Is it possible to dive without fins? Of course, it is. Just like swimming, you can move through water without needing them or other special equipment. But that does not mean that they are not an important piece of diving equipment. Considering all the weight added by the BCD, mixed gas tank and led, the diving fins provide a key feature.
That feature is the ability to move through water without exerting yourself too much, which in the end makes your dive longer and more pleasant. Their specific design makes it possible for the divers to glide through the water, to position themselves alongside a reef for that perfect picture, gives the ability to explore wrecks more efficiently and gives the ability to swim faster towards the shore or surface in case of an emergency.
The purpose of this article is to help any type of diver (whether he or she is a beginner or an advanced diver) to chose their fins accordingly, following their type of dive requirements and as any other piece of diving equipment, comfort. We will divide them by type and style and mention the benefits for every type of dive.
Choosing the right diving fins
Same as any other type of diving equipment, selecting a pair of fins should follow a basic set of requirements. The first requirement and probably the most important one is the comfort. Being underwater for a long time and having many constant checks that you have to do, you should always feel comfortable in your equipment. So the first step is to equip them and make few steps. You should make sure that they are not too tight if they are closed heeled fins and they do not slide off from too much movement.
Furthermore, you should consider the needs and requirements of your type of diving. As a freediver or a snorkeler, you would probably be inclined to choose the closed heeled fins. As a technical diver, commercial diver or just a regular scuba diver, the open heeled fins would be a better choice, because you have the ability to equip them using diving boots that gives you better insulation and the ability to freely walk on rough surfaces.
Other features that count toward choosing the right diving fins are materials the blades are made from and if the fins have interchangeable blade possibilities. If you are a fan of different types of diving and in different conditions, then you should consider a pair of fins that gives you the ability to change the blades. When it comes to the blades, they can be split between soft and hard blades. The soft blades give you a better control over your movement underwater, where the hard bladed fins provide you with a bigger thrust and pedal power.
The last feature to be considered is whether the fins are paddle fins or split fins. The paddle fins are a preferred choice for freedivers or in diving sites with high currents, offering an “up and down” motion. The split fins are used for a faster and swifter underwater movement.
Closed heeled fins
The first type of fins and one of the oldest ones that appeared on the market is the closed heeled fins. These fins are mostly used by freedivers and snorkels. They have smaller foot pockets compared to the open heel ones because you do not require dive boots in order to wear them. This also means that the thermal protection is almost inexistent, reasons why they are mostly used in warm waters.
As they are considered as traditional fins, the closed heeled diving fins are usually the choices for new divers as they are less expensive than the opened heeled ones. One can also save some money on the fact that they do not require diving boots for this type of fins.
Open heeled fins
Compared to the closed heeled fins, the opened heel fins have different features, such as a wider and larger foot pocket. They are specifically designed to be used with diving boots, which makes these types of fins the main choice for technical divers and wreck divers. These also provide a higher grade of thermal protection as you are going to use them with dive boots.
Opened heeled fins are also the best choice to make when entering the water from a beach, a rocky shore or other types of environment that are not meant for bare feet.
These fins are generally more expensive both to acquire and to maintain since they have an extra component compared to the closed heel ones, which is the strap that is used to secure the fins on your feet. Although the body of the fins and the blades are made out of durable materials, the straps are usually the weakest part. A good suggestion would be to always have some straps as a reserve.
Diving fins styles
Diving fins come in few different styles, such as paddle fins, split fins, force fins, and flippable fins. The “up and down” movement makes it a good choice for freedivers. In comparison to the paddle fins, the split fins offer the diver more agility underwater by acting more like a boat propeller. The split is made with specialized angles so that you have a more efficient kick with lesser effort.
Force fins, on the other hand, have a unique design. They are copies of the fins found on tunas or dolphins that gives any diver the ability to swim as fast as one of those creatures.
The concept of flippable fins stands in its name. The idea behind it is to give any diver the ability to walk on shore easily without removing them. After you enter the water and start kicking, they lock in place without any extra actions from the diver.
Maintaining your diving fins
Diving fins are the piece of equipment that requires the least maintenance. Closely to the diving mask, the steps you need to take towards maintaining you fins are simple. First, properly rinse them in fresh water after each diving day. After that, make sure that they are completely dry before storing them horizontally away from the sun.
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