Short fins or travel fins are much easier to pack for trips or vacations with your other snorkeling gear. It can be a pain lugging around so much equipment, so any chance to shave some pounds off your gear should be welcomed. However, standard length and long fins have their advantages too, so the question is whether it is worth it to use short fins for snorkeling? In this review, we will weigh the pros and cons of using short fins over long fins, and we will provide our recommendations on the best short fins for snorkeling.
- Short Fins vs. Standard and Long Fins
- Best Short Fins for Snorkeling Recommendations
- Making the Decision
- Should You Get Short Fins: The Verdict
- Snorkeling Without Fins
- The Bottom Line
Short Fins vs. Standard and Long Fins
Why make such a big fuss over short fins? Well, fins are an essential piece of gear for snorkeling by helping you move more easily through water and can drastically impact your snorkeling experience. Your fins can also make it easier to change directions quickly and maneuvering through water is more difficult without a fin. And the length of your snorkel fin will impact all of this.
Standard and Long Fins
Standard and long fins have bigger blades which can propel you through water with more force, however you must be strong enough to generate that force in the first place. Seasoned snorkelers and scuba divers can cover long distances at great speeds using longer fins. However, first time snorkelers may find it tiring and difficult to use.
In addition, longer fins are more susceptible to hitting other snorkelers and corals, and you do not want to experience the pain of hitting a coral. With that said, long fins are quite buoyant and will help your legs stay afloat easily. If you ever find yourself in choppy waters, strong currents, or in a riptide, you will need all of the distance, power, and speed that your kicks can give you to get out of danger.
Furthermore, you should understand that only snorkelers have the freedom of choosing between using short or long fins, or even foregoing using fins altogether. This is because, relatively speaking, snorkeling is not a very taxing or dangerous activity. On the other hand, scuba divers must always use long fins to deal with the water pressure at depth.
Short fins may not be able to propel you as far with each kick, however they still allow you to cover more distances at greater speeds than someone without fins. In addition, they are highly versatile due to their small size which allow them to fit in bags easily. They can also be used in confined spaces like pools or in shallow waters, and are easier to put on and take off in the water. People sometimes wear them for swimming and muscle training and they work just fine for snorkeling too.
Since short fins won’t propel you as far with each kick, the wearer must move their legs more to navigate the water, but the advantage is it’s easier to change directions. And thanks to their short blade length, you will be less likely to scrape the sea floor or coral when kicking. When snorkeling with short fins, look for locations where there is little to no ocean movement to stay out of danger. Otherwise, wear a snorkel vest or life jacket in case a strong current sweeps you away because you may struggle to get out of danger with short fins.
Best Short Fins for Snorkeling Recommendations
Cressi Palau Short Snorkeling Fins
The Cressi Palau Short Snorkeling Fins are compact and easy to pack without sacrificing performance in the water. They are the perfect fins for trips to calm waters or for shallow snorkels, and are capable of fitting in most carry-on bags. Many travel fins sacrifice performance in pursuit of a smaller form-factor, but the Cressi Palau can help you produce lots of force with each kick.
Many snorkelers agree that with these lightweight fins, you’ll barely notice the difference between the Palau and other full fin alternatives. Thanks to its short blade length, it can even be used for other water sports like windsurfing, rafting, canoeing, and so on. Next, the back strap of the Cressi Palau allows the wearer to adjust between 4 sizes. This helps not only in getting a snug fit, but allows it to be shared among family members or friends. It also accommodates dive boots or neoprene socks.
Personally, we like how the Cressi Palau uses crank-ridges, which allows for more adjustment points and are easy to tighten. It is easy to put on and take off these snorkeling fins from Cressi, even while underwater. The backstrap also comes with a security ring that you can use to attach these fins to other equipment while not in use. Overall, the Cressi Palau offers great performance at a low price and even comes with its own travel bag. For casual snorkelers that will stay in calm waters and like to travel a lot, these are the ideal short fins for you.
Seavenger Torpedo Travel Fins
The Seavenger Torpedo Travel fins boasts an extremely dramatic, powerful name, but does it live up to it? Many snorkelers agree that they are some of the best travel fins on the market today thanks to its comfort and flexibility. They can be used for not only snorkeling but also bodyboarding, swimming, and other surface water activities. Thanks to its open heel design, it comes with a back strap that allows it to accommodate various sizes of feet. You can also wear some dive socks or booties to keep your feet warm.
You can get the Seavenger Torpedo in various sizes and colors, and it is also easy to store and carry with you. It comes included with its own travel bag so you don’t have to worry about whether it fits in any of your bags. Furthermore, the bag is made from a fast-drying mesh, and has a drawstring to open and close it easily. The Seavenger Torpedo Travel fins are made from lightweight materials that are comfortable, durable, and flexible. With them, you can be sure that no matter where you travel, it will provide you the convenience and comfort you want.
CAPAS Snorkel Fins
The CAPAS Snorkel Fins were designed to be used in numerous swimming environments, whether it is in salt or freshwater, it is a great option for pool training or use in open waters. These fins from CAPAS are comfortable, boasting an open heel design that allows for lots of flexibility when it comes to foot size and wearing dive booties or socks. The straps on the CAPAS snorkel fins are soft and may help you avoid chafing or blisters on your feet.
Furthermore, these fins come with flexible, yet sturdy soles that also include large non-slip inserts for additional protection and to help with balance. They are also easy to put on, take off, and adjust on land or underwater. At the price point that these travel fins are at, they provide many features that you’d expect from more costly fins. Overall, the CAPAS snorkel fins should provide a comfortable, snug fin when worn, and they will also fit quite easily in your travel bags. If you’re not satisfied with your purchase or worried about it breaking, it also comes with a one-year warranty.
ANGGO Short Fins for Snorkeling
For those looking for a pair of snorkeling fins that are comfortable and as lightweight as they come, then don’t overlook the ANGGO Short Fins. These fins are constructed using durable and sensitive materials, making them a joy to use when you are kicking in the water. With the ANGGO short fins, you’ll swim much further without tiring yourself so quickly. It is a great option for beginners that want to snorkel without feeling like they are wearing anything on their feet.
Furthermore, the design of the ANGGO short fin is highly innovative, with its hydrodynamic rails and blade angle, which further enhances one’s kick speeds and propulsions. Inside, you’ll find that the fins include flexible pads that help it maintain its shape even when it is completely dry. In addition, these short fins from ANGGO also come with a mesh bag that promotes quick-drying after use. With it, you’ll have a convenient, lightweight bag that you can bring with you on your travels.
Phantom Aquatics Sport Travel Snorkel Fins
Snorkeling can get tiring if your fins don’t give you much thrust, but with the Phantom Aquatics Sport Travel fins, you’ll find your feet are free from strain and you’re effortlessly gliding through water. If you want to snorkel for long, comfort is crucial, and the foot pockets of these fins will contour to the shape of your feet. In addition, the Phantom Aquatics Sport can be worn barefoot or with booties. Since it has an open heel design, the buckle strap allows for easy adjustment and gives you lots of options when it comes to how the fin should fit.
These fins are definitely intended for warm water use, as they even feature an open toe design for extra breathability. You’ll find that the Sport Travel Fins from Phantom Aquatics features a hinge point that allows it to maintain its shape for more efficient energy transfer each time you kick. Of course, you should expect an included mesh bag since this is a travel fin. Lastly, there is a hard rubber pull tab that helps you wear the fins easily, but if used without socks or dive booties it may end up causing irritation instead. Overall, these fins are yet another solid pair of short fins for travel by Phantom Aquatics.
BPS Short-Blade Adjustable Swim Fins
The BPS Short-Blade Adjustable Swim Fins are constructed using high-quality polypropylene, which are comfortable and lightweight, allowing you to snorkel freely without feeling handicapped by a heavy pair of fins. Enjoy the feeling of snorkeling with an extension to your feet because you’ll hardly even notice they’re there. The open heel design is great for ensuring a good fit, and makes these fins easier to put on or remove.
Furthermore, the BPS Swim Fins are flexible and come with an anti-slip sole for better grip on your feet. This will ensure they stay on your feet as you’re kicking, and helps with energy transfer which will increase your speeds and reduce fatigue. If you don’t have to kick as hard to generate force, then you will avoid cramps while snorkeling. We like how lightweight and compact they are, making them ideal for snorkeling trips in calm, warm waters.
US Divers Trek Travel Fin
Does it make you feel better knowing that a product you purchased is made from environmentally safe materials, and that it is possible to get a high quality product that is made in a sustainable way? If so, then the US Divers Trek Travel Fin should be to your liking, as the company claims it is “committed to our oceans”.
In fact, all of the fins made by US Divers are designed for the enjoyment and safety of the customer, as well as for healthier oceans. In order to accomplish this, the US Divers Trek Fin comes with a dual composite blade along with their open heel, comfortable strap design. Though it has a small form, it doesn’t compromise on quality and will serve to propel you through the waters easily like any full fin would. It is suitable for people of all experience levels, and can be used for various water activities besides snorkeling.
Making the Decision
As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages to choosing each fin style. Let’s discuss each point in detail to see if it is really as big of a deal as people make them out to be.
Less Kicking vs. More Kicking
Long fins will propel you farther and faster with less kicks which sounds good until you realize you need the strength and stamina to back that up. Each kick with a long fin is more tiring than with a short fin.
Compared to long fins, short fins still help you move faster in the water, but to cross the same distance, you need to kick more times. Each kick will be easier to do, but since you need to kick more often, you still need sufficient endurance. Let’s say you have to do twice the amount of kicks to match a long fin, but each kick is easier, so it becomes a matter of strength vs endurance.
Furthermore, some snorkelers choose long fins because they are able to observe the sea creatures without moving their feet so much. Long fins are more buoyant and require less kicking which means you are less likely to scare fish away.
Hitting Reef and Coral
Some snorkelers complain that long fins tend to graze through corals, reef, and seafloor due to their length. This can damage the fin, or if it manages to reach flesh, result in a painful scratch. However, the way to fix this issue isn’t necessarily to wear short fins, but to change how you move through water.
For instance, you should point the tips of your feet backwards instead of downwards. This simple change alone will reduce the amount of times you avoid hitting reef with your fins or feet and propel you forward. Otherwise, even with short fins you may encounter the same issues.
Due to their length, the blades of long fins are more flexible, but with enough wear and tear, they can get stretched out and will need to be replaced. With short fins, their blades are obviously shorter and that also makes them stiffer, which allows them to last longer.
Entering the Water
However, whether you opt for a short fin or long fin, it is hard to walk with any fin and getting from the shore to water can get tricky. In this case, long fins are more troublesome since it is easy to trip over them, which can damage them and also cause you to fall. Even with short fins, this problem is not entirely mitigated. As such, snorkelers and divers should walk backwards with their fins on until they reach the water.
Another method is to walk in the water in your water shoes or neoprene socks until it reaches around waist height. At this point, then you can try putting on your fins. With this method you don’t have to walk as far backwards in an awkward manner. With short fins, it will be easier to put them on underwater.
Should You Get Short Fins: The Verdict
Many snorkelers prefer to wear short fins because the leg movements required are highly reminiscent to swimming without fins. It feels more natural, and on top of that you get most of the advantages of wearing fins with almost no downsides.
With that said, it does take some getting used to so that you have the stamina to snorkel comfortably without running out of breath. With practice, short fins can be used for increasing flexibility, strength training, and improving your underwater movements.
On the other hand, long fins are ideal for beginners that enjoy the extra buoyancy that allows them to float in one place so they can observe the underwater sights or catch their breath. Depending on what you want out of your snorkeling experience, you may pick one or the other. People who like to travel a lot who don’t have a lot of luggage space should bring short fins.
Snorkeling Without Fins
With all of this debate of whether you should get short fins or long fins or even wide fins, what about snorkeling without fins? Many people like the idea of not needing a bunch of equipment, which means more savings and less things to bring with them, but this is not recommended. If there is ever a rip tide or strong current, or if you suddenly feel tired, fins can help you swim to safety faster.
In addition to any buoyancy provided by your other snorkeling gear, such as a snorkel vest, flotation belt or life jacket, snorkeling fins are also buoyant and can help you stay afloat. In emergency situations like this, any bit of help that can let you catch your breath can make a difference. Or, if you just want to do some leisurely snorkeling, staying afloat effortlessly is always a good thing.
The Bottom Line
All fin types are viable options for snorkeling, and there isn’t a “perfect” fin that will satisfy everybody. The best fins are the ones you enjoy snorkeling with, and if they happen to be short fins, then great. Unfortunately, this is hard to answer without personally experiencing it for yourself. In addition to the factors we discussed in this article, there are additional considerations such as how comfortable they are, whether they chafe your skin, how well they fit, and so on.
Often, the deciding factor for most people is simply an issue of getting a pair of fins that can fit in their bags if they have to travel far to snorkel. All of the fins reviewed in this page are travel fins designed specifically to be lightweight, and they come with a quick-drying mesh bag so you don’t have to worry about getting another bag for your fins. So if you want a solid pair of travel fins, look into getting one of the snorkeling fins in this review.