At Ocean Scuba Dive we’ve looked at the most important diving gear and accessories, including fins with our guide to the best selling scuba fins. However, if only it were as simple as making a few clicks and purchasing the right fins. There is more involved.
For instance, if you’ve ever looked at what’s available you will there are many different types of fins out there. Although there are many similar things with different names that are essentially the same piece of equipment or gear, that’s not the case when it comes to fins.
Dive Fins or Snorkel Fins: What is the Difference?
Take for instance, dive fins and snorkel fins. To the untrained eye, these would appear to be essentially the same product. However, the truth is, the choice you make could have a huge bearing on the kind of finning and kicking techniques you need to use, and the type of diving you are able to participate in.
We understand it can be quite daunting to try and figure out which is best for you. That’s why, in the following post, we want to help clue you up on the difference between dive fins and snorkel fins.
Bigger, It’s Not Always Better
When considering which fins to buy, size is more important than you perhaps realize. Some people seem to think the bigger the fin, the better. But, that’s not the case.
Fins are designed with specific lengths to suit diving and swimming at specific depths.
Scuba Dive Fins
First, let’s look at scuba diving fins. You’ll find that either they are constructed with a similar length to that of a snorkel fin or are a little longer. Generally, they are somewhere in the region of 25 to 30-inches long.
This provides you with more power in each kick to ensure you travel further without struggling as much against the high pressures as you dive into deeper water.
The high-end fins suitable for scuba diving tend to have built-in channels that avoid the water moving against you and your fins, and instead, ensures it runs along with you. This helps you move more quickly through the water than you’d be able to with fins that didn’t have the special channels.
Some, though, have a split design, which enables you to move through the water with even more power, while also experiencing less fatigue.
Other crucial differences are that they are thicker and stiffer to provide you with greater durability and strength when you’re diving through tougher conditions. They also come in both open and closed foot varieties. Whereas closed foot ensures that your feet are kept warm, open foot fins are designed for use with boots for diving or dive socks when you’re diving during winter or in particularly cold waters.
Related Article: Learn who invented fins here.
Scuba Diving Fin Features
So, to summarize, the main features of diving fins are:
- The option of either open or closed foot pockets
- Often compatible with diving boots or socks
- Normally are longer and more streamlined
- Thicker and stiffer
- Allow you to kick with greater power
- Help to reduce any fatigue you may experience during longer dives
The first major difference between snorkel fins and dive fins is the simplistic design. Snorkeling is done in much shallower waters than scuba diving.
Therefore, they only need to be quite short, enabling you to move with greater flexibility. This also reduces the risk of causing unnecessary damage to coral reefs when you’re swimming through or near them.
You’ll find that the shorter models measure between 15 and 20-inches, but more conventional fins suitable for snorkeling can often be anything between 24 and 26-inches long.
While it’s not unheard of for certain snorkeling fins to have open heels, the majority tend to be fully closed. This means you don’t need to wear diving socks or boots with them.
You can use snorkel fins for swimming, but not scuba diving as they don’t have the appropriate design features necessary to diving in deep waters and through more powerful currents.
Are you a freediver? Check out our best freediving fin reviews.
Snorkel Fin Main Features
So, to summarize, the main features of snorkel fins are:
- Basic and very simple designs
- Shorter and more portable
- Easier to maneuver in and perfect for paddling just before the surface
- Full footed in most instances
- Less of a risk to coral reefs
Conclusion: Dive Fins vs Snorkel Fins
There you go folks; you now have a better idea of the difference between diving and snorkeling fins. Rather than just buying the first pair of fins, regardless of their type, or the cheapest, you need to be careful. You need to find the pair that suit the type of diving you are intending on doing.
Don’t try to cut corners and buy snorkel fins for scuba diving or you could find yourself in trouble. Likewise, if you try to snorkel with thick and clunky scuba fins on, you may find even below the surface paddling is tricky.