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Tips When Choosing Your Scuba Fins

Oct 12, 2007
Choosing the proper scuba fins can save energy, air and unnecessary hassle. The right pair can feel like natural appendages, powerfully propelling you forward with each little thrust.

The most important consideration is fit. Then you'll want to contemplate design. Don't get caught up on brand names or price. Make the investment that will work for you.

Cold water divers will want adjustable strap scuba fins, so they can wear warming booties underneath. Coral divers and deep sea excavators need the adjustable strap model for its great propulsion and foot protection.

However, some people complain that the straps can break easily and the less-expensive full-footed fins are designed for warm water surface swimmers.

Thanks to recent innovation, some paddle fins come with self-adjusting blades. At the highest end, the $169 Mares Volo scuba fins have received awards for its patented Optimized Pivoting Blade technology.

The Mares Volo design puts the blade at the best position on both upward and downward strokes, allowing for optimal propulsion. Experienced divers also recommend Apollo brand scuba fins for $150, which are the only fins to score perfect in the Rodale Magazine evaluation.

Comparable lower-end options include the Dacor or Tusa brand, full-foot, OPB models for just $23 or the more advanced adjustable strap OPB models for $79.

The split fin design is practical for adventurers who are prone to leg cramps and who are willing to spend a little extra for the added comfort provided by their scuba fins.

Because of its unusual shape and the empty space down the center of the blade, water is propelled behind the diver, adding increased efficiency. The Apollo Bio-Fin Pro or Sherwood split fins rank high for maneuverability and speed.

However, photographers and cave divers won't care for them, as they aren't recommended for hovering, fighting currents, back-pedaling or frog-kicking.

A second option, well-suited for tourist swimmers, are the comfortable and marine-life safe polyurethane force fins. Force fins are very comfortable for surface divers but aren't recommended for wreck diving or dry suit diving.

The Original Force Fin designed by Bob Evans goes for $120 and received high praise from the US Navy for its functionality and toes-free foot pocket that reduces cramping.

A third design offers Power Enhancing Vents that are said to reduce the stress on the diver's legs and slightly accelerate the kick by allowing water to pass through slits and over the fin blades. Aeris Velocity has them for $80.

A more obvious consideration for scuba fins is length. Current divers, competitive underwater hockey players and fitness swimmers often like the longer blades like Aqualung, which has won "the best paddle fin" award.

Cave divers love the massive, powerful Scuba Pro Jets for their comfort and short length that's good for navigating cramped spaces.

To summarize, cave and wreck divers will want scuba fins that are short, with adjustable heel straps. Tourist swimmers should look into force fins or fins with power enhancing vents.

Divers in heavy currents will want sturdy, longer blades. If there's one place to spend, it's on comfortable scuba fins. Choosing the right pair could save you 40% in air supply refills and your body will thank you later.
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