While people often think of masks or a wetsuit when they think of freediving, there is another piece of gear that is just as important.
Freediving fins are what you use to propel yourself in the water. Goodluck trying to dive seriously without them!
To learn everything you need to know, here is the ultimate guide to freediving fins.
Why do you need freediving fins?
Think about a fishtail. It’s long, thin and has a large surface area. Now think about your feet. They are solid, heavy, and most importantly, they are separate from each other. While that might be good for walking on land, it isn’t very helpful in the water. To help us. freediving fins simulate the large, lightweight surface area of fishtail.
When you push against water, it pushes back, which propels you away from it. That’s why when diving downwards, you kick your feet against the water to push away from the surface, and vice versa when you want to come up for air.
Without freediving fins, your ability to move quickly through the water is limited, so you won’t be able to dive as far on a single breath hold. Fins also make diving less physically taxing. You don’t have to kick as hard or as fast to gain momentum compared to kicking with bare feet.
What materials are used to make freediving fins?
There are several different kinds of materials that are used to make freediving fins, and they all come with different advantages and disadvantages.
Plastic freediving fins are perfect for beginners, or people who aren’t looking to dive frequently. They are easily the cheapest option, and are fairly tough. The downside is that they quickly use shape with frequent use, and they don’t provide as much propulsion as the alternatives.
These fins are a good next step for beginner freedivers who are feeling more confident. They offer better movement, and hold their shape for longer. The problem is, their rigidity helps make them less prone to wear and tear, but more vulnerable to being broken if they hit something. They are also more expensive than plastic freediving fins.
Carbon fibre freediving fins are elite grade and are used by professionals all over the world. They are the perfect combination of the lightest material and the most powerful blades. With that said, while powerful, carbon fibres fins are also the most breakable. Given they are by far the most expensive option, they are worth the investment but you need to take care of them!
Are there different lengths of freediving fins?
Now that you know what fins are made out of, you might be wondering if they also come in different shapes and lengths.
The answer is yes, and depending on your skill level and the type of diving you want to do, you might want to choose one type over another.
Short bladed fins
Short bladed fins are perfect for snorkelers. They help you move in the water, but aren’t tiring to use. For snorkelers who are mainly sticking near the surface, they are a comfortable choice for an enjoyable swim seeing all sorts of marine life.
Long bladed fins
These are the preferred length for freedivers. Their long length has a larger surface area which leads to more powerful movement. This is essential for diving in areas with strong currents, or for deep dives.
For intermediate freedivers, and spearos, DiveR provides fantastic Australian fins at a very reasonable mid-range price point.
For depth diving, long bladed fins are absolutely vital. As you dive deeper, the water pressure makes it more difficult to continue to swim downwards. If you are competing, or even just trying to shave seconds of your personal best (PB), you’ll want to fork out some more money for the higher end gear.
Molchanovs and Continuum are two of the leading freediving fin brands, used by competitive freedivers around the world. Molchanovs is owned and worn by world champion freediver Alexey Molchanov, so you can be sure that their gear is premium grade. For best performance, get the fibreglass or carbon fibre options.
Mono fins can be an interesting alternative to using regular freediving fins. If used correctly, they can be more powerful because they have a much wider surface area. The biggest difference isn’t the shape, it’s the motion.
Rather than kicking your feet and legs individually, the mono fin requires a more full body motion, which engages different muscles. Regular fins require strong leg muscles, while mono fins engage your core and abdominal muscles. These muscles are stronger (when trained), so mono fins are great so long as you prepare the required muscle group.
The best mono fins are made by Molchanovs. They are often made of silicone, but there are also excellent fibreglass and carbon fibre options as well.
There is one more important thing to consider when buying freediving fins – and getting it wrong is common among inexperienced divers.
The stiffness of your diving fins needs to match the power that you can generate. Many freedivers mistakenly assume that stiffer fins create more powerful propulsion, but fail to consider that if they aren’t strong enough kicking will tire them out faster. Getting tired costs valuable oxygen and energy!
Instead of going for the stiffest fins, go for the stiffest fins that you can use without excessive effort. Also factor in how much momentum you need. If you are just planning to freedive socially in areas without much current, some soft fins are all you need. There’s no sense tiring your legs out for no reason.
Finding the right fit
There are two main things to think about when deciding whether your freediving fins fit you properly: comfort and performance.
Think about your fins like a pair of running shoes. You wouldn’t run in shoes that don’t fit you properly, because they can cause blisters, chafing or even more serious injuries. Your fins are no different. If they are tight enough to cause discomfort, they are too small. Likewise, if there is too much wiggle room, your foot will rub and blister.
Make sure you try them on before you buy them. If possible, see if you can try some different options through a freediving class, or borrow some from your friends. If they fit, and you like how they feel, you can then go and buy your own pair.
Aside from causing blisters, space in the foot pocket of your fins can also worsen your performance. When a fin is tight, the full extent of your foot’s movement translates to the fin moving, creating maximum momentum.
If your foot can move within the foot pocket, part of its movement doesn’t carry through to the fin, costing you a fraction of your possible propulsion on every kick. Over the course of a dive, that adds up!
Join a freediving class
Now that you know everything about freediving fins, have you decided how you are going to use them? How about joining a freediving class?
No matter your skill level, Freediving Central can help you improve.
To get in touch and book a lesson, visit our contact page.