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Here is a list of the best scuba diving fins, from some of the top dive gear brands in the world. We listed both open heel fins, as well as full foot fins and a few freediving fins too.
Fins are a vital part of all diver’s gear, and having a good pair of fins can make your dive experience all the better. No more renting and using the old, flimsy fins on offer at the dive shops, we will make it easy to find your very own, perfect for any situation.
That’s what this guide is for. There are a lot of dive fins out there, and this guide is meant to make it easy to find your best possible match, based on budget, fit, preference, and more.
If you can’t find something perfect for you here, we don’t know where else you will!
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. After a mask and computer, fins are also one of the easiest pieces of equipment to pack, making them great for travel.
Best Scuba Diving Fins
Open Heel Fins
Open heel fins are considered the best fins for scuba diving. Often worn with dive boots, these fins offer excellent comfort and power.
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.
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.
These are the fins I use, as well as tons of tec divers and professionals. The only downside is the weight for traveling, but underwater they are perfect.
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.
We 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.
For you Mares lovers out there, the X-Stream fins are an awesome choice. They are high-quality fins with adjustable straps and come in many different colors.
These innovative scuba fins have a ton of features that make them more powerful and comfortable than most other fins on the market. The perforations on the foot pockets prevent stagnating water flow from slowing you down. The pivoting blade and channels help maintain the optimal angle and shape throughout the kicking cycle producing fluid movement and more thrust for less effort, reducing fatigue and helping you glide easily in all conditions.
Made from 3 different materials to maximize durability, elasticity, and longeviety, these scuba fins will last you a really long time.
Closed Heel and Freediving Fins
In our opinion, open-heel fins are the best option for scuba diving. They’re more comfortable, powerful and add a little extra warmth and protection for your feet when worn with dive boots.
We’ve only included a few options here, but for more full foot fins check out our guide to the top fins for snorkeling as we’ve reviewed several closed heel options that are also great for scuba diving too. Any of the scuba brands such as Cressi, Mares, and ScubaPro produce some excellent full-foot fins for scuba and snorkeling.
The only full-foot scuba 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.
Freediving fins are much longer than scuba fins, which makes them hard to maneuver in tight spaces and navigate around the reef so we don’t recommend them for scuba diving. That being said, some scuba divers prefer to use freediving fins for scuba so we’ve included a few of the best options here.
In my opinion, these fins are too long for scuba, but they are a huge favorite for freedivers and spearfishers. These long fins are high quality, as Cressi specializes in this sort of thing. Great fins.
Here is Mares version of the long, full-foot fins, that are better for freediving than scuba. Get these if you love Mares, but the Cressi ones above might be a small favorite, if not.
Of course, we had to get some Beuchat gear on this list, as they are one of the best gear brands out there. One thing I love about Beuchat is that they are so cheap, considering how high-end the gear is. And because they’re slightly shorter than the other freediving fins on our list they’re easier to travel with and work better for scuba than the other options here.
Last but not least, we once again have to throw some free diving fins from Seac in the mix. As I said before, Seac makes some of the best freedive and spearfishing gear averrable, so if you want free diving fins, these are great options.
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 foot’s 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 reasons 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.
So what fins should you choose?
Still not sure what one to go with, with all these great options? There are a few factors to consider when choosing the perfect computer for you, so let’s go through those, and then I will just give my recommendations and all-time favorites, that you can’t go wrong with.
Obviously, you should think about your budget, check the prices in the links above, and that will be a big factor. But obviously, since there are a lot of options around the same prices, there will be more factors to think about.
HOW OFTEN WILL YOU DIVE?
If you are diving frequently, are a Divemaster or instructor, you are going to want a good pair of fins that will last, and that easily propel you and save energy. If you are diving a few times a year, you don’t need the most expensive and top-of-the-line.
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.
Do you have a favorite pair of fins for scuba diving? Let us know in the comments!