thing is to ensure you get a perfect fit for your feet. This is an advantage the open heel has over the full foot since you can easily adjust them. However, if you search well, you’d get a full-foot type that perfectly fits.
Other than fitting, another major factor for comfort is the level of protection your feet get with these fins. Full foot fins provided the needed protection as opposed to the open heel fin that might require the use of a dive bootie which might decrease comfort but will provide better protection. Ultimately, the choice is up to you.
Blade Types – Split or Paddle
Blades of snorkel fins come in two categories:
Split Fins: As indicated by the name these fins are split at the middle making them appear as two fins joined together. They don’t just appear like two fins, they act like it. They provide more force needed to propel divers in the water. With a split fin, you are going to achieve more with less energy.
Paddle Fins: Here the fin is a whole. Appearing in just a single piece. It is more common and often used than the split design.
Length – Short vs. Long
The length of the fin is another criterion to look into. Fins appear in long and short designs. The question now is which is better between the two? Or is there even any difference at all?
Short Snorkeling fins are better for travel purposes as they are compact and lightweight which makes them less of a worry when packing gears needed for the adventure.
For beginners, I’d advise that you stick with the short fins as they are easier to use and require less energy – less kick force is required with these fins. With these fins, you have more control over your movement in the water.
Long Snorkeling fins, on the other hand, require a greater kick power at first but upon gaining the needed speed less energy is required. They propel you faster in the water with lesser effort compared to the shorter fins. Some even feel because they require less energy, they are better suited for newbies.
Walking into and out of the water appears to be more difficult with the long fins as you probably have to wobble your way into and out of the water. If jumping from the boat directly into the water though, you’ve got no problem with the longer fins. Again, the choice is up to you. Both blade lengths are a great choice!
In selecting your snorkel fins, another thing to look into is the flexibility or stiffness of the blade and this is what is referred to as snap. It is an important feature to look out for, especially if you would be diving or snorkeling in the ocean.
It is advisable to go for a fin with a perfect snap. The question is what is the perfect snap? Your fin of choice must have a good balance of flexibility and strength. Once this is sorted, then it is safe to say your fin has a perfect snap. You might be thinking snap applies only to the long blade fin type. However, that is not the case as we have to look out for them in the shorter fins too.
Fins with a great snap would help make your snorkeling or diving adventure one to remember. Less effort, great speed, and maneuver in the water. That is what we refer to as a highly efficient fin.
Vents in snorkeling fins are tiny holes, sometimes in the form of slits that permit passage of water in and out of your snorkel fins.
They help maintain snorkeling with less kick power but great speed and control in strong current situations. Fins with vents are a great choice for snorkelers. I recommend you look out for them when making your choice.
How to Maintain Your Fins?
Provided money is not a barrier, we all want to go for durable products that will serve us for a long period. I don’t think anyone wants to keep replacing gear now and then. Hence the need for proper care and maintenance of this product. Even if you are using the best. The most durable snorkel fin, like any product with poor maintenance, wouldn’t last long.
Snorkel fins when in use get exposed to UV rays from the sun. When not in use, they should be stored in a cool place away from these rays. UV rays may affect the flexibility of our fins – which would take a toll on the snap. Remember, I said in a cool place. Leaving them in the trunk of your car too isn’t ideal. Over time the trunk gets heated up which would make these fins fragile and increase the risk of breakage.
Just ensure they are kept in a cool place. Your garage too might not be cool enough as most garages may heat up, especially when not used regularly.
Snorkeling fins are important gear for snorkelers and divers in general. They should be part of your snorkeling set, along with your mask. You shouldn’t even attempt swimming in the ocean without a pair of fins. Doing otherwise might be risky – even fatal, as the ocean current may overpower you.
This piece covers all the necessary features to look out for when looking to replace your snorkeling fins or you buy one for the first time. We also discussed seven of the best snorkeling fins in the market which can be easily purchased in online stores or shops that deal in outdoor gear.