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Finding the best scuba fins on the market today is crucial for divers of all skill levels, as fins are one of the most important pieces of underwater sport equipment for both convenience and safety. If you’re thinking about heading into the open water on a new expedition, make sure you consider the model and style of fin that best suits your needs to give you the best underwater experience possible.
It can be difficult to maneuver through the water while snorkeling or scuba diving, especially if you’re facing strong currents or tidal surge. Thankfully, quality fins give you greater thrust to cover larger distances with fewer strokes, while also making it easier for you to turn and change your direction. However, if you want to have the best dive experience possible, you need the one of the top sets of fins on the market today that won’t be too heavy or too stiff causing discomfort or drag in the water.
What to Look for in Scuba Fins
Whether you’re new to using scuba fins or a pro, there are some key features and styles of scuba fins that you should learn about before investing in a pair. The type of fins you choose will determine how freely and quickly you move through the water, and how easily you can make turns underwater.
Keep reading for tips on choosing the right fins for your particular needs in the water!
Full Foot vs. Open Heel Fins
Fins can fit in one of two ways, though full coverage of the foot or with an open heel to be worn with boots. Full foot fins are meant to be worn on bare feet and are slip on much like a shoe. These fins are ideal for warm water diving, when an extra layer of insulation isn’t necessary. They are lightweight and relatively short in length, making them ideal for packing with to travel diving.
Open heel fins, on the other hand, are to be worn with booties or wetsuit boots and are secured on your feet with straps around the ankles. They’re ideal for cold water diving or diving in areas with rocky shores because they offer an added layer of insulation and protection with the boots underneath. The open heel fin tends to be the more popular option among experienced divers.
You may have heard of hand fins before, which is essentially just a fancy way of saying webbed gloves. These types of gloves are used by divers who have some physical impairment preventing them from using their feet to move around in the water. Additionally, they can be used for added convenience in moving through the water with ease.
Split vs. Paddle Fins
Scuba fins may feature either a split or paddle blade, offering different conveniences underwater. Split fins, quite obviously are split down the middle, which helps you move faster in the water. These fins tend to be more flexible, which makes it possible to change direction with ease.
Paddle fins, on the other hand, have no cuts or slits and require you to exert more effort to move around freely in the water. These fins may make your dive more challenging, but with the right amount of force, a single stroke with a paddle fin will allow you to move further than that if you’re using split fins. There are certainly pros and cons to each type of fin blade, so consider your options to choose what’s best for you.
Force vs. Flippable Fins
You may be wondering what the difference is between force fins and flippable fins. Force fins essentially imitate the fins of whales and other fast moving sea creatures. The only difference between these and the flappable fins is that the latter can be folded up as you walk on land to prevent tripping.
The Key Features of Any Basic Scuba Fin
Regardless of your budget, the scuba fins you choose must have the following to make scuba diving a breeze;
Walking on land is something that you do on the daily. However, you’ll need to have the right fins when snorkeling or diving which will give you enough thrust to glide through the water with ease. Stiffer fins are great to help you move faster, but they’ll make it harder for you to change direction and you’ll exert more energy, and thus get tired faster. Ideally, fins should offer some flexibility to help you move quickly through the water without overexerting yourself and quickly running out of energy.
Your scuba fins need to fit you perfectly to prevent drag, injury and over exertion in the water. If your fins are too tight, you’ll likely get painful blisters and won’t be able to move easily. If they’re too big, they can slip off and you won’t be able to control the way you flap them to push forward.
If you’re getting full-foot coverage fins, make sure you try them on with booties to ensure that they’re not too tight with the extra layer on. The fit should be comfortable and snug, but not tight.
Much like how you buy shoes which suit the shape of your feet, you need to choose your fins the same way. They shouldn’t be too narrow or too wide because either one will make your dive painful and uncomfortable.
Usually, the color of your scuba fins is determined based on personal preference or options available. However, for newbies, instructors recommend using brightly colored fins simply because they’re easily noticeable in the water. Shark divers, on the other hand, should go with black or some other neutral color to avoid attracting unwanted attention from large fish.
Size only becomes a matter of concern if you’re having to travel to go diving. There are special, lighter and more compact fins designed specifically for packing and travel purposes. They may not perform as well as standard fins in terms of the amount of thrust they offer, but they’re compact and easy to transport making them a great travel diving accessory.
Taking Care of Your Scuba Fins
In order to avoid going through the frequent hassle of trying out new fins and testing them in the water, not to mention the waste in constantly buying new fins, you need to follow some key maintenance tips to keep your fins in good shape for a few years.
- If you’re diving in a popular dive area, mark your fins so that you know which ones are yours. You can simply write your name, or even show your creativity and customize your fins.
- Have some spare fin straps handy in case you’re out for a dive and your strap breaks.
- After your dive, rinse your fins with fresh water and store them in a moisture-free space, away from sunlight.
- It is recommended to use warm water to get all the salt out of your fins to help with longevity.
- Store your fins flat, because bending them can keep them bent permanently, causing damage and breakage.
Our Reviews of the Best Scuba Fins
1. Mares Avanti Quattro Plus Open Heel Bungee Strap Fin
This sleek, padded fin fits almost any diver’s budget. You can choose from a range of colors to either match the fins to your dive suit or to fit the dive occasion.
These scuba fins offer special thrust technology, which makes it easy for a diver to push through the water without getting fatigued too quickly. The bungee heel straps fit the fins onto your wetsuit, such that they won’t come loose when you’re underwater diving.
The ease of movement in these fins makes them ideal for beginners and shallow divers. They are moderately flexible, which offers enough thrust to help you move forward without having to exert too much pressure. This is also why they’re not considered to be the popular choice for professional divers who prefer stiffer fins and more thrust to glide through the water.
2. Cressi Adult Open Heel Scuba Diving Fins | Frog Plus
These rubber fins may not be as powerful as the previously listed Mares, but they’re highly rated for comfort and flexibility. They’re also more pocket-friendly, making them ideal training fins.
The silicon body of these fins makes them flexible and durable, and able to withstand the rigors of ocean diving. The slight split towards the tip of the fins generates greater thrust with a lighter kick. The feet are inserted below the blade in this open-heeled fin which also increases the thrust through the water.
The design features a range of colors so that you can match your fins to your dive suit, or choose a more neutral color if that's your preference.
The clip-on straps make it easy to adjust the fins until you’re comfortable in them. They also work with almost any foot shape, wide or narrow.
3. SCUBAPRO Seawing Nova Fins
These particular fins are ideal for advanced divers who love the maximum thrust of the paddle fin in the water.
The joint in the middle of the fin ensures that even with the slightest kick, the thrust is great without too much energy being exerted on your part. The blade design also helps prevent drag due to water pressure, and the wing tips contribute to increasing the diver’s speed while underwater.
The ergonomic foot design makes these fins comfortable for anyone, including divers with leg and knee pains. The bungee heel strap is also a favorite among divers who find the way it adjusts to any wetsuit very useful, as it is highly unlikely for the straps to come loose underwater.
4. TUSA SF-22 Solla Open Heel Scuba Diving Fins
This fin is a bit more on the traditional side, sticking with the basics for underwater diving. It features an angled, paddle blade for more thrust, while the crescent tip also increases your speed underwater. The fins also feature side rails and vents to reduce the drag of the water and propel you forward when in motion.
You’re probably tired of hearing this, but there’s a range of color options to match anyone’s personality, such as “Fishtail Green” and “Ocean Blue”. Choosing the color is all just a part of the fun in the purchase.
The sizes are generally larger than the standard shoe size, so it is recommended to either try the fins on before buying them or to get a smaller size. This also takes into account the fact that you’ll be wearing booties because it’s an open-heel fin.
Despite being a paddle fin, it offers great flexibility, so you don’t have to exert too much energy to move around- offering the best of both worlds.
5. Cressi Adult Snorkeling & Scuba Diving Fins - Powerful Full Foot Pocket Fins
Finally! A full-foot fin made it to the list! I’ve got to say, Cressi is putting some great stuff out there with both an open heel and full foot fins to choose from. These multipurpose fins are great because they’re suitable for both scuba diving and snorkeling!
The blade starts above your foot, increasing the area of thrust, and the three layers also increase the speed, while protecting your foot at the same time.
There are a range of color options. The fins are also super comfortable to wear, which is great considering you won’t have any booties on underneath with these full foot fins.
The Cressi Open Heel fins made it to the top for a number of reasons: the bungee straps elevate the comfort level, the price range is perfect, and most importantly, they’re semi-flexible. This means that they offer enough stiffness to provide advanced divers with the additional thrust they need, but can also be used by relatively new divers after they’ve had a bit of practice. If you’re traveling, you can just toss these into your dive bag and you’re ready to go.
From open heel style to full foot style scuba fins, there’s certainly a perfect fin for everyone. With a rising increase in popularity of underwater sports such as scuba diving and snorkeling, the market is full of options to choose from. Consider the size of the fin, the color, the fit and the thrust potential when investing in your new scuba fins to ensure you get the most bang for your buck and to move through the water with comfort and ease.
Our goal with this list is to take out the confusing lingo and terminology used for diving fins. If you’re the free-spirit, exploring type, underwater sports are a great option to experience the many wonders of the natural wet world, and here you can find the best scuba fins on the market today to get started!
Have you used any of the scuba fins on our list? We’d love to hear about your endeavors in the water in the comment section below!
For more of our top scuba diving gear recommendations, please visit the following articles.
Megan Jones is the lead author of Seaside Planet. She is an avid surfer, scuba diver, and travel enthusiast who takes any opportunity she can to spend time in the ocean. You can learn more about Meg and the rest of the editorial team here.