Snorkeling fins are not essential components of snorkeling gear, but they make moving around in the water easier and more efficient, especially if you are surrounded by strong currents – therefore, they are used by most snorkelers. However, you can benefit from the great advantages these additions offer only if you choose the right type and fit. Snorkeling fins come in many different types, shapes, materials and sizes, so here are a few tips for the selection.
Comfort Is Essential, So Never Buy Fins without Trying Them on First
Don’t buy snorkeling fins without trying them on first. You can use your foot size as reference, but each manufacturer works with slightly different measurements and size varies from one model to the other as well. Fins are usually made from plastic materials, which means that you must not expect them to stretch in any direction over time – the level of comfort you experience when trying on your fins on land will be pretty much the same level of comfort you can benefit from in the water.
Determining Comfort Level
Fins should fit on your feet snugly, but they should never be too tight. Most fins are quite difficult to put on when they are dry. This difficulty also proves that you are about to choose the right size, so try to focus more on what they feel like once they are on. Don’t forget that water makes the fins more slippery, so it will be easier to put them on when they are wet, but if you choose a pair that is too big for feet, this slipperiness will make them easier to lose in the water, so having the perfect fit is really important.
Choosing the Right Type
There are two basic types of fins: the type that comes with a full foot pocket for the foot and the ones that are fastened on the foot with the help of an adjustable strap. Full pocket fins are more suitable for beginner snorkelers or for people who go snorkeling only occasionally because they hold the feet more tightly and they require less effort to keep them on in the water. Strapped fins are usually worn with sock-like shoes called dive booties which are welcome editions to your gear if you are snorkeling in rocky shore areas or in colder waters.
You will also see that fins fall into two basic categories in terms of blade shape: split blades and paddle fins. Split fins come with blades that are split in the middle to allow the user to advance in the water with smaller movements and investing less energy, while paddle fins require wilder kicks, but they provide more speed.
Choosing the Right Length
Longer fins add more power to your leg movements, allowing you to swim faster, but they also require more strength to be able to enjoy increased speeds. To compensate for the increased energy levels required of the snorkeler, most long fins are made of materials that are more flexible than the materials used for making short fins, but they are still more suitable for experienced snorkelers.
Short fins, on the other hand, work better for beginners, they are suitable for various water conditions, for calm waters and mild currents alike, and they are easier to transport as well.