Most helpful critical review
61 of 68 people found the following review helpful
Tiny Fins, Restrictive Airflow in Snorkel, Definitely NOT a 5-Star Product
on December 23, 2013
I was sold on all of the 5/5-star reviews of this snorkeling set so I waited until the price fluctuated downward and Prime became available in a black/blue set in L/XL and clicked the Buy button. When the package arrived two days later, I almost laughed out loud and at first thought there had been a mix-up, with them sending me a size XS by accident. But no, the fins were stamped "L/XL." I decided to wait on reviewing this set until I had used it and now that I have tried it out several times in a snorkeling lesson at a local pool, I really wished I had bought a different brand, as will soon be seen by the Cons I've outlined below that outnumber the Pros rather significantly.
- The snorkel looks very cool, as modern and high tech as pretty much any brand.
- The snorkel's dry top does keep out water when diving.
- The snorkel's mask clip was easy to attach to my mask strap.
- The mask lens is fairly deep and comes down low, which is helpful since most of what one wants to see while snorkeling requires a downward glance.
- The fins were not uncomfortable.
- The fins are so small that they're ridiculous. Both my instructor and a friend who has been diving for over a quarter century looked at the fins and said they looked like they were designed for an aqua-exercise class in a pool or maybe for paddling a boogie board, not for use snorkeling in the ocean. I put them next to the US Diver youth-sized fins I bought for my daughter and the US Diver fins designed for a 7, 8, or 9 year-old girl were MUCH larger than the adult L/XL Seavenger fins; when I get a chance, I'll post a picture of my daughter's little girl-sized fins dwarfing these Seavenger adult fins [EDIT: I believe that Amazon and/or Seavenger have disabled the option of customers posting photos of this product, as I do not see that option available to me anywhere, either in writing this review or for the product in general]. Once I got them adjusted properly for my feet (but see below), they seemed to work OK. Then I switched to an inexpensive (under $50) pair of split fins that the dive shop that gives lessons has as standard equipment for their lessons and they were, literally, twice as long as my tiny Seavengers. And more importantly, they propelled me at least twice as fast with less effort than with the Seavengers. Honestly, the difference was about the same as trying to climb a long steep hill on a 40lb single speed beach cruiser and then switching to a 16lb carbon frame road bike. My instructor said that if I encountered any sort of significant current using the Seavenger fins, they'd be practically useless; he also mentioned that in cooler water in the mid-70's like one encounters in wintertime waters off Hawaii, the substantial extra effort I might have to make with these Seavenger mini-fins to chase after my elementary school-age daughter, try to keep up with a turtle to snap some good photos, etc... would significantly increase the odds I'd start cramping up. Now I'd think the guy was trying to sell me some of his shop's higher end equipment (and I'm sure that was a partial motivation), but for the fact that there was no doubt after trying the shop's lesson/rental fins how vastly better they were than my Seavengers.
- The straps on the fins are cheap and of poor quality. The clip that holds the ratcheting strap in place came loose when I tried to adjust the strap the very first time I used it and luckily, it fell into my lap sitting on the side of a pool, rather than into the ocean sitting on a boat. I was able to snap it back in place, but I'm pretty sure it will come loose again, rendering the fin unusable. Note that several other reviews have reported the same thing about the Seavenger fin strap clips, so my experience does not appear to be an isolated incident.
- The mask was very prone to fogging up. Now almost any mask will fog right out of the box and my snorkeling instructor gave me some toothpaste to rub on the inside of the glass to wear off the protective film that glass usually has straight from the factory that can add to the fogging effect and/or repel anti-fog treatment. But that did not seem to work, even though I then applied some anti-fog drops. So he gave me some more toothpaste and then more anti-fog drops. It still fogged up. The second time I used the mask, I gave it a really good cleaning, but same thing - it fogged like crazy.
- The mask leaked around the bottom. Maybe the problem was an inadequate seal given that I had not shaved the morning of my lesson. I'll definitely shave before I use the mask again and will report back and edit the review with my updated results as to the leaking and fogging.... EDIT: On the second trip to the pool, I was very clean-shaven and very annoyed by the water leaking into my mask - its not fun to have water getting up one's nose.
- The snorkel may keep water out of one's lungs but it also keeps a lot of air out as well - the dry top mechanism significantly restricts airflow into the snorkel. I started out my lesson with an old fashioned snorkel that was essentially just a simple breathing tube and that restricted my airflow no more than slightly, maybe 5-10%. The Seavenger significantly reduced my airflow - I'd say by maybe 40%, enough to cause me to worry about shortness-of-breath problems if I attempted to go at substantially more than a leisurely pace. In contrast, I tried one of the shop's Cressi demo dry-top snorkels and it was much easier to breathe; I'd say the $40 Cressi restricted airflow by only 20%. My wife had the same experience with her US Divers set's snorkel, too, so this may just be a function of a less expensive dry top snorkel.
- The carrying bag is of poor quality, with a nylon mesh on one side (the good side) and a cheap clear plastic on the other that will certainly crack easily.
- The price on these fluctuates too much. When I bought my Seavenger set, Amazon was selling a black, blue, a red, and a yellow set for prices that varied in the mid-30s or thereabouts, whereas the price now is about 50 bucks. It took weeks before the color I wanted finally came down a bit in price and became available for Amazon Prime to get the free shipping.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION:
I think a lot of people might be similarly situated to me and my family - we wanted snorkeling sets for a tropical island vacation we aren't soon going to repeat, so we we're looking for equipment that would be superior to what our resort or a boat might have as free loaners or rentals, but not cost much. This snorkeling set is not a good value for the money, as the fins are simply too small to work efficiently, there are problems with both the mask and snorkel, plus it's just not made very well. I bought my wife a US Divers snorkeling set for about the same price as this one that has a mask that neither leaks nor fogs up, it has an equivalent snorkel, and has much bigger fins. In fact, my wife tried out the larger shop fins and did not notice any significant improvement over her US Divers fins. So if you're looking to spend something around $30-50, I'd look at one of the US Diver or maybe Head snorkeling sets instead of this Seavenger set. If cost is not so important, take a lesson and tell your scuba shop putting on the lesson that you want to demo some equipment. You'll definitely be able to find significantly better equipment buying a separate mask, fins, and snorkel, but it may cost you 2 to 5 times as much as one of the cheap snorkeling sets available here on Amazon.
EPILOGUE: After my second session in a pool with this Seavenger set, I got fed up with the water leaking in and going up my nose, the mask fogging, the difficulty breathing through the snorkel, and having to kick pretty hard in order to get the puny fins going forward. I'm sending this set back and buying something else. I'll update the review in a second, comparative epilogue when I get my new equipment.
SECOND EPILOGUE: I bought another snorkeling set that I like much better by Edge - see the comment section for details.
THIRD EPILOGUE: OK, I just got back from Hawaii where I used my Edge snorkel set a few times and it worked great. Having now done something that most people buying one of these beginner's snorkel sets (myself included before this past week) have never done, namely snorkeled in an actual ocean, I will confirm what my snorkeling instructor stated, that in calm waters, most fins will work fine, but smaller fins such as these Seavengers will be inadequate if there is much current. All of the Hawaiian Islands over the past week had increased surf action (not uncommon during the winter months) and generally speaking, my Edge fins (which have at least double the surface area on the fin itself compared to the Seavenger fins) were fine but at one point I drifted over to a less protected portion of a beach with stronger wave action. I found that unless I was putting forth close to maximum effort (which eventually causes one's ankles to cramp up), it was very difficult to make much headway against the current. I don't think I would have been going anywhere at all if I had been wearing smaller fins such as the Seavengers. I am very glad I decided not to keep the Seavenger set - my initial thoughts about the fin size turned out to be accurate in real life, plus the Edge mask remained fog free in every use, which was not the case with my Seavenger mask despite repeated attempts to clean and defog the lens. To conclude, I really wanted to like the Seavenger set and had high expectations of it, but in actual use it was not a satisfactory product.