How to Choose Your Fins

There is a lot of hot air spoken about fins. Every brand is trying to have some gimmick that will entice you to part with more of your hard earned dosh.

The reality is that there is very little difference between the performance of fins. The most expensive probably are only about 10% more efficient than the cheapest.

There are two types of fins

  • Stiff fins that use a wide fin stroke and bite the water.
  • Flutter fins that use a flutter kick.

If you are an ex rugby player and hail from the Free state (in other words a very large fellow)
Stiff fins will be the best choice as the floppy fins do not work well with the high drag of the giant folk.

However if you are normal sized, the stiff fins are very sore on legs, ankles and feet when you have to swim fast.

Flutter fins consist of flap fins or split fins. Split fins are not great in a current.
These fins feel very soft but work really well and are very fast.

The down side is they tend to be heavy for traveling and it hard to kick up to get a boat.

Open or closed heel?
Closed will fit the foot better and are cheaper but…. You really need to have the protection of booties when scuba diving so open heel and booties is the way to go.

Features and Gimmicks:

Blade or paddle fins
These are simple fins with a blade and no other “feature” They are generally cheap and do the job. They are hard on the soft bits when swimming fast. A well priced good choice.

Membrane fins
They have a blade with rubber flexible bits that cup or scoop the water. Hard on the body when used fast.

Pivot fins
Allow more bending on the down stroke and less on the upstroke. These are also hard fins.

Split fins
Have a big well ….. split down the blade. Very soft to use and have their fans. Not great in a current and some models tend to twist the foot. Not easy to get back in the boat with.

Flap fins
Similar to split fins in that they are very soft to use yet powerful.  Good in a current but not good in getting back in boat.  Heavy out of the water. Have many fans and are a good choice.

Straps
You need easy to use and easy to adjust straps. The best straps by a huge margin are quality spring straps that are bought as an add on.

If you are looking for fashion and “bling” there are many different options but all fins will work well.