There are fins for swimming, snorkeling, free diving and body surfing. You’ll want fins for scuba diving because you’ll be much more comfortable with fins designed to move you and your gear through the water with minimal effort and maximum efficiency. Visit your PADI Dive Center or Resort to try on scuba fins.
- Ample blade size to provide adequate power, and made from either composite plastic or neoprene rubber.
- Comfortable foot pocket, usually made from neoprene rubber.
- Open heel fins have an adjustable strap that allows you to snug your foot into the foot pocket. You need to wear wetsuit boots (booties) with these fins, which is necessary for colder water and great protection for your feet while walking on shore or a boat deck.
- Full-foot fins have a foot pocket that slips on like a shoe. These fins are popular for warm water diving, especially from boats.
- There are also hand fins, essentially webbed gloves used by divers who have a physical challenge that prevents them from using their legs.
- Open heel fins have a variety of strap and buckle choices.
- Quick adjust buckles allow you to unlock the strap, then cinch it tighter by pulling on the strap end.
- Quick release buckles usually combine the quick adjust feature with the ability to release the strap on one side to get out of the fin, and clip it back in when putting it back on.
- Spring straps allow you slip them on and let the spring keep them snug.
- Blade shapes vary from the traditional fan-out design, to almost rectangular, to separated wings, to whale-tails. Features include vents, ribs and rails, channels or split fins that blades much like a fish.
How to Choose
- Decide where you’ll dive the most. If it’s exclusively in the tropics off a boat, look at full-foot fins. Anywhere else, look at open heel adjustable fins.
- Try on a few different fins at your local PADI Dive Center or Resort. Your foot should go all the way into the foot pocket without your toes touching. No pinching or uncomfortable areas.
- Make your final choice based on color, features and personal preference. If you dive in both a wetsuit and a dry suit, you may need two pairs of fins. Dry suits have very large boots, which usually require a larger fin pocket.
- Mark your fins to avoid mix-ups on a busy boat or large group dive. Use a gear marker to put your name or initials inside the foot pocket. Be creative. Make a statement.
- Purchase a spare fin strap from your PADI dive shop. Unless you have nearly indestructible spring straps, other straps will eventually break.
- Rinse your fins in fresh water after each use and store them in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight. Check your fin straps regularly for tears; if you see one, you’ll need that spare strap.