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Unmasked A Modern Look at Scuba And Snorkel Masks

Unmasked A Modern Look at Scuba Masks And Snorkel Masks

Today we’re going to talk about Scuba and Snorkel Masks, which also hold true for FreeDiving applications.

Many Divers and Snorkels ask us “What’s the Best Scuba Mask?” Our answer is simple….The one that fits you best. Read on and learn the additional features that will make your dive mask the best.

Question For You:

Have you ever been to a resort where someone just hands you a snorkel mask our a dive mask out of a bucket and tells you to go and enjoy the water?  For some that can be a wonderful eye popping experience and for others it can be painful, irritating, uncomfortable or downright unnerving.

Today we are going to discuss some of the key features, technologies, materials, styles and levels of comfort you can come to expect from a good quality scuba or snorkel mask. 

Hopefully this will help you pick out the best scuba mask or snorkel mask for your every day water related activities.

Key Features

Some would argue that the more expensive the mask is, the better it will fit you or the better quality it is.  This isn’t quite the case.

The best mask on the market is the mask that fits your face first and foremost.

Factors that affect the fit of the mask are face shapes, facial hair, buckle or strap design, single or double lens, type of mask skirt material, lens glass and frame shape to name a few.

Generally speaking the bigger the face the larger the mask skirt and frame will have to be.  Someone with a narrow face like a woman or small child can fit a small to mid size frame, while most average size faces would benefit from a standard fit, larger faces may require a wide fitting mask.

There are a handful of brands who offer small/medium fitted masks, as well as wide fitting masks, while the norm is to make a mask for the average face.

Once you’ve determined the size of mask you may need its time to weigh options, for example, if you have facial hair, you may favour a stiffer mask skirt with a frameless designed that will sit slightly higher above the moustache versus one that lays across the hair preventing a full seal against the upper lip and under the nose.  

The Moustache: Moustache divers or snorkelers can be one of the more challenging people to fit, so we often gravitate to a few good “moustache masks”.  These masks are shorter and stiffer in the upper lip area and aren’t as affected by the facial hair which can break the seal of a softer skirted mask.

The BARE Frameless Mask, Atomic Frameless Mask, Mares X-Vision standard and TUSA Powerview have been some of our most successful options. 

Avoid The Dreaded Purge Valve!  Rather than going for a proper fit, some people choose to go for a mask with a purge valve in the nose that allows you to simply blow out to evacuate water, which is great, when they work, however, we believe a purge valve mask is an excuse for an ill-fitting mask.  

Purge masks also tend to fail over time having the valve curl or simply falling out causing the mask to fill up with water, so for this reason we simply don’t recommend or endorse the use of purge valves in masks, but are happy to add one into any mask you desire should you want one.

Wearing a Skirt?

Guys and girls both wear skirts when wearing a mask.  So what’s the difference in mask skirts?  Mask skirts can be made of a number of different materials including Rubber, TPR (transparent rubber), PVC, Silite, Silflex, Silter, Silicone, Crystal Silicone, Liquid Silicone, Liquid Crystal Silicone, Gummybear Silicone and more.

Rubber was the most common type of material throughout the infancy of snorkeling and scuba because it was inexpensive, created a seal, was black which helped the person see clearer without glare and refraction of light, but it was not a product that had offered a lot of longevity, however, in the late 1970’s silicone started to become more popular due to the fact that it didn’t break down in the sunlight, was more comfortable and chlorine resistant.

Alternatively TPR, PVC, Silite, Silflex, Silter are all harder skirted alternatives that cost less, are replaced more and are often found in the department stores.  Some manufactures promote a silcone mask/snorkel combo, however, a mask can be class as “silicone” with as little as 5% in the skirt.

You can tell how much silicone is in the mask vs. plastic or other materials by holding the clear skirt up to the light.  If the mask has an opaque colour that looks “clumpy” or more white it isn’t pure silicone.  If the mask skirt has an odour the smells like chemicals, its not pure silicone.

Many of our dive mask brands offer both “sport” quality and “dive” quality. Both can be suitable for snorkeling and in some cases diving too, however, fit and comfort are the 2 most important factors affecting your decision to purchase one over the other.

Pure Silicone mask skirts are still the most comfortable, last the longest, do not break down with repeated saltwater or chlorine immersion and are UV resistant.

Silicone masks can come in skirts that are acid washed to be perfectly transparent or they can be coloured black or other unique colours.  At DDS we prefer black silicone because it offers better vision through the process of eliminating excessive amounts of light which flow in through the normally clear skirt and then cause glare and refraction of light when compared to their black skirted brethren who provide eye and glare protection and less overall strain and eye fatigue.

Clear Skirted Masks Yellow over time.

Black skirted masks also age better maintaining their black colour, whereas clear skirted masks only stay clear for a little while, that is until the uv rays, dirt, sand, rubber and other factors start to cause a yellowing of the skirt and they become opaque over a rather short period of time, meanwhile the black skirted mask is still looking as fresh and good as it did the day it was purchased.

Regardless of the mask you choose it’s all about fit and comfort.  You can read review after review, but the mask should be fitted by a professional who understands your needs, wants and has a good selection.

We sell virtually every brand of mask, but have cherry picked among our entire staff the masks we feel to be the best fitting masks on the market.

Keep the gimmicks to a minimum.

The Fit

Make sure when you’re wearing your mask you can equalize your ears by squeezing your nose pocket, this will ensure you can get to the nose pocket when you need to.

Make sure the mask strap isn’t too tight.  A proper fitting mask only needs to have the strap snug, not tight because the water pressure is going to keep the mask on your face for the most part too.

Make sure the mask doesn’t sit against the brow area putting pressure on it if its a 2 lens mask (men generally have a protruding brow).

Make sure the nose pocket doesn’t dig into the bridge of the nose.

Wear the mask strap just over top of the ears centering it around the middle 1/3 of the skull.  Wearing it too high can cause the mask to push up under the nose causing chaffing and making it raw over time, so really pay attention to centering it and keeping it adjusted comfortably.

When wearing the mask you can check for proper width by looking in a mirror.  You don’t want to see the skirt too narrow that it sits on the eye, but you also don’t want it so wide that it lets water in through the top or sides.

Breath in through your nose without using the strap, see that the mask sits comfortably on the face.  If it does, put the strap on, snug it up comfortably and with the mask against the face exhale.  The exhaled air should go out the bottom of the mask not the top of the head by the temples or above the eyes.

High or Low Volume?  Which is Better?

Low Volume is always best.  The lenses sit closer to your eyes.  There’s a smaller airspace to equalize the masks internal airspace which is something you’ll notice when you go down on breath hold or on scuba.  With increased pressure the mask will suck to your face more and more and more eventually causing pain and discomfort.  To avoid this you’ll need to equalize the airspace by simply blowing some air through your nose into the mask to keep it from squeezing down.

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Black Skirted Masks maintain their colour and help eliminate light glare

Lower volume masks are more comfortable and are easier to clear water out of as well.  Imagine a big round window shaped mask and how big and how much water can fill that mask up.  Now picture a streamlined mask that has a similar surface area to that of a pair of swim goggles but with an enclosed nose so you can blow into it.  

Which mask is going to be easier to clear the water out of ?  The one with more or less water in it?  If you guessed less water in it you’re right.  The smaller the masks overall internal volume the easier its going to be to blow the air out of it.

Frame or No Frame?

Divers have long gravitated towards plastic framed masks that press the glass, plastic and frame all into one package with a lens retainer.  They’re durable, comfortable, most popular.

Frameless masks are a more modern concept that has less overall parts and simplified construction by simply moulding the silicone frame over the tempered glass lenses and bonding the silicone to the skirt.

The Different Mask Lenses

The market for different dive lenses have changed a lot since the initial introduction of simple tempered glass or polycarbonate lenses.

Tempered Glass lenses are still the industry standard because of their durability, relative cost effectiveness and the fact that they don’t shatter inwards due to pressure.  They can break like anything else, but generally the glass will stay together.

Tempered Glass is durable, they aren’t affected by scratches in the water, but they do have a greenish tinge to the glass which cuts back on light transmission.

Polycarbonate is plastic, scratches very easily and not suitable for scuba diving or much more than pool playing.  They’re typical of your department store masks which are cheap and not designed to last.

Ultraclear Glass Lenses introduced by Atomic Aquatics

Ultraclear glass is an optical quality glass with exceptional clarity and high light transmission, with no colour distortion.

Standard float glass (tempered glass) lets through approximately 86% of the available light but UltraClear lenses can allow up to 92% light transmittance. Combine that with the increased colour vibrancy and clarity and you’ll never want to dive with a standard lens again.

ARC Lenses or Anti Reflective Coating Lenses Introduced by Atomic Aquatics

Between 4-14% of light can be reflected back or “lost” by the standard “green float glass” mask lenses used by the more traditional mask makers.  ARC technology lenses are especially important for SCUBA divers underwater, where available light is quickly absorbed by the surrounding water because they help amplify available light.

Atomic Aquatics ARC Technology to reduce reflected light and actually increase the amount of available light transmitted to a diver’s eyes. The result is a greatly improved transmission of 98% of available light, compared to a loss of more than 14% of light with standard green “float” glass used on the majority of masks on the market.

ARC uses a multi-layer metal oxide coating process applied to both sides of the UltraClear lenses. This allows more light to enter the mask by reducing light reflections off the inside and outside surface of the lens. The metal oxide coating is only a few microns thick.

Anti-Reflective Coatings or ARC is a multi-layer metal oxide coating process applied to both sides of the Ultraclear lenses. This allows more light to enter the mask by reducing light reflection off the inside and outside surface of the lends. Clearer, crisper vision.  Reduces eyestrain, glare and prevents ghost images on the viewing area of the lens. A must for night diving and limited visibility conditions and underwater photographers.

Mirrored Lenses

Some Divers like the idea of mirrored lenses, however, they reflect back at the fishlife and can cause unwanted confrontations.  They also hide the divers eyes, which are essential when assessing diver comfort underwater, so for this reason we’d suggest staying away from mirrored lenses.

Types of Mask Straps

DDS Neoprene Mask StrapMost mask straps are made of the same material as the mask.  They’re designed to fit comfortably, not overly tight around the back of the wearers head and have side adjusters that allow you to often times pull the mask strap by tabs to tighten it.  

The straps can pull hair or can tend to be uncomfortable.  One way we fix this is by adding a neoprene mask strap backing or replacing the entire strap with a neoprene adjust-a-strap which uses Velcro on the sides and neoprene on the back of the head. 

You don’t need hair to enjoy a neoprene mask strap, they’re the best option for ease of donning or taking your mask off, plus they also float a little bit, so if you drop you mask into the water you may have faster response as it may not sink immediately .

Prescription Lenses

We can get a number of masks with prescription lenses.  We carry lenses in + or – diopters, as well as custom ground lenses for people needing lenses for different pupil distances and special features. 

The costs of lenses for negative diopters are very reasonable.  Positive diopters are more expensive.  Standard bio-focal lenses are also available.

We generally recommend TUSA or Atomic for prescription lenses.  They’re easy to install and the masks are the best quality you can buy.

Replacement Parts

When purchasing a mask consider the fact that this product will last you 20-30 years if you look after it.  My personal TUSA mask is one I’ve had since 1996.  Dan had a 30 year old TUSA mask.  When you buy quality products from reputable manufacturers who make their own masks (NOT OEM with a Log slapped on) you purchase a product that is going to have parts and service around for years (or decades) to come.

Mask clips can commonly break if dropped or stepped on.  Lenses can chip, mask skirt scan rip, lens retainer clips can break if you’re cleaning the mask and mask skirt on a regular basis.

Brands like TUSA, Atomic Aquatics, Mares Diving, Problue and Scubapro keep a range of clips and replacement parts in stock.

Pre-cleaning Your Mask

Pre-clean your mask with toothpaste rubbed on the inside of the glass and take a toothbrush with mild abrasive and brush the inside glass to remove a protective silicone residue that is tacked on the inside.  You can also carefully burn it off with a flame if you have a steady hand and trust yourself around silicone.

Pre-cleaning the mask will help prevent fogging and will give you a better chance of fog-free diving.

Defogging Your Mask

Mask defog is your friend.  Not because we’re a dive store, but because you don’t want bacteria ridden saliva in your mask that you may or may not fully rinse out.  We’ve seen divers with eye infections from using the communal “spit bucket” on the dive boats down south where 10-20 divers are all spitting in their mask and then rinsing in a communal bucket.

Commercial Mask Defog is awesome!  It lasts years and years despite the small affordable 2oz bottle it comes in.  McNett Sea Drops and McNett Sea Gold are the best defogs we’ve used.  No bacteria or eye irritation and you also don’t have as much black mould or bacteria growing in your mask after 6-12 months of using it vs. spit.

Spitting in your mask is a good temporary solution, but defog will prevent things from growing in the mask and give you the best fog free solution.

To use your defog properly though follow these steps. 

  1. Apply defog to mask lens dry 2-3 drops per lens or 5-6 drops overall if single lens max.
  2. Leave defog on the mask until you’re ready to hit the water
  3. Rinse defog off with your finger and water
  4. Put mask directly on your face or keep filled with water until ready to wear
  5. Keep mask on face, do not take off and let it air dry
  6. If taking mask off fill it up with water and leave lenses wet, don’t air dry

Maintenance For Your Mask

Your mask over time may get dirty, mildewed or saturated with salt crystals or sand which can get between the lenses.  Every 1-2 years or sooner, you should consider taking your mask apart and with hot water, some dish soap and a toothbrush, gently rinse and scrub every bit of the mask frame, skirt, lenses, and lens retainer clips (This isn’t possible with Frameless masks which do not come apart).

To learn more about care and maintenance of your scuba and snorkeling gear take our PADI Equipment Specialist Course.

In Closing,

The best mask on the market is the mask that makes you feel like its a part of your face, it fits naturally, it doesn’t hit off the brow, press on the bridge of the nose and doesn’t need to be overtightened.  It can come with a range of different lenses and price points, but at the end of the day its the mask that feels the best and has the features you want that’s the right one.

While technologies change, the fit criteria should all the same.  Comfort, ease of adjustment, ease of clearing because its low volume and it should look quasi-stylin’.

Matt Mandziuk
Recreational, Cave & Technical Diving Instructor
NAUI Cave & Trimix Instructor 45416
TDI Trimix Instructor 4767
PADI MSDT 207233
SDI Instructor 4767
IDREO Rebreather Instuctor (CCR)
Owner
Dan’s Dive Shop, Inc.
www.dansdiveshop.ca
matt@dansdiveshop.ca

Scuba Diving Fins Review the Good, the Bad and The Ugly

Scuba Diving Fins Review the Good, the Bad and The Ugly

This is a rewrite of a previous fin report I did up a few years ago.  This is a great overview of dive fins, especially for the diver who only wants to buy their fins once.

When divers are searching for dive fins there is a lot of miss-information, too much choice and too few actual “experts” out there who try all of the different fins in a real world environment using different exposure suits, diving in different environments and with different equipment configurations.

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“Aqualung Slingshot Fins are the best fins”. Said NOBODY Ever! Slingshots, Split Fins, Hinge Fins, Seawing Nova Fins, Floaty lightweight plastic fins are a waste of money and lack propulsion

It never ceases to amaze me the things divers put on their feet and attempt to kick underwater with and the amount of energy the exert, the extra air they consume and the additional CO2 they create in the process, not to mention the fact that many dive stores look at the almighty dollar instead of customer satisfaction.

We are at a point in our educational path where we really can’t handle students showing up on referrals or open water courses with the wrong gear.

What makes it the wrong gear you ask?

Inability to perform in the environment that the students are diving in. Inability to propel oneself through the water in an efficient and streamlined manner without stirring up the bottom and inability to maintain proper trim and buoyancy, the ability to move at a reasonable pace without over kicking or over breathing.

Each year we get divers from different dive stores on Open Water “Referral” dives where they often time show up in fullfoot fins (Slip-on fins people wear barefoot) or lightweight, flimsy plastic fins.

Technical 1 Divers doing a Helitrox Dive on Dufferin Wall in Tobermory, Ontario
Technical 1 Divers doing a Helitrox Dive on Dufferin Wall in Tobermory, Ontario great trim and buoyancy with the right fins

The problem with this is the fact that the divers can’t actually maintain proper horizontal trim with these lightweight buoyant fins as they generally speaking have their feet floating up inverting them away from a horizontal position to a vertical foot up head down orientation.

The fins also lack propulsion to actually properly move them through the water.

When a diver kicks what you want is to push the water off the end of the blade of the fin, which is only about the first 13-15% of the blade, while the rest of the fin is designed to be rigid and provide a stable platform for the water to roll down off the end of the blade, so when you put a very lightweight plastic or rubber blade on the end of a foot pocket it just bends and twists and requires side rails to keep the structure of the fin intact.

You need a stiff blade to move more water a soft blade will not displace as much water.

Photographer Fawn Messer photographing Giant Manta Rays in Socorro Mexico
Photographer Fawn Messer photographing Giant Manta Rays in Socorro Mexico

The problem we find with most divers is their inability to kick properly, their inability to stay perfectly still in one spot without moving hands or fins frantically or their lack of awareness.  

Many divers use a flutter kick because that was what they were taught in Open Water, but its inefficient and often times they kick from the hip or the knee straight down rolling the knee/ankle and using excessive energy, while silting out the entire dive site kicking silt up as they channel the water down towards the sensitive bottom fanning up silt and sand one leg at a time, or worse, the divers cause serious damage to the reef as they’re bicycle kicking vertically like a rototiller towards the fragile coral.

At Dan’s, we teach our students a different kick, a more efficient kick, well actually a series of kicks.  Modified Flutter Kick, Frog Kick, Helicopter Turns and Back Fining . These kicks allow for greater control and comfort in the water, while offering more finesse and easier mobility in the water, while eliminating the need for people to hand swim, which is inefficient and a terrible open water diver habit that occurs from divers who aren’t maintaining proper trim or balance in the water.

Why don’t we teach flutter kick? 

Most stores teach their diver to flutter kick because that’s what they’ve always done. We don’t recommend using the flutter kick as your main kick because it creates more drag through the water moving 1 fin at a time causing increased air consumption and energy usage, as well as the most logical problem of it channeling the water straight down to the bottom which reeks havoc underwater with the visibility creating massive clouds of silt that resemble a nuclear mushroom cloud.

Inefficient flutter kicking with a flimsy split fin
Inefficient flutter kicking with a flimsy split fin. Do you notice how the divers body rolls from one side to another?

I was in Tobermory one July 11th weekend and I heard an instructor instructing a student that they needed to get their entire leg into it and kick from the hip straight down. All I kept thinking to myself was what does the visibility look like after these 2 have fluttered through the water? Split fins, hinge fins, fins with funky angles, Seawing Nova fins or really flexible materials are not ideal for diving unless you only ever plan on diving a single tank and flutter kicking. Most fin blades over flex and don’t become useful with divers who have good leg strength. I can over power most fins on the market from the gimmick filled brands.

Nothing offers a better, more efficient, more powerful fin kick than the following APPROVED fins for more progressive diving use: Scubapro Jet Fin, the original, tried, tested, true high performance, high efficiency fin. OMS Slipstream Fin a lighter version of the Jet Fin, Hollis F-1 fins, Dive Rite XT Fins plastic fins with exceptional thrust, Mares Quattro a good fin that is longer, but less efficient that the above mentioned fins, Mares Plana Avanti X-3 lighter kick than a quattro, Mares Super Channel stiffer kick than the x-3, Mares Quattro Excel Fins offer the most precision fin techniques of all Mares Fins but the blade is long and they’re less efficient than some of the above mentioned fins. Mares Power Plana (New Rubber composite material) offers good thrust, while the short blade makes it one of the better Mares Fins for more progressive diving, but it is a lighter blade than the Jet or equivalent.  The XS Scuba Power Fin offers similar performance to a Scubapro fin, as well as their XXL and XXXL Turtle Fins which are both jet fin inspired options, Hollis F-2 fin a shorter, lighter fin than the F1 that allows for the standard kicks with less power and propulsion, not recommended for high flow currents/caves/heavy gear.

The above list of fins although relatively short, cover a broad spectrum of options when you figure there are over 100 different fin models on the market from the major brands at the time of this blog post.

What fin technique is better? 

Here at Dan’s we teach “Frog Kick” or “Modified Frog Kick” to our divers as their main propulsion method because it is an effortless way to swim around your favourite dive site.

You Simply Kick….Glide…..Kick…..Glide.  With a good frog kick you can kick and the push you get will allow you glide for several feet afterwards, allowing you to re-load position of your feet and kick again, often times breathing on the gliding portion and exhaling often on the kick.

You’re channeling the water straight behind you in the same direction the fins are moving. In between kicks there is a glide effect as your momentum moves you forward on your rest stroke and continue on from there.

The biggest issue we have with fins is watching divers floundering around with no control. In an effort to try and keep their knees bent while arching their back to keep their fins at the high point for proper trim, they have a serious lack of control because they can’t seem to do anything with these fins. At that point, the hands come out with sculling to try and stabilize, the flutter kicking starts which is usually followed by a silt out.

Floaty Feet

Some plastic fins are positively buoyant, so when you’re in proper position which should be 10 degrees midline of horizontal, they can bring your feet up too high and keep reaching for the sky so to speak, bringing you inverted and to the point where if you don’t correct it to a point where  you turtle flipping and rolling.

A little bit of weight from the fin, not in the form of ankle weights (which will bring you legs down too low) may keep your feet in the perfect position.

I am a big fan of the Scubapro Jet Fin for this reason.  It offers the best quality fin, lifetime guarantee on the fin even against breakage, and gives me a nice stiffness in the blade, while allowing me to dive it with singles, sidemount wetsuit, drysuit, rebreather or doubles and allowing me to maintain perfect trim offsetting my “floaty feet”. 

Scubapro Jet Fins available in many different sizes, colours and with or without spring heel straps
Scubapro Jet Fins available in many different sizes, colours and with or without spring heel straps

So how do you know if you have floaty feet?  Many people male and female who are thicker through the calves/ankles likely have a bit more need for heavier fins, as do drysuit divers who have buoyancy in their thick undergarment socks or a neoprene boot.

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Dive Rite XT Fins with spring heels

If you don’t suffer from Floaty Feet, find that you don’t need a heavier fin, have a look at the Dive Rite XT Fin.  You won’t find a fin on the market that gives you as much speed and performance in a plastic material than the XT Fin.  Its outperformed virtually every fin on the market in real world and simulated testing.

For more on the XT Fins or a good second opinion of fins have a look at the Dive Rite Blog posted by Lamar Hires back in 2007.

Try getting into the water in your normal setup with no fins on and see which way your body floats, most times your head will drop and your feet will go up if you’re using a proper buoyancy control system and are distributing your weights properly (NOT ON YOUR HIPS). Do this with a tank that is at its lowest tank pressure (if you’re diving aluminum 80’s try it at 1000psi).

If you’re finding your feet go up in a balanced rig for singles or doubles, you can add a trim weight, tail weight or you should try adding a rubber fin to the mix.  If you find your feet drop downwards, you have too much weight on the waist, remove and re-distribute and try again.  If you find your feet still sinking something isn’t right and a Rubber Fin will make it worse.

You can really benefit from additional training as well.  Courses like Intro to Tech or a Fundamentals style course can really improve your skills, knowledge and understanding of the concepts of buoyancy.

Fin Buckles

Likely one of the most often overlooked features of fins are the strap and buckle assemblies.  Fins with plastic buckles and plastic buckle posts and inner roller pins often are made of a breakable plastic material and the loose straps can often find their way into an area of entanglement.

Purchasing fins with spring heel straps makes more sense, you have an near unbreakable stainless steel spring and a stainless or delrin post that is pretty well unbreakable too.

The boots you wear whether wet or dry will stay in place as the stainless heel strap will tighten up as the boots compress with pressure from descending to depth and loosen off as the boots expand back to normal size upon going shallower and the neoprene expanding (if diving wet) or the drysuit boots being filled with a little more gas in them.

Worst Fins for Scuba Diving

The Worst fins without really discriminating against all major fin brands is more of an overview; Avoid the majority of overpriced, overly expensive fins that have hinges, splits, are very light weight, offer unfounded claims of propulsion and performance and of course you can ask us.

Stay away from fins that dive stores are classing as “beginner” fins, there shouldn’t be a designation of “Beginner” or “Expert” diver when it comes to gear configuration.  Every scuba diver should be taught to dive the same way, utilizing the more progressive kicks in the more progressive gear and not be limited by their equipment or their training.

My unwritten rule is if the gear is really pretty or has a lot of hype or bells and whistles it’s likely not that good.

A True Story

Once upon a time I was introducing my ex-wife to double tanks, but she had pretty Pearlescent Pink TUSA Tri-Ex fins, which were very buoyant and I told her she should leave behind at the store as I was loaning her my wetsuit Jet Fins.  When we arrived at the dive site, I got her all buddy checked and I entered the water.At the last moment with my back turned she had a second thought and grabbed her horrible pink fins and put them on in the water and we began our dive.

Seven minutes into the dive she aborted the dive because she was tired and out of breath.  I asked her what the problem was? Knowing full well as soon as she fell behind what the problem was and I noted the pink fins.

She called the dive and told me she wasn’t going anywhere in her fins, so i asked the princess what fins she was wearing and she smiled at me innocently and uttered the words “my pretty ones”.  I told her to get out of the water, grab the Jet Fins and get back in, so she did and she loved them.  For 3 years she dove those fins.  You’ll actually notice them in the top right photo in the background with the pink tanks.

The moral of the story was that she noticed right away how inferior her fins were, how despite the look of the old Jet Fins that they outperformed her newer, more sleek looking fins and that when it came to diving, one little modification like getting better fins can make a world of difference and no longer limits your progress forward.

I’ve always been an advocate of simple and streamlined and doing it right for a reason.

We believe in good fins and proper finning techniques

Maybe it’s because we teach our students a different way of diving, but these divers whom we’ve retrained end up having to buy new fins because their fins just didn’t live up to their diving needs at the open water diver level.

An improperly balanced scuba diver wearing the wrong gear using the wrong techniques
An improperly balanced scuba diver wearing the wrong gear using the wrong techniques

We believe in teaching diving the right way and giving you the tools to make a more informed decision when you purchase your equipment and additional dive training. After learning the pros and cons the customer is able to make a more informed decision. We are happy to sell anything we have or can get if people who insist on them, but it doesn’t mean we recommend or endorse the products at that point. Here are a few photos of us teaching proper fin techniques, proper trim and fit and functionality to new open water and advanced divers.

Our methods and training teaches you how to dive right from the beginning, purchasing the best gear and training available. Check out our training section for more information your next diving course.

DDS Diver maintaining proper trim, posture and buoyancy
DDS Diver maintaining proper trim, posture and buoyancy

Please don’t be insulted if you read that your fins are no good. They’re likely good fins for flutter kicking with a single tank on a reef in a shorty wetsuit, but add a drysuit, a large single tank or a set of doubles, a mild current, more weight to offset that wetsuit or drysuit and now you may find your fins don’t cut it anymore.

Diving is about versatility, evolving and personal development of skills is a big part of that. All divers both recreational and technical should know proper frog kick and they should all have fins that will enhance not hinder in water performance.

If you read our blog and like what we’re doing, we’d appreciate your feedback and business as we share the most up to date and modern information available. Come diving with us, train with us and harness your maximum potential.

The Rescue

One a most recent trip ocean diving in Cozumel 2 divers on the trip were equipped in the wrong fins. One a pair of TUSA Split Fins and the other a pair of Sherwood Elite Fins.  Neither were able to swim against the surface current back to the boat and had to be rescued.

So why did this happen?  Simply put, they had the wrong fins!

It doesn’t matter how much cheaper a pair of inferior, lightweight, plastic Sherwood fins are when you have the fear of your life and panic, which is exactly what happened to the diver in these fins.

The other diver, an experienced DDS diver decided to favor weight for travel over performance and thrust and when they were returned safely to the boat, they said they wished they’d brought their Jet Fins and uttered the words, “Never Again”.

Don’t put yourself in harms way, don’t favor your pocket book over your life, do yourself a favor and get the right gear the first time and the best stuff you can.

Your fins are the most important piece of gear you’ll have as a diver.  Don’t make the same mistakes thousands of new divers a week around the world do.

Buy The Best Fins

Dan’s Dive Shop offers the best selection and pricing you’ll find on scuba diving and snorkeling equipment in Canada or the United States, so please, if you feel that this article has helped you and you would like to purchase the best fins, take a browse through our online store and add a set to your shopping cart today.

Thank you for reading this.  If you have any questions about gear, training, diving techniques, please email me.

See you underwater,

Matt Mandziuk
Recreational, Cave & Technical Diving Instructor
NAUI Cave & Trimix Instructor 45416
TDI Trimix Instructor 4767
PADI MSDT 207233
SDI Instructor 4767
Owner
Dan’s Dive Shop, Inc.
www.dansdiveshop.ca
matt@dansdiveshop.ca