How to Choose Your Freediving Fins

Choosing the right freediving fins is a bit like shopping for shoes, only with a twist – or should we say a flip? There’s an ocean of options out there, each with its own unique features and benefits, and that is what makes it so hard to make a decision, especially the first times, when you still don’t really know what to expect and consider when choosing an option. 

It’s a world where the size, shape, and material of your ‘flippers’ can make all the difference in your underwater adventure. In this blog post, we’re going to be your personal freediving fin guides. We’ll unravel the complexities of fin selection and help you wade through the deep waters of choices, so you can glide effortlessly into the world of freediving with the perfect pair of fins. Let’s dive right in!

Categories of Freediving Fins

In this blog post, we’ll be focusing on Freediving Bi-fins,  also known as freedive or apnea fins, come in various categories, each designed for specific purposes and preferences. These categories include:

  • Bi-fins (Traditional Fins):
    • Long Blade Fins: These are the classic freediving fins, known for their long, sleek design. They offer excellent propulsion and are favored by many freedivers for their efficiency and power.
    • Medium Blade Fins: Slightly shorter than long blade fins, these provide a balance between power and maneuverability. They are often preferred by divers who want a more versatile option.
  • Monofins:
    • Rigid Monofins: Monofins have a single blade that combines both feet. Rigid monofins have a fixed, non-flexible blade and are commonly used in competitive freediving for their efficiency and streamlined design.
    • Carbon Fiber Monofins: These monofins feature a carbon fiber blade, which offers a good balance between flexibility and rigidity. They are favored by freedivers who want more performance without sacrificing too much comfort.
    • Rubber Monofins: These monofins have a rubber blade that is more flexible and forgiving. They are often chosen by recreational freedivers and beginners for their ease of use.

Bi-Fins

Freediving Bi-Fins are the most popular fins. They are a type of freediving fins that consist of two separate fin blades, one for each foot. They are a traditional and widely used design in the world of freediving and spearfishing. Bi-fins are typically made from various materials, including rubber, plastic, fiberglass, carbon fiber, or composites, and they come in different lengths and stiffness levels to cater to the specific needs and preferences of freedivers, we will delve into these differences in this post.

The key features of freediving bi-fins include:

  • Two Separate Blades: Each foot wears an individual fin blade, and these blades are not connected like monofins, which have a single, large blade for both feet.
  • Power and Efficiency: Bi-fins are known for providing good power and propulsion in the water. They allow divers to kick in a flutter or dolphin-like motion, generating thrust to move through the water efficiently.
  • Versatility: Bi-fins are versatile and suitable for various types of freediving, including recreational, competitive freediving, and spearfishing. Divers can choose different blade lengths and stiffness levels to match their diving goals and preferences.
  • Comfort and Control: Many freedivers appreciate the comfort and control offered by bi-fins. They provide a natural and intuitive feel, making it easier to perform precise movements and maneuvers underwater, unlike a monofin.
  • Ease of Use: Bi-fins are relatively easy to put on and take off, making them accessible to both beginner and experienced freedivers.

Overall, freediving bi-fins are a popular choice among divers who prefer a traditional fin design that offers a good balance of power, control, and versatility in various underwater activities. The choice of specific bi-fins depends on factors such as blade material, length, stiffness, and the diver’s individual preferences and goals.

Freediving fins categorized by length

Long Blade Fins: Typically longer fins designed for maximum propulsion and efficiency.

Long blade fins are like the Ferraris of the freediving world, and they’ve earned their reputation for a reason. Let’s break down why they’re considered more efficient, along with a few pros and cons:

Advantages of Long Blade Fins:

  • Maximum Propulsion: The long blades mean more surface area to push against the water, resulting in powerful propulsion with each kick. It’s like having turbocharged flippers on your feet.
  • Efficiency in Depth: If you’re planning deep dives, long blade fins are your best buddies. They help you reach greater depths with less effort, thanks to their ability to translate your leg strength into forward momentum.
  • Streamlined Design: Long blade fins often sport a sleek and hydrodynamic design, reducing drag and making your dives more efficient. You’ll feel like a streamlined torpedo in the water.
  • Endurance: Despite their length, these fins distribute the workload evenly across your leg muscles, which can reduce fatigue during longer dives. You’ll be less likely to feel like you’ve just run a marathon underwater.
  • Looks: they look amazing in underwater photography! They make the diver look slender and have a very elegant feel and look.

Disadvantages of Long Blade Fins:

  • Not for Everyone: Long blades can be a handful for beginners or those used to shorter fins. They require proper technique to harness their power, so there’s a bit of a learning curve.
  • Maneuverability: While they’re great for going the distance, long blade fins can be less maneuverable in tight spots or when you need to execute precise movements underwater, but over a short period of time they are not hard to master.
  • Transport and Storage: Packing long blade fins for travel can be a bit tricky. They’re, well, long, and you might need a special bag or find creative ways to fit them into your gear. 

Long blade fins are the go-to choice for serious freedivers and those seeking efficiency in deep dives. They’re like the sports cars of the underwater world, offering unmatched speed and power. However, if you’re just dipping your toes into freediving or prefer agility over raw speed, you might want to explore other fin options.

Medium Blade Fins: Slightly shorter than long blade fins, offering a balance between power and maneuverability

Short blade freediving fins, often overshadowed by their long-bladed cousins, have their own unique charm and advantages. Let’s dive into why short blade fins can be a smart choice:

Advantages of Short Blade Fins

  • Maneuverability: Short blade fins are like the sporty hatchbacks of the freediving world. They offer excellent maneuverability, making them perfect for navigating tight spots, performing quick turns, and executing precise movements.
  • Versatility: Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced freediver, short blade fins are user-friendly. They require less effort to kick, making them a fantastic choice for leisurely dives and for divers who prefer a more relaxed pace.
  • Ease of Travel: Short blade fins are your trusty travel companions. Their compact size means they fit easily into your luggage, leaving more room for that extra snorkel or dive mask.
  • Quick Acceleration: Short blades allow for rapid acceleration. So if you need to dart after a school of fish or escape a curious sea creature, these fins have your back.

Disadvantages of Short Blade Fins:

  • Less Power: Compared to their long-bladed counterparts, short blade fins generate less thrust with each kick. This means you’ll need to put in more effort for the same distance or speed.
  • Not Ideal for Deep Dives: While short blade fins can certainly handle recreational diving, they may not be the best choice for serious freedivers aiming for significant depths or long distances.
  • Reduced Efficiency: The compact design that makes them great for maneuverability can also mean slightly reduced efficiency when compared to long blade fins.

Short blade freediving fins are like the nimble, zippy hatchbacks of the underwater world. They’re easy to handle, versatile, and perfect for recreational dives or when you want agility over sheer power. If you’re planning on exploring tight underwater spaces or prefer a more relaxed diving style, or are planning on taking them on your travels, short blade fins could be your perfect match.

Freediving Fins by Material:

It’s important to note that within each material category, there can still be variations in price based on factors such as brand reputation, design features, and added technologies. 

Additionally, specialized or custom-made fins may command higher prices.

When choosing freediving fins, consider your skill level, diving goals, and budget. While carbon fiber fins offer top-tier performance, they may not be necessary for everyone, and lower-priced options like rubber or plastic can still provide a great diving experience. Ultimately, the best fins for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences.

The price range for freediving fins can vary significantly based on the material they are made of. Here’s a general overview of the differences in price range for carbon fiber, rubber, composite, and plastic fins:

Carbon Fiber Fins:

Carbon Fiber Fins: Fins made entirely of lightweight and rigid carbon fiber, favored for high-performance diving.

Price Range: Carbon fiber fins are typically among the most expensive options in the freediving fin market.

The high cost of carbon fiber fins is primarily due to the quality and performance they offer. Carbon fiber is a premium material known for its lightweight, rigidity, and excellent energy transfer, making it a top choice for competitive freedivers. The manufacturing process and craftsmanship involved in producing high-quality carbon fiber fins also contribute to their higher price.

Rubber Fins

These are fins with blades made of rubber, which provides flexibility and ease of use.

Price Range: Rubber fins are generally more affordable compared to carbon fiber fins.

Reasons for moderate price: Rubber fins are less expensive because rubber is a relatively inexpensive material. While they may lack the advanced performance features of carbon fiber, they are popular among recreational freedivers and beginners for their ease of use, comfort, and budget-friendliness. Also, scratching them is not something to worry about.

Composite Fins

Fins with blades made from a combination of materials, such as fiberglass, carbon fiber, and resin, to achieve a balance of performance and comfort.

Price Range: Composite fins fall in the mid-range of freediving fin prices.

Reasons for Moderate Price: Composite fins are a mix of materials like fiberglass, carbon fiber, and resin, offering a balance between performance and cost. They are a good choice for divers who want decent performance without the high price tag of full carbon fiber fins.

Plastic Fins

Fins with blades made of plastic or polymer materials are known for their affordability and durability.

Price Range: Plastic fins are typically the most budget-friendly option among freediving fins.

Reasons for Lower Price: Plastic fins are made from economical materials and are generally mass-produced. They lack some of the advanced features and performance characteristics of higher-end fins but are suitable for entry-level divers and those on a tight budget. Usually, plastic freediving fins don’t have interchangeable foot pockets, which will mean you’ll have to buy new foot pockets if you decide to change the blades for new ones.

Blade Stiffness

It’s essential to consider your individual goals and needs and try out different fin stiffness options if possible. Many divers find that medium-stiff blades offer a versatile compromise between power and comfort for a wide range of diving scenarios. However, ultimately, the ideal stiffness of your freediving fin is a matter of personal preference and can be fine-tuned based on your experience and feedback from your dives.

Different brands have different rigidities and a soft blade from one brand might be slightly different from one brand to the other. Usually you should be able to choose from the following stiffness:

  • Stiff/Hard Blade Fins: Fins with blades that are rigid and less flexible, providing maximum power and efficiency. Often used by competitive freedivers for deep dives.
  • Medium Blade Fins: Fins with blades of moderate stiffness, striking a balance between power and comfort. Suitable for a wide range of freedivers.
  • Soft Blade Fins: Fins with blades that are more flexible, making them easier on the legs and ideal for beginners or those who prioritize comfort over maximum propulsion.

How to Choose the Stiffness of Your Freediving Fins

When choosing the stiffness of a freediving fin, several factors come into play, including your weight, diving goals, and whether you’re spearfishing or line diving. The stiffness of the fin blade can significantly impact your performance and comfort underwater. Here are the key factors to consider:

  • Body Weight:
    • Heavier Divers: Heavier individuals generally require stiffer fins to generate enough propulsion to move efficiently through the water. Stiffer fins can provide the necessary power to overcome buoyancy and water resistance.
    • Lighter Divers: Lighter divers may find it more comfortable to use softer fins because they require less effort to generate adequate thrust. Softer fins can reduce the risk of fatigue during longer dives.
  • Diving Goals:
    • Competitive Freediving: If you are training for competitive freediving and aiming for depth or distance records, stiffer fins may be preferred. They provide maximum power and efficiency, which is essential for reaching greater depths or covering longer distances.
    • Recreational Freediving: For recreational freediving where you’re diving for enjoyment and relaxation, you have more flexibility in choosing blade stiffness based on your personal comfort. Medium or soft blades may be more suitable for leisurely dives.
    • Spearfishing: Spearfishing fins often require a balance between power and maneuverability. Depending on your style of spearfishing, you may opt for medium or medium-stiff blades, as they allow you to move quickly while also providing adequate power for breath-hold diving and catching fish.
    • Line Diving: Line diving, which involves diving along a guideline for training or exploration, benefits from fins that offer good control and efficiency. Medium or medium-stiff blades are often a good choice for line diving because they provide a balance between power and maneuverability.
  • Personal Comfort and Preference:
    • Your comfort and preferences play a significant role in selecting the right blade stiffness. Some divers may prefer the responsive and rigid feel of stiff blades, while others might find softer blades more forgiving and comfortable for extended periods underwater. 
  • Diving Conditions:
    • The water conditions and currents at your dive location can also influence your choice. In strong currents or challenging conditions, stiffer fins may help you maintain control and stability.

Foot Pockets:

When buying fins you can have foot pockets with exchangeable blades or others that are built in to the blades. You can usually buy foot pockets separately from your freediving blades. Most plastic and rubber fins come with a bonded foot pockets, which could be of good value for an entry level fin, but will mean that you would have to buy new footpockets when you decide to upgrade your blades.

  • Blade Exchangeable Fins: These fins allow you to change the blade while keeping the same foot pocket. This customization option lets divers switch between blades with different stiffness levels. In this way, you won’t have to repurchase a foot pocket when you want to switch for a new blade.

Open or Closed Heel Fins

  • Closed-Heel Fins: These fins have a closed foot pocket design. They provide a snug fit and are popular among freedivers who prefer a secure and comfortable fit.
  • Open-Heel Fins: These fins have an open foot pocket, similar to those used in scuba diving. They are typically worn with neoprene booties and are favored for their versatility and ease of putting them on.

My Recommendation

I have dived with numerous fins of different brands, stiffness and length, and I have found my favorite. I highly recommend Sommerso fins for freediving for several reasons, and I believe you’ll find them to be an excellent choice for your diving needs:

  1. Sommerso fins offer the unique advantage of customisable designs. This means you can have a pair of fins that not only perform exceptionally well but also reflect your personal style and taste. The ability to create beautiful and unique designs allows you to stand out and express your individuality while diving.
  2. You’ll be able to choose whatever foot pocket and stiffness you want to make your dive more enjoyable. The staff can always help you choose these depending on your goals and specific needs.
  3. Sommerso’s commitment to sustainability is commendable. As an Australian company, they prioritize eco-friendly practices, which is essential in today’s world. Supporting a sustainable company like Sommerso not only benefits you but also contributes to the preservation of our oceans and marine ecosystems, aligning with the values of many freedivers who care deeply about the environment.
  4. Excellent Performance with Carbon and Fiberglass Fins: my fins offer exceptional performance in terms of power and maneuverability, making them an excellent choice for competitive freedivers and enthusiasts alike.

To Wrap It Up

In the world of freediving, your fins are your trusty companions on an unforgettable journey beneath the waves. We’ve explored the nuances of choosing the perfect pair, from the power-packed long blades to the agile short blades, and everything in between. But remember, the true essence of this sport lies in the joy of exploration and discovery. Your choice of fins, like your choice of ice cream flavors, is a matter of personal taste. Your experience, your dives, and your stories are what truly matter. So, no matter which fin you choose, rest assured that each dive is a new adventure waiting to happen, and with every plunge into the deep blue, you’ll find exhilaration and wonder, leaving you hungry for more. 

May your underwater escapades be a source of endless thrill and satisfaction!

Luciana is a yoga and SUP yoga teacher, breathwork instructor, reiki master, freediving instructor and sports and ocean lover. Freediving is her greatest passion and can’t stay a day away from the salty water. Her practice has helped her transcend autoimmune diseases and conquer her fears. She uses the power to breath and movement to help others transcend their own limits, expand their boundaries and heal past and present wounds.

Breathless Journal

0