When Choosing Freediving Fins, it is important to choose the proper stiffness, the proper fit, the appropriate material that the fin is made of as well as some other helpful hints that Erin Magee discusses in this video.
The main feature of the majority of freediving fins is that they have a very long blade. The benefit of a long blade as opposed to say a scuba fin is that it allows you to be more efficient in the water. It pushes more water without having to put a lot of energy into the kick.
When you change from a short fin to a longer fin, it may cause some cramping in your calves or feet. Typically this goes away after a couple of days. If it persists, it can be because the fin may be too stiff for you or because the foot pocket doesn’t fit. So these two factors are very important. Make sure the fin fits your foot properly and make sure it is the proper stiffness for your body type.
Fins typically come in soft, medium and hard stiffness. Make sure you choose the proper stiffness for you. If you are a smaller person, if you have joint issues, in particular hip issues, softer fins are probably better. If you are doing longer surface swims, you probably don’t want the hardest fins because that can put a lot of stress on your joints.
The average man usually will require a medium or stiff fin and they often come in combinations like medium to stiff fin. Most people don’t need a stiff fin unless they are only going to be doing deep, repetitive dives and very little surface swimming. Most freediving instructors require a stiff fins as well as larger men.
Another important factor is to look at what material the fin is made of. The fins that Erin has are made of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is the most responsive material for a fin. This means that when you kick and the fin bends, the most responsive fin will return back to its original position rapidly. What this means for the diver is that they don’t have to move it through the water in both directions the entire way through the kick, so the fin will do some of the work for you. Carbon fiber is also a very light material.
The next step down would be a fiberglass composite fin. They are less expensive than a carbon fiber fin, but they are also less responsive.
The least expensive material is plastic so plastic fins are a great first purchase when you are just starting out. These run approximately 150-200 dollars as opposed to 500-600 for a carbon fiber fin.
If you decide that you’re going to be diving every day you may want to upgrade to a fin that Erin has in the video. She has the Omer C4 with a mustang foot pocket. The foot pockets are shaped for a left and right foot. This provides much more comfort compared to the ambidextrous foot. You don’t find foot pockets made specifically for right and left very often.
Another important factor you need to pay attention to when choosing your fin is that you want the bottom of the foot pocket to be really stiff. To determine if it is, put your fingers under the foot pocket and your thumb inside the foot pocket and hold it straight out as demonstrated in the program. If it is stiff enough it should not bend in the middle of the foot pocket. If it does bend then that means you are going to lose a lot of the application of power that you put into your kick. So energy can be lost with a soft foot pocket and it can also cause a lot of cramping issues.
The Omer C4 also has big rails on each side of the fin blade. These rails channel all of the water behind the fin so it provides the maximum propulsion. These are great for depth diving, but less desirable for spearfishing or when you are trying to skull. For some activities, you may want to get a lower rail.
Again, Erin’s favorite fin is the Omer C4, but there are other fins that are good as well. There is the new Moana, which is made of carbon fiber and is a bit longer and less expensive and can be purchased for 440 dollars on Erin’s site.
Dessault also makes a great carbon fiber fin as well as a nice plastic starter fin. Omer, Cressi, Beauchat and Riffe also make plastic fins.
When you are looking for a fin, try them on for comfort and make sure they suit your need, body type, and are composed of the material that you desire to give you the performance that you want.