Whether you are a professional dive instructor or a happy holiday snorkeler, the need for a good set of fins is a prerequisite to propelling yourself through the water. Without them we are pretty much immobile (certainly in dive gear) and generally splashing around, panting a lot. As we know in the dive world we don’t call them flippers, although, I suspect more people do than don’t. Flipper was a dolphin and we don’t take his name in vain! Realistically it doesn’t matter what you call them. Foot types If you are diving in warm water where you don’t need thermal protection to keep your feet warm, then full foot fins are the choice for you. The only exception is if your entry or exit is over rough or sharp ground then you may want footwear for protection, which then requires adjustable heel fins. If the water is cold you will need footwear and in this case you must go for adjustable heel fins.
Weight If you are planning on travelling you probably want to keep an eye on the weight of your fins. If you are snorkelling you may want to go for reef fins, which just means the blade is half the length of normal fins, making them smaller, lighter and easier to control. However the down side is less propulsion so only really suitable for snorkelling. Blade type There are three basic blade types – plastic, channelled and split fin. All three offer unique characteristics and you will need to select based on your requirements: Plastic Blades – These are the least expensive, but offer great value. Most entry level fins are constructed this way.
Channelled Fins – Rubber channels are inserted into the blade so the fin effectively funnels the water behind you as you kick down. With the traditional plastic blade you get “side slip” which is where the water slips off the side, if the blade before it can be pushed back to propel you toward. This reduction in side slip offered by channelled fins means you put less effort into going forward, they are more efficient.
Split Fins – These work by some strange Jedi force. Seriously, the physics to explain these defy me. How it works I can’t explain but what they do is effectively spin the water into a jet that propels you forward. They are incredibly efficient and produce a very soft downward kick. I know some people say softer split fins aren’t so good in strong currents, in my experience I don’t see this as a huge problem as I don’t often swim into strong currents. The reduced air consumption thanks to the improved efficiency is the big bonus.
Price Some of the fins we sell cost hundreds of pounds, which you may find hard to justify when making a purchase. At the time of writing this one of our most expensive fins – the Atomic smoke on water is actually one of our fastest selling fins and the top fin based on customer feedback. A lot of research and development goes into fin design, so although the construction may not look very expensive, the science to get it to work is. So if you want to reduce air consumption then investing in great fins is probably as important as using a good regulator.
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