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Welcome to Dive Gear Reviews, a comprehensive guide to scuba diving equipment. Scuba diving is an expensive pursuit, so looking up reviews for a particular article of equipment is a wise precaution before investing any hard-earned money in it. However, consumer reviews may or may not be written by an experienced diver, and magazine reviews could be suspect due to the advertising ties of the publication in question. Dive Gear Reviews provides cross-referenced reviews assembled by an expert, making it possible to see at a glance what multiple sources said about a particular piece of scuba equipment. If one magazine loved a scuba regulator or a dive computer, but the consumers hated it, that information will be found here.
07
May

Open-Heel vs. Full-Foot Fins

Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Open-Heel vs. Full-Foot Fins Posted in: Dive Gear Tips, Fins, Scuba Product Guides
Aqualung Fins

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Open-heel vs. full-foot fins are one of those gear issues that tends to produce clear preferences among divers. Where one diver will say that once he went open heeled he never looked back, another will tell you that old fashioned full-foot fins are more reliable and produce more thrust. Since a pair of fins is often one of the first pieces of gear a novice diver collects, a look at this fundamental question is in order.

Click here to see the complete set of fin reviews from Dive Gear Reviews

Open-Heel Fins

Most divers collecting their own kit prefer open-heel (strapped) fins, and the fins offer three principal advantages. First, they are more suitable for cold water diving or taking to a variety of temperature conditions because they are adjustable. To a certain extent, a diver can wear thicker or thinner wet boots to compensate for water temperature and still wear the same set of fins. This is impossible for full-foot fins.


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In almost all instances, open-heel fins are paired with the aforementioned wet boots. Wearing those wet boots protects the heel from chafing, a common problem for occasional divers using tight full-foot fins. If you don’t wear full-foot fins on a regular basis, then you probably need to wear socks to prevent the rubber skirt from blistering and tearing the skin on your heel after just one day of use.

The third plus for open-heel fins is they are usually easier to get on and off than full-foot fins. This is doubly the case if the open-heel fins have a steel spring strap, in place of the more typical rubberized strap and buckle arrangement.

The main drawback of open-heel fins is that they invariably cost more than full-foot fins. This is especially the case for fins with steel spring straps.

Full-Foot Fins

Full-foot fins have a molded, elastic, rubberized skirt that holds the fin on the foot. These fins can be worn without wet boots, but that means the diver loses the protection from chafing and cold the wet boots afford. Hence, these fins can only be worn by divers in warm water, and infrequent divers who lack heavy callouses on their heels will probably need to wear socks.

However, full-foot fins have a few clear pluses. They are usually cheaper than open-heel fins, and if a diver wears them frequently enough to build up resistance to chafing, then the fin eliminates the need to carry around and manage one more bit of gear (the pair of wet boots).

Fans of full-foot fins also swear that the extra grip of the elastic, molded skirt gives the fin superior transfer of power from the legs to the fin, thereby giving it slightly more thrust than the equivalent open-heel fin. Dive Gear Reviews is unaware of any scientific tests regarding this claim, but it does appear frequently enough in reviews that put the open-heel and full-foot versions of the same fin model in comparison. Certainly no one makes the same claim for open-heel fins.