Fin Basics

Picking a pair of fins for your next underwater adventure? There are a number of things to consider.

Fins (or ‘flippers’) enable you to move with ease, and at speed, both on the surface and underwater.

There are many different types of fin available.

This guide will help you through some of the features and jargon.

Full Foor or Open Heel?

What type of fin to select really depends on what you are using the fins for.

Typically the choice is between full foot fins, which fit straight onto your feet, and open heel ‘boot’ fins which require a boot or shoe.

Full foot fins are largely designed for snorkelling or if you are diving in calm, warm waters. They are lighter to carry and tend to be more flexible. They fit straight onto your foot.

Open heel fins are the most popular for divers, as the blades are stronger and stiffer and therefore give the diver far greater propulsion in water.  In addition, the fact that these fins are worn with boots / shoes gives the diver more thermal protection in cooler waters.

Split fins – Just a gimmick? Or do they work?

Firstly, many users of split fins would describe them as perfect for the ‘lazy diver’.

The science and design behind them means that they offer the equivalent or better propulsion than a standard blade, but with less effort in the leg muscles.

Each manufacturer uses different design techniques and descriptions, but in simple terms here it is:

Even the smallest kicks from the knee will give you very good speed and propulsion. You do not need to do long hard straight leg kicks to get any sort of speed from this fin, in fact, the bigger the kick you do, the more chance you have of slowing down as your legs/fins extend outside your own personal slipstream.

The whole idea is to do small kicks to keep the kicking within your body and tank profile.

One thing you will notice is that when swimming close to a sandy/muddy/silty bottom, you tend to stir up less.