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How do you like to spend your vacation time?
Do you prefer spending time at home or perhaps you’re more inclined to try something a bit more exciting? If it’s the latter you’re interested in, then you may want to give snorkeling a try.
You can’t just head to a beach somewhere and go snorkeling right away though. Before you can do that, you first have to get your snorkel gear in order and among the items you’ll need are snorkel fins.
To make the search for the best fins for snorkeling easier, we have identified the key factors that help determine the quality of those aforementioned items. Please read on to find out how you can get your hands on the snorkeling fins that will work best for you.
The Best Snorkel Fins
Differentiating Snorkeling Fins from Scuba Fins
Before we get into the characteristics that make up the ideal snorkeling fins, let’s first take the time to clear up something important. To be more specific, we will dive into why snorkeling fins are not the same as scuba fins.
Though they may look similar, snorkeling and scuba fins actually have different specializations.
Scuba fins are designed for working their way through deep water. To that end, they typically come with features that provide scuba divers with more kicking power.
They also include certain features that are meant to ease the strain on the body. That aspect of the scuba fin is crucial because divers cannot afford to lose plenty of energy while they are still deep underwater.
In contrast, snorkeling fins usually feature a simpler and more straightforward design because users only need them to move through shallow water. It is also best for snorkeling fins to be easier to control because they may come into contact with delicate coral reefs otherwise.
The most significant and easily detectable difference between scuba and snorkeling fins is their length.
According to Leisure Pro, the standard length for a snorkeling fin is around 24 to 26 inches. You will find snorkeling fins even shorter than that. The ones designed for travel measure around 15 inches on the low end and 20 inches on the high end.
Snorkeling fins have to be shorter because users need that extra agility when they are moving around in the shallow waters. Power is not as important for snorkelers because they are dealing with less water pressure.
Scuba fins usually measure at around 25 to 30 inches in length. As you can see, even the shorter scuba fins are typically longer than the biggest snorkeling fins. Because the scuba fins are longer, they are better suited to generating more power via kicks.
Length may be the most obvious differentiator between snorkeling and scuba fins, but it’s not the only one.
When it comes to design, these two types of fins are also remarkably different.
First off, the scuba fins can be loaded with all kinds of features. You may see variants with channels that effectively improve the diver’s speed. The blades of scuba fins also feature varied designs.
Manufacturers offer those varied blade designs because people generate power underwater in different ways and they want their fin collections to be accommodating to everyone.
Snorkeling fins don’t have to carry as many features. As long as they’re flexible and easy to use, they will work well for snorkelers.
The Factors to Consider When Shopping for Snorkeling Fins
Now that we know more about how scuba and snorkeling fins differ from one another, let’s focus more on the latter. Coming up are the considerations you need to keep in mind to ensure that you are bringing the right snorkeling fins with you on your next vacation.
Fitting Your Fins
One way to guarantee that you won’t have fun on vacation is by slipping on a pair of ill-fitting snorkeling fins.
You may think it’s not a big deal because you’re just in shallow water anyway, but the fit of your fins can be the difference between you being able to maximize your vacation time or having to spend a significant chunk of it nursing your feet.
To find out if the fins fit you well, you will have to check how they cover your feet.
According to Tropical Snorkeling, you want the fins to provide ample coverage over your feet, but not to the point where they are essentially just molded around them. The site also notes that given the chance to choose between slightly loose or slightly snug fins, it’s better to go with the latter. The snorkeling fins will shrink once they hit the water and form a tighter wrap around your feet. If they are too tight to begin with, your feet are just going to feel restricted.
You should also check if you feel any discomfort while bending the fins. If you’re experiencing some discomfort before you even get in the water, you can only count on that being amplified once you’re done snorkeling.
There’s one more factor that has to be considered while trying to figure out if a specific pair of fins fits you, but it’s part of a larger topic so let’s discuss it in greater detail below.
Full-Foot or Open Heel?
Snorkeling fins offer two basic types of foot pockets, with those being the full-foot and open heel options. Let’s talk about the pros and cons for both designs.
The Case for and Against Full-Foot Fins
Touching on the full-foot design first, this type of foot pocket requires snorkelers to go into the water with no additional layer of protection. Snorkelers who opt for fins with full-foot pockets will have to go barefoot.
One advantage of using snorkeling fins with full-foot pockets is that they are more comfortable. With no extra layer in between your feet and the fins, you will be able to move your toes around and generally just enjoy a wider range of movement.
Another reason why full-foot fins are good options to use is because they are easier to control. Because your feet are in direct contact with the fins, you can control them more accurately. Even slighter movements should register. It helps that full-foot fins are also more flexible.
If you know that you will be making frequent trips into and out of the water, you will also want to have full-foot fins on. They are easier to remove and wear and are more convenient because of that quality.
As for the downsides of full-foot fins, one you may encounter is related to how compatible they are with your vacation destination.
Remember that full-foot fins are not worn with booties and any other type of additional foot protection. In warm water, that’s not a problem. The soothing water may even feel great on your skin.
Things will be different if you’re somewhere with cooler water though. Within minutes, you may find the cold unbearable and all of a sudden, your full-foot fins will become temporarily useless.
Full-foot fins can also be tougher to fit into for certain snorkelers. Because the foot pocket found on many variants of full-foot fins are modeled after the average foot, individuals with larger footprints are going to have a harder time finding models that will work for them.
Adjusting the fin is not an option with the full-foot variant because the pocket is bare and comes with no additional mechanisms.
The Case for and Against Open Heel Fins
As noted earlier, there’s one more factor that may have to come into play before you can definitively say that a pair of fins either fits or doesn’t fit you. The factor in question is the additional layer you’ll have to wear over your feet if you decide to use open heel fins.
Known as booties or water socks, these additional accessories are designed to be used together with the open heel fins. You need the booties because the open heel fin’s foot pocket would feel too rough against your skin otherwise.
Since you are wearing an extra layer of protection, that means your feet are also better insulated. For snorkelers heading to cold water locations, using open heel fins is basically mandatory.
Notably, there are now some open heel fins that can be worn without booties. Those are designed to also be used in warm water locations.
Now, you may be wondering why you will need to use open heel fins in warm water when there are already full-foot options available. The answer to that is the adjustable strap.
With full-foot fins, you simply won’t be able to use them if the foot pocket is not compatible with your body. If you’re going with those newer open heel fins, you can still swim barefoot even if you have larger than average feet.
The only issue with open heel fins is that you may have to spend more on them initially. Between the fins and the water socks, you may have to pay more than what you would have had you chosen the full-foot options.
Approximate Chart of Snorkel Flipper Sizes Differ Per Manufacturers.
What’s the Ideal Fin Length?
There are two general size ranges for snorkeling fins. Standard snorkeling fins range in length from 24 to 26 inches, while the travel fins go from 15 to 20 inches.
So, should you pick the standard-length fins or the ones designed for travel?
According to The Scuba Doctor, the stricter guidelines on air travel served as the inspiration for manufacturers to come up with travel-length fins. Because the manufacturers know that travelers can no longer take oversized luggage with them during their trips, they have opted to introduce fins that are significantly smaller and lighter.
Even if you aren’t heading to your destination by plane, travel-length fins are still more convenient to bring along because you can just place them inside a smaller bag or in a larger bag together with other items.
Sadly, you’re not getting much of anything else out of travel-length fins outside of portability.
Performance-wise, they will not provide you with as much control or thrust. They may also be inadequate in wavy waters.
On the other hand, the standard-length fins will do just fine even if the waters are somewhat choppy. You should also be able to get more oomph behind your kicks if you decide to use standard-length fins.
If you don’t mind bringing extra bags with you to your vacation spot, you should go ahead and pick up a pair of standard-length fins.
Draw Your Blade (Style)
Unlike with scuba fins, your options when it comes to blade styles for snorkeling fins are way more limited.
In all likelihood, you will have to choose between the paddle or the split fins.
Paddle fins provide you with more control. Because you have the entire fin to work with, it is easier to make precise movements.
If you know before even getting into the water that you will be snorkeling around some delicate underwater structures, you should put some paddle fins on. You’re sacrificing some speed if you decide to use paddle fins, but they can still be more helpful in certain situations.
Split fins don’t offer as much control, but you can pick up more speed if you know what you’re doing. That should come in handy if you’re snorkeling over a larger area.
The split fins may also be more helpful to you if you tire easily. You won’t have to spend as much energy just to get moving in the water. Once again, that’s a good thing if you are planning to explore a wider span of the water in front of you.
Manufacturers make use of different materials to create their snorkeling fins. The popular material choices used to be rubber or plastic.
Those materials are fine, but they pale in comparison to some of the newer options that are available such as polyurethane and polypropylene.
Both of those materials are remarkably durable. Even if snorkeling fins made out of them are packed incorrectly, they will likely not tear. You also don’t have to worry about the chemical content of the water damaging them.
Make it a point to search for polyurethane or polypropylene snorkeling flipper the next time you go shopping.
You don’t want to worry about your fins staying on while you’re snorkeling , so make sure to get one with secure buckles. It would also be ideal if those buckles can be removed and fastened quickly.
Also, if you’re going to use open heel fins during your next snorkeling trip, try your best to locate some neoprene socks.
Rubber booties are fine but they can grow uncomfortable on your feet after some time. Neoprene socks are designed to conform better to the curves of your feet and they will also help you retain heat better. You can almost consider them as must-have accessories if you’re going snorkeling in cold water destinations.
The neoprene socks are a bit bulkier and they can be more expensive, but they are well worth the extra space and cost.
Snorkel Fin Reveiws
Click/ Tap Each Section to Expand and read about the best rated snorkel fins below.
Fins are often overlooked and underappreciated when snorkelling but they can end up being a life saver. Many armature snorkelers just neglect the fins and dive in with their mask and snorkel but there could be consequences, especially in the ocean.
Fins help you propel yourself while you are swimming allowing you to move in the water at a quicker rate. Even smaller travel fins can make a big difference especially in the ocean. It is much better to combat currents and swim away from danger with fins than not having them at all.
There are two types of different fins. Short fins and longer fins.
Short Fins for Snorkeling are best for:
- Surface swimming
- Swimming in shallower water
- Short Dives
Short Fins have a smaller surface area than longer ones so you will not be propelling as fast. However Short fins allow you to manoeuvre better in the water making you less clumsy in your turns.
Longer Fins Are Best For:
- More Experienced Snorkelers
- Deep Diving
- Scuba and Snorkelling purposes
- Propelling yourself at a faster rate
- Further off shore
Longer Fins allow you to propel yourself faster in the water and are therefore much better for diving purposes. Some of their cons however, is that they are bigger meaning they are more difficult to pack, especially when you plan to travel. Depending on your experience level this will weigh little or more importance to you. Typically more experienced divers prefer snorkelling with longer fins.
- Elastomer foot pocket for foot comfort
- Made for both Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
- Made of a three material Cressi Blend
- Blade is made of polypropylene
- Extra Foot Protection from foot pockets near bottom of the blade
Best For: Longer swims and Dives
Cressi’s Pluma Lightweight Fins ate one of the better fins to use for snorkelling. It uses the same high quality materials as other more expensive high quality Cressi models. These high quality materials are come from Cressi’s patented three different material moulded technology to give the foot a combination of lightweight paddling and comfort.
The blade is made of lightweight and reactive polypropylene, the same material as many body boards. This gives the fins a very snappy energetic rebound which results in controlled bending. This makes the most of your kick as your foot movements will be both fluid and powerful.
The Cressi Pluma also comes with a foot pocket that extends to cover your toes. This is ideal for if you are snorkelling around rocky shorelines and you accidentally stub your toe along the rocks or coral. The sole also has a anti slip rubber grip underneath the foot pocket so that you can properly grip slippery surfaces such as a boat deck paddle board or even some rocks.
Be warned that for these fins it is a good idea to get some underwater foot protection such as socks.
- Lightweight Responsive Blade
- Hydro Static Pressure resistance
- Foot Pocket for added protection
- Blade extends from top of foot pocket
Best For: Sharing with similar foot sizes or rental shops
The Cressi Palau Laf is another high quality fin made by the Italian company that is meant for longer swimming purposes such as snorkeling and scuba diving. It is designed for both comfort and quality in mind. Compared to the Cressi Pluma these fins are open heel.
This makes the Palai Laf extremely practical in terms of fitting many different sized feet and providing comfort for those who do not possess diving socks. This is an ideal fin for sharing with u p to 3 sizes per grouping. Hint: if you own a diving or charter company and are looking for fins this is a good pair to get!
The Blade is made of lightweight responsive material (they do not specify what kind of material) that allows you to paddle with ease. Since this is a few sizes fit all type of fin it’s design is not as advanced as the Pluma but, the find blade morphs directly into the fin giving you more surface area to paddle.
- Comes in sizes 5-13 and everything inbetween
- Dual Composite Fin
- Enclosed Heel with a soft foot pocket
- Long Blade with dual composite fin rails
- Two Year Limited Warranty
Best For: Snorkelers who want good quality fins at a budget.
The U.S. Divers Proflex II are one of the better fins out there. They are great for snorkelers and swimmers alike. When looking at these fins you may notice the dual channels on each side and wondering what they exactly do. Their purpose is to optimize water flow and enhance the snap and thrust of the kicking motion. The TPS Center flex zones cups the water to give you greater power and a more efficient kicking motion than the traditional fin blades. When putting these fins on it is best to wear dive boots to avoid blistering on your heal.
These fins fit a variety of different sized feet from a small 5 to XL at 13 as well as everything in between.
Many customers were impressed with them especially for the quality you get with the price. While these are not made of the absolute highest quality they are great for divers on a budget who want some flex from their fins.
- Fits like a shoe
- Pull Tab
- Neoprene stretch fit boot
- Hook and Loop Cinch STrap system
- Ultra Grip Sole Provides Traction
- High Grade Polymer Blend that floats
- Optimal Length for walking and swimming
Best For: Hybrid Walking/ Snorkelling Fins
If you are swimming near rocky or coral waters this is a great fin to have. It provides traction for land and is not awkward to walk on like most traditional larger fins. I know this would be a great fin for my region (British Columbia) as it is known for it’s rocky shores.
The theory behind the Wild horn Topside Fins is that you have a hybrid of a shoe/fin that you can walk and swim in comfortably. Whats sets this fin apart from others is the fact that it fits your foot like a shoe to insure that you do not get any nasty blisters or hypertension/ cramping in your foot. While there are better fins for more serious snorkelers (longer fins) these are great for training foot strength. This is because the design of this fin has a stronger down kick due to the design for the fin surface at the top of the boot. This provides the thrust that you need while exploring your underwater surroundings.
The great thing about these fins is that they can be used for a variety of different purposes besides snorkelling such as, body boarding, paddle boarding, swimming or even kayaking (dive fishing). They also are travel sized meaning that you can take them with you on vacation!
- Open Heel Design
- Dual Channel anatomic blade
- Soft, comfortable foot pocket
- No Vents = More Speed
Best For: Travel fins in slower moving waters
The Zioner F1 is not a well known brand but their design and philosophy is interesting to say the least. For one the fin is kind of morphed into the foot similar to some of the others we have reviewed. The foot and the fin actually separate from the bottom, this allows the fin to get more flexibility on your down kick.
The fit itself is made of TPE(Thermoplastic Elastomer) , PP(Polypropylene) and TPR (thermoplastic rubber) material. The combination of these three materials allows you to have fins that are dusable as well as flexable.
The F1 features a buckled heel that can adjust for a 2.5-6 US Foot size to a 7-10.5 Medium Large to Extra Large. On the bottom of the fins there is also a anti slip pattern to allow you to stay on a slippery platform like a boat paddle board or other.
Overall these are good quality travel fins that will last you awhile. Since they are smaller I would use them for calmer waters such as bays or slow moving rivers.
It wasn’t easy trying to pick from the different pairs of snorkeling fins highlighted above, but the Pluma Lightweight Fins from Cressi do just enough to separate themselves from the pack.
Tucked into these snorkeling fins are extra layers of padding that are designed to cushion your feet. You won’t feel as though you’re wearing fins. It’s more like you’re just wearing your trusty sneakers again.
In addition to being very comfortable snorkeling fins to have on your feet, these Cressi offerings are also remarkably secure.
You don’t have to worry about your toes brushing up against corals or rocks underwater because the extended foot pocket makes sure that you will be properly protected. The fins even come with anti-slip grips that will protect you from taking any nasty spills.
The manufacturers deciding to use polypropylene in these fins is also worth highlighting. The polypropylene makes it easier for these fins to keep you warm. Plus, that material doesn’t add any extra weight.
You can keep snorkeling for as long as you want without feeling weighed down with the aid of these fins.
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