If you’ve taken a liking to freediving as a sport, you’re probably eager to find the best type of equipment you can use to boost your performance.
When it comes to fins, you might be wondering – does length matter? Specifically, do short fins make freediving easier or worse?
Over the next few minutes, we will answer this question as well as explore what makes a good pair of freediving fins in the first place.
How Long Should Freediving Fins Be?
We should probably start off by pointing out that a good pair of freediving fins should measure between 31 to 38 inches on average. This isn’t to say that smaller fins don’t get the job done, it’s just that they’re usually designed for a slightly different purpose.
Now, the reason why people tend to lean toward long fins when freediving is because they displace more water per kick. This means that the diver is able to cover a much longer distance with very little physical effort.
Because longer fins displace more water per kick, it has become widely accepted that for a freediver to perform well without wasting too much energy, they should invest in a decent pair of long fins.
It should be fairly obvious that short fins have their uses, mind you, it’s just that most freedivers have settled on a universally accepted standard that may or may not be entirely practical.
Can You Use Short Fins For Freediving?
A pair of fins is only as useful as their construction allows them to be. With regard to freediving standards, it does appear that very few divers prefer short fins over long ones.
How much of it has to do with tested efficiency and how much revolves around personal preference is difficult to guess.
What we do know is that freediving with shorter fins is far from ideal, especially if you value propulsion and power over short-term mobility and comfort. In fact, the loss in thrust can only be justified if personal comfort has a much bigger effect on your overall performance than actual gear.
That being said, a happy diver is an efficient diver. A smaller pair of fins can still bolster your performance considerably provided that they’re comfortable enough to give you some extra strength.
What Size Freediving Fins Should I Get?
It is common for beginner freedivers to be given long fins as part of their training. While this is very good for practice, more experienced divers might like to have the option of utilizing more maneuverable, short fins.
The entry-level size for freediving fins is around 24 inches or so. While it may be good to practice with shorter fins from time to time, newbies are usually instructed to go for fins that are larger than 24 inches in length.
You also have to consider softness if we’re talking size. You see, larger fins are rather soft and flexible, whereas smaller ones are a bit more rigid.
And none of these factors takes your leg muscles into consideration. Think about it, larger fins work for most folks, but people rarely share the same physical characteristics.
A more muscular and experienced freediver can definitely compensate for shorter fins with a more sustained effort and stronger muscles. This way, the diver gets all the mobility that smaller fins provide without sacrificing too much speed or power.
Why Are Freediving Fins So Long?
The reason why most freediving fins measure between 31 to 38 inches is because they are designed to give a diver the maximum amount of thrust. This also means that the initial thrust will require a good deal of effort but most divers adapt to these demands with time and practice.
In comparison, short freediving fins offer less thrust, but what they lack in thrust they make up in mobility. So when it comes to conserving energy, short fins have their advantages and disadvantages. For experienced divers at least, this is mostly a matter of preference and ability.
For inexperienced freedivers, on the other hand, perhaps the best choice would be to opt for the convenience of a larger pair of fins.
Think of it like the gears of a bicycle. Every time you push the pedal, you cover a certain distance on the road. With stronger legs, you will undoubtedly cover a bigger area, albeit with a lot more effort on your part.
Top 5 Best Short Freediving Fins
Even though most freediving fins are built for roughly the same purpose, they can differ in terms of build quality, material construction, flexibility, and comfort. Here are our five top picks for the best short fins to use for freediving:
Best Short Fins
At the same time, the filter pads inside the fins are designed to keep the fins in perfect shape when you’re not using them. This makes them perfect for recreational freediving.
Because of their compact size, these fins are ideal for any experienced diver who prefers the mobility provided by small fins over the propulsion of larger ones.
The CAPAS Snorkeling Fins also boast a soft foot pocket that’s flexible enough for the fins to be used barefoot. That said, you can still use them while wearing swim socks with no issue.
Easy to readjust both vertically and horizontally, these fins are simple to slip on and secure quickly for the inexperienced diver.
What’s more, they are among the few fins that come available in a wide variety of sizes, from young kids to seasoned veterans. This versatility gives picky divers a lot more control over the fins they use and how they use them.
- They feature a sturdy flexible sole
- The large, non-slip inserts offer great protection for the foot
- A humanized blade design improves their overall comfort
- Boasting an adjustable open heeled design, they fit a diverse range of users
- Difficult to put on for people with unusually large feet
- Prolonged usage may cause blistering
These ingenious freediving fins deliver across the board in a blend of function and form, sacrificing neither.
Best Lightweight Fins
These lightweight fins can be put on in a matter of seconds, be it on land or underwater. This is exactly what a pair of freediving fins should be like in regards to ease of use.
These fins also boast an elastomer foot pocket designed to improve comfort. This is meant to reduce the risk of bruising and blistering. The blade of the fin extends from the top of the foot, maximizing surface area to provide increased propulsion power.
What makes this Cressi model standout from other freediving fin options is its lightweight build. Weight plays an important role in choosing a pair of fins, any diver knows that. In this regard, these are some of the lightest diving fins on the market.
- They benefit from quick-release strap buckles
- Full length side-rails direct water flow for improved thrust
- The polypropylene & elastomer construction makes them very sturdy
- Aesthetically pleasing design
- Little diversity in size, with a bias towards larger feet
- Might feel a little stiff in the beginning
If you’re looking for a lightweight, freediving fin option, the Cressi Well-Balanced fin is the right choice for you.
Sturdiest Freediving Fins
Due to its sturdy construction, these fins will not delaminate or break easily (which is the least you should expect from fins in this price range).
A 25-degree pre-angled blade and power bars increase their stability and maneuverability at any swimming speed.
Thanks to a boot-fit design, the pocketed re-profiled construction allows the fins to be used while wearing swim boots.
If you’re a strong swimmer, you need a pair of strong fins to match. Although not exactly cheap, these fins are definitely as strong as they come.
- They fit easily in an IATA carry-on compliant luggage
- The Monprene construction increases their overall sturdiness
- Ideal for both experienced divers and snorkelers
- They offer quite a bit of kicking power at any depth
- Some customers have complained about the heel strap attachment
- A bit pricey when compared to similar quality products
Scubapro’s GO Sport Diving fins are an excellent choice for freedivers who like to travel and want durable fins that will last through all their diving adventures.
These accommodating fins benefit from a multi-compound foot pocket that increases power transfer to the fin blade.
At the same time, the anatomically designed foot pocket enhances comfort and wearability without sacrificing performance or durability.
The fins come with reinforced blade side-rails as well as blade vents to ensure top performance and maximum maneuverability.
If being a nimble diver your top priority, you need a fin that can provide flexibility and mobility above everything else. And with the SF-22, you won’t find a more flexible fin than this pair.
- A three-channel blade with a crescent tip maximizes propulsion
- They incorporate standard compatibility with Anatomic Fin Strap (AFS)
- TUSA patented EZ Strap and buckle system guarantees a secure fit
- Impressively comfortable due to its thermoplastic elastomer construction
- A bit tight at the heels when worn with certain socks
- Somewhat heavy compared to other fins in this price range
If you’re looking for propulsion and overall performance without sacrificing flexibility, you could do a lot worse than the SF-22 fins from Solla.
These fins may be aimed at the low-end of the price spectrum, but the overall performance and flexibility are top-notch.
As you would expect from a versatile pair of fins, they come in two unisex offerings and they can cover most foot sizes.
These fins benefit greatly from a durable TPU construction with an open-heel design that allows for long-term comfortable wearing.
It should also be said that despite their entry-level price tag, they still deliver across the board, especially as far as surface swimming is concerned.
- The short fin design offers easy maneuverability for snorkeling
- They are travel-friendly to an impressive standard
- The construction materials are of a very high quality
- An easy kick blade ensures that they last a lot longer than most fins
- They have poor buoyancy
- Quite heavy given their small size
This is one of the best budget options out there and perhaps the best fins for beginners in this price range. If you plan on freediving on a tight budget, you absolutely have to give these fins a try.
The Importance of Construction Materials
Freediving fins can differ quite a lot from one another with regard to the materials used in their making. Let’s explore how the different materials used to make these fins impact their performance.
Plastic Freediving Fins
The first thing you notice about plastic freediving fins is how easily they bend when you push them against a solid object, yet how quickly they revert back to their original state.
Because of their flexibility, these fins may not be the most ideal for powerful kicks, but they certainly make up in mobility what they lack in strength.
We refer to this flexibility as ‘responsiveness’ and we gauge it by noting how quickly the fin snaps back into place when they’ve been pushed to their limits.
In this respect, stiff blades possess more strength but flexible blades increase mobility over short distances.
Fiberglass Freediving Fins
As the name suggests, these fins are built using fiberglass. On average, they are stiffer blades than the plastic ones, so they rely on strong leg muscles to do what’s expected of them.
Because of their responsiveness, using these fins can save you a lot of stamina when doing deep dives.
Fiberglass fins are somewhat more expensive than plastic versions, yet quite affordable compared to carbon fiber fins.
Carbon Fiber Freediving Fins
Among the key differences between carbon fiber and fiberglass, note that carbon fiber fins are insanely flexible and quite responsive when compared to fiberglass fins.
A single kick with a pair of carbon blades will drive you up to the water’s surface with great speed, a useful feature for deep dives.
Know that when you’re using carbon fiber fins, you conserve a lot more energy and thus, are able to go for much longer dives.
Hardness Vs Softness
When it comes to their overall utility, each set of fins has an intended use, although manufacturers rarely mention it.
You see, softer blades are better for surface activity on account of their short-range mobility and flexibility. This makes them ideal for any newcomer or casual freediver.
On the other hand, soft blades are fairly unreliable the deeper you go. As soon as you feel confident going deeper and deeper, you will have to eventually switch to harder blades.
Harder blades may require stronger leg muscles but considering how energy-efficient they are long-term, they definitely justify the switch.
Not only that but hard fins usually cover a much larger surface while you swim, enhancing your overall speed.
After looking at what the market has to offer, we can confidently say that you can use short fins for freediving – provided they are attached to the legs of a strong and experienced swimmer.
The effectiveness of short fins in the context of freediving has as much to do with swimming ability as it does with fin length. Also, the materials used to make the fins will definitely play a role in determining your overall speed and mobility.
At the end of the day, you should give both long fins and short fins a try if you have the budget to experiment. As a dedicated freediver, you might find that your preferences change with time and experience.