While there are fins designed for snorkeling, body surfing, and free diving, scuba diving fins enable divers to move efficiently through the water. Fins make it possible for divers to move through the water with the minimum of effort and maximum efficiency.
The features of a standard diving fin include a blade of adequate size made from either neoprene or a plastic composite and a foot pocket usually made from neoprene.
Diving Fin Types
There are two main diving fin types, open heel, and full-foot.
- Open heel fins fit by means of an adjustable strap that holds the foot snugly in the foot pocket. Divers usually wear wetsuit boots with open heel fins as these keep the feet warmer in cold water and provide foot protection on deck and on shore. This type is generally stronger and stiffer to work efficiently with the greater resistance generated by the extra gear that divers carry.
- Putting on full-foot fins is more like putting on a shoe. These are more suitable for wearing in warmer waters and when diving from a boat and are designed to be worn barefoot, although some divers who find prolonged use, uncomfortable, choose to wear fin socks with this type.
Features To Look For
- Buckle Types: Quick-adjust buckles enable quick adjustment of the tightness of the strap by pulling on the end. Quick release buckles have this facility but can also be unclipped from one side to remove the fin easily and can be clipped back when replacing the fin.
- Strap Types: Spring straps tension themselves, allowing you to slip your fin on, with the strap automatically keeping it in place.
- Blade Shapes: These can vary a lot from the traditional fan shape. Optional features include split fins, vents, channels, ribs, and rails. Each type has its own benefits. Some blades incorporate a mixture of styles – all with the aim of improving efficiency and reducing the effort needed for a diver to propel himself through the water.
Most suppliers provide a diving fins size chart as sizes can vary between manufacturers and even individual fin types from a manufacturer.
When choosing your fins, full foot fins have a size guide that compares to normal shoe size. It is important that your foot should fit inside the fin snugly. At the cheaper end of the market, sizing may be less specific and designed to serve a wider foot size range. Unless you are lucky, this may result in a less good fit and the potential for discomfort or rubbing.
Open heel fins have a sizing guide in bands. It is important to wear your wetsuit boots when trying these on and to be aware that there is a wide discrepancy between different manufacturers in their sizing bands so try before you buy if you can!
When choosing your fins, your choice will depend on where and how you intend to use them. For those who sometimes dive in a dry suit (these have large boots), you will require diving fins with a larger fin pocket. Your final choice will be down to your personal preferences as to the features and, of course, the color.
Tips For Your Diving Fins
Marking your fins inside the foot pocket is a good idea for quick identification if you are diving in a large group or from a busy boat.
Always have a spare fin strap in your kit and check your fin straps after each dive for any sign of wear and tear – as breaking one on a dive without a replacement to hand, is a frustrating experience.
After each dive, wash your diving fins in fresh water to remove the salt. Storage should be in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place. Keep them out of the sunlight for maximum life.