Choosing the right fins
Freediving,  Gear Review,  Learn About Diving

A Freediver’s Guide to Choosing the Right Fins

After taking that introduction to Freediving class, all we could ever think of is diving again but with a pair of fins of our own. However, we usually don’t know where to begin or what to consider when getting one. Thinking of investing on fins that would comfortably yet efficiently take you further and deeper in the ocean? Here’s a Freediver’s guide to choosing the right fins to help you with!

About Freediving Fins

There are different fins for different kinds of water activities and its design and material are what set it apart from one another. For instance, you would know that this particular pair of fins is for SCUBA diving and that is for freediving. You can easily distinguish which is which; as for the latter, its foot pockets are usually closed-heel with soft rubber material.

Diving fins are mainly characterized by its foot pockets and blades. Some fins have its blades integrated to the foot pocket while some have detachable ones fastened through clips and screws. The pros of the latter are: you can always replace the blades if you wish to upgrade, try others with a different stiffness level or when the blades alone are damaged (i.e. broken).

Freediving fins also comes in different types according to length, stiffness level and material. Knowing these would help you a lot in choosing the best or most appropriate pair of fins for you.

Types of Fins

According to Length

  1. Short fins – This type is often used either during the introduction classes or for training. On the other hand, athletic or training freedivers use this to develop power and consistency in their kicks.
  2. Long fins – This type of fins gives a maximum performance for a minimal effort or leg power. The freedivers with long fins do not have to rapidly kick with it unlike with short fins. Since it is longer, it displaces water more in every kick which then propels the freediver deeper or farther with lesser effort.

According to Stiffness

In choosing the right fins, a freediver’s choice of stiffness level or the fin flex is ideally dependent on one’s weight.

  1. Super Soft – petite freedivers who weigh less than 60Kg is advised to use fins with super soft stiffness level.
  2. Soft – fins with such stiffness level is pretty much the best choice for everyone. This level caters a wide range of freedivers’ weight (around 50 to 70 Kilograms).
  3. Medium Ideal for freedivers whose weight is at 75 to 100 Kilograms.
  4. Hard – Freedivers who weigh 100+ Kg should use fins with such stiffness.

You may weigh lighter and opt for a stiffer pair of fins for the power and fin flex but take note that this shouldn’t always be the case. It will still depend on your leg power. If you still do so with weaker leg power, your performance will be compromised.

According to Material

Plastic – plastic (polymer) fins is the cheapest option for freedivers mostly used by beginners. While fins with this material are more durable than the other kinds, they bend or deform overtime. Further, they require more leg power as they are heavier; hence, it might affect one’s performance and efficiency. The transfer of power from the leg to the fins is not much as it does not snap back fast enough. Take note though that plastic fins often do not have a variety of stiffness level.

Freediving fnis by Decathlon Subea
Subea‘s plastic long fins

Fiberglass – fins with such material is widely used by intermediate and recreational freedivers. Though it is more expensive compared to plastic, it is more responsive with a wide range of stiffness. It has a greater transfer of power compared to plastic as it snaps back easily. While it is better than plastic in terms of efficiency, it is not as durable as it is. Hence, freedivers should be careful in terms of using, carrying it around or storing it.

Carbon – Of all the materials, pure carbon is the most lightweight yet fragile and expensive. It’s the most snappy and responsive of all; thus, displaces water easily with comfort and less effort yet with great transfer of power compared to when using the other types. Professional freedivers (i.e. athletes) mostly use fins with such material but recreational freedivers of course may do so. If you are to get carbon fins, make sure that you’ll be careful enough around the rocks or corals when using it, when carrying it around and storing it, too, when out of the waters. Also, carbon fins do not have much designs. Putting stickers to make it personalized it may possibly affect its performance.

How do I choose the right Freediving Fins?

Apart from the type itself considering the stiffness and material, there are also other factors that you should consider. Here’s a myth about freediving fins: “The more expensive my pair of fins is, the better and deeper I can dive”. Here’s the truth: Your performance as a freediver is not entirely dependent on the quality of the gear but on your technique as well. You might own a pair of expensive carbon fins and wouldn’t still make the best out of it if your technique is not good enough.

The water temperature of the place where you usually dive is also of great consideration. This, though, has something to do with the foot pockets of the fins. If you dive mostly in warm tropical waters, then getting socks won’t be that necessary. However, if you are diving in cold waters more often, then, you might want to get a pair of fins with a little allowance on the foot pockets than your actual size for the neoprene socks. Make sure though that the snug is both perfect and comfortable on your feet.

Choosing the Right Fins, In a Nutshell

Choosing the right fins will guarantee you efficiency and fun at the same time in your freediving journey as long as you develop good techniques overtime. Hence, investing on a good pair of freediving fins or basically any freediving gear is not the only thing that we should focus on as freedivers.

Read more about Freediving:

Anne Elizabeth Gumiran, also known as Queenie, is a 20-something, full-time public school teacher, a part-time travel blogger and a freediver. She started putting her stories of adventures and misadventures into words and pictures in 2017 and continues to do so as she shares her advocacy, Sustainable Traveling.

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