Carbon Fiber Fins For Freediving – The Basics
There are several carbon fiber fins for freediving on the market. There are dozens of different manufacturers and each of them have a variety of styles and options. This post will be going over some of the basic differences between different types of carbon fiber fins, and what you are looking for in a pair of carbon fiber fins.
Progressive and Reactive Fins
Carbon fiber fins for freediving fall into two broad categories. There are progressive carbon fiber fins and reactive carbon fiber fins. Both have their benefits and negative elements. Ultimately, both have their place in different types of diving.
Reactive Carbon Fiber Fins
Reactive carbon fiber fins are better for spearfishing. These fins have an immediate reaction to the force of your feet kicking in the water. That makes these fin useful for pulling fish up off the bottom or out of ledges and caves. There are just too many examples in spearfishing where you need to move immediately and quickly through the water. Some of those examples can be moving through surf on a shore dive. Sometimes that means trying to close the distance on a fish on a long shot. With that being said, reactive fins are a little less efficient over long, steady swims compared to progressive fins.
Progressive Carbon Fiber Fins
Progressive carbon fiber fins are designed for long and deep dives. As the name implies, progressive carbon fiber fins take a little longer to work effectively. As you make slow, steady kicks these fins become very efficient at propelling a diver through the water. This is valuable if you are doing deep dives and you need to swim well over 100 feet (30 meters) to the surface, or doing long dynamic dives in a pool. With that being said it can take two or three kick cycles before these fins start to move a diver efficiently in the water.
Fin Stiffness Differences
Most carbon fiber fin manufactures make two to three different fins stiffnesses for their carbon fiber fins. Every manufacturer has some differences compared to the other manufacturers on the different stiffness of their fins. By that we mean that one manufacturers soft fins can be a different stiffness than another manufacturers soft fins. The same goes for medium and hard stiffness fins. These differences can make it challenging for a diver to decide between one brand or another. With that being said, the difference between one brand and another may be noticeable, but they should not be significant enough to dramatically impact your diving. Getting the right overall stiffness will impact your dives though.
Choosing the Right Stiffness Carbon Fiber Fins for You
The biggest factors for picking the right stiffness blades for you comes down to your weight and size. The bigger you are the stiffer your fins should be. Every manufacturer will have recommendations based on height and weight what stiffness blades would work best for you. Not everyone fits in a perfect box. Most manufacturers will say that if you are under 170 pounds (77 Kg) soft blades are your best option. Between 170 (77 Kg) and 210 pounds (95 Kg) medium blades are a better option. Above 210 pounds hard blades are recommended. If you are near the edge of any of these ranges it can be a personal preferences. If you have lower body injuries you may want to go with a softer blade. People with strong legs you may want to move up on the stiffness to move through the water more efficiently.
Choosing The Right Foot Pocket For Your Fins
Choosing the right foot pocket for your fins can be challenging. There are a handful of fin blades that only work with the manufacturers foot pocket. C4 Fins are a great example of that. Most fin manufacturers make their blades to fit a wide range of foot pockets. Following making sure the foot pockets are compatible with your blades the next most important factor is how the foot pockets fit on your foot. You want the foot pockets to be snug, but not uncomfortably tight. There are a few tricks to helping fill out slightly too large foot pockets. You can get a thicker pair of booties to fill them out. Alternatively, you can get a pair of fin keepers to secure your feet into the pockets. Ideally you just get the right size foot pockets, but these are good options to make what you have work.
Where to Put Your Dive Knife
Every diver needs to carry a dive knife for safety purposes. The challenge is where to put the knife to keep it from becoming a hazard itself. We go over some of the best knives and where they are best placed on a diver for the best access, while keeping streamline on a diver.
Most freedivers like to wear their dive knife on their weight belts. Because freediving tends to be minimalistic in the amount of equipment a diver can carry most gear ends up on the weight belt. Many knives, like the Salvimar Atlantis Knife, have sheaths that allow a diver to keep their knife securely on the weight belt. Keeping your knife on your weight belt has the benefit of being accessible in an emergency. The challenge of having your dive knife on your weight belt is that it is an entanglement hazard itself. Knowing your equipment and being prepared for issues reduces these risks, but it still remains a risk.
Some divers prefer the classic style of keeping their knife on their forearm or on the calves of their leg. The benefits of doing this really just come down to muscle memory. If this is how you have always carried your knife, and it works for you keep doing it. There are some big disadvantages to keeping your knife on your arm or calves. The problem with keeping your knife on your arm is you can only reach it with one hand. This is a big issue if your other hand is the hand that is tangled up and can’t move. The problem with keeping your dive knife on your calves is that it always falls down onto your ankle, unless you have super well defined calves.
Dive Knife Pocket
The best place to keep your knife is in a designated pocket on your wetsuit. The Neptonics Quantum Stealth Wetsuit is a perfect example. The benefits to this is you keep your dive knife in an accessible location, while keeping the knife from becoming an entanglement hazard. The biggest challenge is remembering to clean it after your dive trip.
Freediving Equalization Techniques – Why the Frenzel Technique is so Important
Equalizing is one of the most important skills that you need to develop as a freediver. Proper equalization is what allows you to dive deeper into the depths and enjoy the water at its full potential. If you fail to develop this skill you will find yourself frequently stuck near the surface. We will be going over some of the very basic techniques of equalizing and how they impact your ability to dive deeper.
Why Equalizing is Important
The reason you need to equalize is to get the air spaces in your head to reach equilibrium with the environment. If you do not equalize as you descend underwater the increased pressure around your body will cause discomfort at a minimum. If you push past the discomfort and can cause injuries, some of which can become permanent. A ruptured eardrum is one of the most common injuries from not equalizing, and if the injury is bad enough it can keep you out of the water for months, if to indefinitely.
The Two Equalization Techniques
Broadly speaking there are two types of equalizing techniques. There is the Valsalva technique, which is commonly taught in scuba diving courses, and there is the Frenzel Technique which is taught in freediving courses. Both techniques have some overlap in how they are done. Both techniques rely on blocking the nose and applying pressure to force air into air spaces in your head. The mechanical steps get different from there. Proper diet also impacts your ability to equalize.
Valsalva is a very old breathing technique frequently taught in scuba diving courses. It is an effective way to equalize in shallow water and while you head is higher than the rest of your body under water. This article by Divers Alert Network (DAN) goes over some of the basics of Valsalva, including the drawbacks. The technique has some major issue while being inverted in the water, which is why most Freedivers learn the Frenzel Technique.
The Frenzel method is the modern standard for Freediving equalization. The premise is to use your tongue as a piston to force air into your gustation tubes. This in turn equalizes the pressure of the air spaces in your head. That is a very direct description that does not especially help you learn how to complete this task. Here is a video by Adam Stern demonstrating how to do a proper Frenzel equalization. Here is another great article going over the history, principles, and technique of using the Frenzel while freediving.
Flasher Floats – An Underrated Piece of Equipment for Bluewater Spearfishing
While flasher floats are not necessarily considered essential equipment for spearfishing, or even bluewater spearfishing, they are extremely valuable. This float is a versatile tool, that makes bluewater spearfishing simpler and more effective. These floats can take many forms and designs, but one thing is consistent with them. They are relatively small, and are designed for holding a few pieces of gear at or near the surface, which frees up a divers hands for more important work.
Flasher Floats to Hold Flashers
The primary purpose of these floats is to hold a flare, or flasher rig as a specific depth form the surface. The value of flashers is often under appreciated by the novice bluewater diver. Divers with more experience understand that the ocean is big. Any edge you can have to attract your targeted species towards you can be the difference between an extremely boring day, and the best day of your life. Set flasher floats to various depths. Some of the factors in the depth you put your flashers should be based on your own dive ability. There is no point in setting your flashers to 60 feet if you can’t dive that deep. Another important factor is the expected depth of the fish. Flashers should help bring fish up from depth, and in from out of range.
Chum or Burley
One underutilized use of a flasher float is for chumming, or burlying as the Australians call it. This is done by shooting a fish you intend to cut up in the water. After you subdue that fish you can use some of the excess line on the float to do some impromptu hitches around the fish’s tail. From there you simple use your dive knife to cut away small pieces of the fish and let them drop into the water. The sales, oils, and chunks of fish dropping into the depths should help bring in more fish.
Key Benefit to Using a Flasher Float
There are several reasons to use one of these floats. One of the biggest is that it allows you to easily stop maintaining the flasher rig and focus on spearfishing. This is not so easily done if you just attach your flasher to your spearfishing float. The problem with attaching the flasher to the spearfishing foot is that the flasher is about 100 feet behind you, or however long your floatline is. Targeted fish 100 feet behind you does very little for getting them in the boat. It is also important to not have your flasher rig directly attached to you. It is not uncommon for sharks to come up and bit flashers and swim away with them.
Foot Pockets for Freediving Fins
Picking The Right Pockets For You
Foot pockets are an under appreciated by many freedivers. Other diver may place too much faith in the marketing of some pockets for freedive fins. The most important qualities in a foot pocket are comfort, fit, durability, and that they are compatible with your fin blades.
Some of the Myths
There is a concept in the freediving world that it is important to have ‘light’ pockets. The problem with this concept is that the weight of an object is not important once it is in the water. The object then has the new issue of buoyancy. These are not entirely unrelated subjects, in how the density of an object and the amount of water it displace impact how ‘light’ an object feels underwater. Most brands of freedive fin foot pockets may have some differences in their weights above the water, but once submerged, the difference becomes a few grams difference.
Comfort is Key for Foot Pockets
Foot pockets need to be comfortable. If you swim all day with freedive fins, you want your fins to be an extension of your foot. That means your fins need to be the right size. This can be impacted by several factors. Most pockets come in a size range. These ranges are usually two shoe sizes. Another element to this is the thickness of your neoprene booties or socks if you wear them. If you wear a thicker bootie this changes the size of your foot and may change the pocket size you need. A foot pocket should fit snugly on your foot with your foot pointed out. You should not have a bunch of space for the heel of your foot to move around. If there is excessive space it can result in blisters or hot spots on your feet.
Freedive fin pockets durability is largely determined by the quality of the rubber they are made with. If the rubber is too soft the foot pockets will tear quicker than pockets made with harder rubber. If the rubber is too hard there is no give for your feet as you kick, and they become uncomfortable. Getting the right foot pockets makes a big difference in how long your fins will be useful before you need to replace important parts.
Manufacturer Specific Foot Pockets
There are some brands of fins that require their specific pockets. C4 fins are a great example. Their pockets only work with their blades, and their blades really only work with their pockets. There are a handful of other brands like this.
Garmin MK2s Product Review
The Garmin MK2s is the best dive watch on the market in a compact package. It has all of the functions of the MK2 dive watch while maintaining the size of a normal watch. This watch is hard to beat given the ease of everyday wear.
Dive Modes and Functions
With multiple dive modes this watch is prefect for freedivers as well as scuba divers, or even rebreather divers. With built in GPS capability and mapping it allows divers to zero their spots perfectly. The big difference in this watch is that it does not integrate with the Garmin T1 Transmiter, like the Garmin Mk2i.
Garmin Fitness and Smart Watch Capabilities
Diving is just the start of this watch’s capabilities. It has all the capabilities of a great training watch, with built in pulse oximeters and heart rate monitoring. With countless fitness activity modes this watch is prefect for any active person. Then there are the traditional smart watch components to these watches. Call, text, email, music and so much more. This watch has unmatched durability for everyday wear.
Garmin Mk2s Size
The difference in this watch from the other MK2 is its size. It is a more traditional watch size, comparable to the Garmin Phoenix. Some people see Garmin’s other dive watches and think they can be a bit bulky. The Garmin Mk2s is the solution to that.
Garmin’s Legendary Customer Service and Durability
To top it all off Garmin has legendary customer service that has set the standard for going above and beyond for the customer. These watches are very durable. They have heavy duty crystal screens that are nearly indestructible. Because of this durability you rarely ever need to contact Garmin. That being said, we have never run into an instance where Garmin has failed to assist a customer.
Garmin Descent G1 and G1 Solar Product Review
The Garmin Descent G1 and G1 Solar are the newest in Garmin’s line of dive watches. Garmin has once again outdone itself with creating an even more impressive watch. This watch now has even more features than the other Garmin Dive watches at a lower price.
Garmin Descent G1 Dive Modes
These watches have all the amazing dive features of the past Garmin Descent watches. They are preloaded with modes including: Freedive, Single Gas SCUBA, Multi-Gas SCUBA, and Closed Circuit Rebreather. With the built in GPS this watch is able to record your entries and exits on the surface. The watch still needs to connect with satellites for the GPS to function, so no underwater GPS. With that being said it can record up to 200 dives before it needs to sync up to the Garmin Dive App.
Dive Related Features
The Garmin Descent G1 dive related features are numerous and valuable. One of the biggest safety features is how it is compatible with the Garmin InReach Mini and Case. The ability to communicate with emergency services is one of the greatest features this watch has. Other great features include tide information and Surfline information.
Performance and Sport Watch
This watch comes pre-loaded with over 30 different sport modes, with performance tracking for all of them. The Garmin Descent G1s have the same performance features as the other Garmin Sport watches. It calculates you estimates fitness age as well as suggested workouts and recovery times. When you are done training it records helpful productivity statistics to help indicate if you are overtraining.
Garmin Descent G1 Battery Life and Solar Charging
The biggest change in this watch is the solar charging capability. The solar element doesn’t remove the need to charge the watch, but it significantly improves the battery life of the watch. Garmin claims the watch will have a 25 hour battery life while in dive mode, and a 124 day battery life while in smartwatch mode while solar charging is enabled. They estimate the watch to last 39 hours while in GPS mode. This is a significant improvement over their other watches.
Smart Watch Features
The Garmin Descent G1 comes with most of Garmin’s smart watch features. It has call, text, and smart notifications. It additionally has the Garmin Pay function to allow for easy purchases with compatible devices. The only feature that is cut back on this particular device is the Music function that some other Garmin watch have. For the price the Garmin Descent G1 is a hard dive watch to pass on.
Garmin MK2 and MK2i Product Review
The Garmin MK2 and MK2i Dive Watches are not just the best dive watches on the market. They are the best smart watch on the market for a diver. All of the different dive modes make them perfect for any type of diving. They are a top of the line smart watch as well. The GPS functions make this easily the best watch for free dive spearfishing, or doing anytime in the outdoors.
Dive Modes and Functions
With multiple dive modes this series of watches is prefect for freedivers, scuba divers, and even rebreather divers. These watches are Nitrox compatible. They even allow you to set custom alarms and customize how conservative you watch is for dives. With built in GPS capability and mapping it allows divers to zero their spots perfectly. The Garmin Mk2i has the capability of connecting with the Descent T1 Transmitter Air Integration to monitor task pressure, and for scuba instructors or divemasters you are able to monitor up to five tanks that have transmitters on the regulators.
Garmin Fitness and Smart Watch Capabilities
Diving is just the start of these watches capabilities. These watches have all the capabilities of a great training watch with built in pulse oximeters and heart rate monitoring. It gives recommendations for training intensity and recovery. With countless fitness activity modes this watch is prefect for any active person. Then there are the traditional smart watch components to these watches. Call, text, email, music and so much more. This watch additionally has unmatched durability for everyday wear.
Legendary Customer Service
To top it all off Garmin has legendary customer service that has set the standard for going above and beyond for the customer. These watches are insanely durable, so the odds of having to contact Garmin are low, but they always take care of their customers.
Garmin inReach Mini Product Review
The Garmin inReach Mini is the perfect solution for an offshore communication device. Additionally, they have SOS capabilities. It has connectivity anywhere a satellite can reach. Pair it with any compatible bluetooth device. The inReach Mini even has the ability to improve navigation. With some add-ons it can even be carried in the water.
The inReach Mini runs on the Iridium satellite network. This guarantees communication worldwide. These also allow for two way texting with a smart phone or comparable device. For example, any of the Garmin Dive Watches. This means that your regular smart phone is now capable of worldwide communication. Alert your loved ones of your location and any other messages that may be necessary while you are on the water.
inReach Mini Navigation
The Iridium network allows you to navigate using a paired device anywhere in the world. It gives access to topographical maps and U.S. NOAA Charts. The Earthmate app can be downloaded for free and allows you to access these charts. This can dramatically improve the charts you have on your device. This can help keep from running aground with the most up to date charts available.
The Garmin inReach Mini makes a great SOS device which can act as an EPIRB in a pinch. The device itself can send a signal to the Coast Guard alerting them of an issue. Additionally, you can pair these with compatible Garmin watches to send emergency messages.
inReach Mini Waterproof Case
When paired with the waterproof case you can even take it with you in the water. The case lets you take the inReach Mini up to 100 meters. This allows you to take it with you on scuba dives and have a SOS signal. Given the number of divers that find themselves away from the boat in heavy current this could save your life.