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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.


Written by Dive Gear Reviews Editor. Comments Off on Fins Posted in:

The minimum research for a review at Dive Gear Reviews is one review published by a credible magazine, a sampling of consumer commentary from both forums and online retailers, a sampling of pricing and insight from a diving expert. For an entry to appear on this dive fins page, it must exceed that minimum. The reviews below are therefore the most extensively cross-referenced reviews for this type of gear on the website. The complete collection of this website’s dive fin reviews are available here.

APS Mantaray Dive Fin Review

APS Mantaray is a small, family-owned company operating in California. Run by avid diver John Wagner, the company is passionately invested in scuba fins, and at the time of publication produced only two products: the Mantaray Fin reviewed here and a universal fin strap. Wagner’s fin is molded from a single piece of plastic, is wider and shorter than the typical mid-sized dive fin, and comes with flexible side-wings. A pair of big vents above the center and two sets of gills just forward of the center of the fin blade round out the features relevant to swimming with this particular set of gear. The end result of all these features is a fin that accelerates quickly, while offering minimal resistance, good maneuverability and a stable platform. However, although the APS Mantaray dive fin has quick acceleration it has below-average peak thrust for a fin of its general size and cost category. Basically, a diver wearing these kickers can expect to be nimble, but to not reach speeds of even 2 mph in the water.

Although the APS Mantaray dive fin is not really advertised as a dive travel fin, it could be very easily considered one. The extra width and shorter blade are already mentioned, features that make packing dive fins much easier as a general rule. The largest fins measures only 19.75 inches long (50.1 cm), and weighs in at a modest 1.7 lbs (0.77 kg). Furthermore, the APS universal strap eliminates the cumbersome, drag-inducing buckle system, making it easy to manipulate while ensuring a lower profile in the water.

Scuba Diving magazine said of the APS Mantaray dive fin that it “offers comfort and average performance in a compact, travel-friendly package.” Diverwire was even more enthusiastic, labeling the fins an “Advanced Propulsion System,” and LeisurePro users gave it a 4.5-Flag rating. Overall, Dive Gear Reviews thinks these fins are ideal for a diver who wants maximum maneuverability with a minimum of effort, or for the traveling diver who wants an excellent, compact set of scuba fins.

Average Price: The APS Mantaray is listed at $149, but discounts in the $100-range are widely available and a diver should never need to pay that list price.


Aqualung Slingshot Dive Fins Review

Aqualung’s Slingshot fins are the sort of product a gear geek would adore. “Power bands” on the blade enable the wearer to lock the fins into one of three positions, which change the power-to-thrust ratio. Basically, the #1 setting performs something like a flexible split-fin, and as the bands are dialed up, the fin’s pivot point gets stiffer. The bands are simple enough to adjust that a diver can make changes to the band setting in mid-dive if necessary. This feature is something like variable sweep wings on an aircraft, enabling a diver to go from flexible and easy to stiff and powerful with a few snaps, and unlike variable sweep wings the Slingshot doesn’t require hundreds of hours of maintenance.

On the downside, many owners reported that the fins were very heavy on the feet, and Slingshot fins are definetly negatively buoyant. Some have also reported difficulty in swimming with the frog kick, a popular style with wreck and cave divers who are concerned with stirring up silt. However, on this score the consumer commentary for Slingshots was decidedly mixed. Some reported no problems with frog kicking whatsoever, while others said the fins made it very hard. It’s possible that those who had problems with a frog kick failed to try out other power band settings.

Average Price: $135

Cressi Frog Plus Scuba Fins Review

Cressi’s Frog Plus is another example of that Italian firm’s well-made, conventional paddle fins. As such, it is a great fin for novice divers because it produces good performance even when used by someone who doesn’t know anything about finning (as opposing to swimming), and the fins are nearly indestructible to boot. Basically, they are rugged water shovels. Cressi Frog Plus fins come in blue, black and yellow.

The fin has the standard Cressi features, such as the well-made strap buckles and the placement of the foot pocket under the blade, which creates a more uniform blade surface. The blade itself might not look like much, but it is made from a composite of stiff plastic and flexible artificial rubber that Cressi claims can be bent over on itself without cracking. The sole has a practical non-slip surface. Frog Plus fins aren’t flashy, but they combine a little give and lots of durability into the same package well enough.

A diver who has moved beyond swimming and into finning will probably think the Frog Plus is a little stiff, however. As previously stated, these fins are water shovels. They throw water back very well, but that means your other foot will hit part of that wall of water on the return. That limited flexibility gives some people ankle strain with hard kicking.

The Frog Plus is an able enough fin for beginners, and if you look around on Amazon and other internet retailers you can find it bundled with basic Cressi masks and snorkels into snorkeling kits. The price is right for new divers as well. Divernet gave it an 8 out of 10 rating and consumers speak well of the Frog Plus. Dive Gear Reviews thinks a fin like this is great for an entry-level diver, but if you are replacing an old set of fins, you should be probably looking for something more advanced.

Average Price: $90


Hollis F-1 Scuba Fin Review

Sometimes referred to as “the bat fin,” the Hollis F1 has met with rave reviews. Some divers have labeled it the best product in the entire Hollis/Oceanic/Aeris inventory. Hollis describes them as delivering “power without compromise,” and the fins are certainly big, sinister-looking and muscular.

F1s are made entirely from heavy duty natural rubber, and that construction gives rise to the F1’s sole negative. These fins are tough, but they are also very heavy. The smallest size of F1 fins weighs in at a hefty 3 lbs, 4 oz. (1.5 kg). They are also very negatively buoyant, something Dive Gear Reviews frowns on in a fin, since it means you can’t risk taking them off in the water while getting back onto the dive boat. If you lose your grip on a Hollis F1, you might lose it for good, and that would be painful given how expensive these fins are.

In all other respects, however, the F1 is an excellent kicker. The blade is noticeably wider than the typical paddle fin of this type, so the F1 provides plenty of power. The natural rubber construction makes the fin flexible-but-durable, as well as endowing it with a soft, comfy foot pocket, and that pocket comes with five drainage holes. Pointing to the Hollis F1’s status as a premium dive fin is the stainless steel spring strap, which comes as standard. As befits a piece of gear dubbed “the batfin,” the Hollis F1 comes only in black.

Average Price: $150

Scubapro Seawing Nova Scuba Fin Review

The Seawing Nova is Scubapro’s effort to build on past efforts and create a jack of all trades dive fin, something that is comfortable, light on the foot and yet still provides enough thrust for finning against the current. The wing-shaped blade is connected to the foot pocket by a pair of flexible struts, allowing the blade to pivot. Ribs in the blade give it stiffness, while the upturned edges on the outsides of the blade improve its stability. The design also gives water somewhere to go other than straight back, and without covering the paddle with vents. It all sounds a bit like aircraft engineering, but the end product works well enough, blending the stiffness of a paddle fin with the flexibility of a split fin.

The fin earned high marks with testers for acceleration, maneuverability, efficiency and top speed. These are fins that deliver a lot of power, aren’t awkward in the water and do it all without wearing you out.

A comfortable foot pocket rounds the picture out. The Seawing Nova also comes with a bungee-like foot strap as standard, instead of an adjustable buckle-based strap. Many owners describe the bungee-strap as being almost as good as a stainless steel spring-strap, making the fins easy to get on and off in the water or on a cramped dive boat.

Scuba Diving named it a Tester’s Choice in 2010, Divernet gave it an outstanding 10 out of 10 rating, and LeisurePro users rated the fin at 4.7 out of 5. The Seawing Nova has elicited some complaints, however. These fins are light and positively buoyant. Some divers hate that, but as a rule Dive Gear Reviews prefers positive buoyancy in a fin since it reduces the risk of losing the fin while pulling them off in the water. Some divers also say the struts attaching the blade to the foot pocket are flimsy, but given the overwhelmingly positive feedback on the Seawing Nova, that complaint is hard to take seriously. Simply put, Scubapro put out a winner in the Seawing Nova, and it is one of the best all-around fins on the market.

The Seawing Nova weighs in at a modest 1.8 lbs (0.8 kg). It is therefore light enough to count as a travel fin, but its a big and wide fin, so packing it away might prove a problem nonetheless. It comes in two colors, black and white.

Average Price: $140

Scubapro Twin Jet Max Scuba Fin Review

Scubapro’s Twin Jet Max is a dual-material split fin, giving it stiffness while retaining flexibility. The blades also have channeling side rails and drag-reducing vents, so the design delivers on its promise of minimizing stress on the ankles and calves, and requiring very little effort to bring back from kicking. The fins are also very stable and maneuverable. Add in the soft, open-toe rubber foot pocket and the spring straps which comes as standard on the Twin Jet Max, and you have a very comfortable, easily worn and used pair of dive fins.

However, reviewers and consumers have decidedly mixed regarding the propulsive power of the Twin Jet Max fins. Scuba Diving rated the fins as markedly underpowered, which is disappointing for a fin with such a high price tag. Dive magazine in the UK described the fins as delivering “the most power” of any split fin design they had tested. Consumers thought Scubapro’s fins didn’t deliver a lot of power per kick, concurring with Scuba Diving, but they did indicate that kicking required almost no effort.

Another odd point for the Twin Jet Max is the weight. The fins are positively buoyant and weigh in at 2 lbs, 9 oz (1.1 kg). Dive thought the fins were noticeably heavy, but some consumers thought the positive buoyancy on the fins was so great that they needed to wear ankle weights to compensate.

Dive Gear Reviews thinks that the conflicting opinions regarding the Scubapro Twin Jet Max make the open-heel version a fin to avoid. The fins are underpowered for their high price tag, and might prove awkward to use. The full-foot fins are markedly cheaper, especially for a split-fin design, and therefore might be worth risking the potential problems. The fins come in both open-heel and full-foot designs (as previously noted), and in blue, red, yellow and graphite.

Average Price: $180 for open-heel fins, $90 for full-foot fins.

Side Note: Do not confuse the Twin Jet Max fins with Scubapro’s regular Twin Jet fins. The latter are no longer made, but remain widely available on the market. These are easily identified by their all-rubber construction.


Tusa SF-15 X-Pert Zoom 3 Scuba Fin Review

An upgraded version of Tusa’s old X-Pert Zoom, the SF-15 Zoom 3 is a split-fin design featuring longer blades positioned above the foot pocket, while keeping the company’s standard 27-degree blade angling. Tusa claims the latter feature transmits all of the wearer’s muscle energy into propulsion. Monoprene side rails and beams stiffen the blades enough to keep them from separating too widely, increasing stability. In the field, the Zoom 3 fins deliver good acceleration and maneuverability with a minimum of effort, although the top speed on these fins is only slightly above average. The only real downside is the weight of the SF-15 X-Pert Zoom 3. The fins are a little hefty at 2 lbs 6 oz (1 kg), and negatively buoyant to boot.

Overall, Tusa’s Zoom 3 fins are solid all-around kickers. Dive magazine in the UK loved the fins, labeling them a “top performer – best of the bunch,” Scuba Diving gave it high marks (albeit no awards), and consumers had no real complaints. The fins come in wide range of trim colors, including black, blue, red, yellow, white and white/pink.

Average Price: $140