There are a number of variables that come into play when selecting the right fins for scuba diving. Some are specific to certain makes and models. Others are applicable to fins in general.
The most significant keys to selecting the right fins can be summarized in three steps:
Select the right type
Select the right features
Achieve the right fit
Let’s take a look at each.
1 Selecting the right type
Nearly all fins fall into one of two categories:
Open-heel, adjustable fins
Which is the better choice for scuba divers? In most instances, it will be adjustable fins. This is for two reasons:
Most full-foot fins lack sufficient power to overcome the additional weight and drag of scuba equipment.
Adjustable fins generally can and, in fact, must be worn over wetsuit or drysuit boots.
While there are a few, higher-end full-foot fins that do provide sufficient thrust for scuba diving, they can only be worn over bare feet or thin wetsuit socks. This pretty much limits their use to boat dives in warm water. Scuba divers who do own and use these fins typically have another set of adjustable fins and boots for use in colder water or when they have to walk over hot or rough surfaces out of the water, or on slippery boat decks.
Full-foot fins are generally best suited for casual snorkeling in warm water. Adjustable fins, on the other hand, are designed specifically to meet the needs of scuba divers and provide a better value in the long run.
2 Selecting the right features
There are, of course, a number of features you will want to consider when selecting between various fin makes and models. Two specific features, however, are worth noting.
Whichever fins you choose should have easy-to-use heel straps. Most scuba fins come with easily adjustable straps, connected to the foot pocket with quick-release buckles. Better quality fins typically have spring or elastic cord straps, which are exceptionally easy to use and don’t require you to worry about adjustments or releases. Spring heel straps are also available as an after-market add on for most fins.
The best fins often use advanced blade technology. These can range from split fin blades to fins that incorporate some sort of high-tech hinge. What you want to achieve is not so much power but efficiency. Your goal is to find fins that deliver the most thrust for the least effort. These may cost a little more; however, given how long you are likely to own them and the fact you will be using your fins virtually every moment of every dive, the additional investment is worthwhile.
3 Achieving the best fit
Because you will be using your fins with wetsuit boots, you should try on fins while wearing the same boots you will use while diving them. If purchasing fins and boots for the first time, choose the boots first, then the fins.
The bottom of the foot pocket should cover at least two thirds of the sole of your wetsuit boots, leaving only a small portion sticking out the back. Fins that are too small will hurt your feet; fins that are too large may dig into the front of your ankles.
What to remember
Whether buying your first set of scuba fins or simply replacing the ones you have, keep these three things in mind:
Be sure to get the right type. For scuba divers, this is almost always open-heel, adjustable fins.
Make certain the heel straps are easy to use. Look for easily adjustable straps with quick-release buckles or, better still, spring or elastic heel straps. Remember also that some sort of blade-enhancement technology can be a good investment if it increases efficiency while reducing effort.
Always try your fins on over the same wetsuit boots you will be using while wearing them. Make sure the fins are neither too big nor too small.
To make sure you get the right fins, with the right features and fit, be sure to enlist the help of the experienced professionals at your local SDI Dive Center. They’ve helped match dozens of divers with the perfect fins and can do the same for you.
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