Fins are pretty simple devices, but choosing the right one is not as straightforward as you would think. There is a great deal of work that goes into engineering the ideal fin. Read on to get some tips that will help make sure you choose the best fin.
Fins are a lot like shoes in that they need to be comfortable and fit well in order to be effective. The biggest difference between the two is that with fins you don’t wears socks to adjust the fit and you aren’t usually in a position to change them if they don’t fit well. That is why it’s important to make the right choice the first time out.
Make sure your feet are clean and free from sand or dirt before you try on several different pairs. Have a seat and flip the fins up and down. Obviously air does not have the same resistance as water, but this exercise will give you some impression of how they feel on your feet.
The fins should fit snugly around your feet, and the ankle too if you are wearing full fins. Don’t mistake crushing for a snug fit, as having them too tight will limit your movement. On the flip-side, loose fitting fins can chafe the skin in and along the edge of the boot.
In order for fins to deliver a good level of thrust, they need to be stiff in design, yet with a degree of flexibility that will prevent your leg muscles from becoming worn out quickly. Achieving that balance can be tough for a diver since no two fins or divers are alike.
One new design that helps with the above issue is the development of split fin styles. Traditional fins usually consisted of a 16 inch long, 8 inch wide continuous web, although the dimension can differ wildly depending on the fin. The dimensions of split style fins are similar to the traditional style, but also have additional space up the middle.
A diver is able to deliver more thrust with a limited amount of effort by going with the split fin, although they often have to give up a degree of maneuverability. Turning can become slower when certain designs are used. If you are an underwater photographer that needs to turn quickly to snap a shot, it might be a good idea to bring along a traditional and split pair so that you can compare movement in each.
New divers don’t tend to consider buoyancy when they look for a pair of fins. Since buoyancy is not an issue that comes into play when trying them on, it’s usually an issue that gets forgotten until they hit the water. Neutral buoyancy is incredibly important so that the fatigue of ascending and descending is reduced.
Some fins are designed a way that makes them float and easy to retrieve if they slip off. That can actually make diving more difficult as it feels as though the feet are constantly being pulled up.
Fins that have that level of buoyancy can be balanced by using ankle weights, but all they do is give you another piece of equipment to lug around. Make sure to take the degree of buoyancy into account when you are doing your research.
The last things to think about are details such as whether you want full fitting fins that cover the ankle, the type of insert you want, and whether a heel strap or quick release clasp is something you want. While these are more about comfort and convenience, they can still make the difference in the model you choose.