Although they may look ridiculous out of the water, scuba diving fins are highly engineered pieces of scuba gear that are important in getting the best diving experience. However, if you have looked online for some, you will be surprised at how many different types of scuba fins there are available.
Different types of scuba fins are made for all different kinds of diving. As such a particular scuba fin may be appropriate for a relaxing and gentle dive in the Caribbean, may not be suitable for cave diving or a more intensive and technical dive for example.
There are also many different types of finning techniques used by divers, which is something to think about when investing in your next pair of fins.
To give you some help in understanding what the best scuba fins are, the different types of fins available and also what they are suitable for, the team at Ocean Scuba Dive will explain in great detail in the following post.
Explained: Different Types of Scuba Fins
1. Stiff Vs. Flexible Scuba Fins
When you are looking into purchasing scuba fins, flexibility is an important factor to take into consideration. Some fins offer a generous amount of flexibility, while others are very stiff. Generally speaking, stiffer fins are far better than more flexible models if you want to use propulsion techniques, such as advanced backing up, helicopter turns and frog kicking.
Although stiff fins will push you further per kick cycle using a flutter-style kick, flutter kicking using stiff fins for the entirety of your dive would be incredibly tiring.
2. Open Heel Scuba Fins
Fins with open heels are specifically designed to work with dive booties, so you will find that their foot pockets are much larger than the closed heel alternatives. Those foot pockets are made from a hard and tough material, therefore, wearing these fins without the use of dive booties would be uncomfortable.
The combination of dive booties and open heel fins is a favorite configuration for a lot of divers because the booties can help the diver’s feet to stay warm and protect them while the diver enters and exits the water.
3. Closed Heel Scuba Fins
Closed heel fins consist of rubber foot pockets that completely cover the heel of the diver. They are specifically designed to use without the aid of booties because they are very comfortable while diving in warm water.
If you are interested in or regularly do any shore diving or diving that requires walking while wearing scuba gear, it may be that you will find fins that fit over dive booties to be better at giving you more confidence when getting into and out of the water. Something to consider when you’re planning a shore dive.
4. Fin Strap Attachment Variations
One feature you need to consider when looking at open heel fins is the strap type. The standard strap you find on these kinds of fins is one made from flexible rubber that can be loosened and tightened. Some brands have designed and manufactured straps that can be clipped and unclipped, making them much easier to attach and unattached.
A spring strap is one that is a durable, metal spring that is tightly coiled and stretches over your heel. Not only can they be bought for the majority of fin styles, but they are easy to attach and take off and very comfortable to wear.
5. Blade Fins
Blade fins consist of a continuous piece of rubber or plastic and special design features including holes in the actual fin or rubber panels to channel the water better for greater efficiency when kicking. If you prefer to dive with flutter kicking or frog kicking, these are excellent blades to use.
Blade fins tend to have various levels of flexibility and divers who don’t need to swim fast or go up against strong currents and who find their legs tire out fairly easily, will use blade fins.
6. Split Fins
Split fins, as their name suggests, have a large slice that splits their center into two parts. These are great for flutter kicking, but are not so effective when used for frog kicking. This is because the split reduces the amount of effort needed to kick, but still provides a decent degree of propulsion.
Divers who cramp or tire out easily or that suffer from joint issues tend to love split fins as they reduce the amount of strain on your feet and legs. While they work well in situations where there is light or no currents, divers may need to use a greater amount of kicking to work against stronger currents.
7. Snorkeling Fins
There are some diving fins that have been designed especially for snorkeling. These are a lot shorter than others, that makes them much easier to kick and putter around in, while swimming about the surface. It is also easier to balance when trying to stand in more shallow water when wearing this type of fin.
As good as snorkeling fins are for wearing while snorkeling, they are less effective when scuba diving, as scuba diving gear increases the wearer’s water resistance. This means that if a scuba diver wears snorkeling fins for their dives, he or she will have to kick a lot harder and faster to have a good experience or keep up with any other divers that are not using them.
8. Turtle Fins
Stiff, short fins are one of those classic fin designs. Turtle fins tend to be heavier and thicker than bog standard fins. When these are used for backing up or helicopter turns or other advanced techniques for diving propulsion and technical diving these fins are very effective, as they are with frog kicking too. Although using flutter kicks with turtle fins will help a diver to move quickly, it can be a very exhausting way to achieve movement.
As the design is very effective, the majority of manufacturers of scuba diving gear sell at least one version of this type of fin, and you will find that many of the original designs are virtually unchanged from the way they were decades ago. This type of fin is particularly loved by cave and wreck divers and other technical divers because they help the diver to get great propulsion, while still being short enough that there’s no danger of kicking ceilings in more enclosed areas.
9. Freediving Fins
The most common type of fins are freediving fins and you will find that a huge percentage of recreational divers opt for these. They are easily identified by their reasonably stiff, thin and long blades.
They were developed originally for people breath-hold diving, and although they require a fair bit of practice to master their use, they are effective for both frog and flutter kicking. Due to their longer blades, they help divers produce stronger propulsion and move quicker.
10. Colorful Fins
Colorful fins are more than just pretty. Their bright colors make it easier to see and identify individuals. When diving in areas where there’s low visibility, it can be beneficial to dive wearing fins with vibrant colors, like neon yellows or even oranges.