Exploring Your Snorkeling Fin Options

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The fin aisle in the dive shop can feel like a confusing place. There are so many different styles and builds, so many brands and models, a dazzling array of colors, dozens of different fins to meet a wide variety of needs. It takes a while to develop finely tuned preferences so g_LGPSS_lucent-and-grand-prix-snorkel-set

beginning snorkelers often wonder what type to invest in first. This quick guide can help.

Boot versus Strap

Both types of fins are exactly what they sound like. Full boot fins cover the entire foot much like a shoe. Some people call them “closed foot fins”. The boot variety is the preferred fin for snorkelers. Simplicity is the most important benefit. Boot fins just slip right onto the foot so you can gear up in the water – no need for sea socks, nothing to adjust.

The strap variety secures to the foot by a strap, leaving the heel exposed. Divers prefer the strap fins when they want to wear insulated sea-socks underneath to help regulate temperature in the deeper water. Because straps have more wiggle room, boots often outperform them in terms of thrust and directional control. We definitely suggest the boot for first time snorkelers but strap fins work just fine.

Split versus Paddle

The “split” in split fins helps to make your swimming efforts more efficient. There is less water resistance, they are easier on the joints and muscles, and they feel very lightweight in the water. Many snorkelers love split fins but they are a little more expensive than the alternative. Splits do require high quality materials though, because a complicated design just means there are more parts that can fail.

Paddle fins are the ultimate in simplicity. They are one piece and require less engineering, so you can get a sturdier fin for the price. Paddles provide more maneuvering power in currents and when trying to get up to a decent speed. You can feel paddle fins in the water because they provide higher resistance but this helps snorkelers and divers alike keep track of their feet around the aquatic life.

Finding the Right Fit

Too tight and the fins will pinch and cause cramps, too loose and you lose propulsion power and valuable directional control. Fit is extremely important. Just about every retailer and manufacturer can offer a handy conversion chart to help you determine your fin size based on your shoe size. Remember though – when you buy a snorkeling set, sizing is very flexible and fit can be a matter of preference.

We would suggest buying in person but landlocked adventurers may not have very many local dive shops. The wares offered by general sporting good stores are no good. If you cannot get into a dive shop to try a few pairs on for size, we suggest going through an online dive retailer with a generous return policy. Try your new fins in a pool well before your trip so you can see how they function and fit in the water.

Planning a snorkeling trip is super exciting. Thinking about all the destinations, learning about the aquatic wildlife you are sure to encounter, practicing underwater photography so you can share your experiences with your friends… there is just so much to do! The fins may seem like a minor detail but they’ll be an important part of your adventure.