SplitFins are a unique design that seem to come in and out of fashion every few years. My first pair of Scuba Diving Fins were a pair of split fins and I loved them. I think I still have them buried in a cupboard somewhere, they looked cool, I moved through the water easily, what more could you want in a fin?
As I moved my way up the dive industry and made scuba diving a profession I saw fewer and fewer SplitFins on the market and fewer at dive sites. I was still seeing seasoned commercial divers with SplitFins but fewer people were asking for them at the dive centre and they kept disappearing from manufacturers lineups year on year. Talking to more seasoned divers they told me that SplitFins go in and out of fashion every so often and they were falling out of popularity at the moment. But why? If they work, why wouldn't divers buy them constantly? Why the Peaks and Troughs?
SplitFins are modified paddle or channel fin with a cut straight down the middle. Two reinforced rails down the outside and the split down the middle mean that each side, or leaf, turns during each part of the fin kick turning the water and creating a vortex of water that moves you through the water.
The design was inspired my marine mammals who've had a few years to test out the design. The SplitFin design actually reduces the work required meaning you need less energy to move through the water. this makes SplitFins popular with divers with weak legs or knees because they don't require too much work to move through the water.
You'll often see Nature’s Wing® on SplitFins and that's because Nature's Wing developed the technology and lease it out to all the brands that use it. Which may be one reason why you don't see so many. If the brands have to lease the design from another company just to make a pair of fins that's going to be an additional cost that will bump up their price or cut into their margin.
The Cons to SplitFins
All of the pros sound great, so why aren't SplitFins more popular right now? Well they do have a downside and that's mainly due to different fin kicks.
SplitFins work great in your standard flutter kick. The straight up and down kick works perfectly for SplitFins. When you move onto different fin kicks like frog or scissor kicks then the leafs of the fin can malfunction. The leaves can turn too much and water flows between the leaves, loosing propulsion and just not working properly.
Another reason certain kit comes in and out of fashion and it's quite simply what Dive Instructors and guides wear. If your instructor wears a bit of kit during your course then you will be more likely to buy something similar when investing in your own kit. If your instructor uses them then they must be good and if your instructor isn't wearing a pair of SplitFins then why would you consider them?
Because of this it makes sense that SplitFins are out of fashion right now. Instructors tend to use scissor or frog kicks so channel or vented fins are most practical. Professional divers will want something tough that will last and work well for them and few Instructors out there will be flutter kicking.
Without that influence SplitFins are only recommended by other divers who use them or Dive Centres that recommend them for you. It's tough for the SplitFin, it's very clever technology but it has it's limitations and there is a lot of competition for them out there.
Want to try them? We sell the Atomic Aquatics SplitFins 'Smoke on the Water' fin. Shop them here.