Your snorkeling fins are your in-water means of locomotion. Like a car they get you to your destination faster than if you were to walk. Unlike a car, they need very little in the way of care and maintenance. They still need it, but by following our tips and recommendations, you will not have to replace them for a very long time.FINS, BEEN IN STORAGE
Inspect the foot pockets for any cracking or signs of deterioration of the materials. This is commonly called dry rot. The areas that are most affected would be the foot pockets, straps and any rubberized panels of the fin blades. If you have the strap design, inspect the areas nearest the buckles. Loosen the straps to check the portions that go through each buckle. If a strap does show signs of dry rot, it is best to replace it as soon as possible. Then make sure that your buckles are functioning correctly. If you have the full foot design, look at the material in the heel area and across the top portion of the foot pocket. These two areas are the ones that receive the most stress when donning and doffing your fins. If your fin blades use multiple materials in their construction, check the areas where these materials meet to make sure that there are no separations. This inspection should be done well in advance of your vacation to allow time for ordering replacement straps or new fins if needed.TRANSPORT CONSIDERATIONS
Having your own personal snorkeling equipment with you on vacation is ideal because you do not have to worry about fit, availability or rental fees. You will also be more comfortable in the water using snorkel gear that you know. The mode of transportation you choose in getting to your destination can affect how you pack your fins. This is especially true with air travel. The number of bags you are allowed as well as size and weight limitations can make traditional length fins a bit problematic with regard to packing. Most people choose to bring them in a mesh bag as carry-on which, depending on their length, could be stored in the overhead compartment. This will leave more packing room in your check-in luggage. You really should consider the more popular travel pair which honestly do take the frustration out of packing. Their shorter length requires less room for packing in carry-on or check-in luggage and you won't get dirty looks from other air travelers when finding space for them in overhead compartments. If your snorkeling destination involves extended driving time keep your fins in the cab of the vehicle rather than the trunk. There is more ventilation control in the cab whereas the trunk can heat up to a point to cause them to melt and lose their shape.MULTI-SNORKELING DAYS
You will more-than-likely be snorkeling more than just once on your vacation whether it is per day or over a multiple period of days. If possible, rinse your fins in fresh water between snorkeling ventures to lessen salt water crystal formation and to remove any dirt buildup that can occur. When you are out of the water keep them out of direct sunlight as much as possible as excessive heat may cause some parts to soften to where they lose their original shape. If there is no shaded area available, cover or wrap them in a light colored towel. While everything so far is tips and advice for out of the water you also need to be aware that fins can be damaged while you are in the water. Most of the damage is superficial and cosmetic and doesn't really affect the performance of them. Scuffs and scratches from beach entries and accidental contact with sharp corals and rocks are the most common. One definite no-no is using your fin tips as "stilts". This is when you are in water where you can not stand normally and end up standing on the fin tips for greater height. Doing this will put undue stress on the fin blades causing them to lose their shape and could actually crack them. If you are using your fins in a pool make sure that you rinse then in fresh water and dry them as pool chemicals vary in strength and could affect the plastics and rubber materials.PRIOR TO STORAGE
Thoroughly inspect them following the same procedure as "fins been in storage". Soak them in warm soapy water using a mild liquid dish washing liquid to break down any salt water deposits and dirt. Use a soft bristled toothbrush for hard to reach areas paying particular attention the the buckle areas of strap fins. Once cleaned, thoroughly dry them with a soft cloth. If you have any food grade liquid silicone such as Seal Saver, put a few drops on the rubber portions and using a clean dry cloth, work the silicone into the rubber. Let them sit for an hour or more to allow the rubber to absorb the silicone and then wipe off any excess silicone before storing. Store your fins in a cool dry area away from direct sunlight like your closet. Make sure that any rubber portions (usually the foot pocket and/or strap) are not in contact with any clear silicone such as is found on your mask and snorkel. This will cause a premature discoloration of the silicone material itself.
By Roy Jamason
Updated May 20, 2015