Such a crucial element of freediving is your choice of fins. This guide is intended to help you pick out the best pair of fins for you. Here’s what to look out for:
The used plastics are polypropylene, technopolymer, and other polymer alloys. Polymer plastic is the most affordable and common option, compared to fiberglass and carbon fiber, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s no good. In fact, it can make for some sturdy, durable, and resistant fins and survive bumps and scratches, making it ideal for beginners.
The catch is these fins’ “memory” characteristic. With extended usage and because they’ve bent too many times, you’ll notice them losing their shape and stiffness and molding into a curved design.
This is problematic because it means less snap, and consequently less power transfer, so a kick with a curved blade won’t give you as much energy as one with a straight blade. These fins could also be too stiff for smaller freedivers.
The mid-range in fin prices belongs to fiberglass, which is similar to polymer plastic in that it’s durable and withstands bumps and collisions, but is dissimilar to it in that it also retains its stiffness and shape over time and has a better snap action. Hence, it’s more suited for intermediate divers and professionals.
However, it’s fragile, meaning you have to be careful not to drop a pair of fiberglass fins or place other equipment on top of it.
What makes carbon fiber fins so remarkable and expensive is their memory-free quality, lightweight, and excellent ratio between propulsion and energy, which is larger than that in polymer plastic and fiberglass. As for being 100% memory-free, that entails that they’ll remain stiff and straight with a highly reactive snap.
Nonetheless, they share the fiberglass fins’ fragility, thus requiring extra care when packing. And finally, avoid going into shallow water with carbon fiber fins, for that we recommend a good pair of water shoes.
Make sure the foot pocket hugs your feet in a snug fit that isn’t too tight or too loose. On the one hand, tight-fitting heels can hurt your feet or numb them. On the other hand, loose-fitting heels entail unoccupied space in your foot pocket, which in turn entails exerting more effort when finning, and that’s energy you don’t want to waste.
Therefore, it’s crucial that you understand the sizing system and know that fins tend to run larger in size because you’d typically wear neoprene socks with them. Still, don’t buy anything with more empty space than 3mm.
It may seem that the more stiff fins are, the better, but this isn’t the case, necessarily. A suitable level of stiffness is reliant on your musculature. To illustrate, long skinny legs typically produce weaker propulsion than short, strong legs. The general rule is if your propulsion is on the weak side, choose soft blades. If not, either medium or soft blades will work for you.
If you’re under 60 kg, you might want to opt for super-soft fins if you can. As for most people, we’d recommend fairly soft fins. As for medium stiffness, it’s a good choice for experienced athletes with excellent lower body strength and spearfishers diving in a strong current.
In short, if you can get the combination of material, fit and stiffness right, then you’ll have yourself a great pair of freediving fins.
Typically the more you pay, the better your experience is going to be here.