Propulsion is the only word that explains why divers need fins. Watch experienced divers. They never use their arms to pull themselves to move forward during their dives. That’s because you cannot pull all those weight (your equipment+your own weight) by using your arms. It only makes you tired and as a result, you consume more air and have shorter deep time. We are NOT swimming but diving. No arm kicks. So, fins are the only equipment that makes us move forward.
Mainly, there are two types of fins; Open heel and closed heel (full foot). Let’s talk about these first.
These fins require a dive boot to wear. You are wearing this kind of fins from the back (heel part) of the fins. The strap on the heel is adjustable. After you wear, you are adjusting your fins and locking the system.
- You wear a diving boot before you wear these fins. A diving boot not only protects you from cold water, but also from pebbles on the shore.
- Adjustable heel strap makes you feel comfortable and fit your foot perfectly.
- More design available compared to full foot.
- Buckles/strap may break down right before a dive (always have a back-up).
- When a wrong size dive booth is chosen, it may cause blisters.
- Bucket and the strap isn’t that hydrodynamic.
This type of fins cannot be worn with dive boots. But some divers prefer to use neoprene socks with full foot fins. It covers diver’s heel with its soft and flexible foot pocket. Here are pros and cons:
- Lighter than open heels.
- Doesn’t require boots, more space in dive bag.
- Cheaper than open heel fins
- No dive boots, no thermal insulation in cold water.
- Harder to wear.
- May not always fit to diver’s foot.
If you decide to use open heel fins like me, you will see that split fins are everywhere. These kind of open heel fins aren’t that old. Split fin design inspired from dolphin tails. The aim is the efficiency. A diver wearing these will have very efficient fin-kicks. The logic is simple. The “split” makes the water pass through the fins easier. Think these fins like car that have high road-holding ability. All these mean that you use less energy.
So why all the “open heelers” buy a pair of split fins? That’s because the only disadvantage of these fins is the “power“. Split fins are not as powerful as paddle fins. A drilled kite flies much more slower than a substantial one. Some prefer to watch their kites while soaring in breeze and some prefer to watch their kites blustering. This is just a personal choice.
Split fins are great if the conditions are good. But -for example- if there is a strong current on a dive site and you insistently want to dive, you better use paddle fins.
Before Buying a Fin
- A fin should fit to the foot. If it is an open heel, your boot also must fit. A good fin is the one that wraps your entire foot. Your fins should act like the rest of your foot.
- I suggest you to buy fins that have channels on their blade. These channels will speed you up by decreasing the surface resistance.
- If you are a beginner, try to avoid long-bladed fins. These will require more effort and may cause some cramps.