The Complete Guide to Scuba Fins.

The Complete Guide to Scuba Fins.

We could make the argument that any part of your scuba setup is essential, and we’d be right.

The same is true when it comes to scuba fins. Your scuba fins help you reach your destination in the water and allows you to explore the oceans.

Scuba diving fins are generally made from polyurethane, plastic, and rubber. In most cases, the fins are made from a combination of these materials. As a result, they get made to be resilient and long-lasting. Your scuba fins should be at least 25 inches long and should not exceed more than 30 inches.

Many mistakes are generally made for new scuba divers when purchasing their first set of scuba gear. For example, after your first few dives, you might find that you bought snorkelling fins instead of scuba ones, and eventually, you are going to have to spend more money to get a new set of fins.

Well, we want to help you prevent this by telling you everything you need to know about scuba fins. So, let’s dive into it…(feet first if you will!)

How Long Should Scuba Diving Fins be?

Scuba fins should be 25 to 30 inches long. This size is the optimal length. Remember, when you go scuba diving instead of snorkelling, you need something that generates the most amount of thrust without being cumbersome. So, if you’re using scuba fins that are longer than 30 inches, they might be a bit too long.

Knowing how long scuba diving should be is crucial if you want to prevent buying the wrong type of fins.

See, you have snorkelling fins and scuba fins. They really are different from each other. Snorkelling fins should be around 15 to 20 inches long. Some snorkelling fins can be up to 25 inches in rare cases, but they are still different.

At the same time, if you are using fins for scuba diving that are less than 25 inches long, you won’t have enough thrust to generate momentum. So it would be more accurate to say that you would use a lot more energy to travel the same distance if you used fins shorter than 25 inches.

That leads us to our next section.

Should You Wear Boots With Scuba Fins?

There are a few instances where you would want to wear boots scuba fins.

However, if you are driving in Warm water with closed-heel fins and there are no jellyfish or blue bottles, then no, you don’t necessarily need booties. However, if comfort is a priority for you, booties always add that extra layer of comfort between you and the rugged silicone or rubber of the fins.

Here are a few reasons why you would want to wear booties while scuba diving.

  • In colder temperatures, booties are almost a necessity.
  • If you are using open-heel fins, booties can protect your heels from any dangers such as the reef or jellyfish.
  • If using closed heel fins tends to hurt your heels or give you a rash around your ankles, you would want to wear booties for an extra layer of comfort.

As a closing note, I will always recommend booties regardless of the conditions. I find that there is always a use case for them, and if anything, they make your dive a lot more comfortable than if you weren’t wearing them.

Fins with sharks in the background

What is the Difference Between Snorkeling Fins and Scuba Fins?

Here are the three main differences between snorkelling fins and scuba diving fins.

  • Length: As we have discussed, scuba fins should be longer than snorkelling fins.
  • Stiffness: Scuba fins have blades that are stiffer than snorkelling fins.
  • Heel: Snorkelling fins tend to be closed heel, while scuba fins are mostly open heel. The reason for this is you are more likely to use booties when scuba diving.
  • Channels: Some snorkelling fins do not have channels, and when they do, they are not very complex. However, the channels on scuba fins are an essential part of the fin.

These are incredibly important to remember when you buy a new pair of fins for scuba diving or even snorkelling.

What does all of this mean?

When you look at the length, stiffness of the blades, and the channels, scuba fins are designed to give you the maximum amount of propulsion needed for a comfortable dive, especially when you dive at greater depths.

What is the Difference Between Closed and Open-heel Scuba Fins?

The foot pocket in an open heel fin is usually longer and wider than its closed heel counterpart. This is because they are designed to be used with booties, and booties are designed to keep your feet warm while diving in cold conditions.

This may come as quite a surprise, but open-heel scuba fins are best used in cold diving conditions.

We need to look at the significant difference between an open-heel and closed-heel scuba fins to understand this.

While some people use closed-heel scuba fins with their booties, it can become uncomfortable because the foot pockets are narrower, and you might find your feet feeling squashed.

Also, most scuba fins are open-heel, and this makes buying fins easier. Open-heel fins are used in all conditions, but their cold water use makes them more versatile than closed-heel fins.

Freediver and long fins

What Should you Look for When Buying Scuba Fins?

When buying a pair of scuba fins the first thing you need to check is the size. If you get things that are too small your feet will cramp and the colder the water the easier it is for your feet to cramp, so keep that in mind.

If you get fins that are too long they will shave against your ankles and your feet this could cause blisters which can become incredibly painful. Also, you might just lose the fins in the water.

If you want maximum thrust and propulsion you might look at split fins. Using these means you will use less energy in the water this ultimately preserve oxygen. If you want control then going for blades is the best options.

  • Blades are the more traditional type of scuba fin and are suitable for most divers.
  • If you are susceptible to cramps specifically in your calves then perhaps split fins are your best option.

How to Take Care of Your Scuba Fins.

You should always rinse your scuba fins with freshwater regardless if you use them in the ocean or the pool. A pool is never freshwater. It is either a salt pool or a freshwater pool that gets high doses of chlorine. You want to make sure that you rinse all the chlorine or salt off your fins after every use. After that, you want to dry the fins thoroughly.

Once you have done this, they should be suitable for storage.

If you do not rinse the salt off your fins, it will form a layer on the blades, making it hard. This added stiffness makes things crack. At first, you might not even see the cracks, but they will start to get bigger as time goes on.

Remember, when you go scuba diving, your fins are doing most of the movements. Therefore, your fins can be susceptible to most of the wear and tear of all your equipment.

Don’t Forget Your Dive Insurance!

Before you go out on any dive trip or holiday, it is essential to make sure you have insurance that covers you if something goes wrong. Check out our dive insurance article for more information.

Or go straight to these dive insurance company websites:


Diver Alert Network (DAN)

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At the end of the day, you need a good pair of fins when scuba diving.

Knowing as much as you can about them can help you make informed decisions, which was the article’s primary goal. Feel free to take a look at some of our other scuba gear-related articles.

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Scuba Fins FAQs

How long should scuba fins be?

Scuba fins should be 25 to 30 inches long. Any shorter and they won’t give enough propulsion, meaning you’ll have to work harder and use more air. Any longer and they’ll just be too cumbersome.

What is the difference between closed and open-heel scuba fins?

Open-heel fins are designed to be used with scuba boots, they are more versatile for all types of diving. Closed heel fins are rarely worn with scuba boots and thus only really useful in warmer climates.

Paul Fulbrook

Paul Fulbrook is a writer, scuba diver, ex-science teacher and marine biologist. He has a passion for coral reef biology, diving on coral reefs and writing about diving. He also loves cats and his children (sometimes).

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