Welcome to the second part of my series on finding the best freediving equipment for beginners. This series is aimed at guiding total beginners through the pieces of equipment you’ll need to get started confidently in the water, and to save you from spending tonnes on elite freediving gear you don’t need. In this post, I’ll share my pick of the best freediving fins 2020 has to offer for beginners, plus tips on how to choose freediving fins.
If you’re thinking about buying other freediving gear, make sure you check out my guide to the best freediving masks in 2020
Please note: this article does contain some affiliate links. I only include links to products I have personally used and I can vouch for. If you decide to buy any gear via these links, it’s a big thank you from me.
Quick Picks: Best Freediving Fins 2020 for Beginner Freedivers
- Beauchat Mundial One
- Omer Sporasub Lady Spitfire
- Leaderfins Composite Fins
- Cressi Gara
- Decathlon FRD500
Choosing Your First Freediving Fins
Why are Freediving Fins so Long?
In freediving, we are all about efficiency. Every movement requires oxygen and we really want to hold onto our oxygen as much as possible, so each movement has to be justified. Freediving fins are long and flexible, meaning that each kick displaces far more water that regular fins – so long as you’re using proper technique. In other words, freediving fins help you go further with less effort. Plus, they look cool (let’s be real). What’s not to like?
If you aren’t ready to make the investment into long freediving fins yet, just grab some snorkel or swim fins. I used short-medium length fins for my first year of freediving, and I think it was a great way to build some technique before making the investment. I still use those fins regularly for training and technique building.
What’s the Difference between Scuba Fins and Freediving Fins?
We know that freediving fins are much longer than Scuba and Swimming fins, because it improves the efficiency of each kick. When swimming, snorkelling, or scuba diving, we have a source of oxygen, and therefore oxygen conservation is a little less important. I often get asked whether you can scuba dive in freediving fins. The answer is absolutely yes, you can snorkel or scuba dive in freediving fins. However, it might be more important to you as a scuba diver to have better control over where your body and equipment is.
Another difference between scuba fins and freediving fins is the stiffness of the blade, and the foot pocket. Freediving fins are typically much softer than scuba fins or snorkelling fins. Freediving fins also always have closed foot pockets, meaning we slip our feet into the fins and they stay put. Many scuba fins have open heels which we can slide a bootie into. Again, this all comes down to efficiency. When we freedive we want to use as little energy as possible, and a responsive blade and close-fitting foot pocket helps us get the most out of every kick.
What are Freediving Fins Made from?
Freediving fins can be made of 3 materials – plastic, fibreglass, and carbon. Plastic fins are by far the most popular for beginner and recreational freedivers. Some freedivers choose to upgrade to fibreglass or carbon fins as they become more experienced divers. Both fibreglass and carbon fins have a far better performance than plastic fins, but they also cost hundreds of dollars more. Here are the main differences:
|Plastic||Cheap and suitable for most recreational freediving and spearfishing||Least efficient|
|Fibreglass||Much greater efficiency than plastic; cheaper than carbon. You can often choose your stiffness||Still relatively expensive, prone to scratching|
|Carbon||Best for responsiveness and overall efficiency||Very expensive and fragile|
OK, here is an important thing. You might hear freedivers talking about “blades” and “foot pockets”. Typically, when you buy freediving fins, you’re buying a foot pocket (the ‘shoe’ section of the fin) and a blade (the long, flat section that comes out of the foot pocket). If you own plastic freediving fins and you want to upgrade to fibreglass or carbon fins, you can just buy the blade itself without having to buy the foot pockets again.
If you find a foot pocket that fits you well, please follow my advice and never let go. Hold onto that foot pocket for your next blades, and your next blades after that. A badly fitting foot pocket will ruin all the efficiency you thought you were buying with your $500 carbon blades.
How Should Your Fins Fit?
OK, we know it’s important to buy fins or foot pockets that fit perfectly, but how should a freediving fin fit on your feet? Annoyingly, it does depend on a couple of things, so here are some pro tips on finding your perfect fit:
- Will you be wearing neoprene socks with your fins? If so, how thick? I personally like my foot pockets to fit snugly whilst wearing 2-3mm neoprene socks. This means that they will still fit with bare feet for when I’m in the pool, or in tropical water.
- If you don’t know whether you’ll be wearing socks, answer this: Will you ever be diving in water that’s less than 28 degrees? If so, you will probably want socks. They protect your feet from cold, and from rubbing on the fins.
- Do you have very narrow or arched feet? If so, you might struggle with some of the main freediving fin brands and foot pocket brands. Keep reading for a guide on finding freediving find for small feet.
- If you flex your foot up and pull the blade towards you, does your heel slip out? If so, they are too big.
- Can you fit a single finger into the foot pocket next to your feet? If not, it will be difficult to get these fins on in the water. I would suggest you go up a size.
- Do the foot pockets actually fit your blades? Some blades are designed with a steep angle and might not fit the foot pocket.
- Are the blades detachable?! This is only important if you plan to upgrade in the future.
How to Choose the Best Freediving Fins for You
With all these options, it can be hard to know where to start when choosing freediving fins, especially if they’re your first pair. Here are my quick tips on finding the best freediving fins for you:-
- What level of freediving are you at currently? If you are a complete beginner and haven’t yet taken a course, don’t spend cash! You can still dive a few metres down in snorkelling or scuba fins, so make sure you like freediving first. You don’t even need fins to start freediving.
- What’s your budget? If you’re not competing or freediving at an advanced level, you don’t have to drop $500 on fancy fibreglass or carbon blades. Plastic ones will be fine.
- Will you be travelling a lot with your fins? It can be painful to work out how to travel with freediving fins. I went backpacking for 5 months with a pair of Beuchat snorkelling fins, and they were perfect for fitting into my backpack. Getting a smaller, plastic pair can be great for trips.
- Will you be pool training or rock hopping? Don’t splash out on fancy fins if you’re going to scratch them immediately in the pool or on the rocks.
- If you’re splashing out on fibreglass or carbon fins, try out as many as possible before you commit. You may need to choose your own blade stiffness so try to borrow and rent different types before making your choice. Also, try to choose a print that you will love even in a few years.
The Best Freediving Fins for Beginners in 2020
Now you know what to look for in your first pair of fins, but which brands should you look at first?
Beuchat Mundial One
Beuchat is a total powerhouse of freediving gear, and I really love their products. These plastic fins are a popular choice lots of freedivers when choosing their first pair. They are affordable, sturdy and comfortable, and will help you get comfortable with proper kicking technique. The only problem with these fins is that it can be hard to find smaller sizes (37 and below).
Best For: Your first pair of freediving fins as a total beginner.
Omer Sporasub Lady Spitfire
Designed specially for female feet (finally!), the Sporasub is my go-to-recommendation for plastic fins for my smaller-foot friends. These fins come with a super comfortable foot-pocket, which you can remove and hold onto if you decide to upgrade your fin blades to fibreglass or carbon. The fins are also nice and narrow (this helps to avoid you scraping your fins against each other), and come with a few colour options.
Best For: Comfort and smaller feet
Thank the Freediving Gods for Leaderfins. There is currently no other brand producing fins in this quality, in this range of styles, for this price point. Leaderfins offer amazing value-for-money for newer freedivers. They also make some of the prettiest fins out there.
Best For: Beautiful designs, premium quality, affordable and well-suited to smaller feet
This is another great option for a super affordable all-rounder fin. Cressi Gara fins have been through a tonne of iterations but the quality remains the same. My partner has been wearing his Cressi Fins for 18 years and they’re still going strong (they’re pretty scratched though…).
Best For: Great all-rounder, affordable spearfishing and freediving fin. Perfect if you’re going to be stepping on rocks and barnacles.
Buy: Cressi Gara fins
OK. Here is a wildcard. I don’t typically hit up Decathlon when I”m in search if quality underwater gear. However, spending all day every day wearing tight foot pockets has led to some issues with my feet and now I’m working my way through every type of fin I can to find something more comfortable. Enter: the random pair of Decathlon fins I bought off Gumtree.
These fins are super comfy on the foot, and incredibly flexible for plastic fins. And, incredible, are only just over $100. Go try a pair on!
Best For: Anyone on a budget and looking for softer options
I’ll say it again because I really, really mean it:- you do not have to spend hundreds of dollars to get kitted out with your basic freediving equipment. Don’t forget that rental and second-hand buying are also options if you aren’t ready to make the big commitment yet.
To summarise, these are the main things to consider when choosing your first pair of freediving fins:
- What type of freediving will you be doing?
- How much do you want to spend?
- What stiffness works for you?
- Do the foot pockets fit well?
- Will you want to replace the blade in the future with an upgrade?
Spend some time trying on fins in stores and borrowing friends’ fins to try. The perfect fin is out there waiting for you!
As always, a huge thank you for reading this far.
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