The first pieces of dive/snorkeling equipment most people purchase is usually a mask and snorkel. And then they start thinking, “what next?” … Fins are usually the answer!
Unfortunately, it can be a bit more difficult to make a decision about sizing and style when doing mixture of cold and warm water diving. So the first place to start is by asking yourself a few basic questions:
There are Two Main Styles of Fins
Full Foot Fins
Full foot fins are great for travelling, due to small size and weight. Because they can be worn with either a thin pair of neoprene socks or just bare foot, you don’t have to worry about bringing along boots or having to dry them out before flying. These are generally going to be a softer fin, and will be perfect for warm water diving and snorkelling. However, they don’t fit with drysuits, so they aren’t suitable for cold water diving.
Open heel fins are a more diverse group of fins. They are designed to be worn with boots, but there are many options to choose from, depending on what kind of diving you are doing. These tend to be a heavier fin, and because you’ll have to pack boots along, they aren’t as compact and travel-friendly as full foot fins. If you are planning on doing any coldwater diving, or shore diving, you will need to have a fin like this.
Okay Now Let's Break Down the Fin Styles:
Now that you understand the two main styles, let’s break them down even further and look at the types of fin blades. There are three main styles of fins: split fins, paddle fins, and turtle/jet fins.
Split fins offer ease of moving underwater.
The dual action blade creates a vortex effect which helps propel you through the water. These are a very low resistant fin and work especially well for those that suffer from frequent calf cramps, or find kicking in paddle fins difficult.
This is a softer style of fin, so while you might have to kick a bit more often, it is quite easy to kick. You can technically use any kicking style with these fins, but the scissor kick or flutter kick is the most efficient.
This style is available as a full foot or adjustable fin.
Paddle fins tend to be a stiffer fin, offering you more propulsion than split fins. They are a good fin if you’re diving in current as they give you more power. You can use any style of kicking with these, although frog kicking is generally easier and will give you more precise movements.
Many newer styles of paddle fins, utilize composite materials which allow flexibility in the different areas of the blade. This decreases drag, and increases efficiency to get you the most amount of propulsion with the least amount of effort.
This style is available as a full foot or adjustable fin
TURTLE /JET FINS
Turtle fins are made of durable rubber, therefore they are usually stiffer and heavier (negatively buoyant).
If you struggle with floaty feet (especially in a drysuit), this style of fin is a great alternative to ankle weights. Because this style is weighted, frog kicking is the way to go. It is not ideal for flutter kicking, as it can be quite hard on your ankles. Because of the length and stiffness, these fins will give you more propulsion and accuracy than a longer fin, but they will require a bit more leg strength especially when surface swimming
This Style Fin is only available in Adjustable Fins.
Can you Use the Same Fins in Both Cold Water and Warm Water?
This is our most commonly asked questions! and though the answer will vary, in many cases yes it is possible! They are not going to be a perfect fit for both purposes though, so we recommend fitting your fin based on where you are going to do the majority of your diving.
The biggest factor is where in the fins size range your foot falls. If you are in the lower to middle of the size range for your coldwater fin (ie. the strap is not already tightened all the way), you will most likely be able to use your fins with the same or similar style boot for warm water. However, If you have a pair of warm water fins that are already too tight, the chances of them fitting a thicker boot is pretty slim.
The other factor is to make sure you are using the same style of boot. You would not be able to switch between a 2mm short boot and a 7mm drysuit boot with the same pair of fins.