- Why Get Your Own Scuba Fins?
- Best Scuba Diving Fins
- Buying Guide - Choosing the Right Fins
- What About Freediving Fins?
Having scuba diving fins that are comfortable yet effective is one of the best ways to enhance your scuba diving experience.
However, some people aren’t able to repeatedly test out different fins.
That’s the exact reason Scubaotter created this guide.
We widely recommend the ScubaPro Jetfins due to their extreme durability, variety of colors, and enhanced thrusting ability. To learn about some of the other options, continue reading our guide.
After reading this guide, you’ll know exactly what fins you’ll need to have the best dives of your life.
|Hollis F-1||View Reviews|
|Scubapro Jetfins||View Reviews|
|Mares Avanti Quattro||View Reviews|
Why Get Your Own Scuba Fins?
Fins are an essential piece of scuba gear and most open water courses will require you to have them before the course.
The problem with buying fins is that there are hundreds of options and types, and it can get incredibly confusing if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
There is a LOT of marketing and hype surrounding some features that aren’t necessarily beneficial, and it can be hard to sort through them.
Hopefully, this guide can help you sort through some of the features on the market, and give a few tips along the way.
These are not organized in any particular way, so don’t think the first ones are the best since different fins will be better for different people.
Find what works best for you and go with it!
Best Scuba Diving Fins
Hollis sometimes makes products of dubious quality, but that is absolutely not the case with these fins.
Sometimes called bat fins due to their interesting shape, the regular F-1s, are some of the most prolific heavyweight fins next to Scubapros Jet Fin.
A very heavy and negatively buoyant fin that is usually best used with a drysuit or thick wetsuit, but I have used them in warmer waters before, and they can work.
Made out of solid material, these fins are fairly stiff and near indestructible. You may see them come in plain black or yellow-tipped both with spring straps.
We’ve tested these on thousands of dives in caves, wrecks, and everywhere in between. Once, we had heavy steel doubles set on top of them and even dropped them onto concrete time and time again.
They do not break.
They also more recently released an “LT” version that is lighter weight and significantly shorter, making a great travel or warm water fin.
This fin is less stiff than many of the others on the list, but it still is a good consistent performer all around.
Favored mainly by warmer water divers, it is longer than others and comes in a wide variety of colors.
Uses Mares version of spring straps called bungee straps that work very similarly.
Lightweight, it travels easily within luggage. A big benefit to this fin is that many places around the world will rent them, so it’s easy to try them out.
Along with the aforementioned F-1, these fins have been a staple of many divers for over 50 years, and for good reason. A stiff, heavy fin with great maneuverability and power.
Massively negative, they have been used mainly in colder water with thicker suits, but have also been used extensively in warm water.
There is a reason that so many other fins have a very similar design, and that’s because it WORKS.
It comes in several visible colors and spring straps. As with the bat fins, they will probably survive the nuclear apocalypse before breaking.
I have grouped these two together as they are two versions of the same fin. The RK3 regular comes in lots of vibrant colors and is a very lightweight fin.
Slightly less stiff than others on this list, it is still enough for most people.
The RK3 HD is a higher density material which results in a heavier and thicker fin.
Both are incredibly durable and come with spring straps.
Deep 6 makes a number of quality products, and their fins are no exception.
Be aware that the small and medium sizes are made out of a slightly different material, and are much less stiff than their larger counterparts.
Their sizes large and up, however, are an incredibly lightweight and stiff fin that is very close to neutral in both salt and freshwater.
I have noticed that they are very slightly negative in freshwater and very slightly positive in saltwater.
Perfect for travel, these fins come with spring straps and in an incredibly visible orange color that stands out in the murkiest of water. They also offer these fins in black, blue, and white.
Overall, it’s a great fin for maneuverability and power when you need it. The owner of the company has left them outside on a roof in Thailand for several years to test their durability, exposed to sun, rain, and every element nature can throw at it.
They still function perfectly…
Made from monoprene, these fins have a slightly longer blade that gives good thrust.
They come in both grey and red, and each version has steel spring straps.
Due to the innovative fin blade structure, these made a good all-around fin for almost anyone.
Buying Guide - Choosing the Right Fins
Are Split Fins a Good Option?
Oh split fins…
At one point in my life I owned split fins… and used maybe a half dozen current models.
I’ve even worked at a shop that sold some. Here’s what you need to do with them:
Throw them out and don’t look back.
There’s a huge amount of BS marketing yet provide no benefit whatsoever unless you aren’t kicking properly.
The only time they favor you is if you do not kick correctly…
Some claim to be easier to kick while providing more power, and it is complete bullshit. They’re easier to kick because they move virtually no water, and have almost zero force. Horrific for any sort of maneuvering or thrust.
Some people claim that they don’t need to go fast and as such use split fins. Well if you don’t need to go fast with blade fins, there is a very simple solution. Kick slower.
Some people also say they are good for ankle and knee injuries. A Scubaotter team member had reconstructive ankle surgeries and severe injuries to both knees as well. Don’t buy into the BS!
There is absolutely zero reason to sacrifice everything that a fin is supposed to do in favor of a gimmicky design that doesn’t help.
Fins With Hinges
In a similar vein are fins with hinges or similar gimmicks on them. These would be fins such as Scubapro Seawing Novas, or Aqualung Slingshots.
Scubaotter’s tested both.
Hinges are prone to failure (We’ve personally seen this happen more than once on both) and again provide little to no real benefit if you are kicking correctly.
We’ve seen the marketing that say they make your kicks more powerful or send you further but the energy comes from the exact same place either way.
Some marketing even says it makes it easier to kick while providing more force.
Again, it’s all BS.
What About Freediving Fins?
Freediving fins are too long and are optimized for straight-line power.
In scuba, you generally maneuver more than a straight line, and freediving fins are nearly impossible to frog kick or helicopter turn efficiently in. Not great underwater, and due to their length, they don’t pack well.
So, after a bit of heated ranting on things that I see people fall for all too often, what makes a fin a good choice, and what things will depend on the specific person?
You may see open heel and full foot as an option. For open heel fins, you will use a boot or sock with a strap of some sort around the ankle to keep the fin on.
These are adjustable and allow the use of various exposure protection for warmth or physical barriers like rocky shores. Full foot fins, on the other hand, will be used with bare feet or a thin neoprene sock.
They are mostly only for warm water boat diving. You can use open heel fins anywhere from warm water boat diving to drysuit diving in Alaska as long as you get the right size.
Weight and buoyancy are other items to consider, and arguably the more important aspects. Choosing the right buoyancy of fin can greatly help your trim in the water, and will assist in getting you correctly horizontal.
It’s not impossible to get into trim with too heavy or too light fins, but it is much harder than with the correct fin. Too heavy of a fin and your feet will be pulled down. Too light of a fin and your feet may go up.
As a VERY general rule those in warm water or less exposure protection like a rash guard or 3mm suit will do best in a lightweight fin, while those in thicker exposure protection such as a 7mm wetsuit or drysuit will do better with a heavier fin.
Again, this is not a hard and fast rule. Drysuit divers who use very lightweight fins and warm water divers who use heavy ones. You’ll have to find what works best for you. Different configurations, such as sidemount will change your needs.
Fins also range in their stiffness. The stiffer the fin is the more control and thrust you’ll get, but the materials used to make fins will change the amount of stiffness slightly.
A minor option that I will always recommend is spring straps. While not required, most major fins these days will come with a spring strap or bungee strap option, and it makes life far easier. Gearing up is much less of a fuss, and you won’t have to adjust them each time.
Due to the differences in needs, desire, body structure, and other obvious factors, the best fins for one person might not be the best for another.
After reading this guide, we hope that you are able to make a more educated decision on the best fins for you.