Fins Comparison: Open-Heel vs. Full-Foot Fins

Fins Comparison: Open-Heel vs. Full-Foot FinsScuba diving is not a cheap sport; neither do the gear that comes with it. One of the most important decisions when purchasing one is the type of fin you’re going to use. Should you pick models with open heels? Or full-foot fins make a better choice instead? Since you are unsure which one to settle for, this guide will help you make a final, informed decision.

What are Scuba Fins?

Also called swim fins or flippers, scuba fins are dive gear that resembles the function of real fish fins. Most of the time, they are made from plastic, rubber, or a combination of both. These little guys help in better propelling underwater, helping you perform better at water sports including scuba diving, bodysurfing, body boarding, underwater hockey and so much more.

Full-Foot Fins

Aqua Lung Express Full Foot Diving FinCommonly utilized in tropical diving spots, full-foot fins offer complete coverage for the diver’s feet. Inside them are flexible and soft foot pockets, surrounding all areas of the feet up to the heels. While wearing booties or socks is not necessary some divers still opt for neoprene diving socks to go with their full-foot fins so as to avoid getting blisters on the skin.

Pros and Cons

Cost – Since there are no dive booties required, full foot fins are often a cheaper option. More often than not, booties cost around $40-$100; so that’s significant amount of savings for you.

Convenience – In scuba diving, every piece of equipment is essential. But since you will be travelling most of the time to explore beautiful diving spots, it pays if you carry less pieces of gear as much as possible. That way, you’ll also have less gear to misplace just in case.

Fit – Unlike open-heel fins, full-foot fins do not have an adjustable strap. This means you get a foot pocket size as it is. Thus, adjustment is quite impossible in this type of gear.

Wearing – Some divers complain about the fins being quite hard to put on or off. The thing with full-foot fins is that they are snug-fitting. Thus frequent movements may cause blisters on your feet. Same is true when squeezing feet inside; making feet more difficult to go through rather than when using an adjustable strap.

Protection – If you’re a diver that dives directly from boats, you won’t need some sort of foot protection. However, if you are one that has to step on tough surfaces or has to walk with gear all over you to the dive site, a full-foot fin is not for you.

Open-Heel Fins

Cressi ARA Fins with EBS Bungee StrapsUnlike full-foot fins, open heel models are used in all sorts of climates, especially in cold water environments where thermal protection is crucial. These fins have open foot pockets at the rear portion, hence the name open-heel. In terms of materials, these are crafted from firmer alternatives compared to full-foot models. Dive booties are usually worn with open heel fins. For this reason, they usually come in larger sizes to lodge the extra bulk. When buying open-heel fins, it’s wise to note that they vary in shape and thickness. To know if it’s the right fin for you, don’t forget to try it on prior to purchasing.


Pros and Cons

Foot protection – Wearing dive booties shield the feet from cuts and bruises caused by rough surfaces. It also protects you from tracks that are hot or cold. Dive booties also prevent slippage on the dive boat.

Thermal protection – The presence of dive booties also help the feet stay warm in cold situations. This is in contrast with full foot fins, which keep the feet soaked into the cold water.

Fit – Most open-heel fins have adjustable straps, allowing you to loosen or tighten the fit of your gear. When need to be removed, the adjustable strap also makes the job easier.

Cost – One of the downsides of choosing open-heel fins is that they can be more expensive, considering you have to purchase dive booties along. As a matter of fact, the fins alone can add up to your dive gear cost.

Booties and blisters – Even booties need to be selected carefully. Otherwise, you might end up with a pair with blistering internal seams. Apart from blisters, it may also leave your feet uncomfortable. Hence, you must purchase a pair that fits not only your feet, but also the fins you came up with.

So those were the major factors to consider when choosing between open-heel and full-foot fins. Depending on your preferred diving spot and desired features, you want to choose fins that work for you best. For example, if you’re diving into a tropical environment, full-foot fins are your best bet. Otherwise, open-heel fins combined with dive booties is the way to go. The latter also makes the best option if you want better fit, convenience, and maximum adjustability.