Richie Kohler, Shadow Divers and Titanics Last Secrets “Advances in diving technology
and equipment has changed the way divers dive. The APS Mantaray fin is an innovative
propulsion breakthrough whose robust design and light weight is the future of underwater
swimming efficiency...nearly indestructible and easy to pack; we will be seeing a lot more of
these fins on the dive boats!”.
By Jeff Toorish, Chief Photojournalist, Advanced Diver Magazine and Scuba Expert for
ClubMedInsider.com "The first time I used the APS Mantaray Fins, it was on a rocky shore
dive here in Maine. It was a windy day with a storm offshore and the breakers were crashing
about 30 yards off the beach. My buddy and I, both technical divers, knew this would be a
rough dive. We decided to venture in, and used a classic surf entry, essentially getting in and
under fast. With whitecaps crashing above us, my first thought was, these fins don’t look like
they are going to have the power I need. They slipped on very easily with the Universal Fin
Strap, but I was concerned that with a mighty undertow and ferocious surge in a dry suit I
would over kick them. That is not what happened, not at all.
These fins are terrific; it’s as simple as that. I’ve used them in a variety of conditions, from
difficult shore entries to boat dives; recreational dives and technical expeditions; with singles
and doubles and while pushing a large camera through the water. In every instance, the APS
Mantaray Fins were absolutely the best fins I have used. It is odd to find fins that work equally
well for recreational as well as technical dives.
Fins are a matter of taste, and I have tried more than a dozen designs in the past few years,
looking for the perfect combination of power, ease of use, and rugged design. Frankly, no
other fins come through on all fronts like the Mantarays.
While I was testing these fins, I lent them to a friend who has a bum knee. He swam around
for a few minutes and got out of the water saying they were the first fins he had tried that didn’
t stress his leg. He ordered a pair the next day.
For traveling divers these fins are light and extremely easy to pack. They are about half the
size of my blades and much, much smaller than the jets I used to regularly use. For technical
divers, they are sleek and the universal fin strap is brilliant, and small enough to carry an
extra strap in a pocket. As a cave diver, I am always looking out for catch points on my gear
and these fins are about the best I have seen. I’ve witnessed cave divers tangling lines in
spring straps, that won’t happen with the Mantaray Fins and the Universal Fin Strap.
There is virtually no discernable drag with the APS Mantarays, and that makes for an easier
swim and my SAC rate actually seems to have improved since I switched. In fact, I have had
to adjust my swimming to allow buddies to keep up. They work with all the kicks I use and
are extremely efficient with the frog kick.
As a disclaimer, I am not connected with APS Mantaray other than the company did provide
me a set of their black fins to try out.
I thought it would take me a while to adapt to the Mantarays but after the fist dive I knew I liked
them…a lot. These are now my default fins, and in fact, I’ve pretty much hung up my other half
dozen sets of swim fins. If you are looking for new fins, these are definitely worth a try.
John McKenzie, Editor of Scuba Gadget wrote, “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 one of the few fins that stand outside
the ring whilst paddle and split battle for the feet of divers who think they have no other
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. Though the “numbers” 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.
Furthermore, APS Mantaray fins provide a distinct improvement in maneuverability. Dale
Sheckler said in California Diving News, “These fins were excellent in tight spots with a great
ability to turn on a dime and move about with freedom.”
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 and purchase a pair for my everyday
The APS Mantaray Fin has also garnered the endorsements of highly qualified individuals
such as Dr. Glen Egstrom, Professor (Emeritus) in the Physiological Sciences Department
at UCLA and credited with developing the first extensive recreational fin study and testing
program beginning in 1965, says, “The light weight and performance versatility of the
Mantaray Fin will provide discriminating divers with an innovative tool that is effective under a
variety of diving conditions. Well done!”
Dr. Egstrom, an elected Fellow in the American College of Sports Medicine, a member of the
Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, a member of the American Academy of
Underwater Sciences, and a NOGI member of the Academy of Underwater Arts and
Sciences, has received over 20 awards from National and International diving organizations
for his work in diving education and safety.
The APS Mantaray Dive Fins have also been tested and evaluated by expert divers in military
organizations throughout the world including U.S. Navy Seals, U.S. Marine Reconnaissance,
Canadian River Rescue Teams, Canadian Navy, U.S. Coast Guard. Here are just a few of
the reviews written by some of these individuals whose lives depend on their gear while
performing their duties.
Bobby N, U.S. Marine Reconnaissance stated, “I'm a student in BRC (Basic
Reconnaissance Course) in the Marine Corps. I'm currently in my amphibious phase of
training. One of the responsibilities of Recon Marines is scout swimming. Everyday we do a
2000 yard fin for time. This weekend I bought a pair of your fins and not only did I take 5
minutes off of my usual time, but I had little to no fatigue in my legs and no pain in my ankles.
I'd recommend these fins to anyone who's going to be doing long distance surface fins.
I actually just had my last training day today. The fins made things that much easier. As
lightweight and small as the Mantarays are, I can still easily break through the surf zone and
fin in full combat gear pushing a 90 pound ruck faster than I could in the Jetfins. All the
instructors were pretty skeptical at first because of the way the fins look, but they performed
Nick N., U.S. Navy Seal said, “I have been a SCUBA diver since 1968 and was a career Navy
SEAL from 1971 to 1999. During that time span I have had the opportunity to evaluate a wide
variety of fin types and styles. Of all the fins I have used, none have provided me with the
performance equal to the APS Mantaray.
I was assigned as Assistant Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation (RDT&E)
Officer for Naval Special Warfare Group ONE from 1990 to 1994. One of the projects that I
conducted was the comparison of ten sets of SCUBA fins, then on the market, for SEAL
operational application. During several dives using both open and closed circuit
SCUBA, I found the Mantaray would provide me with better speed and less fatigue than any
fin I had used before or have used since.
It was the Mantaray that I chose to take while evaluating water proofed electronics at
Panama City, Florida, because by that time it was the only fin that I used, either surface or
subsurface. The swims conducted for the evaluation of the electronics consisted of several
surface swims of between fifteen hundred and two thousand yards. There were also dives of
over two thousand yards.
Since the Florida evaluation, the Mantaray is the only fin that I use for SCUBA and free diving.
The function is equally superior in both surface and subsurface swimming. I would
recommend that anyone in search of a fin that functions well for all swimming evolutions
should contact APS Mantaray and arrange an opportunity to try this fin.”
Jeremiah B., U.S. Coast Guard wrote, “I have owned many different types of fins, and used
them for various different water activities, including scuba diving. Now, older and wiser, and a
member of the United States Coast Guard’s Maritime Safety & Security Team (MSST-11907),
an anti-terrorism team based out of Honolulu, Hawaii. In addition, to my duties as a Maritime
Law Enforcement/Force Protection Boarding Team Member, I am also a member of our unit’
s specialized dive team. I recently returned from U.S. Navy Dive School in Panama City,
Florida, where I underwent rigorous training cycles, which included timed fin-swims in low
temperature waters. Again, I had the opportunity to use various types of fins. Recently, I had
the opportunity to try the APS Mantaray design. The first thought and single word that came to
mind was ‘effortless.’ This fin allowed me to propel myself through the water, while dressed
in full scuba gear, with an ease that I have never experienced before from any fin. Both the
upstroke and downstroke felt noticeably easier, giving me the propulsion I need while
consuming less energy. Anyone who does any type of military scuba diving knows that
consuming less energy equates to consuming less air, therefore longer bottom times, and
as a result, more productivity. I have let several of my dive buddies, both personal and
professional, try this fin and they, too, concur that this fin is simply a breakthrough in fin
technology. In addition to the ease of the fin, it is a very comfortable fin that is easy to dress
and undress. I now use the APS Mantaray for both military and recreational dives.”
Joel M., U.S. Navy Seal Team Three stated, “I am writing this letter in regards to the APS
Mantaray fins that I have tested. I have owned and tested a number of fins before testing the
APS Mantaray dive fin. I used the fins for two fifteen hundred yard dives where I was wearing
twin 80's. I was quite impressed by the fins; they were very mobile with excellent thrust. Also I
noticed after the two dives my legs were not nearly as fatigued as when I used my personal
fins for the third dive. After dive testing the electronics for three dives we had to surface swim
the equipment for two sixteen hundred yard swims, where I jumped at the chance to sample
the fins. I was equally impressed with them on the surface. They gave me excellent thrust
and were very navigable in shallow water. Through my experimentation with these fins I have
found them to be one of the best I have ever used. Also it is very rare that I have found a fin
that is equally comfortable on the surface as it is diving. I highly recommend the opportunity
to anyone who is an avid diver or surface swimmer to examine these fins.”
Daylon Walton of Random Photography wrote, “I just wanted to give you guys some kudos
on your fins. I recently switched from using my XXL Scubapro Jets to your White Lightning
APS Mantaray fins. I was skeptical at first that something that looked so short and stubby
(and light!) could perform as well as my freakishly heavy Jets.
I’m an avid tech diver, and when using double 85’s or 108’s with stage bottles and a full
Aquatica rig with strobes, getting the most out of a fin kick can be very important.
I tested them out during my extended range / trimix training and was very impressed – not
only did they provide much more thrust than I expected (getting me and my rig 100 yards out
to a surface buoy with nominal effort) but they felt like I was wearing next to nothing on my feet.
Recently I had the pleasure of diving with John Chatterton in the Dominican Republic, and he
was curious to hear my opinion on their performance – I told him that for travel, visibility and
thrust underwater, I was sold on these fins.
During some of our deeper dives (below 200’) we had some bad viz, and everyone on the
dive told me that when viz got to be bad, if they could see nothing else, they could at least see
my fins in the gloom.
I’m sold on your product, and will be recommending them to other divers I meet! Thanks
For a more extensive list of reviews and evaluations on the APS Mantaray Dive Fins, please
visit APS Fins In the News, UICC Fin Test Video, Testimonials, Testers Choice Award, Travel
Award, Universal Strap Review, and Fin Tales.