Fin with the best of them…buying used scuba diving fins.
This blog is a gear review for buying used scuba diving fins from year 2012 and older, open heel and full foot types, for in-water features. Let us start with performance areas you’ll want to check out when buying the fin. Then we can go on to review the types of fins and how they work in the water during your dive. And we will look briefly at costs. When you search for a good scuba diving fin for your individual needs, consider:
Ease of donning/doffing the fin. You will want a fin that dons easily both on deck, and at depth. And, you want the fit to doff easily on shore/boat ladder at the end of your dive.
Buckle/strap fit, adjustability on deck and at depth, and durability. Look for a snug buckle, that’s adjusts easily and dependably with one hand. Steer clear of a strap that is cracked, thin, old and faded, poorly fitting, or difficult to handle. My preference is “spring straps”. They are a little more expensive, but they fit snug, are very durable, and last a lifetime.
Comfort of pockets is important. You can’t enjoy a dive if your fins can’t be trusted to stay on when you need to add propulsion. And, you can damage your feet if they are too tight. You should not experience rubbing thru your boot, pinching, or tingling to your toes/feet.
Efficiency during kicking is evaluated using the flutter kick, but you will want to evaluate the fin during a frog kick and/or dolphin kick as well. Manufacturers publish information and efficiency and propulsion. I will discuss this later in the blog. You want the maximum amount of propulsion relative to effort during the kick.
The amount of stress the fins apply to your joints and muscles is a necessary consideration. There are fins, for example, that are ideal for folks needing to shift stress off of the knees.
Look for good acceleration and maneuverability at depth. Different styles of fins accelerate and maneuver differently.
The best open heel fins reviewed includes: TUSA X-pert zoom Z3, the Tilos Saber, the Apollo Biofin Pro-C series, Scubapro Seawing Nova, and Beuchat Power Jet fin. The Atomics ”Smoke on the Water” split fins, got the best open heel scores overall with reviewers, voters, and testers…scoring nearly 100% across the board. I dive these fins myself. For full foot fins: Mares Wave and Mako and Tusa Z-pert Evolution scored well with voters for the closed foot style fins. While Oceanic Caribe X, and Mares Avanti Superchannel did the best overall, also reaching the near 100% mark in all categories. All of these fins got great overall industry magazine reviews, best scores on “customer votes” surveys, and best marks on Speed/Thrust/Slolam tests, in 2012. The APS Manata Ray, The Aquatex Duo-Vortex, Cressi-Sub Reaction, Scubapro Twin Jet Max, Scubapro Kinetics, got the lowest scores overall in all categories.
How do fins work, hydro-dynamically that is…split fins vs. blade fins? Traditional “paddle” or “blade” scuba diving fins work by pushing water directly towards the rear of the fin. As the fin is pushed thru the water creating propulsion, some water spills over the top of the fin during the kick, creating drag. Blade fins have a large stiff surface area, creating great resistance in the water, making them the fin of choice for wrecks, cave, and/ or current diving. Blade fins are better for tight spaces, where you may need to move back and forth, or make slow and deliberate movements. Blade fins work great in strong currents, and have better acceleration, but require more energy and add greater stress to your ankles and knees than split fins.
Split scuba diving fins work like pliable propellers, with an added angle on thrust, on the basis of different water flow rate on opposite surfaces. This difference reduces drag and creates propulsion. And, unlike the blade fin, water that wants to travel over the top of the fin is actually drawn into the split and forced out the back. The end results is the split fins require less exertion by the diver to propel, an improved in trim by reducing the width of the kick size, and removal of the stress to the knee by necessitating a straight leg kick from the hip for best result. You can conserve as much as 40% air and energy with split fins as a novice diver with split fins. They are excellent for new divers, divers needing to manage the stress on knees and ankles, and open space diving.
As far as price goes, you can expect to pay more for brand names. Atomics and Scubapro listed above will run around $220, maybe more for spring straps. The cheaper blade fins can be as low as $60-70 for brand name fins, new. To price used fins, look up the new MSRP (manufacturer suggested retail price) for the fin or something similar, and then look it up on eBay. For 3-7yr old fins you can expect to pay 30% – 50% of MSRP, depending on wear. For wear beyond “average”, deduct from 30% of MSRP. Of course, ultimately, used goods are worth what folks are willing to pay. And, be sure you find a reputable seller.
In the end, the choice between split and blade fins depends on many factors. For example, type of diving, strength of current, lower body strength and flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, experience of the diver, all come into play when you are choosing between split and blade fins. As with any other gear, you should try both types before you buy. And, always examine the fins for cracks, defects, wear, buckle function, and fit. And then, go do some great diving!
Authored by Lisa J Henry
“Be the sea”
Reference: Scubadiving.com 2012 article “18 best new fins”, Scubalab 2012 “In Search of the Perfect Fin (2012), and dive-gear-reviews.com “Best Fins – Dive Gear reviews (2012), scuba.com “Scuba Fins in Review”. Various Scubaboard articles were reviewed. And, Google, Amazon, and Ebay market values were reviewed.