By Kristina Zvaritch
Contributors: Alexey Molchanov & Tania Abanina
A monofin brings you speed, power, and significantly reduces your dive time. However, this power comes at a great price, as quality monofins are expensive and should be customized to you depending on the type of performance you require. So how do you choose the best monofin for freediving?
A monofin should be chosen based on the flexibility of the blade and the comfort and fit of the foot pockets. These factors should take into account not only your physical measurements, but also the performance that you want out of them. Read on to discover what specific factors you should look for when choosing a monofin.
Faster is not necessarily better in freediving. While a monofin blade should be stiff enough for your size and weight, a compromise needs to be reached between effort made and oxygen consumption. If your blade is very stiff, your kicks may be more powerful and take you further, but this comes at the cost of excess muscle activation due to more tension in the body, more oxygen burn, and more lactic acid build-up. Too soft and you will spend too much energy excessively kicking to reach the target distance/depth. There is a middle ground that needs to be reached in order to achieve maximum efficiency. Slightly too soft is still more preferable than slightly too stiff, it will just require more skill to control the monofin.
The blade of a monofin should be flexible and bend enough to help reduce effort during kicking. Check the flexibility of the area where the blade attaches to the foot pockets and also at the tip of the blade. The area where blade and foot pockets attach should have some bend, and the tip should have much more. If the blade is too stiff where the foot pocket attaches, it will be more difficult to initiate a kick, so having some flexibility there will reduce your effort; a soft tip allows an almost effortless start of a kick.
Foot pocketsThe purpose of foot pockets is to transfer the energy of a kick to the blade. If the foot pockets are loose, or if there is space for the foot to move inside of the foot pocket, energy transfer becomes poor. Socks can be worn if comfort is essential, but for the best performance, a snug fit without socks is preferred.
Blisters can also occur due to constant rubbing of the naked foot against rubber, but with the right inner lining, such as in our “new Molchanovs hand-built foot pockets”, this does not have to present a problem.
Foot pockets should be comfortable, however, there are different parameters in how freedivers measure comfort in monofin foot pockets.
Key elements to be aware of:
- Arch support
- Inner material
Rigid and stiff pockets do not make kicking the monofin any easier. Foot pockets need some stiffness, but not a significant amount; they should still have some bend to them. A bit of flexibility in the foot pocket allows you to curve your feet when you start a kick, which helps to reduce effort.
Arch support is an important part of the foot pockets. It lessens the chances of cramps and helps prevent the feet from flattening, which decreases fatigue in the feet. If you have flat feet, you may want to purchase a monofin with less arch support to avoid having too much pressure in the arches of your feet. However, you can also train your feet to get used to high arch support over time.
Whether you are training depth in open water or swimming laps in a pool, you may be wearing your monofin for an extended period of time. Look for soft rubber material inside of the foot pockets to avoid torturing your feet.
Foot pocket sizing differs from regular shoe sizes. The “new Molchanovs hand-built foot pockets” have three options to choose from: Tight, Normal, and Comfortable fit.
Tight fit is specifically designed for performance, which means that the fit is especially tight. This gives you the best control over the blade as the feet are very compressed with no space for any extra movement inside of the foot pocket. This fit allows for 10-15 minutes of wear.
Normal fit is more comfortable compared to the Tight fit. There is slightly more space inside for the feet, but not enough space for extra movement. This fit allows for 30 minutes of wear.
Comfortable fit allows more space inside of the foot pockets for the feet. The feet will feel like they are on the verge of movement, but will not actually have movement since any friction between the feet and foot pockets will cause blisters. This fit allows for 45 minutes or longer of wear.
ConclusionThere are numerous brands of monofins to choose from in the freediving world, but the most significant factors to consider are the foot pockets and blade that are best-suited to your needs. A customizable monofin will allow you to combine all of your desired features into the perfect monofin for you.
The monofin is a unique instrument, turning your dreams of flying into reality. With it, freedivers experience complete freedom of movement, gliding effortlessly beneath the surface of water, feeling as if they are a part of the ocean instead of a stranger to it. This is the true essence of freediving. With practice and good technique, you can experience this feeling for yourself!