How To Choose The Right Scuba Diving Fins

Robert Arak in Scubatude Blog
on Jul 02, 2019 |

When learning to scuba dive, you should have quickly realized that swimming with
your arms is no substitute for the combination of good fins and leg muscles.
Most scuba fins have the same basic features: A foot pocket, and a blade which provides the means for propulsion. There are many variations, as well as lots of “bells and whistles", added by manufacturers and designers, but nothing is more important than fit and comfort.

Foot Pocket

There are two main styles of pocket for your foot. Open heeled, or open foot fins are what most scuba divers choose. This style does not enclose the heel which means that you can wear differing thickness of booties to account for water temperature. The fin is secured to your foot with an adjustable strap, or spring strap that sits behind the ankle. Most divers find this style of fin more comfortable than closed foot fins. Open heeled fins offer greater power and propulsion than closed heeled fins. It is important to try these fins on with the scuba bootie you will be using. The pocket should come to your ankle area but not cut into it. Closed foot fins have a heel and are not worn with booties which makes them only suitable for warm water. They do tend to be lighter making them appropriate for snorkeling too. Overall closed foot fins offer less propulsion than open heeled fins. A comfortable fit can be difficult to achieve, and without the protection of booties, sore feet due to rubbing is common. Thin ‘scuba socks’ can increase comfort. When fitting, the pocket should not squash your foot, but neither should it be loose.

Adjustable strap

The strap around your heel attaches to buckles on the fin and secures the fin to your foot. If you typically wear gloves when diving, put them on and see how easy the design is to get in and out of. Some straps adjust with a gated mechanism whereas other have a spring or bungie which easily enables you to slip in and out. On a lot of models, gated straps can be changed to a stretchable alternative, but these would be a supplemental purchase.

Blade Design

You will see and hear many innovative features when it comes to blade design and be overwhelmed with propulsion technology. Manufacturers want you to believe that their fin offers the best water flow, efficiency, and movement. There are designs that have remained unchanged throughout the years, and brand new designs being introduced every year. The 2 basic styles are split fins, and blade fins. While split fins do provide less resistance, and less potential for leg cramps, they are only efficient when the divers kicks using a swift and narrow flutter kick. After learning to dive most divers work to develop a frog kick method for propulsion and would find a rapid flutter kick unnecessary most of the time. Further, they can take some getting used to. A more traditional blade, while needing more power, will give you the propulsion based on the kick you make.

How to choose.

In the end, you need to buy the best fin for you, and this will depend on your size, physical ability and where you want to dive. Remember the larger and more rigid the blade the greater strength you will need to use it, however it will allow for greater propulsion. Weight can also be a deciding factor. If you travel for most of your diving, a lighter weight fin may be best, while divers who use thick wetsuits or dry suits may need the added weight of heavier fins to reduce “floaty feet”. Remember, once you choose your style, try the fins on with your booties and make sure they are comfortable for you.