You can pretty much swim around without using any fins, but snorkeling with fins is much more efficient and will gain you more speed than swimming without. Fins, also known as flippers, are the main method of locomotion during snorkeling.
They can also protect the feet against injuries from accidental contact with rocks and corals. Additionally, treading water is easier with flippers, which saves energy. Fins for snorkeling come in different shapes and sizes.
Snorkel fins are different from fins used in scuba diving. Snorkel fins are smaller and more lightweight than their counterparts since they only need to propel your body without any heavy tank attached.
What are the different types of snorkeling fins?
The blade length of fins can also affect its overall performance. Short fins are more compact and easier to carry and store during travel. There is less resistance while swimming using short fins, making it easier to change direction as well.
Some people find that long fins require more energy than short ones, however, long fins actually let you swim further per kick, allowing you to travel faster through the water.
Closed heel or full foot
This type of fin is recommended for use in tropical or temperate waters. It is worn barefoot and is designed with no thermal insulation. It’s made of flexible material for added comfort.
Open heel or strap fins
These fins were originally designed to be used in cold waters because of the need to wear additional footwear inside. The foot pocket, usually made of rigid material, has an adjustable strap for a more a personalized fit.
The need to wear neoprene socks or other water shoes will prevent your feet from getting scraped by the foot pocket. However, some tweaks have improved this design which caused it to become popular in snorkeling.
Using paddle fins can benefit you with more speed and control in maneuvering around corals. Paddle fins perform better when used with long and slow strokes of the legs.
Split fins are considered a new technology so it’s usually more expensive than paddle fins. Because of the split design, water is allowed to pass through the blade on the upstroke, which is easier since there is less resistance on the swimmer’s part.
Gliding across the water is easier; the split creates a vortex in the water as you kick and push yourself forward, thus resulting in a more efficient kicking stroke. Swimming with split fins requires different leg strokes.
The first and foremost consideration that you have to make in choosing your fins is that they have to fit your feet perfectly.
This means your fins should be snug-fitting to avoid them from slipping off your feet when you kick hard. Your feet may decrease in size a little bit under the water which can make the fins loosen slightly.
Check for hard spots when you flex your foot back and forth. This is usually present in areas where plastic parts and rubber are joined.
Choose your fins based on comfort rather than design. You will be spending time in the water observing marine life and your surroundings. If you feel uncomfortable with your pair you’d probably spend more time worrying about your feet rather than what’s around you.
If saving on space is your concern, you may be enticed into buying travel fins – short, wider and open foot.
However, most people don’t really recommend these fins because they are less efficient to use as they lack power and speed, which are quite important if you need to get out of a current or riptide.