As simple as they look, a great deal of science and research goes in to design each pair scuba fins.
Manufactures sometimes combine many material and blade design to make sure the right amount of energy is transfer from the leg to the fin with each kick cycle.
Because of this, there are a few different types and styles for you to choose from, which can sometimes make it difficult to choose the right pair of fins.
Hopefully by the end of this short guide, you will get a better understanding of the different types of scuba fins and their best uses, as well as which blade type is best for you.
Style of Scuba Fins
When choosing a pair of scuba diving fins the first question you need to ask yourself is, what style of fins will I need?
There are only tow basic style of scuba fins, Full Foot Fins and Open Heal Fins. Where you dive will greatly influence which style of fins to choose.
Lets look at some of the advantage and disadvantage of each Style and which type of diving they are best suited for.
Full Foot Fins
Because you cannot use these fins while wearing booties, they are generally for diving in worm tropical waters or snorkeling on the surface.
They are also, generally lighter and cost less than open heal fins.
Because you generally use less diving equipment while in warmer water, you will find that most full-foot fins are a bit more flexible because there is less mass that you need to move through the water.
Open Heel Adjustable Fins
They are designed with an open foot pocket and an adjustable heel strap to keep your foot secure in the pocket.
Because diving in colder water require you to wear more diving equipment, which in turns equates to more mass to move through the water, you will find that open heal fins are generally stiffer and made from stronger materials.
A very important thing to note when buying open heal fins is, you must buy your booties first.
Booties comes in different sizes ranging from 3mm to 7mm, the thickness of your booties will decide the size and fit of your fins. (You need your booties to get a proper fit, learn how to choose the best Dive Boots here)
Scuba diving fins have definitely evolved over the year. These days fin blades are relatively larger and more efficient than their predecessors, and join a mixtures of bade technologies (more on this below) and material to increase performance and dramatically cut the effort needed to move your body through the water.
Below are the different type of blade types available today.
Standard Fins (Paddle Fins)
Because the bade is flat, water spills over the sides of the fins reducing efficiently, and creates turbulence which can make them unstable. These are the simplest in design and generally have a flat blade surface. They work pretty much the same principle as an ore, propelling your forward with every kick cycle.
Some manufactures put ribs on each side of the blade for added strength, as well as to contain the water inside the blade increasing propulsion, efficiency, and stability.
The vents allow water to pass through the fin during the recovery stroke of the kick cycle, and prevent water from passing during the power stroke. This reduces efforts during the recovery stroke increasing kick efficiency.
Some vented fins are also designed to stream water over the length of the fins blade, which in turn increase propulsion.
Channel fins use different types of materials in the blade allowing it to flex along the width of the blade.
This is normally done by use rigged fin materials with softer materials like robber.
When you kick, the fin form a “U” shape channel that captures and contain the water more efficiently than just having ribs on the side of the fins. This channel creates a focus “Jet” of water greatly increasing propulsion.
Split fins has a split running down the middle of the blade with stiffer sidewalls for support.
Unlike other fins that uses recoil to give thrust by pushing water backwards. These type of fins work similar to the wings of a plane or even boat propellers. Rather, you are propelled through the water by “lift” created by water passing through the splits in the fins.
This makes kicking the fins very easy and greatly reduces the load on your ankles and leg.
One of the main concerns with these types of fins is that they can sometimes be hard to maneuver in tight areas, and are not idea for use if you use the frog kick.
Fairly new to fin design, hinged fins have a point on the blade that hinges. The hinge in the blade allows it to move to the best angle of attack on the power stroke which greatly improve performance.
This technology is used in many ways. Some manufactures use bungee bands, narrow sections in the blade and flexing bars, as well as standard or channel blade to create a more efficient pair of fins.
Buckles & Straps
Fin Buckles and straps are designed to make putting on and taking off your fins as easy as possible. The simplest of design allows you to adjust the fin strap to suit your liking, by allowing you to either tighten or loosen the strap.
Quick Release Buckles
Quick release buckles allows you to remove the fin strap from the fin with without having to loosen the strap, allowing you to keep your desired tension without having to make adjustments before every dive, saving you precious time.
In some cases the buckles themselves can be folded out, extending the straps so you can take off the fins, then folded back in place to restore the normal strap tension before your dive.
There is normally a loop in the back of the strap which allows you to pull the strap over your heel. The tension from the spring or bungee keeps you foot snug and secure it the foot pocket.
Now that you are familiar with all the different fin types and Styles, use our Scuba Fins Comparison Chart to quickly find the fins with all the feature you want.
For more information on Scuba Fins and Dive Boots, check out these pages.