If you’re an avid diver or snorkeler, you’ve probably invested in a nice pair of fins. While they may not need as much maintenance as a mask or snorkel, there are still some steps you can take to ensure the longest life possible for them. With a few dive/snorkel fin care techniques, you’ll be able to use the same pair of fins for years.
Check Equipment Often
One of the best tips I can offer is to make sure you check your equipment both AFTER snorkeling and BEFORE packing them to go on a trip. This means making sure everything is where it’s supposed to be and testing the straps to make sure they’re intact. Broken straps are a surefire way to ruin a snorkel or dive trip. It doesn’t hurt to have a spare strap handy, just in case.
When you pack your fins in luggage, either be sure they have plenty of space in your bag so they aren’t being bent or carry them onto the plane and put them in the overhead bin where they aren’t at risk of being crushed and warped for extended periods of time.
After you’ve gotten in and out of the ocean, the best thing you can do for your fins is to rinse them off with fresh water. Saltwater is particularly damaging to basically any kind of material that fins are made out of. Once saltwater dries and crystallizes onto the rubber or silicon, it immediately starts doing damage. Many beaches offer showers where you can rinse off afterwards and snorkeling excursions will often provide a bucket of water to rinse equipment in after getting out of the water.
If neither of these are an option, consider packing an extra bottle of water for that express purpose. If none of these are available, rinse them as soon as you either get back to your house or hotel room. Even if you’ve been in freshwater, algae and sand can be damaging. If you get in the habit of not rinsing off your fins, you may notice cracking or a difference in flexibility after just a few uses.
Don’t ever put your fins away damp. Either let them air dry or wipe them with a soft towel before storing them to prevent cracking or growing mold.
Most snorkels come with plastic inserts that many people throw away after their first use. KEEP these. They should be put back into your fins to maintain their shape so that they always fit comfortably on your foot. Be sure to use these during storage because that’s really when the foot opening gets smashed and malformed.
When storing your fins, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Store your fins flat. If they are on their tips or crammed somewhere, the more likely they are to become bent or warped and will no longer function how they’re supposed to.
- Keep out of direct sunlight or heat. This means storing it someplace away from your heater and DEFINITELY should not be left in the trunk of your car. Excess heat will warp the fin shape and sunlight will break down the rubber.
- If you plan on storing your fins for a long time, think about investing in some spray on silicon. This will give your fins a protective coating while they’re stored safely in a closet or under a bed.
- Avoid bringing your fins into contact with oil, aerosol, and chemical solvents. All of these materials will cause fins to erode or degrade. Gas appliances especially increase ozone near the vicinity and will break down rubber parts of fins.
- Don’t store your fins under anything heavy that may have effect on the structural integrity of the fins.
- Keep somewhere cool and dry—humidity is not good for fins.
Any time you pack or unpack your equipment, make a point of inspecting your fins, mask, and snorkel for any breaks or cracks. It’s easier to make a mental note when storing your equipment and planning to replace it than having to be out of luck next time you try and get out in the water. Two looks are always better than one.
If you keep these practices in mind, your fins will stay as effective as the day they were purchased. Happy snorkeling!