- Why Get Your Own Scuba Fins?
- Best Scuba Diving Fins
- Choosing the Right Fins
Having scuba diving fins that are comfortable yet effective are one of the best ways to enhance your scuba diving experience.
However, some people aren’t able to repeadetly test out different fins.
This is the exact reason ScubaOtter created this guide. After reading this guide, you’ll know exactly what fins you’ll need to have the best dives of your life.
|Apeks RK3 HD||View Reviews|
|Deep 6 Eddy||View Reviews|
|Hollis F-1||View Reviews|
|Scubapro Jetfins||View Reviews|
|Diverite XT||View Reviews|
|Mares Avanti Quattro||View Reviews|
|Poseidon Trident||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 will work best for you and go with it.
Best Scuba Diving Fins
I have grouped these two together as they are two versions of the same fin. The RK3 regular comes in lots of very visible 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 stiffer 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. They come with spring straps and also in an incredibly visible orange color that stands out even in the murkiest of water (though they offer black, blue, and white as well).
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…
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. You may see them come in plain black or yellow tipped both with spring straps.
They are stiff except for the very tip and provide great thrust and maneuverability.
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 almost indestructible.
My current pair has been on thousands of dives in caves, wrecks, and everywhere in between, had heavy steel doubles set on them and been dropped onto concrete time and time again. They simply 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.
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.
Heavily 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.
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.
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.
This fin is fairly stiff and heavy, but significantly shorter than many of the other options, this fin makes a great travel option while still being negatively buoyant for those who need it.
Good maneuverability and power as expected.
Choosing the Right Fins
Are Split Fins a Good Option?
First off I’d like to address split fins. At one point in my life I owned split fins… and I have used maybe a half dozen current models.
I have even worked at a shop that sold some. Throw them out and don’t look back.
They’re a huge amount of marketing and provide no benefit whatsoever unless you aren’t kicking right. 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. I’ve 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.
Should I Get 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.
I’ve tested both.
Hinges are prone to failure (Which I’ve personally seen happen more than once on both) and again provide little to no real benefit if you are kicking correctly.
I’ve seen some marketing say that they make your kick 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. See above with the split fins for commentary on that.
Ok… 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 is 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 (This does not work all the time, it is just a good starting point) 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, as I know 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 can also 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.