Fins are an essential part of your scuba gear. They propel you underwater and make or break your dive experience.
If you don’t own your own set of scuba fins you will rely on the dive shop to have some to rent. In many cases, you’ll end up with lower quality fins that kind of fit but are not really comfortable. It can seriously put a damper on your dive experience!
Having your own gear and having it fit perfectly is important in scuba diving. The familiarity you gain with your gear improves your precision during dives and builds your trust into your gear.
Scuba fins should be comfortable and provide you with the ability to transform the power from your kicks into forward motion. Along with that they should be easy to put on and off, to transport and certainly sturdy enough to last a long time.
Last but not least they have to fit your dive style. Our guide to the best scuba diving fins will provide you with the information you need to get the best fins that match your diving style.
If you’re in a hurry then here’s the short list of the top 10 scuba diving fins.
Below you can find the details on each of these best 10 scuba dive fins. Please also check out our Buyer’s Guide for Dive Fins as well as our short overview of important things to consider when buying new fins.
The Aqua Lung Stratos 3 is a full foot dive fin that is durable and affordable. It’s comfortable and easy to put on and off. The inside of the foot pocket is finished with a special material that makes sure that you get in and out easily while not slipping out during a dive.
The bending point is close to the front of your foot. This way the entire fin is used for a powerful kick with the least amount of effort.
The Stratos 3 comes in six different sizes and you shouldn’t have an issue finding the best fit for your size. The toe area offers a lot of space which makes it very comfortable to wear. The overall design and build quality is impeccable.
The Aqua Lung Stratos 3 is best used for dives in warm tropical waters. It’s our best choice for a full foot scuba diving fin for warm waters.
The Mares Avanti Quattro Plus are open heel scuba fins. They have a bungee strap so you’re able to quickly get in and out of them. The huge advantage is also that you won’t have to adjust any straps. Simply slide in and let the bungee strap do the rest.
This fin is made from somewhat stiffer material which is combined with four soft channels to provide the most possible thrust when kicking. The blade is overall a little more stiff than other dive fins. However, it creates a lot of thrust with each kick!
These scuba fins come in four different sizes and a large variety of colors. You’ll find the perfect fit amongst those four sizes as the bungee strap makes sure that you’re securely in the fin once you put it on.
The Mares Avanti Quattro Plus is a great all-around choice for diving. It works well in warm and cold environments. It’s our overall best choice for a dive fin.
The first thing you’ll see when you look at the DiveRite XT is that it’s surprisingly non-flashy looking. Most newer fins have shapes and designs and color schemes that make them look ‘cool’. These fins are just what you see – excellent scuba diving fins.
They are specifically designed for strong and ripping currents and tougher conditions. They are made from a Monoprene blend which is used by DiveRite since the 1990’s in some of their best performing fins. The XT fins are designed as open heel fins with spring heel straps made from reinforced steel springs. This design provides a tight fit while being able to get in and out quickly.
The blades are designed to maximize the thrust with every kick while making sure that they stay stable in rough conditions. The DiveRite XT fins are a great choice for technical divers in varying conditions.
The ScubaPro Seawing Nova offers a unique design. They combine the advantages of paddle fins and split fins. The design provides the thrust of a paddle fins with the comfort and efficiency of a split fin.
The design is unique in that it offers a joint in the blade that maximizes thrust while reducing drag through a pivoting motion. The fins offer tapered edges which make it useable for different kicking styles. The bungee strap makes it easy to get in and out of the fins and have the perfect fit.
The fins come in five different sizes and a variety of color choices. The well designed and sturdy bungee strap ensures a perfect fit.
There’s no question that these are some of the best fins you can buy. However, the complex design results in one of the highest prices you can find for any scuba diving fins.
Atomic Aquatics is known for their high-end design of scuba gear and the Atomic Aquatics full foot split fins make no exception when it comes to quality. However, compared to other scuba gear from this manufacturer, they are actually affordable.
These fins have a full foot split design. During a kick the split blade changes shape into a pair of wings. These wings reduce drag when slicing through the water while creating thrust to propel you forward. This works great in calm waters but does not provide enough thrust in strong currents.
Overall these fins allow you to move through the water with less effort. They can help to reduce air consumption during a dive.
They come in six different sizes and two color combinations. Make sure to study the sizing information with your shoe size to find the best fit.
The Atomic Aquatics Full Foot Split Fins are a great choice for diving in calm warm waters. The split fin design reduces drag and helps you to conserve energy and air.
The Tusa Solla is an open heel paddle fin that has some very interesting features. It uses a thermoplastic elastomer mixing hard and soft materials within the blade. The same combination of different stiffness levels is used in the side rails and the foot pocket. This improves the thrust while reducing the energy required to generate that thrust.
The fins use an anatomically formed strap to secure your foot to the fin. While it’s not a bungee strap, it’s still easy to use and fits the back of your heel perfectly and comfortably.
The paddles are medium in size which provides a good compromise between maneuverability and thrust. The Tusa Solla is pretty affordable and definitely worth a look.
The Mares X-Stream is one of the newer dive fins on the market. It is an open heel paddle scuba fin that has a comfortable foot pocket. The shape of the blade is rather unique and it is designed for less turbulence while you’re diving.
The X-Stream works on a similar split mechanism as the ScubaPro Seawing Nova in that it has a flex area right in front of the foot pocket that allows the blade to act like a split blade. This way the fin provides the thrust of a paddle fin with the reduced effort and drag from split fins.
The strap is designed to provide a secure closure while your foot is in the fin. It’s comfortable to close and initially needs adjustment. A bungee strap would be a good change but the standard strap works fine.
The blade transfers your kick and transforms it into a powerful thrust forward. It features a center channel that is designed to force the water down the blade instead of allowing it to spill over the sides. This reduces the energy needed to propel yourself through the water.
The Mares X-Stream come in four different sizes and a variety of different colors. They are not the cheapest pair of fins on the market but you get high-tech fins for a good price. They are certainly not more expensive compared to other high-quality fins on the market!
The Cressi FROG Plus fins are open heel paddle fins. Coming from Cressi you can trust to get highest quality and latest technology.
That’s not different for these fins. They are combining several materials into one fin to optimize the flow of water during a kick and reduce the drag.
They are designed to require the lowest amount of energy for each powerful thrust. The combination of the different materials provides strength and flexibility as needed during each kick.
The strap is adjustable and allows to get in and out of the fins quick and easy. While not a bungee strap, it’s still easy to initially adjust and use.
The Cressi FROG Plus comes in four different sizes and a few different colors. They are very affordable in price and made of highest quality products.
The Sherwood Triton looks at first glance like a pretty old-fashioned scuba fin. However, it is anything than that. These are open heel paddle fins with an adjustable strap.
It features three vents in front of the foot pocket that are designed to increase the thrust on the downward motion of the kick. They also decrease the drag on the upward motion of the kick. This increases the thrust while reducing the energy needed to both kick and recover.
The strap is adjustable and offers quick-release buckles. The large heel pull tab makes it easy to put the fins on or take them off. A great feature of these fins is that they float. They are positively buoyant so they won’t sink to the bottom should you ever lose one in the water.
The Sherwood Triton comes in three different sizes and is only available in black. They are not any of those futuristic looking fins but rather look like fins from old times. Yet, when it comes to the power they produce they are top of the line. Due to their light weight they offer great flexibility when it comes to diving, snorkeling or even surface swimming with fins.
Pricing of the Sherwood Triton is what you would expect of a high-quality pair of fins. They won’t break the bank but are also not the cheapest fins you can find.
The Tusa SF-15 X-PERT ZOOM Z3 are open heel split blade fins with a patented fin design. The blades are angled at 27 degrees. In combination with the three material design this creates a powerful thrust during a kick.
The blades are designed to provide a powerful thrust while using the least amount of energy. They combine three different materials to provide the stiffness where needed while offering the flexibility at other places. This allows to provide a quick response to any movement.
The foot pocket is developed to increase the power transfer to the blades for improved performance. The multi-compound design of the pocket increases the comfort as well as improves the transfer of power to the fins.
The Tusa SF-15 X-PERT ZOOM Z3 comes in three sizes and four colors. Pricing for these fins is great for the quality you will get.
Without repeating the information you can find in the Scuba Fin Buying Guide, let’s have a quick look at the important factors you should consider when buying a new pair of scuba fins.
Full foot dive fins are usually better for snorkeling and for warm waters. You will have a harder time to get a tight fit compared to open heel fins.
Check out our Buying Guide for Scuba Fins for more information on those two kinds of foot pockets.
Split fins are a relatively new invention and innovation. They work like a propeller when you kick and the advantages are that you need less energy for a kick. However, in rough currents the power is simply not transferred as well and you won’t be able to maneuver quite as good as with a paddle fin.
You can find more information on split fins vs. regular fins to help you make the best choice!
The overall size of the fins can become an issue when you want to bring them for traveling. Most fins are ok to bring but some, specifically fins for freediving, are simply too large to pack. The ones reviewed above will all somehow fit into a suitcase but none of them are specifically designed for travel.
You can get travel fins which are either shorter or can be disassembled. This can be an important factor for you but you might consider trying to find a way to pack our preferred fins instead of compromising on either the quality or performance of your fins.
There’s not much else to consider except that you need to make sure that you get fins that fit comfortable while keeping your foot secure in the foot pocket. Nothing’s worse than losing a fin during a dive!
Make sure that you get the right size of fins for your size of foot. If you wear booties during diving then take the additional size of those into consideration.
Lastly, and the least important consideration, is whether you want to get fins in a specific color. Color or patterns on the fins have no impact at all on the quality of the fin. However, if you have a specific color scheme going then you might not want to disrupt your colors of your wet suit, etc. with fins that don’t match at all.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to scuba fins. All of the fins we highlighted above are great fins.
In the end you will have to find out for yourself what style of diving you perform, in what surroundings you dive and how often you dive. It makes sense to have your own gear no matter what. As long as you don't specialize into specific types of diving you might simply go for fins that work in a variety of conditions.
When we reviewed our picks that we made in the later half of 2017 we came to the conclusion that since then really nothing much has changed. There were no new fins that would have been better than the ones we have picked above so we decided that we leave the list the same and keep an eye out for new introductions. When and if we find new noteworthy scuba diving fins that make the list then we'll update the post so you know for sure to have the up-to-date selection available!
Scuba dive fins are an essential piece in the puzzle of getting all your dive gear. They are essential pieces of equipment whether you scuba dive, snorkel or free dive. For all three sports you need fins to propel yourself through the water.
Fins make it easier and reduce the effort that is required to have your body being propelled through the water. Whether it’s on the surface when you snorkel or deep down into the depths when you scuba dive or free dive.
Under water your legs do nearly all of the work to get you moving forward or down. The fins support the legs in being an extension that is optimized to need the least amount of muscle for the most amount of propulsion.
There are some minor and some major differences between the different fins you can buy. Some of them are due to the different sports they target while others are regarding to a completely different design of the fins.
This guide explains all the different fin options to you. The goal is for you to be able to decide on the best fins for your kind of dive or snorkel sport. We’re looking at the overall differences by sport, by foot pocket design and by fin design.
You want to look at different kinds of fins depending on your kind of sport, whether it’s snorkeling, scuba or free diving. These different sports have small but distinctive different requirements for the fins you want to use.
During snorkeling you will not or not often submerge. As you don’t need the added energy to go deep down under water, you will also not need a set of long fins. Fins for snorkeling are shorter and somewhat simpler than scuba or free-dive fins.
Not going under water requires less energy. Having long (or simply wrong) fins will make you feel like you are fighting your fins. If that is the case then try to go for shorter and lighter fins. They will be more comfortable and precise when aiding you during your snorkel excursions.
When you scuba dive you need more power coming from your scuba fins. You need the additional power to be able to get down under water quick and with the least amount of effort.
Fins for scuba diving are usually around the same length as snorkel fins. They might be stiffer or have a slightly different design. Some scuba fins are a little longer than fins for snorkeling. Scuba fins do overall require more leg strength to effectively produce a powerful kick under water.
Free diving requires a lot more propulsion than scuba diving or snorkeling. During free diving you try to dive very deep without using any air supply except for the air in your lungs.
This requires to get down and back up as fast as possible. Therefore, free diving fins are usually longer to provide the strongest possible propulsion for each kick.
This significantly reduces the amount of kicks required during descent or ascent and therefore conserves oxygen. Longer fins help achieve this goal but also do require that your legs are strong enough to generate such powerful kicks.
You can find two different types of foot pockets when looking at fins for snorkeling or diving. First, there’s the full-foot design. The other type is the open heel fin. Both are very different in their design and in their use for specific environments and conditions.
Looking at full foot fins you will see that they are basically shoes with an attached fin. You slide into them like you slide into a shoe.
The problem is that if you’re not having a great fit then there’s nothing else you could adjust to make them fit better. When they fit correctly then they are the most comfortable type you can get.
They are best used in warm waters and for snorkeling. You will have an easy time to put them on or to get out of them. You also won’t need to wear booties.
These kinds are the most used for scuba diving. Instead of a heel like in a shoe you have a strap around the heel to keep your foot in place.
Even if not diving in really cold water you will usually wear open heel fins with booties. That means that you have to measure for fit while wearing your booties!
Open heel fins have the great advantage that you usually can replace the straps if they break. Full foot fins have to be thrown away if the heel breaks as there’s nothing that can be replaced. Being able to replace the straps is important when you consider that many of these scuba fins end up being quite expensive.
Most open heel fins have larger blades compared to full foot fins. The blade is often also stiffer. The combination of these two factors results in more thrust with each kick.
The larger blade and with that the larger fin makes it harder to travel though. They don’t fit as easily into your suitcase anymore and they usually also weigh more. If you travel a lot you want to consider both weight and length and possibly get a shorter and also lighter fin.
There are typically two different styles of blades to consider. You can either get split fins or paddle fins. Paddle fins are the most common ones and were the first type of fins used for scuba diving. Split fins are a relatively new invention and are seen more and more often.
Paddle fins are usually the most affordable kind of fin. They’ve been around for decades and are a proven design. The stiffness of the blade depends on the manufacturer but mostly all of these kinds of fins are easy to use and provide a controllable kick.
Split fins are designed to require less effort when kicking while producing the same thrust as a paddle fin. They are a great choice if you have ankle problems or you can’t generate a powerful kick. They are best used in calm waters. In heavy currents they get harder to use. Otherwise they can reduce your air consumption due to less effort to produce a kick.
You can check out our Split Fins vs. Regular Fins article going into the differences and backgrounds behind both of these fin styles.
There are sub-types for each of these two main types. One of those is the channel blade fin. These fins have very stiff outside rails and the center area is flexible. They are probably not best suited for the beginner as they require a good understanding of your own kick strength. They can also be on the expensive side so you want to make sure you dive a lot in order to get your money’s worth.
Another sub type of fins are the ones with long blades for free diving or spearfishing. The only difference to paddle fins is that the blades are longer and provide more thrust.
The forward propulsion is generated through the blade of the fin. There are a variety of different designs and shapes of blades that are all having the same goal: provide as much propulsion and thrust under water as possible with the least amount of energy spent.
You can find numerous designs of blades. Some will have rails on the side for higher stiffness, others will have stiffer and softer areas throughout. You can even find blades with vents to reduce drag. You often also can see ribs on the blades which increase the firmness.
Shapes range from futuristic shapes coming out of computer programs to designs that resemble nature. Split fins have completely different shapes of the blades compared to paddle fins.
While all this can be confusing, be aware that as a beginner or recreational diver, you will not necessarily get much benefit out of using the latest and greatest with more or less ribs or rails. Many of these designs work very well in some situations but then on the other hand have disadvantages in other places.
The stiffness of the blade is a rather subjective matter. If you are a strong guy with a strong kick then you will definitely prefer and need a stiffer blade.
However, a smaller diver with less strength in the kick will need a less stiff blade. That is not to say that this diver couldn’t deal with a stiff blade. The stiffer blade runs the risk though that it wears a beginner or smaller person out.
In the end for the beginner or recreational diver it comes down to getting a somewhat less stiff blade. Most of the standard fins you can find online will suffice. You won’t run into any issues with fins from any of the best dive gear manufacturers.
There are plenty of choices when it comes to fins. If you are a recreational diver or just beginning with the sport then you actually might have the least issues finding fins for yourself. Stick with the readily available and highly rated fins and you will have many enjoyable dives ahead of you!
No matter what kind of fins you get, make sure that you mark them with a waterproof pen. You might be surprised how many divers will have the same fins as you do when you go onto a dive boat. And you definitely want to be able to end up with your fins again.
If you get open heel fins then make sure that you also buy replacement straps. It’s a good idea to have them with you and available when you dive as you never know when your straps might break. As luck has it, they will usually rip at the worst time and you’ll be glad that you can instantly replace them!
Select highly rated brand name fins that you can get online and you should end up being fine. We would suggest that you pick open heeled fins and if you just start with the sport or only dive once in a while then stick to blade fins. Split fins are great but do require some more experience.
There’s an ongoing debate between divers whether split fins or regular fins are better. Regular fins are also usually referred to as paddle fins, blade fins or full fins. Historically, regular fins are what were the only fins available for diving and snorkeling.
No matter whether you get regular fins or split fins, you can either get them with an open heel or a full foot. The Cressi PLUMA Full Foot Paddle Fins below are full foot paddle fins while the Atomic Aquatics Open Heel Split Fins are open heeled split fins.
The usual argument you will hear about split fins is that they great in calm waters where they offer good propulsion. In currents they are not working that well for many divers.
Paddle fins overall can offer better propulsion and allows better control. Some also say that they have a better feel when using regular fins.
When you’re diving anywhere you will see that divers use either split fins or blade fins. The visual difference between the two is very obvious. The regular fin consists of one solid blade while the split fin, as the name suggests, is split down the middle.
Blade fins have been around since the 1940’s. Split fins are a relatively new invention. The differences for the diver are experienced when it comes to propulsion efficiency and power and conservation of air during a dive.
The propulsion power of regular fins is directly dependent on the strength of the kick. It’s pretty straightforward. The harder the diver kicks, the more propulsion power is generated. This also allows an experienced diver to adjust the strokes to achieve a high level of control.
Split fins are somewhat more sophisticated. The split is designed to create a vortex which assists with the propulsion. Ultimately, it also should result in more speed. The second advantage with regards to the split fin is that on the upward stroke the water can pass through the split. The upward stroke does provide the least propulsion power so the upward stroke with a blade fin mostly requires energy that is not resulting in a lot of movement. The split fin allows to preserve energy which can result in less air consumption!
Let’s have a closer look at the two types so you can make a decision which kind to get for yourself.
Since the blade fins were invented, not much has changed in their overall design. The materials have changed and been replaced with stiffer and lighter materials. Originally, thick black rubber was used while today lightweight plastics are what make a regular fin.
Split fins have a split down the center of the blade. You somewhat end up having two blades instead of one. They are designed to act like two separate fins that twist independently with each stroke. This creates a vortex and results in more propulsion power with less energy.
There’s simply no straightforward answer. Split fins are easier to handle for the casual or inexperienced diver. They require less energy and also need less technique. Many divers that regularly dive and have more experience prefer the regular fins as they provide more power and are better for maneuvering.
Make sure you pick a specifically designed pair of travel fins when you travel. They are designed to fit easily into your suitcase. The fins are shorter but wider. Have a look at the US Divers Trek Travel Paddle Fin below!
Overall split fins will be better if you’re just starting to dive or if you don’t go very often. You will enjoy the benefits of requiring less strength and the reduced strain on your calves, knees and ankles. It also will help you with oxygen conservation during your dives.
Overall, you would want to match your fins to the type of dive you’re intending to have. If you’re going to dive in an environment with only little currents then split fins are a great choice.
In environments with stronger currents on for technical dives you want to consider using blade fins. They provide a more powerful kick and propulsion and you’ll need the additional maneuverability and precision.
Both kinds of fins will get the average diver to where you want to be. It ultimately will depend on your comfort level with your fins and on what kind of dives you plan to take.