Fins are an essential piece of diving kit, with every diver having a personal preference to the style which suits them best.
Some divers opt for the traditional 'jet fin' style, which are large and fairly rigid, where as some divers like the more modern
style 'split fins' which offer less water restriction whilst improving the power ratio.
A jellyfish is faster and more graceful than you are without fins underwater. Fins transform you from a slow moving, limbs flailing, underwater creature into a true denizen of the deep. They enable you to dart about with speed, mobility and efficiency.
How do you choose the right scuba diving fin for you?
When you walk into your local dive shop, or look online, the sheer variety of diving fins can seem overwhelming.
Flex fins, split fins, force fins, closed heel, open heel, the list goes on and on.
When it comes down to it there are really only 2 basic types of scuba diving fins. All fins are just variations on either one of these themes.
Types of Scuba Fins
The most common type of fin used in diving. Paddle fins can be cheap or expensive depending on the style, make and model. Different features, like flex points, can add significantly to the price.
A paddle scuba fin offers good mobility and agility. Overall it's a great choice for any diver.
A downside to the paddle style fin it that it has the most resistance and requires big strong leg kicks, which can tire a diver out and result in more air consumption.
Features like flex or pivot points can alter how much effort it takes, and when it comes to buying these more expensive fins I would suggest trying before buying if possible. At lest do as much homework as possible before laying out the cash.
The split fin has a blade which is split in half down the middle. When a scuba diver kicks, the split blade acts like a propeller to push the diver forward.
Split fins require less effort to kick and are good for divers whose leg strength might not be very strong, or who prefer short flutter style kicking.
Some divers feel that split fins aren't as effective when diving in strong currents.
Other Features of Scuba Fins
It's the features that manufacturers add to their specific fin design that makes the price start to rise.
Go on any scuba forum, or anywhere divers are talking, and you'll hear debate for or against any particular design feature.
It's always a matter of individual comfort and preference combined with each divers particular style whether a certain type of fin 'works' for them or not.
Things to consider before buying scuba fins
Are they comfortable? Comfort is paramount. Wear dive boots when trying on any fin you are considering to see how it feels.
We recently read that zappos.com, a giant online shoe retailer, has a 30% return rate for improper fit, so the size question is not limited to swim fins. The question may be even more difficult with fins because a 'shoe' size is only part of the answer. The brand and type of neoprene boots you wear, particularly heavy soled or rock boots, will have as much effect on the selection of fin foot pocket as the shoe size. Some people, especially those with high arches, prefer a loose fit in their fin and others prefer a snug fit. Our recommendation is to make your 'best guess' following our size guides and rely upon The Scuba Doctor no hassles return policy.
Any fin will get you through the water. High performance racing tires and cheap discount store tires both let a car roll.
Buy what you can afford, and upgrade when you can.
Open or Closed Heel
A closed heel fin is usually used for snorkeling, however if you are doing very easy dives with minimal equipment in warm water, you can definitely use them.
Otherwise an open heel used with a bootie is better for most scuba diving.
Traveler or Drifter
Do you travel a lot when you dive, moving from spot to spot, always swimming? If so a dive fin designed to help you cover a lot of distance easily would be best.
If you have stronger legs you should be able to use a stiffer more robust fin, If that's what you want.
The 2 biggest considerations in our opinion are comfort and price.
There's a lot of debate over fins. This is more agile than that, this is harder to kick than that, this makes me move faster than that, blah blah blah.
Yes the different features do affect performance. But if a fin isn't comfortable your dive will suck. If it's too expensive, you'll be too broke to buy air to dive with.
Think about what type of diving you mostly do and make a checklist of what you are looking for in scuba fins.
Try out a few different styles. If you rent gear, ask the dive shop if they have different style fins available, or ask other divers if you can try theirs.
For more information about Fin features please read our advice on choosing the right Fins for you in our Trusted Advice section.
Then buy the best pair you can afford from The Scuba Doctor.