Like any footwear for sport, buying the best scuba fins for scuba diving can be an overwhelming business. There’s a great variety of scuba fins for sale. If you’ve started looking at products, you’ll have seen terms like split fins, full foot fins, open heel fins, travel fins, and you’ve maybe even come across high heel fins too. Throw in terminologies like channels, side rails, and vents, and you could be left confused and paralyzed by indecision. How do you choose the best fins? We’re here to help. We’ve put together a summary of the best scuba diving fins along with a guide to help you choose the best diving fins for your purpose.
The basic purpose of a pair of fins is to move you through the water much more efficiently than if we were just flapping our arms and legs around which are pretty much useless once you have added bulky equipment and drag into the equation. You might think that one set of fins is the same as another set but there are actually a number of different styles and technologies at work. On top of that different types of diving can favor a certain style of fin because it is better suited for the environment.
If you are in the market for a new pair of fins but are not sure how each type of fin differs then this scuba diving fin guide will help to explain the different blade technologies and look at some of the features available for the best scuba diving fins.
A look at our choice
A look ahead at what we will be reviewing
The first decision you’ll need to make is whether you want a pair of fins with an open heel or a full foot pocket. For most diving you’ll need an open heel foot pocket that can accommodate neoprene and drysuit boots as well as being heavier and stiffer to provide better propulsion for bulky dive kit. Full foot fins are significantly lighter, make great pool fins or if you are diving somewhere nice and hot where you’ll be diving with bare feet or with just a pair of fin socks.
If you go for an open heel fin you’ll come across a variety of fin strap types ranging from a basic adjustable rubber strap to stretchy spring or bungee strap, bungee heel strap or heel strap. The basic strap is simply loosened to allow it to fit over the heel and then pulled tight to secure the foot in the pocket.
There are variants including expanding buckles that all the strap tightness to be set and then expanding sections released for donning and doffing before securing back in place to tighten.
The most common type of strap found on high end fins are spring or bungee straps that are very quick and easy to fit by simply pulling the strap over the heel. The spring or elasticity of the strap then provide a comfortable pull to keep your foot in the pocket.
Most fins can be upgraded from a rubber adjustable strap to a spring or bungee strap, bungee heel strap or heel strap by either fitting a manufacturer specific kit or a universal strap kit.
From this point onward fin design can vary greatly from a simple paddle style fin to hinging designs that are designed to angle the blade for optimal thrust. There are generally a couple standardized elements of the blade though.
The side bars or rails that run the length of the fin are what gives the blade its strength, preventing the blade from just flopping around and giving it a carefully calculated bending profile.
The other little features that crops up on a lot of fins are winglets. They perform the same function as on airplanes, helping to reduce drag as water is pushed over and along the blade.
OPEN HEEL or FULL FOOT:
Most divers believe that open heel fins are the best fins for diving for a number of reasons. As the terminology suggests the foot pocket doesn’t enclose the heel; your forefoot slips into the foot pocket, and the fin is secured to your foot with a strap that goes around your heel much like a pair of sandals. They are designed to be used with a bootie made out of neoprene which will not only keep your feet warm but also protect them on the boat or shore. Sure, you have the extra task and cost of finding the best dive boots, but it will mean that you can use these fins in either cold or warm water. An open heel fin is on the whole larger, heavier, and bulkier than a closed heel fin; it does require more power to use, but you do get better propulsion.
Full foot or closed heel fins – they’re the same thing – have a foot pocket that encloses the heel as a normal shoe does. These are not worn with a boot and for this reason are only really suitable for warm water. Their design makes them less forgiving when it comes to fit; poorly fitting closed heel fins will cut, blister, and rub your feet. The materials used for the foot pocket itself also dictates their comfort; good quality, soft and pliable materials are the best. All that said, it doesn’t mean that full foot fins should not be considered. They’re mostly lighter than open heel fins which does mean you need less power to use them and, because you don’t use a boot, they’re less buoyant too which makes them a good choice for the best snorkeling fins. If you are buying fins to use on holiday in warm water where you might also spend time snorkeling, they could be the best scuba fins for travel.
There are two types of blade to choose from, and the discussion around whether to use paddle or split fins for diving can be impassioned.
A standard paddle fin has the most resistance in the water which means it does require greater power than a split fin but, in turn, you get greater propulsion. Scuba split fins have less resistance in the water and are a great idea if you have knee or joint problems. A split fin does favor a flutter kick dive style, however, and they can take a little getting used to.
In simple terms, the larger, heavier, and more rigid a fin design is the more power you will need to use to propel yourself. Of course, you get the best propulsion from this, but you need to be able to manage the fin comfortably.
Blade Style of your scuba fins
Now, what about blade style? There are a lot of options, the most common of which I’ve tried to group into categories. The best one for use depends on where you want to use it, its weight, and your swimming style.
Standard paddle fin
Your basic flat surface fin, usually with some reinforcement on the sides to keep water on the fin and provide greater strength.
Channel or Jet fins
Channel fins have different designs designed to contain water efficiently and releasing it as a focused ‘jet’. They are more popular with professional and technical divers than with novices. They tend to be heavy, which can help maintain balance if you are kneeling to teach but makes them less convenient to travel with.
They work well with various swimming styles, but I find they are the best for power when using frog kicks.
Split fins are inspired by fish fins, split up the middle to reduce drag. They provide better propulsion than a single blade fin with less effort. Some people find them too floppy, but it all depends on how you swim with them.
I get the most speed when using long vertical kicks. When I am guiding I can also use an unconventional horizontal side-to-side style to move slowly while not disturbing sand or silt.
Look a bit like a whale tail, and are supposed to provide the best power. They are light and efficient and cost an arm and a leg. Swim with a short flutter stroke for best effect.
Hinged fins have a pivot point where the foot meets the blade allowing the angle to be adjusted according to your needs. They are also useful for shore diving as the fin can be worn with the blade lifted out of the way allowing you to walk more easily.
Find a good pair of scuba fins that suits your needs
I believe that good, comfortable fins are second only to a comfortable mask when diving. They are one of the most important equipment purchases you will make.
This is where scuba fin reviews can start to get confusing but understand that any design features attributed to a blade are there to increase its efficiency versus effort. Manufacturers have looked at propulsion technology to try and increase the power a fin offers while reducing effort. The most common features you will see are as follows.
Channels are interspersed along the blade most often using a different and more flexible material than the blade. These u-shapes capture the water causing a more efficient kick and improving propulsion due to the focused jet of water they produce.
Side Rails are for stability and control, they bring strength to the blade and make sure the water doesn’t ‘slip off’ the blade and reduce propulsion.
Vents are slits, and these reduce resistance and drag and are designed to be placed where there is little water flow thus reducing the drag in an area that doesn’t deliver against propulsion.
When reading a diving fins review bare in mind you don’t need a fin with all of these features, you need a fin that suits your purpose so don’t get dazzled by all the scientific terminology.
So lets take a look at some of the best scuba diving fins
|The Pro light is a generous fin that provides exuberant performance without too much physical effort. These fins are perfect for both beginners and for professionals and are very common among instructors and technical divers. The blades are made in dual material, strong polypropylene and soft elastomer to ensure lightness and well balancing. The fins have a full length side rails to help direct waterflow for improved thrust.|
Elastomer foot pockets improve comfort. The blade extends from the top of the foot for increased surface area. quick release strap buckles
|Adjustable open heel design, good for sharing. The open heel design means each fin can accommodate a wider range of sizes, so family members or friends can share equipment more easily. The best part is the filter pads inside the fins can keep fins in shape when storing them. Soft foot pocket, flexible enough for barefoot divers feet from the cold and blisters.|
These short fins are an excellent choice for avid travelers as the short blade is lightweight and compact, making it ideal for packing with ease. It is a useful swimming aid either for pool or sea swim lovers or snorkelers. Soft heel straps with thumb loops, giving you easy one time adjustment and allowing you to easily put on and remove the fins.
|The new Cozia design swimming fins, which comes with a pair of high quality neoprene swim socks. Cleverly designed to prevent chafing and will keep your feet warm along with offering a snug fit, so you can swim longer. The open heel scuba fins feature a new click and pull buckle system. Simple to slide on and ready to be used in seconds. Our diving fins have an anti slip sole for a safe use on any surface. These swim flippers are made from huge quality lightweight materials for longer lifespan and easy transportation. Reinforced blade rails and soft flexible foot pocket offers extra propulsion and easy movement underwater.|
|The Cressie Palau short fins are specifically designed for swimming and snorkeling. These finds accommodate a wide variety of foot sizes and with a short fin, they are ideal for traveling. Wear them during all surf activities.|
Soft short blades and foot pocket make it quick and easy to put on. Accommodates 3-4 consecutive sizes and can be worn over thin footwear. They have an adjustable fin for pool or beach use. The fins also have a strong ring strap allowing reversal of the strap.
|These fins provide greater resistance in the water for maximum forward propulsion while improving swimming technique by teaching swimmers to kick from their hips and not their knees.|
Buoyancy from the fins lifts legs to the surface, making it easier for swimmers to find correct body position. The fins are designed to increase leg strength and speed, building cardiovascular conditioning even for competitive swimmers. Also provides secure and comfortable fit compared to other swimming accessories.
|A Lightweight and full foot fin, ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving. Made by molding thre different materials (A Cressi patented construction system) to give high performance, extreme lightness for easy fining and comfort.|
The blade is made from light and reactive polypropylene, it is very energetic and has a snappy rebound. The result is a powerful, fluid and untiring kick. The foot pocket extends along the bottom of the blade to give protection during fining even in shallow water and near rocks.
Things to consider when choosing a top dive fin:
Quality construction and durability (you want your fins to last!)
Comfort is paramount; without it, you won’t kick effectively, or enjoy the experience.
A blend of flex and stiffness is needed. Your experience level and leg strength will affect your preference here. I often dive in current, and need to move fast at times for my research work, so I prefer stiffer fins.
A medium-length blade is convenient to travel with, and performs well under most conditions. Longer blades are worth considering if you’re typically diving in currents.
Personally, we prefer full foot fins. We often snorkel for work too, so our fins do double-duty on some trips. Full foot fins have better power transfer when you’re kicking hard, they’re ultra-comfortable when paired with neoprene socks (as long as you buy the correct size), and they are lighter, and more compact to travel with. They also have less parts to break. However, most divers prefer open heel fins as they’re easier to get on and off, and they’re much better for shore dives.
The advice that’s often given to people buying diving equipment is ‘Buy the best that you can afford’, which may be the case for gear such as regulators and exposure suits, but is less true of fins. A high-end regulator will work everywhere, but an expensive set of fins, for reasons of experience and diving environment, may not always be the best choice.
Some fins may not suit your preferred method of finning (assuming you have one), or may be too light or too heavy for your type of diving. Others might not be available in your preferred colour.
The first place to start – especially if you are a relative novice looking to make your first purchase – is to stick with what you know. If you’ve just finished a resort-based open-water course, for example, it’s likely that you will have been issued with a basic set of ‘paddle’ fins as part of the program.
They are basic, inexpensive, hard-wearing (otherwise dive centres wouldn’t use them), and suit most people, for almost all types of diving and all finning styles. If you’re not sure where to begin looking, the general, all-purpose, entry-level paddle fin is an excellent place to start.
If you’ve learned to dive in cold water with a drysuit, however, then you may wish to look at heavier fins which will help with stability and buoyancy control.
Some fins are designed to reduce the effort involved in their use, but the trade-off is a reduction in power. The most powerful, stiffer fins tend to be harder on the ankles and calf muscles, although some of the more ‘advanced designs’ claim to make the best of both worlds. This may well be a factor for consideration based on personal physique, prior injury or the simple passage of time.
If possible, try before you buy. Most fins will cater to the basic up-and-down flutter kick, but once you’ve learned to frog kick, you may find they’re not so good. Back finning is useful for some divers, especially photographers and mandatory for technical divers. But some of the lightweight ‘advanced’ designs make this impossible.
In conclusion, these are some of the top things to consider when choosing the Best Scuba diving fins. You will need to consider the thickness of the material & rigidity. While comfort is important. A good fit is everything. While you also need to look at if you need an open heel or full foot. Take time to consider what sort of blade type you will need as well. Follow the above tips, and you won’t get disappointed or feel that your money hasn’t been spent in the wrong way. For our pick on the best scuba fins, well one stood out for us and that was the Cressi Palau. They are comfortable, provide plenty of power and work well in any ocean conditions..
We would love to hear your thoughts & feedback on masks you have purchased.