REVIEW: Like its namesake marine animal, APS Mantaray fins (and its older twin the Deep Outdoors 6-Gill) are unique among an ocean of dive fin choices. In most dive shops the fin choices are seemingly split into only two sub-species, the paddle fin and the split fin. Mantarays are of one the few fins that stand outside the ring whilst paddle and split battle for the feet of divers who think they have no other options.
After my first test of the Mantaray fins, my thoughts echoed verbatim what almost every other diver said to me about their experience with these fins, “it feels like I didn’t have anything on my feet, but I was moving at the same speed as my regular fins. It reminded me of the days when the first cars were built with power steering. The car turned but you did not feel any strain on your arms to turn the steering wheel. I suspect some paddle fin divers will find this disconcerting and want to “feel the burn” when they accelerate. Split fin divers, I spoke with said the Mantarays take even less leg work than their split fins but they seem to move just as fast. Although the “numbers” (technical tests) from other comparison tests put the Mantarays somewhere in the middle on propulsion, every personal experience review I found (both in magazines and on web forums) was glowing about the Mantaray fins.
The more direct comparison to power-steering is the distinct improvement in maneuverability with the Mantaray fins. Dave Sheckler said in Californina Diving News, “These fins were excellent in tight spots with a great ability to turn on a dime and move about with freedom.
The equally unique universal fin strap has no moving parts and works for many other fins. It is a one piece highly elastic rubber strap, like a simple version of the spring straps. However, we did notice that newer versions of this strap will not work with the smaller posts of the Deep Outdoors version (when we lost a strap). Nor, by the way, are they any good on the annoyingly proprietary Atomic split fins. Even with the proper version strap and fin size, we found the strap can pop off if you are wearing rock boots and are not careful when stretching the normal size strap to put on the fin. UPDATE: Mantaray sent us a longer strap and this works very well with rock boots. These straps are a backup strap for most other fins with posts.
The Mantaray fins come in three sizes and four colors. They are shorter, lighter and cheaper than almost all other fins. Because of this, we found more than a few divers that keep a pair around just to save a few pounds in there dive travel luggage. I got the impression some divers just cannot imagine that this light and compact fins could be good enough for every day diving. But, during my tests in the beautiful, cool and current driven waters of Pacific Northwest, where our dry suits and gear can have enough parasitic drag to stagnate a dolphin, I found that I liked these fins enough to go out a purchase a pair for my everyday diving.