One of the essential components of your diving gear is a pair of scuba fins because it enables you to move faster and more efficiently underwater using the least amount of effort. If you’re in the market for good scuba fins, it helps to know the different types and features so you can choose the most ideal pair that fits your diving needs.
Types of foot pockets: Open-heeled or close-heeled
There are two basic types of fins namely the open-heeled and close-heeled fins. The open-heeled, also called half-pocket fins are larger because they are designed to be worn with dive booties (neoprene boots) which are sold separately. They come with heel straps and buckles on either side which keep your fins secured to your feet. When purchasing this type, it is advisable to bring your boots for test fitting.
The close-heeled or full-foot pocket fins are worn barefoot and come with openings at the end for your toes. When trying them on, go for a snug fit and make sure that you can still wiggle your toes. Whereas a tight-fitting pair can interfere with circulation and lead to blisters while loose full-pocket fins can slip-off once you enter the water or while kicking.
Open-heeled fins are ideal for cold water diving because they provide warmth and extra protection. The fact that they are made with stronger materials make them perfect for beach or shore entry diving which usually involves walking through stairs, sandy, or rocky surfaces. Close-heeled fins are more affordable and best for warm water diving but offer less protection from sharp reef structures.
Fin blade styles
Paddle Blade – This traditional-type of fin blades come in either open-heeled or closed-heeled. They are more simple to use but capable of delivering a good kick. Scuba divers prefer the open-heeled paddle blade for their versatility and adjustability while the closed-heeled are highly popular among snorkelers.
Channel Blade – Known for their stiff molded side rails, channel blade fins feature a flexible center channel which may vary depending on the manufacturer and purpose of use.
Split Blade – Divers who have weaker kicking abilities or ankle problems can benefit from the split blade fins because they allow movement with less effort. However, they lack thrust, especially when struggling with strong currents. Compared to standard fins, split blade fins give better propulsion and agility but usually cost more in the market.
Long Blade – These elongated fins are designed for specialty divers who engage in freediving or spearfishing.
Stiffness of the blade
The desired stiffness of the fin blade is best attributed to the diver’s body frame and leg strength. For example, a diver weighing around 200 lbs or more and have a forceful kick needs a stiffer blade compared to someone with a smaller frame who is still in the process of developing a good kick. Using a blade that is too stiff for you is discouraged because it can tire you out easily.
How to fit diving fins
You have to be in a sitting position to fit the diving fins properly. For opened-heeled fins, it is advisable to bring your dive boots with you so you can try them along with the fins. To ensure an ideal fit, check if you can see a few inches of your boots poking out from the foot pocket. Adjust the straps accordingly then move, tilt and flex your feet as if you are kicking underwater to test if they will hold your feet in place. If they slip off, try on a fin with smaller pockets and perform the same tests until you find the ideal pair.