One piece of dive equipment that is important to correctly select and fit but is often purchased quickly in the few minutes before the first pool session of the basic open water class is a set of fins. While most will pick what looks cool and happens to be in stock at their local dive shop in a particular color, there are a number of more important features that are worthy of consideration. I mean, would you put a set of 50 dollar bargain basement tires on your new Ferrari? While the distinction isn’t as dramatic as that, it isn’t insignificant by any stretch of the imagination. So how about we take a little trip through the fin section at the dive shop and for a couple of features that should be looking at, shall we?
First off, you are sure to notice all of the different shapes and styles of fins that line the display. While impressive most will fall into two main categories, paddle and split. Paddle style fins have the distinction of being the original style of fin made. They trace their lineage to the old rubber rocket fins of yesteryear(Which are still popular today!). This style of fin offers the most power to afford the diver the ability to swim up current and cover a great deal of distance. The other side to this is the increased resistance of the fin and the added exertion and leg strength required in the kick cycle. In recent years, dive equipment manufacturers have developed a new type of fin technology that features a split that goes down the center of the fin blade…hence the term “split fins”. These fins propel the diver in a different manner than paddle fins. Where the latter pushes water, the split fin creates a vortex of water and moves the diver in a similar manner as a propellor moves a boat forward. This type of fin requires less exertion and leg strength to cycle, but as a trade off isn’t as effective as a paddle type of fin when it comes to swimming in currents or moving quickly. Thus making them desirable to divers looking for a more leisurely experience in largely benign water conditions.
Another feature with respect to fins that has been increasingly popular either as a standard or add on option is spring heel straps. With these type of straps, gone are the days of needing to keep an extra fin strap or two in your save a dive kit, as they are robust and are nearly impossible to break. Another feature that users of spring heel straps benefit from is that you can don your fins without having to worry about adjusting the strap each and every time. Once you determine the length you need and install the spring heel straps, adjustment is a thing of the past!
So there you have it, a nice little primer on some key features to check out when looking at fins. If you need to know more, give us a shout here at DRIS…we may not drive a cool car with a fancy cassette deck but we’re still pretty fun(and knowledgeable)!