freediving fins

Buying your first freediving fins

Freediving fins are amazing and unusual. A lot of new divers can get a little lost when trying to find their first pair of fins and its understandable. Most manufacturers have fins of different stiffness and different overall design. When you add the two together you can easily see why it can be hard to take the plunge and buy a pair.  Their is also the question of different materials, which is best and for what purpose?  All fins are designed to move water in the opposite direction of travel, they do this by scooping up the water and pushing it backwards. The fins that do this process in the most efficient manner are inherently the best fins you can buy. Freediving fins are also designed to have an automatic  multi phase kick cycle, where as you kick the flex and snap of the fin produces a 2nd burst of power at the end of the kick without you putting any effort in. The snappier the fin… the more efficiently this will happen.

 

Lets have a look at the basic options which you will face.

Design:

The design of freediving fins has remained fairly restrained for some time now. Occasionally a manufacturer will bring out a new style or new feature but in essence very little really changes. Im sure that something amazing is just around the corner, a totally new concept which could change the way we look at fin design, but perhaps not quite yet. All freediving fins will be long, they should all have a closed heel pocket for better power transfer and they will all be flexible. Dont worry yourself too much about the shape of the fin, or what the tips look like (fish tail etc etc).

Materials:

The main material groups used in freediving fin design are… in order of desirability….

Plastic : Durable, affordable,  not very snappy with relatively poor power transfer. Good for recreational freediving, learning and for spearfishing (as they are so tough and cheap)

Plastic composite: Still durable, more of a reactive snap throughout the length so better power transfer will occur.

Fibre glass: Quite fragile, but the most affordable way to get a pair of very snappy fins. Often used as spearfishing fins as they are easy to laminate with camo detailing.

Carbon fibre: Still fragile (although slightly less so than fibre glass in my experience) but with the most reactive snap of any material. All the top divers will use carbon fins for deep dives. Also the lightest of any fin available.

Foot pockets:

Foot pockets are basically the bit which your foot goes in to.

Some fins come with interchangeable blades, therefore have ‘interchangeable foot pockets’. Its a good way to go if you can get a pair with this feature as you can change the performance aspect of your fins more cheaply than getting a whole new pair of fins.

Whatever you get make sure that they are snug… in some respects the tighter the better. Any movement in the heel is lost power.

Stiffness:

Lets keep this simple.

If you are quite small and light and are not a proffesional runner (with massive legs), get fins with a soft flex.

If you are average build and have a normal muscle structure in your legs then get medium stiffness.

If you have strong legs, a high level athlete or you are very big then you should get hard stiffness.

That really is a very simplistic way of looking at it of course. Just remember that stiffer fins will move you further but with more effort, softer fins will move you less far but they will use less energy to do so and will not tire your legs and use up loads of o2.

I would say that most beginners should use either soft or medium stiffness, depending on their overall build.

 

Brands to look out for:

All the big names do great freediving fins.

Cressi make great entry-intermediate fins, all in plastic or composite materials.

Mares do much the same as Cressi

Omer make a full range from begginer to expert.

I get my fins from Fins4U, a UK fins distributor. If you check out their website you will see why as the range and prices of the fins are amazing. You wont find fins from Cressi etc there though. If you want those brands then check out spearfishingstore, they sell all the big names. It should be noted that if you do a course with me here at Freedive UK you will get discounts with these guys (shameless plug).

If you need any advice for your specific circumstances feel free to get in touch or comment on this post.

Comments 25

  1. Hi,

    Chanced on your site by accident looking for a fin called Immersion which was suggested I buy.

    I don’t free dive or spearfish but I do something calle skishing where you swim out to sea and fish with rod and line duration can be up to 5 hours. Mostly drifting in tidal currents.
    so I am reseaching for a suitable fin which needs to fit over rubber diving boots / surfers booties

    I am 5′ 8″ 11 stone slim and reasonably fit stress the reasonable not super fit. But will have to embark on a 6 month training to go swim the Gullies in SE Jersey.3 to 5 knot currents
    If you an help with a fin suggestion I would be very greatful.

    Thanks

    Mike

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Mike,

      The main problem you will have with freediving fins is how well they fit over rubber boots.
      Freediving fins are designed to either be worn barefoot or with a neoprene sock. These socks can be quite substantial though, some with kevlar or rubber soles should suit your purposes quite well. They just aren’t quite as bulky as regular boots.
      These socks can be purchased in 3mm, 5mm or even 7mm thicknesses.
      You may also want to buy something called fin savers. Theses are rubber slings that stop you loosing the fins… especially if you are swimming in a current.

      If you are swimming in currents i would suggest a stiff fin.
      Some of the plastic fins should be fine for your needs, such as the Cressi Gara 2000 or 3000.
      If you are willing to pay a bit more, try a set of carbon fins. They will give you more power and are more efficient. I would suggest these, as the price to performance ratio is excellent.
      http://www.fins4u.com/spearfishing_and_freediving_fins/bifins/stereofins_waves_carbon_and_free_bag_P572.html
      If you were to go for these, go for hard… possibly ex-hard (if you have strong leg muscles).

      Hope this helps

      Ian

  2. Hey,
    I am a regular swimmer that wants to try free diving as I live in Cyprus. I’d like to get some fins to help me get started but I also want to be able to use them while swimming (freestyle/breaststroke) for extra propulsion. The cheaper the better!

    Thanks

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi,

      Its going to be hard to find fins that do both jobs really well. Freediving fins and swim fins are designed in very different ways for very different purposes.
      If you have to only have the one pair of fins, try something like the Cressi Pro star…
      http://cressi.it/Catalogue/Details.asp?id=188
      A fin like this will give enough power for freediving whilst being short enough for swimming.
      Id still recommend getting two pairs of fins… one for each job.
      Dive safe
      Ian

  3. I’m a 5ft 8 female of approx 58-62kg. I was thinking of getting OMER stingray fins or Leaderfins Wave Abyss Pro Fins. I’m a beginner but don’t want to find a year or so down the track that I would need to by another set of fins. Which ones would you recommend within the $150-$300 mark? Thank you. I’m overwhelmed.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi, the leaderfins use a similar, yet cheaper footpocket to the stingray. Its a comfortable and well shaped pocket in both cases, but the omer one is better quality. The fibre blades on the leader fins will be better performance wise. So in conclusion? Omer stingrays – better foot pocket: Leaderfins – better blades.
      Id maybe go for the stingrays… see how you get on and then in a year or so you can just upgrade the blades. You are probably only paying about $20-30 for the stingray blades anyway, so its no great loss. Have fun! remember its about the journey, not the destination!

  4. Hi,
    My foot is 42-43 for regular shoes (depending of manufacture). Im planning to buy myself C4 Wahoo, but Im not sure regarding size. i usually use 3 mm socks. 5 mm for time to time. What size of my fins I need to buy?

    1. Post
      Author
  5. Hi
    Am a year old spearo who would like to purchase the leader fin carbon but would like to know what stiffness is best for me. And weighting 146 lbs and is about 5-6 feet tall . Have also been spearfishing for like 3 yrs now

  6. Hi
    Sorry if I’m sending this twice. Just wrote a few Qs and then seemed to lose my post and wasn’t sure if it sent.
    Thanks so much for the info on your site. I’m completely new to freediving so had no idea where to start until I came across this page.
    I was wondering if I could put my specific situation to you and see what your thoughts are…
    I’m a 5’10” woman, not sure about weight but a slim build (around a size 10). I’m going to be working for a charity that monitors whale sharks this summer. They recommend we buy freediving fins so that we can keep up with the sharks and dive alongside them for photo ID purposes.
    I’m a strong swimmer, a little unfit having spent too much time at a desk recently but generally able to get back into things quickly and the charity will give me plenty of training so I won’t be going in cold.
    I scuba and snorkel, usually wearing open-heeled fins. I understand that these are different to freediving fins but just letting you know that I’m not completely knew to the idea of fins.
    It sounds like medium thickness plastic fins might work for me – what do you think?
    However, my main concern is that I’m going to be wearing these fins possibly 6 days a week for three months so they need to be the most comfortable pair available…but still not a pair that will break the bank.
    Any thoughts and advice re the above, particularly with regards to the last point, would be hugely appreciated.

    Many thanks
    Eloisa

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi, Thanks for commenting.
      Its actually a bit of a tricky problem you have here. One of our instructors actually broke a pair of carbon fins doing exactly what you are about to do, following whale sharks!
      Not to worry though, there are some options.
      As you would have read in the post, stiffer fins give more power and speed but at the sacrifice of your legs and oxygen reserves.
      Softer fins are easier on your legs and allow for longer but slower dives.
      I would actually suggest that you buy 2 sets!
      This wont be as expensive as you might think but you will be glad of it when you are out there freediving on a daily basis.
      You could buy one set of powerful stiff fins, which will be great for following close to the surface or for short fast dives….
      You could buy one set of medium stiffness fins, which would be great for more relaxed or deeper dives…
      But in both circumstances you are going to be lacking in the other situation.
      If yo buy stiff fins, you will be able to keep up with the whale sharks but when you are doing other dives you will find that your ankles and legs never get a rest.
      If you buy softer fins you will likely ‘kick through’ them (the blade bends so far back it no longer gives proper propulsion) whilst following the sharks, and might as well have scuba fins.
      So, back to the solution.
      You could buy one set of fin pockets, like the Omer stingrays, and get two sets of blades which you can swap in and out depending on the situation (check out fins4u for this option)
      Or you could buy two full sets of cheaper fins like the Cressi gara 3000ld (soft) and the cressi gara 2000 (quite stiff) (check out spearfishingstore.co.uk for this option).
      Then you just swap in and out of fins depending on what you are doing.
      The other benefit to either of these options is if you do end up breaking a fin, you have backups!
      Oh, and both of these options are comfy fins!
      Hope that helps
      Have fun!!!!!
      Ian

  7. hi,

    do you know if it was likely to have been an omer stingray soft or medium fin i used on your fantastic course the other weekend?
    it was a super comfortable fit… but wondering if this is the best fin for me?

    many thanks,
    marie-claire

    1. Post
      Author
  8. Hi
    Im about to buy plastic fin i got many options here
    Cressi2000,3000,pro
    Mares razor
    Sporasub spitfire (which i dont find alot info about it)
    I got meduim muscles 180cm tall
    Will use for spearing and free diving
    Im begginer
    So what do u think should i get
    Leg muscles not week
    Thanks. 🙂

    1. Post
      Author
  9. How about Scuba Pro Longfins? Have you try it? If you have been try, please give the rating. I just want to buy it. Need Testimonial 🙂 Thanks

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi, ive never used them or seen them. Scubapro are a decent brand but they have only been in freediving for a couple of years so id imagine they have a bit to learn. Stick with the main freediving focussed brands if i were you. Cressi, Epsealon, Mares, Leaderfins, Omer, Rob Allen, Beuchat, Apnea… etc etc.

    1. Post
      Author

      They look fine. Ive never seen them personally, but Poseidon generally make great kit so id imagine they put the same amount of effort in to their freediving products, even if they are new to the scene. As long as they are comfortable and arent too stiff you should be fine.

  10. Does leaderfins blade compatible with mares razor pro footpocket? I’ve been looking for omer stingray but the one seller I found doesn’t have my size (39/40 with 3mm socks).

    1. Post
      Author
  11. Hi there,

    I’m heading to South East Asia for several months and am looking to purchase a new set of fins for my travels for both scuba diving and free diving , I’ll be backpacking and will be strapping my fins to the front of my backpack so I suppose I’m looking for something relatively lightweight.
    My old fins I’ve had for about 8 months now, they’re Oceanic, not sure what model though, they’re 63cm/25″ in length from heel to fin tip, and they’re a soft flex. I’m not too happy about the quality of the rubber with Oceanic though because the foot pocket has developed a split at the top opening of the pocket, and they’ve been well cared for on my behalf. Wouldn’t mind something that can handle a bit more wear and tear since I’m traveling with them.
    Essentially my price range is $150-300, I’m interested in Mares and Cressi brands, and wouldn’t mind the fins to have a medium flex or a soft flex, but not too hard.
    I also wouldn’t mind the fins to be a bit longer than my original ones, but not too inconvenient for lugging around on my pack.
    I’ll be participating in more freediving than scuba diving throughout my trip, and I’ll be using them every other day (if I have my way!), and I’d rather it not to be camo print.

    I’ve had a look around and have a few options I’ve narrowed down but wouldn’t mind a more professional input 🙂

    Any assistance would be great!
    Thank you!

    1. Post
      Author

      Id go and get yourself a pair of Cressi Gara 3000 ld.

      http://www.spearfishingstore.co.uk/cressi-gara-3000-ld-spearfishingfreediving-fin.html

      They have a nice medium soft flex and are as tough as you can get. Iused to have a pair of the old 3000, before they added the LD part, and they lasted for years, then we used them in the school and they lasted for about 2 more years before they died (but thats being abused everyday for 12 months of solid diving)

  12. Hey!

    Great post thanks for your advice!

    I’m a beginner, decent swimmer, athletic. I’m looking at either the Leaderfins FG/Carbon mix or the fins4u pure evolution DP, medium stiffness. There is 60GBP difference between them, it’s worth stumping the extra for the Pure Evo DP’s right? I’d rather have room to progress with my fins i.e. Pure Evo DP, rather than 6 months down the line buying the carbons.

    What do you think?

    1. Post
      Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.