Buying Scuba Fins: A Guide

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Buying Scuba Fins: A Guide

If you’ve recently started out in scuba and are still using the fins you bought last summer as part of a snorkelling pack, it’s time to get your wallet out and start shopping. Regardless of whether you’re planning a few dips in the English Channel or are heading off on a once-in-a-lifetime Maldives liveaboard holiday, a decent pair of fins are one of the most worthwhile purchases you can make as a diver and will dramatically improve your time spent underwater, by helping to improve propulsion, control and comfort, as well as minimise fatigue and post-diving pains.

Full foot or Open heel?
Fins fall into two broad categories: full foot or open heel. With closed heels, full-foot fins are usually worn barefoot, so are best suited to warm waters (the ones to pick for your Maldives liveaboard trip); whereas open-heel fins are worn with booties and have an adjustable or elasticated strap at the back (the warmer option, so better for your dip in the Channel).

Don’t assume that all fins on the market are designed for scuba diving. Swimmers, surfers and snorkelers all use different styles of fin, usually with shorter blades than those required for scuba, whereas free divers use very long blades. Scuba fins are designed to maximise and balance underwater propulsion, efficiency and manoeuvrability, and tend to be much heavier than fins typically used for surface sports.

More about fit than fashion, there are stacks of different styles to choose from…

Paddle Fins are the most common style of fin and are best suited to beginners. They work a bit like an extension of the foot, giving you more surface area to propel yourself through the water. Paddle Fins vary in complexity and price, with more expensive styles incorporating more sophisticated channel and groove technology, designed to help the water move across the fin easily and increase speed and/or flexibility.

Split Fins are considered to be particularly efficient and incorporate a slit down the middle of which helps to add lift as well as forward propulsion. Requiring a little more skill to control effectively, these fins are better suited to frequent or more experienced divers.

Force Fins have a v-shaped cut in the blade, a bit like a fishtail. Relatively new on the market, these efficient and incredibly light fins are made by the Force Fins Company and offer excellent acceleration but less manoeuvrability than other styles.

It goes without saying that size is of the utmost importance when selecting fins. Start by trying on pairs that match your shoe size but be open-minded about this, as different makes and models may work better in slightly larger or smaller sizes.

When wearing fins on dry land, you’re looking for a comfortable fit that doesn’t pinch – the best way to test the size is to shake your foot about whilst sitting, and check for pinching or slipping.

If opting for open-heels, then you’ll need to buy your booties first and should wear these when trying on the fins, remembering to play around with the adjustable strap to get the right fit.

Tags: Red Sea Liveaboards, Red Sea Live Aboards, Maldives Liveaboards, Maldives Live Aboards, Red Sea Diving, Maldives Diving, Egypt Diving, Egypt Dive