Boot (open heel) or full Foot Fins

Foot Fins Foot Fins Foot fins (Picture left) are usually lighter, smaller and more flexible. In the UK, you are unlikely to use them outside your swimming pool. There are primarily designed to be used in warmer water, when you are carrying less equipment (i.e. less resistance in the water) and you require less propulsion. Boot fins (Picture right) are heavier, stiffer and often have larger blade area. They are designed to be worn with a protective neoprene boot or shoe. There is a huge variety available or different styles, design, technologies. In the text below we try to demystify some of the variants. As a diving instructor, we have a few pair of foot fins, and we refer to them as pool fins and use them only in the swimming pool. Even when travelling to warmer climes, we tend to take our boot fins with us. Also, they are NOT called FLIPPERS, they are FINS. Flippers are appendages evolved from arms/wings or webbed forefeet and are used by many animals as hydrofoil wings (pengiuns and turtles would be the best example).
Fitting and primary considerations in selecting fins

To ensure a good comfort and fit for your boot fins, following the following simple guideline rules:
  • Where your diving boots when trying on new fins in a shop
  • Your ankle should be in line with the end of the boot fin pocket
  • If you suffer from cramps, have weak leg muscles, consider split fins
  • If you have strong legs, slightly more resistance from the water often helps to feel more in control, solid fins tend to work better
  • If your fin blades are too big and offer too much resistance in water for your leg strength, you are likely to suffer from cramps underwater as you have to work harder. Choose a blade length appropriate for you legs and body
To ensure a good comfort and fit for your foot fins, following the following simple guideline rules:
  • Consider wearing fin socks when trying the on, it makes them more comfortable, especially when wearing them on holiday
  • They should fit sungly, but not too tight. You should be able to slip them on using a single finger to slip the rubber over your heal
  • When shaking your foot in mid-air, the fin should stay on and the heel should not slip
  • Toes may or may not poke out of the front of the foot pocket
Just to dis-spell a myth. The colour of the fin has no impact on attracting fish life. If you want to get closer to fish, consider diving with a rebreather - you make less noise.
Blade Design
Cressi Ara

Standard Fins

Standard fins are simply flat surface. They are usually reinforced and strengthened at the side edges. This is too ensure the water is channelled down the fin and therefore propels you forward. Some of them are very light such as the Cressi Ara fins (shown to the right). Effectively, this is the basic design that all fins will have.

Mares Fins


Unfortunately, the standard fins can twist sideways slightly, as the large section in the middle is not very stiff. Also, the water doesn't flow straight down the fin. This has led to the development of channels on the fin. This stiffened the fin itself and create directional channels for the water. The idea of creating a single directional push for the water. In addition, the channel material allows the fin to be more stable in the down-kick (propulsion) and bend more in the up-kick cycle (less resistance). Our favourite are the Mares Quattro Pro for these - one of our instructors has been using the for over 10 years and they still work.
There has been an additional development for this - the hinged blade - they incorporate a hinge (connecting the foot pocket and blade with a hinged rod - the idea being that the blade will "retract" more in the up-kick cycle and reducing further the resistance (an example would be the Aqua Lung Hotshot Fins)

  Split Fins

Split Fins

The most recent development which had the biggest impact on fin design was looking at how ducks and other animals move through the water. A lot of manufacturers have created different designs, but they all work under the same principle. The aim is to create a low pressure and high pressure side of the fin and ensure the water in funnelled effectively and in a single direction away from the rear of the fin. The split creates a low / high pressure vortex behind the fin - similar to a little underwater spinning water fountain, ensuring that most of the energy is pushed in a single direction away.

What we use / recommend

The number of design and options available are mind boggling. We have used a number of different fins in the past, and we have come up with the following list of fins we are very happy with and we tend to dive with.

Force Fins

  • Mares Avanti Quattro Pro - a simple easy to use light weight fin for everyday diving. Works well with most of our students and customers
  • Force Fin Pro - "duck feet" fins - simple, lightweight, excellent for wreck, cave diving (side kick finning) - see picture to the left
  • Hollis F1 Fins - heavy duty rubber fins, easy to use and comfortable
  • Scubapro Twin Jet (split fins) - strong rubber fin allowing both up and down kick-cycle to be very effective (black fins above)
Buckles and Fin Straps

Most fin manufacturers will have their own buckle / strap design. The simplest and most common one allows you to pull the rubber strap on each side to tighten the fin. A buckle or quick release allows you to loosen them quickly and take them off. Prior to the next dive, you would quickly extend the rubber and lock the buckles again, ready to be used again. 

There are a number of spring straps available, allowing you to exchange the rubber straps. This makes the donning and removing of fins much quicker and simpler. The spring keeps the foot in place, but you will need to replace the spring straps after a while, as they do tend to loosen eventually. 

Helpful Hint: If you go on a diving holiday, we recommend you take a least a pair of spare straps with you for your fins.