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- Why Get Your Own Fins?
- Best Scuba Diving Fins
- Scuba Fins Buying Guide
- Frequently Asked
You’re here to get your next pair of scuba diving fins.
However, taking the time test out a bunch of different options isn’t realistic for you.
That’s the exact reason Scubaotter created this guide.
Here’s the short answer:
For beginners, we widely recommend the Mares Avanti Quattro due to their extreme durability, variety of colors, and enhanced thrusting ability.
For those wanting a high-quality lightweight fin for traveling look no further than the Mares Volo.
This guide will help you sort through some of the features on the market, and give a few tips along the way.
For more information about choosing the right fin, be sure to check out our buying guide below.
Why Get Your Own Fins?
Having scuba diving fins that are comfortable yet effective is one of the best ways to enhance your scuba diving experience. They can even help with reducing air consumption.
Second to masks, fins are also one of the easiest pieces of equipment to pack, making them great for travel.
Best Scuba Diving Fins
Sometimes called bat fins due to their interesting shape, the Hollis F-1s, are some of the most prolific heavyweight fins out there.
They’re a very heavy and negatively buoyant fin that is best used with a drysuit or thick wetsuit. However, they can work with a low amount of exposure gear if geared properly.
Made out of solid material, these fins are fairly stiff and near indestructible.
We’ve tested these on thousands of dives in caves, wrecks, and everywhere in between. Once, we had heavy steel doubles set on top of them and even dropped them onto concrete time and time again.
- Extremely durable
- High quality
- Little heavy for travel
This fin is less stiff than many of the others on the list, but it still is a good consistent performer all around.
Favored mainly by warmer water divers, it is longer than others and comes in a wide variety of colors.
Uses Mares version of spring straps called bungee straps that work very similarly.
Lightweight, it travels easily within luggage. A big benefit to this fin is that many places around the world will rent them, so it’s easy to try them out.
- Extremely durable
- High quality
- Quite bulky for travel
Along with the aforementioned F-1, these fins have been a staple of many divers for over 50 years, and for good reason. A stiff, heavy fin with great maneuverability and power.
Massively negative, they have been used mainly in colder water with thicker suits, but have also been used extensively in warm water.
There is a reason that so many other fins have a very similar design, and that’s because it WORKS.
It comes in several visible colors and spring straps. As with the bat fins, they will probably survive the nuclear apocalypse before breaking.
- Extremely durable
- Negatively buoyant
- Heavy for travel
I have grouped these two together as they are two versions of the same fin. The RK3 regular comes in lots of vibrant colors and is a very lightweight fin.
Slightly less stiff than others on this list, it is still enough for most people.
The RK3 HD is a higher density material which results in a heavier and thicker fin.
Both are incredibly durable and come with spring straps.
- Extremely durable
- High quality
- Weighty for travel
The only full foot fin we mention in this guide, the Mares Volo Race fins feature one of the smallest blades on the market. This ultimately causes the fins to be extremely lightweight making them the ultimate choice for travel.
Mares claims these fins are the easiest fin to kick with on the market, although this typically sacrifices thrust.
- Extremely lightweight
- Great for travel
- Low thrust
- Cheapest mentioned
Scuba Fins Buying Guide
Depending on your needs, dive plan, and preferences, certain fins are going to be better than others.
After reading this guide, you’ll know which ones to go with!
- Fitting Style
- Blade Style
- Recommended Experience Level
- Weight and Buoyancy
The two main types of fins are open-heel & full foot fins.
For open heel fins, you will use a boot or sock with a strap of some sort around the ankle to keep the fin on.
These are adjustable and allow the use of various exposure protection for warmth or physical barriers like rocky shores.
Why choose open heel fins?
- You’ll be shore diving
- Often more comfortable
Full Foot Fins
Full foot fins, on the other hand, will be used with bare feet or a thin neoprene sock.
They are mostly only for warm water boat diving. You can use open heel fins anywhere from warm water boat diving to drysuit diving in Alaska as long as you get the right size.
Why choose full foot fins?
- You want a tight fit
- Often lighter
Weight & Buoyancy
Weight and buoyancy are arguably the most important aspects of fins. Choosing fins with the right buoyancy can greatly help your trim in the water, and will assist in getting you fully horizontal.
For more info about getting your weight right, check out our weight buoyancy calculator.
While it’s not impossible to get into trim with too heavy or too light fins, it’s certainly much harder.
Too heavy of a fin and your feet will be pulled down.
Too light of a fin and your feet may go up.
As a very general rule:
- Less exposure protection = lightweight fin
- Thicker exposure protection = heavier fin
Again, this is a general rule.
Drysuit divers who use very lightweight fins and warm water divers who use heavy ones. You’ll have to find what works best for you. Different configurations, such as side mount will change your needs.
Fins also range in their stiffness. The stiffer the fin is the more control and thrust you’ll get.
A minor option that I will always recommend is spring straps. While not required, most major fins these days will come with a spring strap or bungee strap option, and it makes life far easier. Gearing up is much less of a fuss, and you won’t have to adjust them each time.
Vented fins contain a hole/vent near the foots entrance.
The vents are there to channel for the flow of water during a thrust which translates into forward thrust. This reduces friction with water allowing you to get the most out of your kicks. Without this feature, fins tend to slip sideways sacrificing thrust.
Overall, the goal of vented fins is to reduce water resistance as much as possible.
The biggest thing to note about these fins is their heavy weight compared to their counterparts.
Channel fins feature mechanisms to propel water out to create a jet effect. These are typically found with more advanced divers.
The material of channel fins is often softer/more flexible allowing for it to flex with the thrust on water.
Channel fins contain water the best compared to other fin types.
Oh split fins…
At one point in my life, I owned split fins… and used maybe a half dozen current models. I’ve even worked at a shop that sold some.
Here’s what you need to do with them:
Throw them out and don’t look back.
There’s a huge amount of BS marketing, yet they provide no benefit whatsoever. In fact, the only time they help is if you aren’t kicking properly.
The only time they favor you is if you do not kick correctly…
Some claim they’re easier to kick yet provide more power. They’re easier to kick because they move virtually no water, and have almost zero force. Horrific for any sort of maneuvering or thrust.
Another popular argument is that a diver doesn’t plan on going fast, so they decide to use split fins. If you don’t need to go fast with blade fins, there is a very simple solution. Kick slower.
There is absolutely zero reason to sacrifice everything that a fin is supposed to do in favor of a gimmicky design that doesn’t help.
Fins With Hinges
Fins with hinges are in a similar boat. These would be fins such as Scubapro Seawing Novas, or Aqualung Slingshots.
Scubaotter’s tested both.
Hinges are prone to failure (We’ve personally seen this happen more than once on both) and again provide little to no real benefit if you are kicking correctly.
We’ve seen the marketing that says they make your kicks more powerful or send you further but the energy comes from the exact same place either way.
Some marketing even says it makes it easier to kick while providing more force.
Again, it’s all BS.
Freediving fins are too long and are optimized for straight-line power.
While diving, you generally traverse in more than a straight line. Freediving fins are nearly impossible to frog kick or helicopter turn efficiently in. Not great underwater, and due to their length, they don’t pack well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Due to the differences in needs, desire, body structure, and other obvious factors, the best fins for one person might not be the best for another.
After reading this guide, we hope that you are able to make a more educated decision on the best fins for you.