When we think about scuba diving and put that picture in our mind of a diver in his or her gear we will see a set of fins along with the mask, snorkel and probably a tank of air on their backs. If you’ve done some snorkeling, in a pool or lagoon, you likely haven’t used fins but maybe you have. They help you get through the water easier as our feet aren’t really built for gliding through the water too easily. If you’ve toyed with fins, likely they were cheaper models that barely worked or broke.

If you’re serious about snorkeling and scuba diving then a proper set of fins are an essential part of the experience. They help you glide through the water quickly and with less effort, allowing the leg to do all the work of propelling you around underwater, with your hands then free to make small adjustments in direction or position.

Fins may be important to casual snorkelers and allow another level of enjoyment, but they are completely essential to scuba divers. When you are burdened down with the weight of a tank of air and other gear you need to have a set of fins to ease the effort in getting around under water and are able to more precisely control your movements. Exploring what kinds of fins are  available, what options you can expect to find to choose from and how to choose what works best under a variety of conditions is important to having a great experience.

If you are unfamiliar with fins you may assume that they are pretty much all alike with the standard variations in quality and price being the only differentiators. That’s not a correct assessment however. A lot of time and money is being spent to research new and more efficient designs, space-age materials, new manufacturing techniques, and entirely new concepts by the leading scuba equipment manufacturers as they want to provide the proper fin for the differing classes of divers and types of environments where people dive.

In diving and snorkeling there are two types of fins that you will find, full-foot and adjustable designs. They each have their uses and situations where they are better suited.

Full-foot fins give you a shoe with a fin attached. Having a heel, you step into them. Their flexibility and comfort are their key features, however they need to fit properly as there are no adjustments to control how they fit you. Used primarily for snorkeling however, the heel can tear and then they become useless.

Adjustable fins are more suitable for scuba diving however. Without a heel they have an adjustable strap that wraps around the heel to provide its support and keep the foot inside the fin. A diving bootie is mandatory with adjustable fins. Make sure you try them on you’re your booties on so that proper fit can be determined. Straps can be replaced so that makes these adjustable fins last longer. Being more heavy duty, and designed to last longer, they can also provide more thrust to your underwater swimming. Blade sizes, stiffness and thickness are important.

Blade design is important, so make sure you review the types offered and develop an understanding of the benefits to you while scuba diving for each type. Select the one best for the environments under which you’ll be diving.