View Full Version : Pros & Cons of Neoprene + Other Questions (Before Purchasing My First Tail)

10-12-2013, 06:29 PM
I'm getting ready to buy my tail, or rather, to ask for it for my birthday and Christmas (which both fall in December). My family knows I've been wanting a tail for free diving a la mermaiding for some time now. It looks like, in terms of cost and what's realistic for myself and my family and our income and budget, that Neoprene is the best material I can afford. Can anyone tell me about the pros and cons of Neoprene, along with any tips to help with maintaining longevity of the Neoprene. And also, what exactly IS Neoprene? And will it keep me insulated in cold waters? How does it accommodate a person who's weight shifts along a 10-20lb scale (due to some medications)? And lastly, would it be better to take the time to save up for a silicon tail or would the Neoprene tail be worth starting with (as this will be my first tail). Here's a picture of the tail I want... It's from AquaTails.com and is part of their "High-End Tails" section. Here are some pictures of the tail... It looks quite drapey on land, but the design was actually inspired by an angelfish and the drapey parts flow like extra fins in the water.



10-12-2013, 07:05 PM
Neoprene isn't bad for a first tail, however I'd only recommend it if you don't have any problems sinking.
If you are already buoyant, neoprene will make you float like no tomorrow, and you'll need a weight belt to balance it out.

And will it keep me insulated in cold waters?
No, don't think so.
Wetsuits for cold water are usually around 5mm thick.
Tail neoprene is much thinner, sometimes no more than 1mm.
The rest of your body will be exposed, so for this, a neoprene tail won't be better than any other material.

If you have bigger weight fluctuations, neoprene or stretchy fabric is probably better fitting-wise than latex or silicone.

10-14-2013, 07:46 PM
Hmm... Well that's an issue. I use a 3mm wetsuit for the California's Northern Pacific Coast water temperatures in the summertime - which suffices, some people wear thinner ones but I like the 3mm because it works in the winter too - as long as you stay moving. I really want a tail that will also work well for insulation and buoyancy (I like to swim far out into the kelp, and when I need to rest, in my wetsuit, I can just float for awhile). So, I still want to buy this tail due to cost, and it being my first tail, which I'll probably mostly use in the pool. In regards to insulation and buoyancy, what material should I be looking for? Also, I suppose you could wear a bottom half of a wetsuit under the tail of the Neoprene... They do make wetsuits in pants versions... Hmm. Any ideas?

10-14-2013, 08:04 PM
You can most definitely get wetsuit pants. You'll just have to go into some surf stores to find out what's most comfortable for you.
Neoprene is synthetic rubber with tiny pockets of air, which actually offer a bit of compression protection when you dive (apparently, I don't dive down deep cos I feel the cold waaay to easily)
also because of these air pockets, it floats. so if you're a sinker it's great cos it'll give you some lift but if you're a floater then, well you'll keep floating.

Most surf and dive shops sell wash soap for neoprene so you can keep it in good condition.

10-14-2013, 11:15 PM
i find the neoprene in my tail keeps me all nice and warm. When I first took it to the springs, I braced myself for the cold. But when I got in it was really just nice. I think the neoprene gave me a little something to not get as cold.

10-15-2013, 11:15 PM
Interesting. Well, I really want this tail, so I guess we'll see how it goes :)

10-16-2013, 11:12 AM
My neoprene/latex tail keeps me pretty warm. Not toasty, but it's better than nothing. And neoprene does stretch a little bit. I say you'll be great with neoprene tail. And you can get weights if it's too buoyant.

11-25-2013, 06:17 PM
Here's a picture of the tail I want... It's from AquaTails.com and is part of their "High-End Tails" section. Here are some pictures of the tail... It looks quite drapey on land, but the design was actually inspired by an angelfish and the drapey parts flow like extra fins in the water.



I was looking at that tail too. did you end up getting it?

11-28-2013, 12:16 AM
No, because it has to be made with Neoprene and I didn't have the funds. I spent HOURS talking with Jerilyn from AquaTails about what I wanted, could afford, etc. She is really nice and helpful and will work with you. Unfortunately, they can't make the fabric skins in the Koi print because the white becomes see-through even with a lining, and the design is put on with acrylic paint. Also, because it's a paint job, it will get damaged by chlorine in a short matter of time, so it's not the best pool option. I went with the Angel Tail, which is fabric, and the basic Wave Monofin by Finis. If you have a large shoe size, you'll get the Rapid Fin by Finis but it's not actually any faster, it just accommodates a larger shoe size. I have however been pleasantly surprised by the fabric tail. I thought it would probably be a disappointment but it hasn't been so in anyway. I should add however that I don't think it's very sea-worthy and would be better off used in a pool. The fins are powerful and there are several ways you can swim with them. In terms of fitting... Make sure you get the measurements RIGHT and it will fit you perfectly. Your shoe size is extremely important - if the foot places are too big, the fin will slip off your feet. To give you an idea, my foot measures nine inches long, but I ordered a 7.5 and it fits really well. The rubber will be very tight at first and you will need Vaseline to get your feet in (especially if they're wide and/or you frequently wear flip-flops or "skater" shoes - Vans, Etnies, Emericas, DCs, etc.). If your local pool has a hot tub, you can help form the fit to your feet in the hot water, or I suppose you could also do it in a bathtub. The fin will go on much easier when it's wet. The back strap needs to be really tight, as tight as you can stand, and over the top is a place where you can slip a shoe lace through - do so. As for swimming with it, the deep end and being underwater works best although you can breaststroke with head above water and "push" and you'll be able to swim that way if you prefer. Underwater you can really work the fin hard by moving your feet as though you were in regular diving fins, but it will be extremely strenuous and will eventually start hurting your feet. It's best to just do a dolphin shimmy and let it just follow through from the movement of your trunk. I swam in it the first time, it wasn't complicated, but it's taken a few times to really perfect the form and method. Remember, if you're using a chlorinated pool, you need to rinse it out everytime, just like you would a wetsuit. The fin has a hook that you can use to hang it from a clothes line. If you go with an AquaTails fabric tail, I think you will be pleasantly surprised. By the way, the angel tail looks amazing underwater and people in the lane lines next to me always stop swimming and start watching through their goggles and then say nice things like, "Oo, I'm swimming with a mermaid today!" I've gotten many compliments on how the tail flows in the water. Oh yeah... The drawstring at the waist - make it TIGHT... Otherwise the skin will slip off you and down your waist, knees, ankles, etc. Lastly, it's not going to have the same realistic look that other members' tails have who are using Latex or Silicone. You will be able to see your knees and leg shape through the wet fabric - it's still fun and totally useable regardless though. If you order the Aqua Snakeskin print, it will be much darker aqua than the light blue that they advertise in their print section of the site. I wish you the best!

11-28-2013, 12:25 AM
One last thing... I used to be a surfer so I have had a lot of experience with Neoprene in the form of a wetsuit. The material can scratch and fray when rubbed against sand or even a pool bottom, actually more so than fabric. Also, if it's made with velcro, the velcro will fray quite easily and soon and you will have to sew a new patch on. If it's got a zipper, you need to make sure your measurements are precise down to 1/4 of an inch. It stretches and is buoyant, but it should still fit rather tightly. At AquaTails, the thickest they offer is a 2mm. To give you an idea of how warm that is, I need a 3mm to swim in the San Francisco area in the summer, and would even prefer a 4mm/3mm if I had the money. If you're going to go into some place like Lake Tahoe or The Great Lakes, you'll probably need a 5mm or 7mm. If you don't want the whole suit and are only getting the pants, get 7mm because you're not getting full body insulation. And of course, you'll need to tell the gals at AquaTails that you're intending to put a 3, 5, or 7mm underneath so that they can make it slightly larger. Have vaseline on hand as you'll need it to get the Neoprene tail over the Neoprene pants without a huge mess. Oh, and if your fin doesn't fit your feet quite right or is loose or slip a lot, you can get Neoprene socks or even Surfing/Scuba booties that will give you some traction against the rubber and stop the sliding. I hope all this helps :)

11-28-2013, 12:30 AM
The first girl you see in this video from AquaTails is wearing the Angel Tail fabric skin...

11-28-2013, 12:35 AM
Actually, the first girl is wearing the Fringe Tail. The girl in the Silver and black spots is in a fabric tail (probably the "smooth tail" design), and the girl in the blue is in Neoprene. Look at the girl's knees in the Silver and then look at the girl's knees in the blue and you'll see the difference between fabric and Neoprene. Regardless, they all look cool underwater.

11-28-2013, 12:43 AM

11-28-2013, 12:44 AM
^Aha... Here is what the Angel Tail looks like - and the Aqua Snakeskin print.

12-01-2013, 12:06 PM
Wow thanks :)
your tail is so pretty i like the fabric the snake skin look is one of my favorites

12-01-2013, 07:16 PM
You're welcome! I think you will like AquaTails... They're a good company :)