Here, we break down the individual components of fins and look at their function. Whichever pair of fins you choose, the most important features are your size, your physical ability and where you plan to dive. All fins, regardless of style or features will have pockets for your feet and blades for propulsion.
The blade makes up the main part of the fin, it comes from simple flat designs made from plastic or rubber to intricate designs with additional features such as ribs, vents and channels. There are several different features available for diving fins, here we go through the main ones and explain how they benefit the wearer. There is no right or wrong fin to buy, you have to find the right ones to suit you based on your comfort and needs
Much like a spinal cord, ribs add rigidity to the blade and act as vertical stabilizers reducing the risk of bending or weakening.
Reduce resistance to fin movement by allowing some of the water to slip through the vents. Vents increase efficiency and also make it easier for the wearer to propel themselves.
Increase efficiency by guiding water smoothly over the fin surface, can be made from either stiff or flexible materials. Smooth channels improve propulsion so you travel further with each kick.
Split in the middle similar to the flipper of some animals such as seals. Designed to thrust water straight back for maximum efficiency, reduces resistance and improves propulsion.
Buckles and Straps
Very important as they provide a means of securing the fin to your foot, only seen on the open heel fins as full-foot fins have no need for a strap with their enclosed heel. Usually constructed from either neoprene rubber to stretch over your boots or an appropriate plastic, there a few different styles of fin strap available but the most important factor is that you find them easy to put on.
Fin straps are often the first part of the fin to break due to excessive wear but they are usually easy to replace without having to buy a new set of fins. Check your fins brand for replacement compatibility.
This isn't a feature of the strap itself, but how they attach to the foot pocket. The hinging point or pivot point which allows the strap to move into the position that makes them easier to get into.
Quick Release Buckles
These are self explanatory. Widely available now, these are favoured by a lot of divers as they allow you to remove fins quickly and easily without having to adjust the straps every time.
This has a direct relationship with the size of your foot, as this is where your foot will go, and this is the part of the fin that is referred to when discussing fin size.
Foot pockets differ depending on the type of fin; full foot fins will be smaller and refers directly to the size of your foot. Open heel will be larger so it is important to try them on with your dive boots, they are made bigger to accommodate this meaning you should stick to your usual size and NOT opt for the next size up.
Some foot pockets with have grooves inside the sole to reinforce the stability of the fins, to keep your foot straight whereas some, such as full-foot rubber fins are more flexible.
These are a special type of sock designed to be worn with full foot fins, they are perfect for prolonged use as they reduce discomfort and irritation.