What fins do I recommend for divers?
There are few key things you’re looking for in a good fin:
- Comfort / fit
- Ease to put on, and take off (don and doff)*
- Suitability for your diving conditions and kick style
* This can be important for entry in strong surf, or climbing up a boat ladder
I don’t want to get into the jetfins vs everything else war that some divers rage on about. I will briefly touch on them though.
Jetfins (and their ilk) are short, stiff planks strapped to your feet. They’re good for confined space diving – such as a wreck or cave. They are good for frogkicking. They are often heavy and solid and often negatively buoyant, so good for divers with “floaty legs”.
They are not “do everything everywhere” fins, and I don’t like those who say otherwise. No fin is. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the style – but this is a personal preference, and I’m not against these fins in general.
If you travel, you will find the size good, but often the weight awful. If you are in current, you may find them exhausting. If you want to change kick styles, you may find them limited in some ways, and better in others. However, an experienced diver who is comfortable with these fins will have much less of an issue. There is a learning and comfort curve to deal with.
For all other fins, there are four I wholeheartedly recommend.
Not all are for everyone, and not for every situation. If you are like me – a warm water diver who travels and likes things easy – here are four fins that may be for you.
- Mares Avanti Quattro Plus
- Scubapro Seawing Gorilla
- Tusa Xpert Zoom Z3
- Tusa Hyflex Switch
Mares Avanti Quattro Plus
These are the fins that everyone loves. You ask any Divemaster what fins they use – most of the time, it’s Mares Avanti Quattros. They’re tough, long lasting, comes in some surprisingly visible colours (their red fluoresces, making it the only red fin that looks red at depth. It’s like magic if you like red.) Easy to find and buy.
Pros: Weight is not bad. Average, not heavy. Very easy to put on and take off, thanks to the smooth foot pocket and rubber strap. Basic blade style makes it a very versatile fin – any kick style can be done adequately. Not bad for kicking in a current.
Cons: …It’s not special, fancy or unique?
Meh: Neutrally buoyant – they won’t sink or float.
Cost: $110USD to $160USD
Scubapro Seawing Gorillas
These are very expensive, and very popular fins. They are smooth and powerful in the water, pushing you along with ease. Once you try them, you will love them. But they’re not perfect. Their hinge is much improved, but still a weak point. If you get these, buy them new (or get the receipt), so you keep the world-wide lifetime Scubapro warranty.
Pros: Good for current. Light weight for travel. Positively buoyant, making them amazingly good for shore diving entry, or if you’re just clumsy. Very easy to put on and take off, thanks to the smooth foot pocket and bungee strap. Lifetime, worldwide warranty (but hard to find the Gorilla version in Asia).
Cons: A poor choice for instructors, as you should not use this fins to self-release calf cramps. Demonstrating that skill by pulling the tip of the fin towards you flexes the hinges the wrong way, and can break the fin.
They have an unusual shape and curves, which makes them awkward to pack around for travel. Only two colours (graphite and fluoro orange [though I’ve now seen grey and dark green]). Nowhere near as durable as the Mares Avanti fins. Hard or impossible to find or replace in Asia.
Hmm: If you want a softer fin, to be easier on your calves, the Seawing Nova is the exact same fin, but more flexible. Also comes in about a dozen colours. Easy to replace everywhere.
Tusa Xpert Zoom Z3
I love these fins. I just wish they were more travel friendly. I’ve had people say “splits stir up the bottom!”. This is not true. Bad divers stir up the bottom. These fins even help you keep off the bottom, due to their distinct 27 degree bend.
Pros: The best split fins ever designed. Ignore all other splits in favour of these. Even the other Tusa splits. The most efficient fin on the market.
Cons: Heavy & negatively buoyant. Big. Bad in current. Not great for helicopter or reverse kicking (but can be done). The heel strap it comes with is not great. Upgrade to a spring heel as soon as possible.
Atomic Aquatics SplitFin
These are very similar to the TUSA Z3 fins – heavy, solid and well made. They lack the steep bend in the Z3 fins, however. Some may prefer these despite being about double the price, so I’ll include them as an alternative option. Spending the extra money for the version with the heel spring will make them much easier to use.
Cost: $210USD – $260USD
Tusa Hyflex Switch
This is the new travel fin for everyone. It’s light weight and portable. It’s not as powerful as a Gorilla, not as tough as an Avanti, or as efficient as an Xpert Zoom. But it can hold its own. It won “Testers Choice 2017” at ScubaLab.
Combine it with an Aqualung Zuma/Outlaw BCD and Mikron regulator, you have a very light weight travel pack.
Pros: Light weight. Separates into two pieces for travel, allowing it to fit into carry-on.
Meh: Just not as good as the other fins above, but not bad at anything.
Cost: $180USD – $220USD
These are a new fin design from Oceanic. I can’t speak much about them yet, but I’ve heard good things. Good size, reasonable weight.
Weight: 1.8kg – 2.5kg
Cost: $160USD – $200USD
These have mixed reviews. Some people love them – they even got a “Testers Choice 2017” award from ScubaLab, others need more.
Pros: Very light weight, small and do not need booties to use. Still have a heel strap for easy donning & doffing. Great for travel. Cheap.
Cons: Too small if you need a boot for other reasons (like shore entry), but fine for neoprene socks. Better than all other fins like it, but could still be limiting in strong currents.
The best advice I can give a diver looking at fins – either get jetfins, or ignore everyone who uses them. It’s like Apple vs Microsoft or Ford vs Holden. Lots of very strong opinions with a lot of misinformation about the other side. You’re just wanting to go diving and have fun. You don’t need that sort of negativity in your life.
Slightly more seriously though – talk to people who are using the fins you’re considering, and ask to borrow and try them out in the water. Listen to what they say about their fins – and only their fins.
And if you’re not sure what to get… just get the Mares Avanti Quattro Plus fins. You really can’t go wrong with them.
For those who prefer a Jetfin style, there are a few to consider – and I provide them with no commentary or recommendation between them:
Hollis F2 Fins
Apex RK3 HD
Dive Rite XT fins
Cost: $100USD – $160USD
Cost: $150USD – $160USD