Are you sick of having to rent flippers every time you go on vacation, or being unable to keep up with your partners in the swimming pool? Maybe you recently got some flippers that were too big, or are looking to get the perfect set for you and your family. Whatever the reason, read the below guide carefully because it will give you all the information you need to get the right pair.
There is a wide range of flippers on the market and they all offer something slightly different, so it is good to know how to evaluate and navigate the selection. The below article will give you all the information you need to make an informed decision and will provide answers to the most commonly asked consumer questions. After reading through, you will know exactly what you need and how to get it.
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Ranking: The best flippers on the U.S. market
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about flippers
- 3.1 What are flippers and what are they for?
- 3.2 Why is it useful to swim with flippers?
- 3.3 What types of fins are there on the market?
- 3.4 What material are the fins made of?
- 3.5 What care do diving fins need?
- 3.6 How much are flippers worth?
- 3.7 Is it worth buying second-hand flippers?
- 3.8 Where can I buy cheap flippers?
- 4 Shopping Criteria
- 5 Summary
- Unlike swimming paddles or kick-boards, flippers adapt to our feet to form an extension of our body to make our feet longer and allow us to swim faster.
- Flippers help improve your swimming posture as you feel like you are gliding over the surface of the water as opposed to struggling. They also make you rely on your legs much more while swimming, which helps you feel like you are constantly moving and therefore not sinking.
- Despite what you have heard, there are myriad flippers and models on the market, and many are designed for specific functions like recreational swimming, or diving.
Ranking: The best flippers on the U.S. market
You need a good pair of fins while diving or snorkeling, there is no way around it. They make it much easier to propel yourself through the water while conserving energy. The below section contains a compilation of five of the best products currently for sale on the U.S. market.
No. 1: U.S. Divers – Proflex II
U.S. Divers is a popular mid-market brand that offers great fins at good prices. Their Proflex II composite blade fins come in either electric blue or blue/grey with sizing to fit most feet. The composite find cut through the water with ease giving you excellent propulsion, while the soft foot pockets give you great comfort and minimized rubbing while you’re in the water. These are longer fins than most snorkeling fins, so they work well for both diving and snorkeling. They let you get down deeper and back to the surface quicker than your average snorkeling fin.
These are a great entry-level flipper that can be bought as either your main, or backup flipper. Take them on vacation, to the pool, or to the local beach or swimming hole and move through the water with ease. The blades are semi-rigid so they give you good thrust while also being flexible enough that you don’t require massive leg strength to use them for extended periods of time. U.S. Divers have put considerable thought into making a flipper that is multi-use and can be used by children and adults alike.
No. 2: U.S. Divers – Sea Lion Junior Floating Fin
The Sea Lion Junior Floating Fin is another great flipper from U.S. Divers, but this one is specially made for children and adolescents. Available in a number of junior sizes, this closed-heel fin is compact and easy to pack on vacation, made from buoyant rubber, so they float if they come off, and they come in either two-tone yellow or blue. These are very well made flippers that are a great introductory fin for young swimmers and kids learning to snorkel for the first time. The blades are long enough to provide good thrust, but the fin is small enough to fit easily into a bag or suitcase.
These are also great fins for helping young and inexperienced swimmers feel more confident in the water. You can give these to young kids at the pool and give them the added security of quickly being able to power themselves through the water, or to the surface if need be. It is a good idea with kid’s fins to get a size larger so that you minimize chaffing, or to look into some neoprene booties to wear under the fin to make sure little feet are well protected.
No. 3: FINIS – Long Floating Fins
Finis Long Floating Fins have a long blade that is made for increasing leg strength and kicking speed in the water. The longer blade also makes them ideal for snorkeling in stronger currents and rougher conditions, as well as diving. Shorter blades are only really adequate for swimming and snorkeling in calmer waters. The buoyancy from these fins is also nice because they help keep legs parallel with the rest of the body and make moving through the water more effortless.
These fins are made in Malaysia and are designed to be worn by adults and children of all ages. They come in a range of color combinations, which are coded based on different sizes, so ensure you get the right color/size for your feet. The closed rubber heel is also nice because it provides a more secure fit in the water. Open heel flippers with adjustable clips can require constant adjusting, and often require booties or neoprene socks to swim with.
No. 4: Zionor – F1 Short Fins
Zionor’s F1 Short Fins are open-heel fins made for snorkeling and are small enough to be easily packed into a suitcase. These are affordable, entry-level fins that are ideal for taking on family vacations so you don’t have to rent anything from the hotel or off the beach. You get great propulsion with minimum effort from these flippers, and the adjustable heel lets you loosen or tighten these fins as required. The anti-slip insole in this fin is great because it means less movement and less rubbing inside. It also means more efficient kicking and propulsion through the water.
Another nice feature of this flipper is that the extra thick rubber protects your feet from sharp rocks and coral while snorkeling. You can walk in and out of the water with these on without worrying that you are going to cut your feet and toes up. It is recommended to wash these fins off with fresh water right after using them and to also keep them out of direct sunlight for extended periods of time as UV light tends to weaken flippers and make the prone to cracking.
No. 5: Cressi – Rondinella Snorkeling Fins
Cressi is one of the most renowned names in diving and snorkeling and they have been making top of the line gear since 1946. Their Rondinella Snorkeling Fins are long-bladed closed-heel fins made for amazing performance and propulsion in the water. The non-vented blade is mounted on top of the foot pocket which produces even more thrust in the water. You can swim down and come up very efficiently with these fins on. The blade is soft and flexible and is made from high grade polypropylene, making it both light and powerful (everything you want in a fin).
The comfortable rubber foot pocket has a convenient heel pull tab to make taking the fins on and off super easy. Made in Italy, these easy to use fins make gliding through the water, even in stronger currents, much more effortless, and they come in four great colors and a range of common sizes. While these fins are made to be extra comfortable and easy on your feet, it is always a good idea to get neoprene socks, especially if you plan on doing a lot of snorkeling for extended periods of time.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about flippers
What are flippers and what are they for?
Why is it useful to swim with flippers?
What types of fins are there on the market?
|Adjustable fins||Open at the heel and have an adjustable strap||Used for diving or snorkeling in cold water and are worn with diving socks or booties|
|Enclosed fins||Feet are completely enclosed||Worn barefoot or with neoprene socks in the pool|
|Hinged fins||Have an integrated hinge on the blade||They are used for diving and as an alternative option to the previous ones|
|Split fins||The blade consists of two parts which makes the each flipper stroke easier and you exert less energy||Their use is widespread among divers who want to advance faster under water|
|Long blade fins||They allow you to travel long distances with short movements||They are used by rescue swimmers|
|Medium blade fins||They are used to cover medium distances and to perform technical exercises||They are used both by beginners when diving as well as swimming laps|
|Short blade fins||There is only a small fin surface from the foot||They are used for swimming training|
|Diving fins||They are the classic fins||They are used to swim underwater easily|
|Bodyboard fins||They are used to propel yourself through the water while you are on a bodyboard||They are used whilst bodyboarding|
|Submarine fishing fins||They are a little longer to provide stability without making great effort||They are used to carry out fishing with a speargun underwater|
|Apnea fins||They are carbon fibre fins that are extremely lightweight||They are used to descend underwater to great depths for either submarine fishing or deep sea free diving|
What material are the fins made of?
What care do diving fins need?
How much are flippers worth?
Is it worth buying second-hand flippers?
Where can I buy cheap flippers?
As you are well aware now, each kind of fin is designed to do something a little different. Before getting your new fins, ensure you understand the list of criteria to apply to your purchase decision so you end up with the right ones:
- Open or closed
- Adjustment type
- Hardness and blade size
- Fabrication material
- Physical fitness of the user
Based on the activity you are doing, you can choose either shorter fins or longer ones. Shorter fins are easier to pack with you and better for snorkeling, while longer ones generate more power and are designed for diving and free diving. The kind of flipper you want also depends on your personal taste.
Open or closed
Open fins are designed to be used with rubber booties or neoprene socks for entering water where there are jagged corals and rocks that can cut your feet up. Closed heel flippers are better for warm water diving and can be used with or without neoprene socks (depending on the sizing and your feet).
An often overlooked but very important feature of a diving fin is the adjustment strap material. This part of the flipper tends to rip and tear faster than other parts because this is where you apply the most force. It needs to be well-made and resistant. A good flipper should also be able to be put on and taken off with little effort so as not to hurt your feet.
Comfort should be another major component of your decision because you will likely be using your flippers for extended periods of time in the water, and day after day while on vacation. If they aren’t comfortable the entire time you are in the water and create blisters and abrasions on your feet, you will likely want to stop using them after only a short period.
In addition, the use of socks or neoprene boots is recommended depending on the temperature of the water.
Hardness and blade size
Based on the activity you are doing, you will want to choose a blade with more or less rigidity. More flexible blades require less effort to kick, but more rigid blades generate more force in the water. The latter, however, requires more leg and calf strength to use for extended periods of time, so unfit people might find themselves tiring out faster with this style.
In terms of blade size, diving fins are larger than snorkeling fins, which are usually too small for scuba diving. The rule of thumb to use when selecting recreational fins is that the blade length shouldn’t be more than the distance between your knee and ankle. Apply this rule when selecting your flippers.
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Since they first hit the market, the materials used to make flippers has gotten much better. They started off being made of tanned leather, which evolved into simple rubber, and now they are generally made of two main materials:
- Made completely with neoprene rubber: Not the lightest material but hold up better to saltwater and pool water.
- Made with a plastic blade and a neoprene rubber foot: Lighter than pure rubber fins. This is why they are the most well-liked.
Color is one of the more personal factors when deciding which fins to you want to buy. If you are just casually snorkeling it is a good idea to get brightly colored flippers because you will stand out better in the water. If you are a diver and are trying to take photos of underwater life, black fins are best because bright colors can frighten fish.
Physical fitness of the user
You should also pay close attention to your fitness level. Based on how strong you are, you will need to select fins that are both shorter or longer, and more or less rigid. You need to be honest with yourself about your capabilities or you will struggle in the water.
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You should also consider how your new flippers will handle. This includes things like how easy they are to put on and take off, how much space they take up in a bag etc. You should also make sure they can be easily adjusted while swimming because it is likely you will have to do that from time to time.
It can be tempting to try and save a bit extra space in your suitcase by thinking you will rent fins wherever you go, but it is so much more convenient and enjoyable to have your own – whether for snorkeling, diving, bodyboarding, or spearfishing. Swimming with fins that fit poorly, or are uncomfortable on your feet and heels is the worst. This is why you need to find ones that stay within your budget while still being comfortable and effective in the water.
Getting your own fins and making your own selection means saying goodbye to inadequate rental fins. You don’t have to spend a fortune getting decent fins. There are great options on the market for as little as $20. If you love being in the water and love any of the aforementioned activities, they will be an investment that pays serious dividends.
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(Source of featured image: Sonnie hiles: 64325/ unsplash.com)