- There are some major differences between freedive fins and scuba diving fins. These fins are designed for different types of diving, and it’s important to make the right selection for your skill level and your intention.
- Freediving fins are designed to maximise swimming speed and efficiency, given the lack of an oxygen tank. They have long, flexible blades to reduce drag underwater and permit easy control over movement without expending too much energy.
- Scuba fins have straighter, shorter and stiffer blades, making it easier to generate propulsion for the diver. The setup allows more energy expenditure as oxygen isn’t so much of a worry.
- Both types of fin have advantages and disadvantages, and this article will dive into some of them.
Freediving and scuba diving can offer unique experiences to any adventurous individual, but they require different equipment and techniques. One essential piece of gear used in both activities is fins, which help divers increase their speed, manoeuvrability and efficiency underwater.
While various types of fins are available to both freedivers and scuba divers, specialised freediving fins provide the most advantages for those who choose to explore the depths without air tanks. While these long fins may be the best fins for freediving, shorter fins, as used by scuba divers, also have their advantages, particularly for freedivers in training.
So what’s right for you?
This article will explore the differences between freediving and scuba fins in greater detail by looking at what makes them special and assessing their advantages and disadvantages. Finally, we’ll pit freediving fins vs scuba fins and advise on which best suits your diving needs. Let’s dive in!
What Are Freediving Fins?
Freediving fins are designed for one purpose—swimming underwater as efficiently as possible. These long blades assist divers in moving through the water quickly without tiring out their leg muscles. They are generally much longer than standard scuba fins to the diver forward with each kick while also providing excellent control over direction changes.
Besides being longer than standard scuba fins, they can also be stiffer since they don’t need as much flexibility for turning or stopping suddenly. With that said, a variety of freediving fins are on the market, and blade stiffness varies considerably.
Types of Freediving Fins
There are various freediving fins on the market that cater to different styles and levels of experience. Some of the best fins for freediving include:
Full Foot Pockets: Most entry-level freediving fins have full foot pockets that fit around the diver’s entire foot. This provides an excellent and secure fit and extra power for kicking.
Open-Heel Fins: These fins are a bit more advanced and feature an open heel that allows the diver to adjust the foot pocket for a better fit. They also provide increased power when compared to full-foot fins, making them ideal for more experienced freedivers.
Short Blade Training Fins: These fins are specifically designed for training purposes and are best used by those just starting freediving. They usually feature a shorter blade length that helps divers learn proper kicking techniques without tiring out their legs too quickly.
Split Fins: Split fins are a newer type of fin designed to be more efficient. As they reduce water residence, the diver is using less energy. These fins feature two blades connected at the centre, allowing them to move independently for better manoeuvrability and less energy expenditure per kick.
Alongside these different designs, there are also different materials used in freedive fins. These include:
Rubber: Rubber fins are best for freediving students who want an affordable option. They provide a good amount of power but don’t last as long as other materials since they tend to wear down over time.
Plastic: Plastic fins offer greater durability and increased performance compared to rubber models. They also come with a slightly higher price tag.
Fibreglass: Fibreglass fins provide excellent performance and are best for more experienced freedivers who want to maximise their efficiency in the water. They are much more expensive than rubber or plastic but offer superior performance.
Carbon Fibre: Carbon fibre fins are generally the best fins for freediving for experienced freedivers who want a lightweight and powerful fin. They feature an increased rigidity, allowing for better speed and acceleration.
We also need to mention monofins. This fin is best used in competitive freediving and consists of a single blade covering both feet. It’s best used by experienced divers looking to maximise their performance in terms of speed and acceleration. Many consider monofins to be the best fins for freediving.
Each type of fin has its benefits depending on how you plan on using your freedive gear, so it’s important to do your research before settling on one particular style or brand. The best fins for freediving are what match your experience level and intended purpose.
Advantages of Freediving Fins
The main advantage of choosing a good pair of freediver-specific fins is improved efficiency when moving through the water quickly with minimal effort from your legs and arms.
The long blades found on freedive fins also allow divers better control over direction changes, making them extremely helpful when dodging obstacles along the bottom or passing through narrow channels found within caves and wrecks. Additionally, due to their stiffness, freedive fins usually require less effort per kick.
- Increased Efficiency: The long blade design provides increased thrust with each kick, allowing divers to preserve energy and swim much further than they would with standard scuba fins.
- Greater Control: The stiffer nature of freediving fins makes them more responsive. The diver has better control over direction changes when navigating through tight spaces or around obstacles.
- Comfortable Fit: Freediving fins are much lighter and more comfortable than traditional scuba blades, providing a superior fit that won’t tire your legs as quickly.
- Customisable: Freedive fins come in various sizes and styles, and some, like those from our own store, are modular, which allows divers to customise them and easily replace broken parts.
Disadvantages of Freedive Fins
One disadvantage of using freedive fins is that they can be quite expensive compared to standard scuba diving fins.
Secondly, freedive fins cannot be used for every dive. If you’re someone who enjoys both leisurely dives and competitive events, you may have to invest in two sets of fins.
Another disadvantage is that some freedive fins can be quite uncomfortable for first-time users and can take some time to get used to. Some may find freedive fins too difficult to manoeuvre. This is especially true for novice users not yet used to controlling their movements within tight spaces such as wrecks.
Finally, freediving fins, particularly those made of fibreglass or carbon fibre, are not as resilient as scuba fins. This means they must be handled with care, as they can easily become damaged if mishandled.
- Cost: Freedive fins are more expensive than scuba fins, as they are designed for a specific purpose.
- Limited Use: Freediving fins cannot be used for all diving activities, meaning divers may need additional gear for certain dives.
- Reduced Durability: The lightweight construction can be more prone to wear and tear than traditional scuba blades.
What Are Scuba Diving Fins?
Scuba fins are flippers divers wear to increase speed, propulsion and manoeuvrability. These fins come in various shapes and sizes, allowing divers to explore the ocean’s depths easily. They provide resistance against the water as the diver moves their feet up and down in an alternating motion. The fin’s design helps channel the pressure created by this action into a forward thrust, which makes swimming easier and more efficient.
Types of Scuba Fins
There is a variety of scuba fins available that cater to different needs. Generally, these can be divided into four categories: full-foot fins, open-heel fins, split fins and adjustable foot pockets.
Again, full-foot fins are designed without dive boots or socks as they fit snugly around the foot like a shoe. Open-heel fins, just like their freediving equivalents, have an adjustable strap that attaches around the back of your heel, allowing them to be used with boots or socks if desired. Split fins, again, feature two separate blades that pivot independently from each other, so no side-to-side motion is required for propulsion – this makes them very efficient yet slightly more difficult to manoeuvre than traditional blade fin designs. Adjustable foot pockets use clips or springs for quick size adjustments without having to take them off.
When looking at freediving fins vs scuba fins, the major difference between the two, no matter the type, is length.
Advantages of Scuba Fins
Compared to freedive fins, scuba diving fins are more flexible and easier for beginners. Freediving fins can be imposing for the novice diver due to their construction and design. This can make mastering the proper technique more difficult, and trainee freedivers should use shorter fins when learning the discipline.
Scuba fins also have superior foot pocket traction, making them more secure when kicking. This is especially important for open-heel models, which might require you to kick with greater force. They are also more comfortable on longer dives and gentler on your feet.
Equally, they are also more durable and have a longer lifespan. Freediving fins can be expensive, which may put off those new to the sport, whereas scuba fins, while not cheap, are certainly a more cost-effective option.
- More flexible and easier for beginners
- Better traction
- More comfortable
- More durable
Disadvantages of Scuba Fins
The main disadvantage to scuba diving fins is that they lack the propulsion of freedive fins. When kicked, scuba fins create a greater resistance against the water, resulting in less propulsion per kick than freediving fins.
In addition, the shorter length of some models can make them harder to manoeuvre and control than longer freedive fins for some divers – something beginners should consider when choosing their gear.
Finally, since scuba fins typically come with foot pockets instead of adjustable straps, finding the right size can be challenging for those with unusual sizing requirements. However, adjustable scuba fins are available.
- Not as fast or efficient
- Harder to manoeuvre
- Sizing issues
Freediving Fins vs Scuba Fins
Scuba and freediving fins are important for water activities. The type of activity you plan to do will determine what fins you should use. Scuba fins make it easier for divers to move through the water in many situations and are more efficient for longer dives. Meanwhile, freediving fins are designed for short and shallow dives, making them ideal for manoeuvring around obstacles and navigating tight spaces. The flexible blade of freediving fins allows a diver to kick with less effort than with scuba fins.
It isn’t so much a matter of freediving fins vs scuba fins; rather, it’s a case of finding which fins best suit your needs.
Whichever fins you choose, having the right gear is essential for a successful dive. If you are unsure which type of fins best suit your needs, consider talking to a professional in the field. They can provide guidance and advice on what will best meet your requirements.
At Agulhas, we believe in providing our customers with the best quality and value. We stock a range of freediving fins and scuba diving fins for all levels of divers. Our own brand selection is designed by freedivers for freedivers, so you can trust that the gear will be exactly what you need.
At the centre of our design philosophy are adaptability and sustainability. As such, we have designed all our freediving gear to be modular. If one piece breaks, it’s simple to swap out the part for a new one. Not only will this save you money and open up the world of freediving to many worried about the cost, but it will also aid our planet’s sustainability by cutting down on waste.
Our website contains resources and tips to help you make the best purchasing decision for your needs. So if you’re looking for the best fins suited to your water activity, check out the rest of Agulhas’ website!
When determining the best fins for your water activity, consider freediving fins vs scuba fins and choose what best suits your needs. If you’re just starting freediving, shorter fins are probably for you. Equally, if you’re an experienced diver, longer freediving fins are best for the sport.
At Agulhas, we have designed our range of gear with this in mind. While others’ equipment may be designed by a team of people who’ve never set foot in the ocean, our design team includes champion freediver Hanli Prinsloo, World Champion swimmer Peter Marshall and acclaimed designer Alexander Taylor. This means freediving is always on our minds, and you can trust that our gear is the best in its class.
How do you choose the right size of fin?
Generally speaking, when choosing a fin size, you should aim to find one that fits comfortably while allowing your ankles to bend slightly when kicking. This helps prevent cramping and fatigue during long dives. To determine your ideal fin size, you should measure the length of your foot from toe to heel and then compare it against the manufacturer’s sizing chart.
What is the advantage of using a split-fin design?
Split-fin design offers greater efficiency due to its curved shape, which creates less drag in the water compared to traditional paddle-style designs, allowing divers to swim faster with less effort. Furthermore, split-fins feature shorter blades which enable easier manoeuvring, especially in tight spaces and around obstacles such as coral reefs or rocks, while still providing ample power needed for deeper dives.
Are there any differences between closed-heel vs open-heel fins?
Yes – closed-heel fins are designed with an enclosed pocket at the back that only fits over your foot. In contrast, open-heel designs come with adjustable straps that fit around your feet and ankles so that you can adjust them for a secure fit regardless of shoe size or water temperature variations. Open heel models also provide better stability due to their larger surface area, through which pressure can be distributed over both feet evenly when kicking. In contrast, closed-heel models don’t provide this same level of support.