- Monofins are a type of fin that is used for freediving. They consist of one large plastic or rubber fin unit that covers both feet, connected by a flexible piece of material to create the fluke shape.
- Monofins offer increased propulsion and power compared to traditional bi-fin freediving and increased stability and control. The single fin allows for a more streamlined swimming motion which reduces drag and helps divers reach greater depths faster.
- Monofins come in various shapes, sizes, materials and colours to meet the needs of different swimmers and types of freediving. You should consider several criteria when purchasing, including fin size, stiffness and fit.
Freediving is an exhilarating experience that allows you to explore the depths of the ocean and its marine life. But to do so safely, it’s important to have the right equipment—and one of the most important pieces of gear is a monofin. A monofin provides power, stability and control underwater, which can make or break your freediving experience.
Choosing the right monofin for your needs isn’t always easy, though, and many different types and sizes are available on the market today. You may be left with questions about what material you should look for, your different size options and what kind of budget you’ll need.
Here at Agulhas, we understand these many needs. All our products are designed with freedivers in mind as freedivers themselves design them! From masks and snorkels to all kinds of fins, we have everything you’ll ever need, with our monofins being as revolutionary as all our products! Read on to find out more!
What Is a Monofin?
A monofin consists of one large fin connected to both feet to propel the diver forward with a powerful kick. Monofins are designed for speed, agility and efficiency—allowing divers to move quickly through the water with minimal effort. They are an essential piece of gear for everyone, from beginner freedivers who need to build confidence with their kick to experienced competitive divers looking for maximum speed and performance.
How Does a Monofin Work?
A freediving monofin uses two foot pockets attached to a single fin blade. The diver places their feet into the pockets and applies pressure on both sides of the fin to generate propulsion through the water. This allows them to swim faster than they would be able without it, as well as maintain better control over their movements while underwater. Additionally, because of its size and shape, a monofin can provide greater manoeuvrability than traditional fins used for freediving or scuba diving.
What Are Monofins Used For?
Monofins are primarily used by competitive freedivers who need maximum performance from their equipment to reach great depths or set personal bests during races or dives. The introduction of the monofin in the 1970s meant that all finswimming world records were broken by the end of that decade. However, they can also be used by recreational freedivers who want to explore underwater caves, drift dive and observe marine life.
Monofins vs Bi-Fins
When choosing a fin for freediving, one of the most common debates is between monofins and bi-fins. While both types of fins offer advantages regarding speed and control underwater, a few key differences make each one better suited for different purposes.
Monofins are ideal for competitive diving thanks to their improved manoeuvrability compared to traditional bi-fins. Additionally, monofins give divers greater control over their underwater movements, making them great for exploring caves or drift diving. The main downside of monofin use is that it requires more practice and coordination than bi-fins do since you have to learn how to move both feet together to generate the most power. They also tend to be a bit bulkier than traditional bi fins, meaning they take up more space in your bag and may be uncomfortable if not properly sized.
Bi-fins are what most people envision when thinking about diving. They consist of two separate foot pockets attached to two different blades, allowing for independent movement between each foot—which makes them much easier to use than monofins for beginner freedivers still learning how to kick efficiently. Bi-fins can also be more comfortable when worn with certain dive suits or wetsuits as they don’t require as much coordination or muscle strength as a monofin does. Additionally, bi-fins are often smaller and lighter than monofins, making them easier to transport and store when not in use.
However, because each foot is connected only through its foot pocket and blade, bi-fin users don’t enjoy the same level of power generation as those using a monofin would. This makes them less suitable for competitive freedivers who need maximum efficiency from their gear. Bi-fins can also be prone to twisting during turns, which can throw you off balance underwater if you’re not used to it.
It all comes down to personal preference and what type of freediving you plan on doing most often. Freediving monofins will provide more speed and control for those interested in competitive diving or exploring caves. At the same time, bi-fins will be better suited for beginner divers who want something easy-to-use that requires minimal effort from their feet.
Three Types of Diving That Monofins Are Great For
There are three particular types of diving that monofins are great for:
- Dynamic Apnea With Fins (DYN): Dynamic apnea with fins is a competitive freediving discipline where divers attempt to swim as far as possible underwater using only their monofin for propulsion. This type of diving requires speed and control, making the monofin an ideal choice for participants. DYN is done in a straight line and close to the surface.
- Constant Weight Freediving (CWT): Depth freediving is another popular competitive discipline that involves diving down to a predetermined depth without varying weight. A monofin offers excellent manoeuvrability and force while trying to find the best way deep into the water column—allowing depth athletes to set personal bests easily.
- Variable Weight Diving (VWT): Variable weight diving involves descending and ascending through the water column using the assistance of an additional weight. This type of diving requires strong propulsion to reach great depths quickly, making a monofin an excellent choice for this as well.
These three types of diving are all ideal scenarios for monofin use and will help divers achieve maximum performance and efficiency underwater.
The Different Types of Monofins
Various types of monofins are available on the market and designed for different purposes. The most common types are:
- Traditional Monofin: This is a classic freediving monofin, usually made from plastic or fibreglass and featuring two foot pockets connected to one fin blade. It is an affordable option and perfect for novice freedivers.
- Recreational Monofin: These types of monofin are more advanced than traditional models and offer increased control and power underwater. They often feature special designs, such as curved blades or channels, that can help improve performance.
- Competition Monofins: Designed specifically for competition use, this type of monofin features highly sophisticated engineering that increases speed and efficiency in the water. They can be expensive but provide superior performance compared to other types.
- Wing Type Monofins: These monofins resemble the wings of a bird and are designed to help divers achieve greater speeds. They are usually made from carbon fibre, which makes them lightweight yet powerful.
- Fin Swimming Monofins: These monofins are designed specifically for fin swimming and feature a large surface area which helps to generate fast speeds in the water. They can also be used for recreational freediving but lack manoeuvrability compared to other types.
What Should You Look for When Buying a Freediving Monofin?
When it comes to choosing the best monofin, there are several things you should consider.
Choosing the Right Size Monofin
The first thing to consider when choosing the best monofin is size, as it’s essential that you get the right fit. Not only is this a comfort and safety issue, but this will also determine how much power you can generate while diving.
There are two size points, the fin itself and the size of the foot pockets.
In terms of the fin, there are many different sizes available on the market, ranging from extra small (14-15 centimetres) to extra large (19+ centimetres). The overall size of the monofin should be chosen based on your size and the type of dives you plan to do.
For example, a larger freediving monofin will give you more power if you swim competitively. In contrast, a smaller size may be more suitable if you’re just recreational freediving. A larger monofin will, of course, be more suitable for taller and heavier divers.
All about Foot Pockets
The foot pockets are designed to transfer the energy of your kick directly into the blade. If they’re too loose or there is room for movement inside them, this transfer will be inefficient.
What fit you choose is important as it can affect your performance. For example, a tight fit allows you the best control over the blade as the feet are tightly compressed inside the pockets. This is excellent for performance but reduces swimming time to just 10-15 minutes. In comparison, a comfortable fit will allow you 45 minutes or longer.
For those looking for a regular option without thought to competition, pockets that fit snugly and securely without being too tight or uncomfortable are ideal. It’s best to try on different sizes to get a feel for what fits and what doesn’t before buying. When determining what size will work best for you, measure your feet from heel to toe and use this measurement to match up with one of the available sizes. You want a fin that fits snugly and securely without causing any discomfort.
Materials Used in Monofins
The materials used in freediving monofins will affect their overall performance and how quickly they wear out over time. The most common materials used are plastic, fibreglass and carbon fibre, each with unique benefits.
Plastic is the cheapest option and is perfect for novice freedivers who don’t need maximum performance from their equipment. It can be easily moulded into any shape but won’t last as long as other materials.
Fibreglass is a step up from plastic and provides good performance at an affordable price. It’s lightweight and stiff, making it great for recreational freedivers looking to progress in the sport.
Finally, carbon fibre is the most expensive option, but it can offer exceptional performance with greater achievable speeds than other materials. While lightweight, it also offers excellent durability, so you can get many years of use out of your monofin. If you’re looking for the best monofin, carbon fibre is your choice.
The Monofin Blade: The Need for Flexibility
When using a monofin, a compromise must be made between exertion and oxygen used. If your monofin blade is too stiff, your kicks will be more powerful, yet this comes at the cost of excess muscle use, oxygen use and lactic acid build-up. Conversely, if your monofin blade is too flexible, you will exert excess energy to reach your target.
Finding a middle ground between these two scenarios is important if you wish to find the most efficient way of getting to and from your target.
It’s also important to note where your monofin blade is flexible and where it isn’t. Flexibility, where the monofin blade and foot pockets attach, makes it much easier to start a kick. There should be some bend in this area and much more at the tip. Again, this will make initialising a kick so much easier.
The Best Monofins Come with Comfort Features
Adjustable straps allow you to adjust the fin’s tension and ensure it is secure on your feet. Having the right level of tension will help ensure that the freediving monofin stays in place even during intense turns or dives. You may also want to consider toe loops that provide extra leverage while swimming and make it easier to take off the monofin.
There can be a tendency for bare feet to rub inside the rubber, meaning you should look for a monofin with a high-quality soft internal rubber lining, which removes any discomfort from pressure points during long swims. This feature can be essential for those who plan to spend a long time in the water. Equally, arch supports can help to keep the feet in place and reduce fatigue by preventing the feet from flattening. They can also help to reduce cramps.
Balancing Costs with Quality
The cost of a monofin will depend on the materials it’s made from and the quality of the construction. As such, it’s important to consider performance and budget when purchasing.
If you’re looking for greater speed and power, look for the highest quality materials but understand that this comes at a cost – so be prepared to pay more if you want something that will last longer and give better performances.
On the other hand, if you’re only looking for recreational freediving, plenty of lower-priced options should still offer good performance. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference as to which type of monofin best suits your needs, but if you consider the above factors, you should be able to find something suitable for your budget and requirements.
Agulhas is the ideal place to find high-performance, sustainable freediving gear such as monofins! Our products are created with purpose by an incredible team, including champion freediver Hanli Prinsloo and world champion swimmer Peter Marshall.
Central to our ethos is providing a sustainable product with the best value to our customers. We are committed to providing you with comfortable, beautiful and eco-friendly gear and strive to equip every diver with the opportunity to venture underwater without harming our beloved seas.
All our products are modular pieces, meaning that any piece can be easily replaced. Not only does this massively reduce waste, but it also means that buyers no longer have to replace expensive equipment repeatedly!
Agulhas is revolutionising the way freedivers look at equipment. Please explore the rest of our website to learn more about our company, see our catalogue and join us on this exciting journey!
Monofins are an invaluable tool for freedivers. With the best monofin, you can improve your technique and power while minimising fatigue and oxygen usage. When making a purchase, it’s important to consider the materials used, flexibility, comfort features and cost to ensure you have the best monofin for your level of freediving. Considering all these factors, you should have no problem finding a monofin that suits your budget and performance needs.
What size freediving monofin do I need?
The right fin size depends on several factors, including height, weight and purpose. If you’re looking for performance-based freediving, then it’s likely that a larger monofin would be better suited to generate more power. In contrast, a smaller size may be more suitable if you’re just recreational freediving. A larger monofin will be more suitable for taller people, and a smaller one for shorter people. It’s always best to try on different sizes to find the right fit for you.
How long should my monofin last?
The lifespan of a monofin can vary depending on usage, care and the materials it is made from. Quality construction with high-grade materials and regular maintenance should ensure that your fin lasts many years.
What are the benefits of using a monofin?
A monofin increases speed and power in the water, providing greater propulsion with each stroke compared to an open-foot fin. They also help promote proper body positioning in the water by keeping feet together, reducing drag, and ensuring that the body is streamlined. Monofins are also great for building leg strength and stamina, which can help to improve your freediving performance over time.