Should you use Short or Long Snorkeling Fins

Whichever sport you play, whether it’s on land or water, you need to have the right equipment. When you’re snorkeling, there are two main items that are important: the snorkeling masks and the fins.

Should you use short or long fins for snorkeling? There’s no absolute and clear answer. Both have advantages and disadvantages. If you’re also scuba diving then long ones are obviously the better choice. If you travel a lot then the short version is easier to deal with.

Short or Long Fins for Snorkeling

Fins are essential when snorkeling because they help you move more easily through the water and make your snorkeling experience more comfortable. They also make it easier for you to maneuver and change your direction in the water.  One question that many people is whether short fins are better or long ones.

Differences between Long & Short Fins

Let’s start off with the basic functions of both the fins.

Long Fins

Long fins have a bigger blade at the end and require you to put in more force in order to move forward. However, they propel you through the water and you can cross longer distances with them.

They can be a bit tricky to use though if you’ve never snorkeled with them before. It becomes difficult to avoid hitting other snorkelers and corals.

It is important to note that the choice of using or not using long fins is only for snorkelers. Scuba diving generally always requires long fins to combat water pressure at depth.

Short Fins

Short fins allow you to cover distances more quickly and are more versatile because they are suitable for confined spaces like pools as well as the ocean. They are typically more suitable for muscle training and swimming but can also be used for snorkeling.

Since you don’t cover long distances with a single kick, you need to flap your legs more to move through the water, but the plus side is that it’s easier for you to change your direction. Another advantage is that they are smaller and hence are much easier to take with you on travels.

Best fins for snorkeling

Making the Decision

Long fins push back more water and help you cover a longer distance. However, one kick with long fins is much more exhausting than that with short fins.

On the other hand, short fins help you move faster, but to cross longer distances, you need to exert more effort which can reduce your stamina. You have to perform almost double the amount of kicks with short fins which means that most of your energy is used up just in kicking and maneuvering through the water.

Some people complain about the fact that long fins graze through corals and reef when they are snorkeling. However, the solution to this problem is not to use shorter fins, but to improve your technique of moving through the water. The tips of your feet/ fins shouldn’t be facing downwards, they should be facing backwards which will help you avoid hitting reef with your feet and also propel you forward.

Some divers prefer long fins because you can float in one spot and observe the sea creatures without having to move your feet around too much. Excessive movement of your feet and fins can scare the fish away.

Long fins are generally more flexible, but over time, the blade becomes stretched out and the fins need to be replaced. Short fins have a smaller, stiffer blade and are likely to last much longer.

Regardless of whether you opt for short or long fins, it is tricky to get from the shore to the water. Long fins tend to be more troublesome, and in order to avoid tripping over them, it is recommended to walk backwards till you reach the water. This is also advisable for short fins because the awkward angle of walking forward can damage your fins even if you don’t topple over.

Are there differences between scuba diving and snorkeling fins

The Verdict

Long fins are great for novices and basic level swimmers because they’re more comfortable and flexible and allow you to float in one place while you catch your breath.

Many snorkelers opt for short fins because the movement of your feet is similar to swimming without any fins. It’s sort of like having all the benefits of using fins without the disadvantages.  It does take a level of practice to snorkel with short fins in such a way that you have a comfortable snorkeling experience without running out of breath.

Short fins are helpful for strength training, increasing flexibility and developing control over your movement in the water. If you’re looking for a more relaxing experience where you just hover in the water and observe the sea creatures, long fins are ideal.

Are Split Fins a Good Option?

Recently, people have considered the use of short split fins for snorkeling. They provide more power and thrust as you move through the water and are preferred by some divers over the standard long fins.

Can you Snorkel without Fins?

Many people like the idea of snorkeling without using any fins, but this is highly unadvisable. Fins act as a support in case there’s a strong tide or you suddenly experience fatigue midway and find yourself unable to kick your feet.

They’re not just a means for you to move faster and more comfortably through the water, they also double as a floating mechanism. If you’re out of breath and tired and need to stop, or just want to observe the ocean in a specific spot for a while, you can float in the water without kicking with the help of your fins.

Final Thoughts

This isn’t really a one size fits all situation. There’s no one particular type of fin that works for all swimmers and snorkelers.

Some swimmers are more comfortable in long fins, others prefer short ones and there are others who experiment with split fins. The type of usage, including whether you’re swimming in the ocean or a pool and whether it’s for leisure or for strength building purposes will be used to determine whether you use a long or a short fin.

If you’re a beginner, seek help from a snorkeling instructor who will help you figure out which fin is better for you.

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