- Freediving fins are specialised fins used in freediving and underwater activities. They offer more efficiency, power and manoeuvrability than conventional swim fins.
- Freediving fins are designed to create the least resistance while swimming underwater, allowing you to move quickly and efficiently. At the same time, they have enough stiffness to generate enough thrust for a powerful kick.
- Some factors to consider when purchasing freediving fins include the size and material of the fin, blade stiffness, and whether the fins are open-heel or closed-heel.
When you imagine a freediver, one of the first things you’ll probably picture is the fins. Those fins are hugely distinctive, consisting of long blades built for speed and power. Freedivers will often choose their fins based on the type of diving they have planned – such as deep dives or more shallow, coastal dives.
Fin design is hugely important to freedivers, as it greatly impacts their ability to move quickly and efficiently through the water. However, it can be difficult for beginners to know what freediving fins to look for, with many different types of fins available and plenty of factors to consider.
Here at Agulhas, we strive to provide you with the best options while ensuring that all our products are of the highest quality and sustainably made. All of our items are designed as modular so that they’re not only convenient but contribute to a healthy and sustainable future for our planet and our beloved ocean environment. Agulhas wants everyone who loves the ocean to have a chance at exploration without compromising their values!
In this article, we’ll look at freediving fins and why they’re so important for your experience in the water. Then, we’ll break down all the different aspects of the fins to explain what’s available and what you might want to look for to get the best fins for freediving. Let’s dive in!
What Are Freediving Fins?
Freediving fins, also known as dive fins, are specifically designed for freediving. They differ from standard swim fins in their design and the material used to create them. Freediving fins are usually longer than typical swim fins and often have a thinner blade. This gives you more power when moving through the water, making it easier to go further with less effort. Conversely, standard scuba fins are designed to propel a diver carrying heavy equipment.
On top of this, freedive fins tend to be made of more robust materials, such as carbon fibre, which makes them ideal for tough conditions and deep dives.
Types of Fins: Closed-Heel Fins vs Open-Heel Fins
The two main types of freediving fins available are closed-heel fins (or full-foot fins) and open-heel fins (or split fins).
Many divers find closed-heel fins to be the best fins for freediving, thanks to their ease of use. These are designed to be worn barefoot, or sometimes a thin sock, if the water is cold, hence one of their alternative names being barefoot fins.
The foot pocket on these fins is moulded and designed specifically for your feet, making them hassle-free and like wearing closed shoes with heels. For those who prefer open toes, there are also open-toed fins available.
Selecting closed-heel fins can be intimidating as a lot of pressure is placed on the toes and top of the foot if the fit is poor. In the worst cases, this can cause blistering and cuts. To ensure a perfect fit, always try the fins at a shop or borrow some from an experienced freediver to get to grips with the size and shape. However, it would be best if you made your own choice rather than replicate what another diver is doing, as every person is unique in terms of size and weight.
Some of the key characteristics of closed-heel fins are:
- Easy to take on and off
- Good stability
- No need for socks
- Proper fit is vital
- Best for warm water diving as there is no thermal protection.
Open-heel fins are what you might imagine they are from the name; they don’t cover the entire heel and instead have a strap that fastens around the back. This makes it easier to adjust the size of the foot pocket, meaning they can often be worn with thicker neoprene socks in colder water. Equally, dive boots may be worn where the underwater terrain is rocky.
In addition to being easily adjustable, many divers see improvements in propulsion, given the stronger bond between the fin and the foot. Open-heel fins are ideal for divers who want extra power and don’t mind something a little bulkier in their kit bag.
Some of the key characteristics of open-heel fins are:
- Easy to adjust
- More propulsion
- Increases drag
- Need either thicker neoprene socks or dive boots for colder water
- Can be heavier and take up more space in a bag when travelling.
What’s the Best Length for Freedive Fins?
When selecting freedive fins, one of the main aspects that needs to be considered is the length.
Beginners primarily use short fins, which can be found in introductory classes and training. They’re also used by athletic or training freedivers who use short fins to help with their power and consistency when kicking. Shorter fins will provide less power than longer fins but are easier to manoeuvre in tight spaces and don’t require as much strength.
Fins with longer blades offer the best ratio between performance and effort required. By using a long fin, you won’t need to kick rapidly, unlike with the short fin, and given the extra length, the fins will disperse more water. This means you will be propelled deeper and further without exerting excess energy and oxygen, which is vital in freediving.
Foot Pockets: Separate or Integrated?
Another important factor to consider when looking for the best freediving fins is whether you’re looking for a separate foot pocket or an integrated foot pocket. An integrated foot pocket has the fin blade built into it, while a separate foot pocket accommodates the switching of blades.
Separate foot pockets are ideal if you want to customise your fins. Because you can switch out the blade and foot pockets, you can adjust the stiffness of your fin depending on what kind of dive you’re doing. Similarly, if one component breaks, it’s much more cost-effective to replace just the broken part rather than buying a new set of fins altogether.
Separate foot pockets are also ideal for portability. These pockets are normally fixed in place with screws and clips on the side rails. As such, they are easily deconstructed and are much easier to store in a bag when travelling.
Integrated foot pockets, however, offer more flexibility. By negating the screws and clips, fins with integrated foot pockets efficiently transfer energy. Plus, these types of fins are usually lighter.
The Fin Blades: A Question of Stiffness
A further aspect to consider when selecting the best freediving fins is the stiffness of the fin blades. Your personal ideal stiffness is linked to your body weight, with heavier divers requiring more power to propel them through the water.
Here is the recommended blade across several weight categories:
- Less than 60kg: For divers weighing less than 60kg, it is advised that a super soft blade be used. This is because this weight class requires less power to move the fin through the water.
- 50-70kg: A soft blade is recommended for divers weighing 50-70kg. This will give the diver enough power while remaining flexible and comfortable. This is a common choice and is best for most people.
- 75-100kg: Divers in this weight class should opt for a medium-firm blade. This provides enough stiffness to move the fins more efficiently but still offers some flexibility.
- More than 100kg: For those who weigh more than 100kg, a hard blade is advised.
Although a stiff blade offers more power, increased stiffness requires greater strength from your legs and feet to kick properly. In contrast, softer blades provide less power but are easier on your legs and require less force. This is ideal for those with weaker legs. Similarly, more flexible blades are much better when using a frog kick or other finning techniques.
Freedivers should generally opt for stiffer blades when they have a choice, as they provide the best power-to-efficiency ratio and are more suited to most underwater activities. However, if you’re new to freediving, softer blades may be a better option, as they require less effort to kick and won’t tire out your legs as quickly.
Ultimately, it’s important to find the right balance between strength, power and efficiency when finding the best freediving fins for you.
What Material Makes the Best Fins for Freediving?
When selecting the best freediving fins, one of the key factors to consider is what material they are made from. This will greatly affect how the fins perform and how much weight you carry when diving.
Traditional fin blades were usually made of heavy rubber that wasn’t particularly flexible. However, more recently, fins have been manufactured using materials such as plastic and carbon fibre, which are much lighter, more durable and provide better performance.
Carbon Fibre Fins: The Best Freediving Fins?
Carbon fibre is an ideal choice for the best freediving fins. This material is lightweight and durable and has a higher degree of flexibility than other materials, such as rubber or plastic. This means you can generate more power with less effort when kicking using carbon fibre fins.
In addition, carbon fibre fins are resistant to saltwater corrosion and don’t degrade like fins made from some other materials. So carbon fibre fins are perfect if you’re looking for fins that provide long-lasting performance without compromising weight or power.
Plastic Fins: Great for Beginners
While carbon fibre fins may be at the top end where types of fins are concerned, plastic fins are still a great option for those just starting freediving. Plastic fins are often amongst the lightest types of fins, making them a popular choice among beginners in the sport.
Plastic is also quite flexible and won’t corrode when exposed to salt water, meaning that your freedive fins could conceivably last for years without deteriorating. However, many such fins will begin to lose their shape eventually. Plastic freedive fins also don’t offer as much power or efficiency as carbon fibre ones, so they may not be suitable for more experienced freedivers.
Plastic fins are also amongst the best fins for freediving when it comes to your wallet, being some of the cheapest on the market. Again, this is particularly useful for beginners when accidents such as dragging them against rocks are possible.
Fibreglass Fins: A Good Intermediate Choice
Fibreglass fins make a great choice for freedivers looking for something between plastic and carbon fibre. They are typically lighter than plastic fins and have a greater snap, allowing you to generate more power with each kick. Unlike plastic fins, fibreglass fins will not lose their shape over time.
However, they weigh slightly more than carbon fibre fins and may not be as efficient or powerful as higher-end models. Equally, given the materials used, fibreglass fins are fragile and can be easily damaged in a bag or by careless transport. Given their fragility, fibreglass fins wouldn’t be advised for beginners.
So, Just What Are the Best Fins for Freediving?
It’s important to state that there is no such thing as “the best fins for freediving,” only the best fins for you personally. Buying the most expensive or fanciest product on the market will not make you a world-class freediver. Rather, it is technique that makes you a better diver, not simply splashing the cash.
However, there are still a few things to remember when choosing your fins.
- Personal comfort: Freediving fins should be comfortable as you will wear them for a long time under athletic conditions. Consider the foot pockets and how well they fit your feet and ankles.
- Power and weight: It’s important to select fins suitable for your weight and leg power. The heavier the fins, the more power is needed to move them.
- Dive location: Water temperature will dictate the best type of fins and socks, while the terrain under the surface will dictate whether you need boots.
- Material: Pay attention to what material the fins are constructed with, as this will affect their power and efficiency underwater. Plastic is usually best for beginners, while carbon fibre may suit more experienced divers looking to save weight and improve their performance.
- Price: Freedive fins can range from very affordable to quite expensive depending on the material, performance and technology, such as vents or channels in the blades. Choose something within your budget that meets your requirements rather than simply selecting the most expensive product.
Ultimately, you should choose freediving fins based on comfort, budget and performance requirements. With this in mind, Freedivers can purchase the perfect product for them without compromising on important features or breaking the bank.
Agulhas is a leading provider of high-end sustainable diving equipment. Our company is passionate about making modular and eco-friendly products, and our range of freedive fins is no exception.
Agulhas is revolutionising the freediving experience by introducing modular freediving gear onto the market, changing how divers perceive fins and other equipment. We know exactly what you’re looking for because we’re freedivers ourselves! Champion freediver Hanli Prinsloo, World Champion swimmer Peter Marshall and acclaimed designer Alexander Taylor are among our design consultants.
Our unique interchangeable parts allow you to replace damaged or broken pieces instead of replacing the product – saving you time and money. You no longer have to worry about spending a fortune on replacements if you suffer an unfortunate mishap with your equipment!
In addition to freedive fins, Agulhas provides a range of other products, including freediving masks and snorkels, alongside lifestyle gear such as bags and swimwear. With such a wide offering, Agulhas makes it easy for freedivers to find the perfect product.
So why not explore our website, check out what we offer, and get the gear you need to take your freediving experience to the next level?
Freediving fins can come in various styles and materials, from plastic and fibreglass to carbon fibre. The best choice depends on personal comfort, power and weight, dive location, material and price. Agulhas provides a range of high-quality freediving gear that is modular and eco-friendly. By purchasing from Agulhas, freedivers can be sure they are getting the right equipment for their needs without sacrificing quality or breaking the bank. Please explore our website and get the gear you need to make your freediving experience unforgettable. Happy diving!
What about monofins? Should I consider buying one for freediving?
Monofins are a great choice for freediving, as they offer more power and stability than regular fins. However, monofins require some practice and skill to use effectively, so it’s important to get familiar with them before taking them out on a dive. Additionally, monofins are heavier than standard fins, making them tiring to use over long distances or during extended dives.
Are there any differences between men’s and women’s freediving fins?
Yes. Typically, men’s freediving equipment is designed with larger foot pockets since they usually have larger feet than women. However, many brands now offer unisex designs allowing everyone to wear the same fin style regardless of individual sizes. Additionally, slight differences in stiffness/flexibility ratios may be found between men’s and women’s models, affecting performance levels.
Is there anything else I should look out for before purchasing a pair of freediving fins?
Aside from considering the factors we’ve already highlighted, another key element that many divers overlook is ensuring they buy from reputable brands or manufacturers. Here at Agulhas, all our products are designed by world-class freedivers with freedivers in mind. Our modular and sustainable designs are revolutionising the industry, so you can feel confident that you’re getting a top-of-the-range product that will last.