Best Dive Fins

Updated August 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

24 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
387 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best dive fins

Last Updated August 2019

For better or worse, humans are not made to live underwater or even move around with ease in the water. However, because so many of us enjoy lots of activities on and in the water, we have at our disposal a wide range of equipment that allows us to indulge in our aquatic interests. And for those who want to swim in and explore deep waters, dive fins are essential.

Attached to your feet like shoes, dive fins, also known as swim fins or flippers, allow you to move efficiently and effectively through the water whether you’re snorkeling just below the surface, swimming around shallow reefs, or scuba diving to greater depths. Dive fins come in a selection of shapes and sizes of varying construction and quality, and recent decades have seen new innovations to make fins more efficient.

The fins you need will depend on your skill level and intended use. There’s a lot of information to note before purchasing dive fins. If you’re confused, our guide can help you find the pair that’s right for you. Take a look at our favorites, too.

Freediving forgoes any breathing apparatus. The diver holds their breath and descends quickly to great depths. Longer, stiffer paddles, as well as monofins, are the fins of choice.

Key considerations

Type of diving

The type of diving and swimming you do will dictate the size of the fin you choose. For beginners, it’s best to go with something simpler and cheaper in order to get used to swimming with fins. Comfort is most important. As you gain experience, you might experiment with different types of diving and dive fins, focusing on particular kicks and maximizing energy efficiency.

Deep: Generally, the deeper the dive, the longer the fin. You want to move more quickly through the water with less energy.

Shallow: Shorter fins are ideal for snorkeling or exploring reefs because you’re moving more slowly and turning more often. Shorter fins are also helpful if you’re swimming into tight underwater spaces, and they’re easier to move around in if you’re walking along the surf.

Type of fin

Paddle: Many dive fins are thin, wide, stiff blades that improve speed and efficiency when kicking. Some have grooves or holes intended to further help with efficient energy use. The stiffness of the paddles offers more resistance as you kick, so paddle fins require a bit more energy to use than other types. They work best with strong alternating kicks. It is easy to maneuver in the water wearing these fins, and they also stop your forward motion very effectively. Paddle dive fins are more common and relatively cheaper than other styles.

Split: Some dive fins are split down the middle, making them far more flexible than paddle fins and more efficient when using shallow flutter kicks instead of longer, slower movements. These dive fins work well if you’re not interested in going long distances quickly — they don’t give the same propulsion as paddle fins. However, split fins are good if you want to stabilize in one place to take photos, for example.  

Foot pocket

Full-foot fins: Some dive fins cover your entire foot like a shoe or slipper. They’re intended to be worn barefoot or with diving socks. Because they are one piece, the fins aren’t adjustable, so finding the right fit is important, but they are easier to slip into and out of than open-heel fins. These fins are ideal for swimming along the surface, in particular where one might enter and exit the water from a boat. These are also sometimes called “barefoot” fins, and as such, your feet can get cold if you’re diving in chilly water.

Open-heel fins: In fins with an open heel, your heels are exposed except for a strap or spring strap that holds the fins on your feet. These dive fins fit a wider range of foot sizes because, unlike full-foot fins, they’re adjustable. As a result, they also pair well with diving booties or socks, making them well suited to scuba diving and swimming in colder water.

EXPERT TIP

The more efficient your fins, the less energy and oxygen you’ll use. This is useful if you’re diving with a limited supply of air!


Staff  | BestReviews

Dive fin features

Monofin: This is less a feature and more an advanced option for particular swimmers, especially those in training. A monofin is a single large, wide fin that fits your feet together as one, something akin to a mermaid’s tail. You move through the water using a dolphin kick in which both legs move simultaneously.

Vented fins: These are paddle fins that block water during forward kicks in order to keep you moving efficiently but allow water to pass through the fins during recovery kicks to lessen the energy expended.

Channel fins: These dive fins have channels made of another material to make the fins more flexible, effectively cupping the water and creating more propulsion.

Hinged fins: These newer dive fins include a mechanism that maximizes the energy from each kick to increase propulsion. Some divers swear by them while others find them hard to get used to.

Removable blades: Some fins allow you to remove the blades, making it easier to walk without removing the fins.

Open toe: Some fins keep your toes exposed, which helps when draining the fins after use and makes them easier to get on and off.

Color: Dive fins come in many different colors. Picking a color is a personal choice, but a brighter color may help you be more visible to fellow divers. A unique color will also help other divers identify you.

Scuba stands for “self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.” While initially an acronym, it’s now often used as an adjective, noun, and verb.

Accessories

Dive mask: A dive mask is imperative. It protects your eyes and gives you far greater visibility than you’d have without one.

Diving socks: Neoprene diving socks are rubber-like booties that protect your feet from the sun, cold temperatures, and anything you might bump into or step on along the way. They’re useful if you’re opting for open-heel fins.

Spare straps: If the primary strap on a fin breaks, you’ll want to have extras handly.

Mesh bag: Some fins come with a mesh bag for quick storage and transport. The mesh material means you can throw the fins into the bag right from the water.

Dive fin prices

Dive fins vary widely in price. Higher-priced fins are geared toward serious divers who are addressing specific diving needs. Cheaper fins are meant for recreational swimmers. While some fins cost the same regardless of size, some styles have different prices for different sizes.

Inexpensive: From $20 to $60, you’ll be able to buy a decent pair of recreational paddle fins. These may be long or short, and they come in a variety of colors. You may find a few more specialized fins in this price range as well.

Mid-range: Between $60 and $90, you’ll find both paddle and split fins in various sizes and colors. They may feature channel blades and be either open-heel or full-foot fins. Some hinged fins are also available.

Expensive: Spend more than $90 and you’ll find durable, high-performance fins for more serious divers. These fins are geared specifically for scuba diving or freediving.

EXPERT TIP

The frog kick is a common method of swimming used by divers. It takes a bit of getting used to but once mastered, it’s highly efficient and gentle on your body.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Check the straps. Open-heel fins are useful if you’re having trouble getting the right fit, but be wary of the straps. If they stick out, they could get caught on something while you’re swimming.
  • Buy the right fin for the right dive. Fins are like shoes; different styles fit different occasions. If you enjoy different kinds of diving, invest in more than one kind of fin.
  • Practice your kicks. Different kicking styles work better with different fins. Bicycle and flutter kicks are best for split fins; alternating and frog kicks work well with paddle fins.
  • Test fins before you buy. You can speculate about what fins you need, but it’s hard to be sure until you’re in the water. Don’t be afraid to test different kinds of fins to find the best ones for you.

Other products we considered

We found a few more dive fins that might interest you. For more experienced divers who either love the split fin or are eager to try it out, the Atomic Aquatics Lightweight Compound Split Fins are versatile. They have an open toe and full foot pocket and are offered in black, bright yellow, or hot pink. They’re ideal for deeper dives of greater distances. If you’re keen on freediving, spearfishing, or more intense scuba diving, the SEAC Shout Camo S700 Fins are impressive. These long fins (the longest are a meter) are built to be durable and provide maximum power and thrust during deep dives. Though these are among the higher-priced fins, the Mares Avanti Quattro Plus Fins feature an open heel that secures with a bungee strap, a closed toe, and four ridges to improve thrust. They also come in a range of bright colors.

Does color matter? Bright colors help in identifying and even rescuing divers, but some divers opt for camouflage attire, concerned that predators like sharks, although color-blind, are more attracted to high contrast.

FAQ

Q. How much do dive fins weigh?
A.
Most fins weigh around one pound, but some may be as much as two. It’s important to note that weight doesn’t necessarily equate to durability or stiffness, important in paddle fins.

Q. How do I take care of my dive fins?
A.
After use, clean the fins with fresh water. Make sure if you’ve used them in a pool that the chlorine is completely rinsed off. Air-dry the fins out of direct sunlight and store them in a dry place.

Q. What size dive fin is best for my feet?
A.
One of the hardest things about finding the right fins is making sure they fit. Open-heel fins are easier to fit because they come in general sizes and adjust with a strap, but full-foot fins match specific shoe sizes. However, each company has a different sizing chart, so if you can’t try the fins on in person, look for a conversion guide to find the best fit. If you intend to wear diving socks, you might want to go up half a size with your fins.

The team that worked on this review
  • Arnold
    Arnold
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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