If you’re thinking of going diving, snorkeling, or doing any kind of water activity, you might want to consider buying special socks to protect your feet. Also known as wet socks, a good pair should help make your water experience more exciting.
What are Fin Socks?
Also called neoprene socks because they’re typically made from neoprene, these swimming gear are exactly what they sound like. They are slip on materials that hug the feet to provide both warmth and protection while in the water.
For the most part, neoprene socks are worn together with fins to prevent chafing or blisters as the fins rub against the surface of the skin while swimming. Think of the fin as the shoes and the neoprene fits inside the foot pocket to act as a layer of protection – just like an ordinary shoe and sock combo.
Open Heel Fins vs Full Foot Fins
Before we even proceed further with neoprene socks, it’s important to first talk about fins and how they fit with the socks. Fins are basically attachments for the feet that make it easier for swimmers and divers to navigate underwater. The fins are made of two parts: the foot pocket and the blade. The foot pocket is the area where you fit your toes in, sliding the foot all the way down for an all-over cover.
The blade is the wide material that helps propel the wearer when swimming underwater. Today, there are two kinds of fins: full foot fins and open heel fins. Here’s what you should know about each one:
Open Heel Fins
Open heel fins, as the name suggests, often cover the toes and leave the heels exposed to the elements. Straps are attached around the heel to keep it in place. These fins can be worn in warm weather together with thin dive socks. Or if you want, you can wear them with bare feet – although this can cause blisters and chafing along your ankles and toes.
Open heel fins are also worn for scuba diving and partnered with dive boots when swimming in colder waters. This helps create an added layer for warmth. In terms of warmth, this is a much better option than wearing simple dive socks with full foot fins.
Full Foot Fins
Full foot fins keep the whole feet covered. This is perhaps the best option for beginner swimming or diving. They are best used for warm weather and combined only with dive socks or socks. You cannot combine dive boots with full foot fins because dive boots are remarkably thick and make fitting impossible.
Fins for Scuba Diving vs. Snorkeling
Your choices also depend on how they will be used. For example, scuba diving fins are often longer and heavier so that you’ll be able to dive deeper and stay within the waters for more periods of time. The downside here is that you will need a stronger kick when using the fins. This can be problematic if you have a weak kick or are still not used to the activity.
Fins for snorkeling are lighter and typically wider, allowing you to move through the water with little effort. The wider fins help with movement across the water without achieving too much depth.
Note that fin size is measured the same way you’d measure shoe size. Once worn, the fins should fit snugly around the feet, giving you perfect control on the movement of the fin. Since they’re a snug fit on bare feet, wearing fins could cause blisters and chafing – hence the need for dive socks.
Different Types of Foot Protection in the Water
Aside from fin socks, there are other types of footwear worn while at the beach or participating in any water sport. It’s important to distinguish one from the other so that you’ll know exactly which ones are designed to be worn together with other water equipment:
Water Socks/Neoprene Socks
Water socks or dive socks are typically worn while snorkeling to prevent blisters. They look like regular socks but made from different materials like neoprene or lycra. You can find ones of different lengths. For example, some fin sock cover up to the knees to protect against jellyfish sting.
You can find them worn together with fins to prevent blisters. They can be used in a variety of activities such as swimming, freediving, snorkeling, or just walking by the sandy beach.
Water shoes are thicker compared to neoprene socks. As the name suggests, they function mainly as shoes with sufficient padding between the sole of the feet and the ground. Water shoes come with numerous holes to prevent water from getting stuck inside.
They are often used for walking or swimming along the beach. They can be worn with open heel fins only. For the most part, water shoes are used to protect against sharp rock edges on the beach as well as prevent slipping on wet surfaces.
Dive boots or dive booties are larger, thicker, and more reliable in terms of balance. The rubber sole is specially padded to keep the wearer secure while standing on wet surfaces. This is why dive boots are often worn while paddle boarding, surf boarding, and scuba diving.
Fin keepers are a special type of footwear you put on for open heel fins. They’re simple straps worn on top of the fins and going around the arch of the foot. The purpose of the fin keeper is to simply make sure the fins don’t come loose during a dive.
The secure fit means you have some added assurance that it wouldn’t fall off while underwater. They must be worn on top of the wet socks, otherwise the straps themselves may cause blister during the swim.
Can I Wear Cotton Socks with My Fins?
No. A cotton sock is not designed to be worn or fit together with fins. Not only will this ruin the sock itself but it can compromise your snorkeling or diving experience. A pair of cotton socks – especially when worn together with open heel fins – can be loosened by the waves and drift off into the water. In contrast, water socks are built to fit and cling to the feet more so that there’s zero chance of it being taken off by the waves.
Benefits of Swimming with Socks
Wearing a pair of socks with freediving fins or snorkeling isn’t just about preventing blisters and chafing of the skin. While this is definitely the most accepted reason to wear the socks, here are other advantages you can get from adding this in your gear:
- They help keep you warm. Toes are prone to cold temperature while underwater. With the socks, the cold water shouldn’t be as problematic or distracting. You can really enjoy your dive with your feet warm – especially if you’re treading water for hours on site.
- They offer additional protection. Thick socks with a good snug fit will create an additional layer while underwater. You never know exactly what you will encounter underwater and the socks can help prevent injury from sharp rocks while exploring.
- Socks worn beneath freediving fins can also help improve your navigation while in the water. Without worrying about chafing or the fin detaching from the straps, swimmers are more comfortable kicking forcefully in order to gain motion while in the water. It helps add to that sense of security, especially if you’re diving for the very first time.
- Some fins socks styles today also come with a graveled or rough sole. This can help keep your grip on the beach floor and prevent slipping on the wet surface. Even in between swims, you can keep wearing the socks and enjoy a safe grip while walking on the terrain.
If you should get blisters after swimming however, make sure to put ointment on the surface to help it heal quickly. Low-quality socks can still lead to blisters when worn so make sure to invest in a good one.
How to Choose Dive Socks
Just like ordinary socks, fin socks are not a one-size-fits-all scenario. You need to be aware of feet size, sock length, and even sock thickness; otherwise you might have a hard time once you actually wear it on site. Here’s what you need to remember when buying fin socks:
- Try to figure out the desired height of the socks first. When wearing socks, you have the option between under-ankle or above-ankle fit. The choice depends on the temperature where you’ll be swimming. For a warm water climate, the under-ankle sock would be the better fit. If there’s cold water however, above-ankle socks would give you better protection. It can be tucked into the wetsuit or booties to give you additional insulation.
- Next, you have to look into the thickness of the socks. Again, this has to do with the temperature of the diving area. If the water temperature is below 75 degrees Celsius, opt for a width of 2mm or 3mm. Note though that the thickness of these socks can go as high as 7mm so if your feet are averse to cold water, don’t be afraid to invest on thickness.
- Also pay attention to the kind of swim fins you’ll be using when swimming or scuba diving. Dive socks can be worn whether you’re wearing full foot fins or open heel fins. However, the distinct difference has to do with the weather. For example, you’re swimming in tropical waters with a full foot fin. Dive socks 2mm thick should already be enough because the full foot fin adds some insulation. If you’re using an open heel however, 3mm dive socks might be better.
- Fin socks are made of two primary materials: neoprene or lycra. Neoprene foam is a favorite for freediving fins and other underwater activities because it has excellent insulation capabilities. Even if water logged, the air pockets of the socks makes it possible for the body to heat up the surrounding water, thereby maintaining a warm feeling.
- Fins are typically measured according to your shoe sizes. For socks however, the typical sizes are small, medium, and large. Go with the cotton sock sizes that you typically buy. The goal is for you to get a snug fit, preventing sand and water from entering the foot pockets. A tight fit will keep your skin protected from any rubbing that comes when wearing fins.
- Make sure to get the right size. Some manufacturers will provide you with actual measurements for their items so try to use that for reference.
- When it comes to styles, the sock and fins are more or less the same the world over. As long as the product meets the basic fit and size requirements, the end look of the product won’t matter as much.
Of course, don’t forget to look into any online comment before placing your order – if you’re ordering online, that is. Opt for a brand that has good feedback from its users without being too expensive.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you wear water shoes with fins?
No. Water shoes aren’t made to be worn together with full foot swim fins. People wear them in areas where the feet are likely to get wet to provide both protection and stability. At the same time, water shoes dry very quickly so if you do walk on them, your feet won’t get blisters. However, there is this new type of swim fins called open heel fins. With open heel fins, it’s actually possible to wear water shoes at the same time.
How do you prevent fins from blistering?
The most convenient way of solving this problem is by wearing a neoprene sock or fin socks while diving. Like cotton socks, the fin socks work as a barrier between your skin and the fins so that it doesn’t rub directly and repeatedly on the skin.
Some divers like to rub Vaseline or some other lubricant on their full foot before putting on the scuba fins, especially along the edge of the foot pockets. While this works too, the lubricant tends to lose its effectiveness after a few hours – especially in salt water.
Note though that the size of the socks also matter. To guarantee zero blister from appearing, you want to wear something that fits and grip your feet tightly. Remember that you want to avoid rubbing against the skin when you wear it. For best results, try putting lubricant on your feet before putting on the socks.
How do I wash a pair of dive socks?
Fin socks dry quickly but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to wash them. Like regular socks, they can be very stinky after use especially if you’ve worn them for hours at a time. As soon as you’re home, flip them inside out and get rid of all the sand.
Once all the sand it out, brush the surface with soap and water. Allow them to completely dry before storing them back with the rest of your gear. Dirty swimming socks can actually aggravate a blister instead of prevent it so make sure yours are completely clean before every use.
Do you wear dive boots with fins?
Full foot fins are not compatible with dive boots and should not be worn together. For open heel fins however, dive boots should be worn to prevent blisters on the skin.