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Apr 03

Freediving Fins- How to Pick the Right Set For You

Long-blade freediving fins have become an iconic symbol for freediving over the years. No one pictures freedivers wearing short snorkeling fins or split fins, but we freedivers don’t just wear them to identify ourselves. We wear these fins because they’re the most effective piece of equipment we can use to move us through the water.

Every freediver should have a good pair of long-blade fins because they’re one of the simplest ways to improve your breath-hold and increase your bottom time. Such fins are specifically designed to make your kick as effective and efficient as possible, saving your energy and precious oxygen. The key is to get the proper style of fin for both your activity and body-type.

Here are a few key features to consider when picking out a good set of fins for you.

Footpockets

Aside from fit (which is obviously very important) you need to make sure the footpockets on a potential set of fins are not only comfortable but also have a stiff bottom. While this can be less comfortable than some softer footpocket styles it makes your power transfer directly from your kick, down your fin and into the water, propelling you forward. Softer footpocket soles often bend in the middle, breaking your power transfer and causing foot and leg cramps. If you’re worried about comfort add a neoprene sock and you’ll be good to go!

Materials

Blades are made from various materials, from plastic to carbon fiber. When deciding what material to buy, ask yourself what you really need. Carbon fiber is the best material on the market, but it’s also quite expensive. If you’re planning to become a freediving instructor at some point, or if you’re consistently diving to 100 feet or more, then yes, maybe carbon fiber is for you. But if you’re just starting out don’t hesitate to stick to plastic for a while.

Stiffness

While everyone tends to assume that the stiffest fins are always best, this is not the case. It really depends on your personal needs. Stiff fins are good for up-and-down divers, who spend most of their time traveling through the water on ascent or descent (i.e. instructors). If you’ll be spending the majority of your time at the surface or typically have long surface swims softer blades might be best for you. Softer fins are also good for people who have joint issues, injuries or smaller people.

Specialty fins

Long-blade fins are best for 99% of freedivers, but there comes a point when it might make sense to make the switch to a monofin. Monofins are large, single fins that look a lot like a whale’s tail. These fins can be very awkward at first as both your feet have to go in one fin, but they’re incredibly efficient at depth (ocean) and distance (pool). I wouldn’t strap on my monofin to go spearfishing, but I’d sure use it to reach a personal best in depth.

Best recommendations

You all know I love my carbon fiber C4’s. But here are a few of my favorite fins of various styles/prices:

Plastics/Less expensive: Dessault’s Performance Fins, Omer’s Millenium Fins (soft), Cressi Professionals

Fiberglass: Waterway Captain Nemo Fins, Riffe Fiberglass fins

Carbons/More expensive: C4’s!!!!, Dessault’s cabon fibers (they’re coming out with new ones too!), Skorpio Flame Carbon Fiber fins

Monofins: Waterway Glide for top performance or Waterway Nemo for comfort

Feel free to leave questions if you have any or your own opinions on gear!

11 comments

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  1. adam

    I am 14 years old and im 5’6″ and 175 pounds im wondering what fins are better for me the cressi gara 2000 HF vs 3000 LD? i do most of my spear fishing with a 7 foot pole spear on shore. at about 10-20 feet. i live in florida so its a warm climate. Another plroblem i am having is that all of the dive shops near me do not carry cressi fins. so i have no idea what the foot pocket is like. i wear a size 10 shoe and have a wider foot. Also i am growing rather quickly so i dont want to out grow a pair of $150 fins in a year. What fin is best for me? do you recomend any other kind of fins? what should i do about the foot pocket? would the fins help me get longer bottom time and be able to go deeper?

    1. admin

      Hi Adam,
      I’d go with the 2000. The 3000’s are just softer blades, which I doubt you need. I find that Cressi’s are somewhat true to size, though it’s hard to guarantee anything without trying it on. You can always go a size bigger so you have room to grow, but then I would buy thick neoprene socks to help make up the space. Whereabouts in FL are you? If you’re open to trying a few different fins I would check out some of the shops below:
      Ft. Lauderdale- Lauderdale Diver
      Miami- Austin’s Dive Center
      Tampa- Calypso Divers

      Cressi is one good option, but I’d also look at Omer and Dessault. Long blade fins should help you get longer bottom time and more depth by helping you conserve energy, but all in all if you want to go really deep you should consider taking a course.

      Let me know if you have any other questions,
      Erin

      1. adam

        hey erin,
        its me adam again, and i live near west palm beach so im going to divers direct to try on both the 2000 and 3000’s. but i read online that the depth im diving at is perfect for the softer 3000 and you dont really need the heavier 2000 fins until about 40 feet.and is there any specific omers or dessaults.

        1. admin

          Hi Adam,
          I’d go with stiffer 2000 fins (neither one is an extremely stiff fin), but if you’re worried about it being too stiff, then I wouldn’t hesitate to go with the 3000’s.

          Omer has a very large number of options, from the Milleniums (which are fairly soft, but inexpensive at around $130) to the C4’s, which are carbon fiber. That’s what I use, but they’re a pretty big price jump and probably not necessary below 40 feet where you’re diving.

          Dessault has fewer options, but what they do have is great. Your best option would be to go to a dive shop with knowledgeable staff who can help you pick out the exact fins you need. I’d highly recommend Austin’s or Lauderdale Diver for that. Austin’s has EVERYTHING and an extremely helpful staff. If you feel like making a bit of a drive, either of those shops would be well worth the visit.

          Erin

  2. Tyrone

    Hi, nice blog. I’ve just started out and bought a set of beuchat Mundial fins and they seem ok, just one q though, finning along the top of the water is a real pain as the fins sit right on top of the water and you tend to go nowhere when swimming along the top of the water, any tips – ie do I need a weight belt to help with that?

    Cheers

    1. admin

      Hi Tyrone,
      A weight belt wont help much with that specific issue- your fins will (and should) sit at the surface while you’re swimming. You just need to amend your kick for surface swimming. Unlike underwater swimming, surface swimming requires a small flutter kick instead of a wide, powerful kick. Try straightening your knees (bent knees are a common problem when kicking) and doing small kicks from the hip. This should give you the propulsion you need to move effectively along the surface of the water.

      Hope that helps!
      Erin

      1. Tyrone

        Cheers, I’ll give that a shot :)

  3. Tom

    Hi Erin,

    First off, congrats on a great blog – it’s full of useful info. My question is related to Adam’s above regarding the Cressi Gara 2000 HF vs 3000 LD. I live in the UK and do all my free diving/spearfishing in the colder waters here, in both the ocean and rivers. Is it therefore worth getting a softer fin such as the 3000 LD? Or does the water need to be really cold to make any difference? Incidentally I’m 5’9 and 150lbs, and I’m rarely going any deeper than 20/30 feet.

    Thanks in advance, and Happy New Year.
    Tom

    1. admin

      Hi Tom,
      Do you already have the 2000’s? I definitely wouldn’t bother switching to the 3000’s if you already have fins that work well. In the depths you’re diving you probably won’t notice much difference in stiffness unless you’re doing long surface swims.

      If you don’t already have long blades and are looking for new ones, both the 2000 and 3000’s will work well, though I’m partial to the 2000’s. They’re the “stiffer” of the two, but aren’t overly stiff fins. I used them for years before I started teaching and loved them.

      Hope that helps, but if you have any other specific issues you’ve run into with your current fins, etc. let me know and I’ll try and direct you further.

      Erin

      1. Tom

        Hi Erin,

        Thanks for the advice. No, I don’t already have the 2000s – these will be my first long fins. And unfortunately, as freediving hardly exists here, I’ll have to buy blind online.

        I’ve been looking at reviews on the internet, and it seems that the Gara Professionals, although ugly as sin, are rated higher than the regular Garas. Would you agree?

        The other fins I’m considering are the Omer Milleniums, either black or the softer winter greys. I do do quite a bit of surface swimming (getting out to reefs etc) so maybe softer might be better for me.

        Any final thoughts would be v welcome.

        Thanks,
        Tom

  4. Will

    Need advice on keeping my fins from destroying the back of my ankles and tops of my toes.

    I have Cressi Gara Pros. They work well BUT if I dive for more than an hour the skin wears off the top of my toes and back of my ankle and takes at least a week to heal.

    The fins fit well and I wear neoprene socks

    I figured I’d build up calluses but it has not worked.

    Any advice?

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