*This is a guest blog post by Shelley Collett
Fins. We all need them, us divers. They come in all shapes and sizes. Moderate, shorter, extra long, vented, split, flexible, stiff, full fin, strapped... not to mention the strap variations. Some people worry incessantly about their fins, but most don't give them a second thought. I used to fall into the latter category. A fin's a fin, right?
When I go diving now, I inevitably get stares, comments, snorts, and derision about my fins. I wear an unorthodox type of fin and many divers scoff at them, if not outright laugh. I don't care, because the fins have won me over and there's nothing that anyone can say or do to change my mind about my personal experience and comfort.
Just to give you some idea, here is a picture of my foot next to my fins. My baby fins, as they have affectionately been named now.
These fins were marketed for body boarding and I use them on the whitewater rivers I body board. A few years ago, I decided to try them diving just to see how they fared and I fell in love. The rest is history. Let me list the pros of my baby fins for all of you naysayers out there and especially for those tempted to try them.
- They are remarkably maneuverable, which I LOVE. I can turn on a dime, I can flip around, spin around, do any kind of movement in the water as if I was born to do it.
- They don't wear out my legs, at all. Not ever, not in the slightest.
- I can walk in them on land without tripping over myself.
- They don't stir up silt anywhere near what longer fins do.
- Where longer fins feel clumsy and awkward to me, these feel the exact opposite. They feel like part of my foot.
- If you're a fan of frog kicks (and I am since it lessens the likelihood of silting things up), these are PERFECT for you. There is not another fin that will perform better and more comfortably for you if you frog kick. Wreck, cavern and cave divers take note.
- Surface swims are a breeze with them. Little tip: If you're a divemaster candidate, use short fins like mine for your surface swim test. I promise you'll thank me.
- They're very inexpensive. I think I paid $30 for mine.
- They're not going to work for skin/free diving. But then again, most fins don't. If you're going to free dive part time, you really need a set of fins and a mask dedicated to that.
- You do not have the propulsion of longer fins. This really is an extension of the above con. Personally, I've not had a single issue keeping up with anyone in current or not. But, you do not have the same propulsion. You kick shorter, faster kicks as opposed to longer, slower ones that you would do with longer fins. This doesn't necessarily mean more effort, just a different kind of effort. Like I said, I've used these fins in currents in San Diego area, Belize, and Florida without the slightest bit of difficulty keeping up with my dive partners who were wearing longer fins. I don't use more energy or consume more air.
- Other divers will laugh, scoff, and make fun of you. Doesn't matter. If the shorter fins work for you, that's ALL that is important.
- My particular fin has an ankle strap that can be difficult to get buckled in certain situations such as a heavy surf.
- My particular fins would be impossible to wear booties with unless I got them much too large. But fortunately, I’m not a fan of booties either. If I need protection at all, I wear neoprene socks.
- I can't think of any more cons
If your fins are comfortable and offer you all the stability, maneuverability, and speed you want then there's really no need for you to try a short fin. But, if you're having a hard time with balance and maneuverability, or even comfort with a longer fin, then perhaps you might want to give the short fin a try. Just ignore the chuckles you'll inevitably get. They'll stop laughing when they see how easily you walk in the fins to get in the water, how little you silt up the dive with minimal effort, and how quickly and easily you can maneuver.
Maybe the short fins aren't for you, and that's fine. But maybe they are! And that's also fine. My suggestion is that you shouldn't let other divers talk you OUT of them because as a professional diver with 20+ years experience, I can assure you that there is nothing wrong or dangerous about the short fin. At worst, you won't like them and you're out $30. At best, you'll fall in love and never look back. So if you're having difficulty adjusting to a long fin, give a short one a try. You might be pleasantly surprised and find a new interest in diving when it suddenly becomes so much easier to move around!