Sure, you want to have the very best snorkel fins that you can get. Lots of people ask us what the best snorkel fins are. We love questions and are happy to answer them. However, in most cases that one question makes us ask some of our own questions.
- Where are you using your snorkel fins?
- Are you traveling with your snorkel fins?
- What are you personal preferences as far as open heel, close foot pocket, color, size, and budget?
Those are all pertinent questions. The “best snorkel fin” that I use, or the ones that I find to be the best, differ from location to location and circumstance to circumstance.
If I am going to be snorkeling in water with a little current, then I want longer fins with more power. If I’m in a lagoon or traveling with my snorkel gear, then I can get by with my trek fins (more on what a trek fin is in a bit).
What is the Purpose of Snorkel Fins?
First, let’s talk about what snorkel fins really are. They are a snorkeler’s main source of propulsion and movement through the water. Especially if you’re snorkeling with a camera…then the swimming locomotion that you get from your hands and arms will be a little bit hindered and you’ll be relying solely on your legs and fins.
Types of Snorkel Fins
We’re not talking about brands or styles. We re talking about the basics that you need to know here: Closed heel or “Full foot” snorkel fins and Open heel or “strapped on” snorkel fins. These two different types can have an impact on comfort and energy used.
Worn with bare feet by sliding your foot into the pocket of material that makes up the foot area. This is usually worn by snorkelers and divers in temperate to tropical climates because they offer no thermal insulation to your feet.
Sizing is sometimes an issue because everyone’s feet are shaped differently. People with wide feet or who have arch trouble sometimes have issues with these kind of fins.
These were originally made for colder water climates because the open foot pocket, along with the adjustable strap to hold the fin in place, allowed for the wearing of snorkel boots or dive socks that are made just like wet suits and offer thermal insulation. In fact, the design made it almost necessary to wear the socks because the plastic pocket was tough and could hurt the feet.
For snorkeling, what in search of is a relatively new design of open foot pocket fins that are made of softer material and the adjustable strap. They are comfortable and offer the greatest range of fitting for comfort. This is especially important with still growing feet and buying kids snorkel gear.
Snorkel Fin Sizes
Most snorkel brands will have size charts for buying snorkel gear, and many of them are pretty accurate. What we are talking about here, though, is the difference in length of the actual blade of the fin. This plays a part in propulsion, speed, control, and travel limitations.
Standard Size/Traditional Size
These range from 24 to 26 inches in length. Their longer size absolutely has correlation to swimming speed, power, and the amount of kicking that has to be done to propel you as far as the shorter trek/travel fins.
These fins are good for calm to choppy water. There are longer sizes available but they are usually found on the feet of professional SCUBA people, free divers, and spear fishers. These fins can be traveled with (and we usually do) but with the introduction of the smaller trek/travel fins, this gives snorkeling enthusiasts some versatility: Have two pair of snorkeling fins to be used dependent on the situation, or buy the one pair that they love to use whether at home or on a trip.
Due to convenience and added airline frugality, these fins were manufactured by the snorkel industry to appease the traveling snorkeler. With the traditional sized fins it was sometimes necessary to pay a oversize bag fee just to get them checked by an airline. With these smaller fins, it is very easy to throw your entire snorkel gear set into a bag and check them.
These travel, or “trek fins” as you will often see them named, can be considerably shorter. They range from 13 to 23 inches and they are usually adequate for calm water. Keep in mind, the shorter the fin the less propulsion and more effort is needed to move you through the water.
That should be just about everything that you need to know about how buy the best snorkel fins for your snorkeling adventures. Remember, whether an occasional hobbyist or an avid snorkeler, you should invest in quality snorkel gear that will last you a long time, keep you safe, and keep you in the water and enjoying the experience.