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The Best Scuba Diving Fins

Updated on January 20, 2015

How to Choose the Best Scuba Diving Fin

There are so many choices in scuba diving fins these days that it can all be a bit overwhelming to even know where to start. Each scuba diving equipment manufacturer claims to have the technological edge when it comes to power and propulsion in fins. And each scuba diving instructor or divemaster has their own opinion as well. But, it's actually not as complicated as these companies, shops and instructors seem to make it. Essentially there are only 3 basic types of scuba diving fins that you can choose from:

1. Open-Heel Fins. These are for all kinds of diving, especially extreme environments, such as kicking against strong currents, or in cold water. You'll also want them for dive sites with difficult access points so you can walk in your booties instead of bare-feet. If you go with open-heel fins, you'll also need to buy some booties to wear with them. The choice of how thick of booties you want depends on the temperature of the waters you'll be diving in.

2. Full-Foot Fins. These are only for tropical diving and snorkeling, generally off boats, where you don't have to walk across rocky, rough terrain or deal with cool water. You don't wear booties with them, but just slide your bare feet into them.

3. Split-Fins. These are a relatively new technology that is designed to reduce leg fatigue because they give you good propulsion but it's just "easier" to kick. The jury is out on whether this is true or not, but read on for further details about split-fins.

Read on for more information and my recommendations for the top scuba diving fins, including options like split-fins.

Promate Woman's Open Heel Fin

Promate Pro Blade Scuba Diving Open Heel Fins, Pink, M/L
Promate Pro Blade Scuba Diving Open Heel Fins, Pink, M/L

An excellent choice for the ladies who are looking for a smaller fin that doesn't require so much power to use. Kick with ease and fight leg fatigue on your scuba dives. They are not recommend for use on dives when you'll be encountering strong currents.

 
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open-heel-fin.jpg

Open-Heel Fins

Open-Heel Fins are generally heavy duty fins, which are designed to give greater propulsion than full-foot fins are able to. They are built with heavy-duty materials and designed to be used in extreme environments. Open-Heel Fins are the most popular style of fin, because while they can be used in tropical environments, but MUST be used in cold-water environments. They allow you to wear booties inside them, which is necessary if diving in water cooler than about 25 degrees Celsius. Additionally, if you dive at sites that require you to walk over a beach, or rocks, open-heel fins will be required, since you'll want to wear booties to protect your feet when you're doing this.

If you only buy one pair of fins, they should be open-heel ones, along with a pair of booties. You can use them in all environments and later-on, if you want to buy a pair of full-foot fins for tropical diving, this is possible too. But, a nice set of open-heel fins with a set of booties should cover you for any dive you could possibly go on.

A nice option that you could consider is the spring-heel. The fins just snap right into place on your foot and you don't have to struggle with them, tightening the straps and trying to get them just right. With boat entries, it doesn't matter so much, but the spring heel straps are a great choice if you do shore entries in places with surf or waves.

Cressi Pro Light Open-Heel Fin

Cressi Pro Light, black, M/L
Cressi Pro Light, black, M/L

An excellent choice for the diver who travels, these light-weight fins make a practical and economical choice. Nice propulsion power but small enough to put into your suitcase.

 

More Advice on Choosing Scuba Diving Fins

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full-foot-fins.jpg

Full-Foot Fins

Perfect for tropical diving and snorkeling

These kind of fins are exclusively for tropical diving, where you won't have to walk over a rocky beach or shore to access your dive sites and where cold feet aren't an issue. They are generally light and flexible, which make them a nice choice for traveling and for using at dive sights that don't require much effort, such as when you have a boat to pick you up.

Pro Tip: you can wear them with bare feet but it can sometimes get uncomfortable if they don't fit perfectly because they'll rub against your feet and you can get blisters from long periods of use, especially on the surface such as when you're snorkeling. A solution to this is to buy a special scuba diving neoprene sock that protects your feet from rubbing. Or perhaps you're already at your destination and this isn't an option? Just wear a regular old sock, preferably one made from a synthetic fiber such as nylon. It's better than nothing if your fins are giving you blisters and causing you serious discomfort.

Mares Avanti Full-Foot Fin - A top choice from Mares, a trusted name in Scuba Diving

Mares Avanti TRE Full Foot Scuba Dive Fins - Snorkel Fins Blue XLarge
Mares Avanti TRE Full Foot Scuba Dive Fins - Snorkel Fins Blue XLarge

Mares is a name you can trust for quality scuba equipment. These fins are an excellent choice for snorkeling or diving in tropical environments.

 

1.5mm Neoprene Scuba Sock

NeoSport Wetsuits XSPAN 1.5mm Sock, Black, XX-Large - Diving, Snorkeling & Wakeboarding
NeoSport Wetsuits XSPAN 1.5mm Sock, Black, XX-Large - Diving, Snorkeling & Wakeboarding

Perfect for using your open-heel fins in tropical environments. However, they're not thick enough for use in colder waters because your feet will freeze pretty quickly!

 

What works best for you?

Open-heel or closed-heel Fins:

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split-fin.jpg

What about Split Fins?

Are they worth the hype?

When I bought my first pair of fins, I bought split-fins. I didn't really know anything about them, or the technology behind them but they were just what my local dive club was selling. However, I've been very happy with them and still use them, hundreds of dives later!

Split Fins incorporate some of the latest technology to give you a fin with serious power, while reducing leg-muscle fatigue, especially on long dives. There is a natural reduction on drag, which lowers muscle strain with prolonged kicking, such as diving into a current. The basic idea behind split fins is to create a high and low pressure side, which allows the water to be controlled and funneled down the blade and even causes the water to spin a vortex behind the fin, which increases water propulsion.

Sound complicated? It kind of is. But what you need to know is this: if you're going to be diving in sites where you'll need to consistently be kicking, or if you have weak leg muscles, split fins might be for you. They will allow you to keep kicking without getting as tired, but you will need to kick more frequently than someone with a regular style of fin would have to.

Another note is that it is quite difficult to use the frog-kick with them. As divers become more advanced, this is the style that they usually switch to, but it works much better with solid fins than it does the split ones.

Oceanic Vortex V16 Split Fins

Oceanic Vortex V-16 Split Fins for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling - Regular Blue
Oceanic Vortex V-16 Split Fins for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling - Regular Blue

An excellent fin choice for those with less powerful leg muscles (women) who still want lots of power in a fin. These are split, flexible fins, which means that you don't have to kick as hard to get the propulsion you need. You may have to kick more often, but you won't get leg cramps with these finds.

 

Oceanic V16 Split Fins

What kind of Scuba Diving Fins are you looking for?

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Differences Between Paddle and Split Fins

What fins are you thinking of buying (or already have)?

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    • profile image

      Jackie 2 years ago

      KIm: Good for you and SW! Think we are going to get alittle rain here Sunday night haven't seen that in alhiwe! Have a great time and pace yourself, you wouldn't want to miss a thing. You'll be glad to know that PBOT Survey is also on a vacation we moved to the south side of the 8th floor of the Portland Building. We now get to keep an eye on City Hall.Enjoy yourselves! Take care. Mark Hawkins

    • profile image

      Isabella 2 years ago

      I love reading these articles because they're short but infvmratioe.

    • gregs411 profile image

      gregs411 4 years ago

      I like the full foot fins.

    • Roxtin profile image

      Roxtin 4 years ago

      Force fins all day long for me except if long swims against the current.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I've promate fins and it's very comfort. thanks for your reviews...

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