The Best Scuba Diving Fins: How to Choose
Finding the best scuba fins for your dive can be a hard decision, and they may not be top of mind when you are getting all the gear needed. But, they are one of the most important purchases you can make for a lifetime of successful dives. The best scuba fins will fit well, allow you to swim comfortably through the water, and deliver power when you need it.
There are a variety of fins out there, and it can be difficult to parse through all of the information to find the best fins for scuba diving. The type of fins that will work best for you depends on a number of factors, like how often you dive, the diving conditions you’ll be in, and your level of comfort as a diver. Some divers prefer different fins for different dive conditions (cold water, travel, currents, etc.)
Because of all of these variables, we’ve compiled a list of pointers and important tips to take into consideration before you make your purchase. This guide will provide all the info you need to ensure that you pick the best type of scuba fins for your dive.
What to Consider
The options available to divers are vast, so let’s take a look at how you can evaluate which fins will meet your individual needs.
There are two prominent heel types for fins. The first is known as either a “foot pocket” open heel that uses a strap and is worn with a boot. The second is a full foot, no boot type of fin. There are differences between the two, and the type you choose will depend on what type of diving you want to do and your experience level.
The pros of open heeled fins include:
- Being the better type of fin for cold water diving, due to fin boots that will help to regulate temperature
- Less buoyant than full foot
- Spring straps for a more accurate fit
- Ease of walking on land
The pros of full foot fins include:
- Ease of use—no adjustments needed
- A better use of energy from the foot to the blade
- Often a more affordable option
- Excellent for warm water
To experience the benefits of full foot and open heeled fins in one, try our new Seawing Supernova fin. The Seawing Supernova fin is sold as an open heeled fin, but a full foot pocket can be purchased seperately. This innovative two-piece design makes transport easy, and with the optional full foot pocket, the fin can be modified to handle any warm-water dive scenario.
Ease of Putting On and Taking Off
Fins are one of your most important parts of your dive gear, so everything about them should be optimized for you. The ease of putting on and taking off fins is important so you aren’t dealing with unwieldy buckles or struggling to get going into the water. Open heel fins will be the easiest dive fins to take on and off. With adjustable straps or an easy buckle adjustment system, you don’t have to worry about cumbersome fins.
Comfort and Fit
Trying on a set of dive fins that fit in the store may not translate to fins that fit on your feet in the water. They may fit perfectly at home but then start slipping off your feet during a dive. The correct comfort and fit are key to a successful dive.
So, how should your fins fit? They should have a snug fit on your feet. Think about it like any other shoes you are active in, like hiking boots. Hiking boots need to be tight enough to not cause blisters due to rubbing because of a loose fit. If your fins are not snug enough, they can cause chafing and blistering, or, you may even find yourself in a dangerous situation where they slip off mid-dive. It should be a struggle to fit more than a couple of fingers in an optimized and extremely comfortable foot pocket—any more and you’re risking losing one. As far as too tight fins go, if your toes feel cramped for space, the fins are too small and will lead to a less efficient and comfortable dive.
Fins aren’t separated in men or women sizes, but it is recommended that men should start out with a fin the same size as their shoes, while women should go two sizes smaller. Of course, there are other variables that will determine your size. Make sure you check the size charts or try on a fin at your local dealer when shopping. We’ll get into that more in-depth in the next section, but the scuba fin heel type is a major component of what size to buy.
Ability to Adjust
Open heeled fins provide the ability to adjust the fin for fit and comfort. Just like we talked about in the fit and comfort section, adjustability is a key component for many when they are looking for a successful dive. Bungees, springs, or traditional straps allow divers to adjust their fins as needed, especially when deep-diving and compression may change the fit of a fin mid-dive.
Type of Diving
Scuba diving is often used as an all-encompassing term for any type of dive activity, but there are differences.
- Open water or recreational diving – Open water diving is open to all experience levels, letting divers take in marine mammals, sea critters, and gorgeous views. While most divers prefer open heeled fins, full-foot fins are a more affordable option and are a better choice for warm water dives.
- Travel diving – For travel, the best types of fins are lightweight, compact, and efficient. This can be a difficult combination to find, but the SCUBAPRO GO Travel Fin ticks all those boxes. The compact blade generates power, is optimized for maneuverability, and is lightweight and comfortable.
- Shore diving and dive resorts – Shore diving is when you dive from the shore versus a boat. Shore diving can include traversing stairs or rocks to get to the water’s entry point, so you’ll want to bring both durable dive boots and open heel fins. The GO Sport Fin features a “boot-fit” design, making it easy to walk on land while also featuring some of the benefits of other full-fit fins, like being lightweight and easy to walk around in.
Kick stability is just what it sounds like—it’s staying stable when diving regardless of the type of kicking you prefer. Make sure that the fins you choose are easy to maneuver, won’t have you knocking them together in the water, and that they track straight.
Different fins can affect stability depending on the type of dive you’re doing. The length of the blade makes a difference in your kick stability. Long blades with a stiffer fin generate more thrust but require good technique and strong legs. Short fins are easier to move in and can fit in tighter spaces, like when going cave or wreck diving. As you progress in your diving career, you’ll eventually find the “sweet spot” for the best scuba fins in every situation.
A great fin for kick stability is the Seawing Supernova fin. The flexible Auto-Adjust central panel of this fin fine-tunes the angle of attack according to the strength of kick by counter-pivoting, providing a milder angle of attack for comfort when kicking gently, a more aggressive angle of attack when kicking at full strength, and anything in between. When it comes to frog and alternate kicks, the new twin-tip winglets increase control and markedly improve maneuverability.
Power vs. Effort
Something to consider when choosing the best scuba diving fin for you is the concept of power vs. stress. With regard to diving, power vs. effort is how much power is produced while you are kicking, directly relative to the amount of effort that is put into the kick. Ideally, you want higher power with less effort.
A split fin design can slice through water with minimal resistance, making them a standard option when considering power vs. stress. They have flexible blades and generate propulsion. The power comes from the speed of a diver’s kick versus the force of it.
Maneuverability is a key component to a successful diver. As it relates to scuba diving and fins, it refers to how easy it is to get out of tight situations, backing up, spinning, reversing directions, and moving throughout the water.
You may find yourself needing a highly maneuverable scuba fin when you are cave or wreck diving. These types of dives often include swimming in tight spaces where you will need to be able to change directions often.
Different fins can affect the maneuverability you experience during your dive. The best scuba fins for maneuverability are those that are lightweight, compact, shorter, and have an effective blade.
How quickly you can increase speed and accelerate in the water depends on the type of fin you decide to wear. Open heeled blade fins tend to work the best when moving quickly and efficiently in the water. This shape of these fins, like the Seawing Nova Fin, excels in providing more power and acceleration, letting you rock through open water at top speed.
Kick Style Performance
Different kick styles have ideal fins, as well. These are the top 2 diving kick styles:
Scissor Kicks – The flutter kick is the first type of finning style that you’ll learn from an instructor. It’s easy to learn the basics of this kick, you can accelerate quickly, and is useful when swimming against currents. Full-foot fins with pivoting side rails are effective for flutter kicking.
Frog Kicks – Frog kicks are useful for conserving energy during dives. It helps keep divers from disturbing sediment on the ground and works in tight spaces. An open heel, stiff blade is ideal for an efficient frog kick. This is a popular technique for technical divers and many photographers.
Blade angles are the main component to consider when surface swimming. The optimal angle of the blade will determine the angle of the swimmer’s feet. When swimming while face down, your body is relaxed with your feet facing at a downward angle. Flat blades can cause you to over-extend your feet to make them straight, making for muscle fatigue and strain. The most efficient angle will provide comfort and an easier dive.
Angled blades help keep a diver’s foot in a more natural position, allowing them to surface swim with ease. A more flexible and narrow blade like the Jet Club Fin, is the best type of scuba dive fin for snorkeling and surface diving.
Once you’ve selected your fin of choice, you may want to invest in fin accessories to continue to optimize your dives.
- Skeggs are meant to help minimize sideslip. The Go Sport Skegs maximize stability when kicking and maneuvering in the water. They come in a variety of fun colors that you can mix and match.
- Extra fin straps, like the Go Bungee Fin Strap or the Seawing Nova Fin Strap, are good items to have when you’re on your trip. You never know when you’ll need a replacement and you’re out in the middle of the ocean.
Color and Style
Once you really get into diving, it can be especially fun to start color coordinating your diving gear and accessories. Whether you want to mix and match or make all your gear the same color, you’ve got a ton of options to create the type of dive look you want. Sure, efficiency is the most important aspect of diving, but there’s nothing wrong with adding your own creativity to the mix. SCUBAPRO offers a wide variety of fin color options from pink and blue to neon yellow.
The Best Scuba Dive Fins Depend on Your Style and Type of Diving
There are many variables that go into what makes the right dive fin for you like kick style, type of diving, experience diving, and more. This guide was designed with all of those elements in mind. Now that you’ve got a baseline, you can head into your local dealer and start scuba fin shopping!