Dive Right In: How to Choose the Right Scuba Diving Fins
Before you embark on your first big underwater adventure, it all starts with finding the right gear. Sure, you could rent it at the local dive shop. But there are some benefits to owning your own equipment: you don’t have to worry about unclean items or unhygienic rentals, you get gear that’s perfect for your dive style, and you get to know your equipment over time so you can always depend on it to respond or react reliably.
Scuba fins are some of the most important aspects of your scuba uniform, so choosing the right type can be a lot of pressure. Luckily, we’ve done the research for you. Ready to purchase your first pair of scuba fins? Here’s all you need to know.
Paddle fins are a traditional blade with a standard shape and stiff construction. The upside? They provide plenty of power and propulsion. They’re particularly a great choice for dive sites that have the potential of developing difficult conditions or strong currents. In challenging waters, paddle fins will give you more force for better navigation.
Split fins are a relatively recent invention, they’re just as popular as traditional paddle fins. The split in the center of the blade provides minimal resistance and optimal flexibility. The split fins’ easy use makes them an ideal choice for divers with weak joints in their feet or back problems, and many divers have found that they conserve air supply when using split fins because of the minimal energy expenditure. The main downside is the minimal provision of power, but for simple recreational diving in calm waters, split fins are a great choice.
Channel / Jet Fins
Channel fins, also referred to as jet fins for the jet stream of water that they propel from the fin, don a heavier style that is not ideal for recreational use or novice divers. Their heavier construction helps maintain balance, so they’re great for teaching and rescues. Many professional divers prefer the jet style for this reason, but beginners and travelers should veer away from the heavy style.
Full Foot Pocket vs. Open Fin
While the blade is clearly an important feature of your fins to consider, there’s one more characteristic that you should take into account before you make your purchase. Fins come with two different types of foot pockets — a full foot pocket or an open, strapped style. Full foot pockets create less drag because they form to your foot and don’t have a bulky strap, but the necessity to find the perfect fit can make it difficult to find the right size. They’re also made for wearing with bare feet, so you don’t have the option of wearing socks or booties to give your toes extra warmth or protection.
Open fins come with an adjustable strap, so they’re easy to share and provide room for booties if you feel you need them. Whether you choose an open fin or one with a full foot pocket depends on the type of diving you’re doing and the needs you’re trying to meet.
Choosing scuba diving fins can be extremely daunting in combination with the nerves of your first dive. But rest assured, fins are manufactured with divers in mind. By choosing a design that provides support for your dive style and prepares you for kicking in the right conditions, you’ll be ready to dive right in.
- Watersports Staff