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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!