Appeared in DIVER July 2007

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John John Bantin has been a full-time professional diving writer and underwater photographer since 1990. He makes around 300 dives each year testing diving equipment.

FINS OMEGA AMPHIBIAN

A DIVER IN THE WATER WITHOUT FINS is a diver in danger. He cant manoeuvre. A diver out of the water with fins is equally a diver in danger. Loaded with kit, he can fall heavily. Thats why we slip our fins on at the last moment before we enter the water, and take them off as soon as we can once were out, either before climbing the boat ladder, or at the top, or as soon as weve made it onto the tubes if its a RIB.
Of course, if were shore-diving, we take them off as soon as we can walk. It makes sense, doesnt it
Well, a lot of people clearly disagree with me. Ive noticed some divers on hardboats putting their fins on first, before they sit back to get into their rigged tank, and then shuffle to the aft where they wait their turn to enter the water.
It always looks very precarious, and recently I took a sharp blow to the head from the tank of such a diver who had lost his normal finesse while moving past where I sat on the boat.
I suffered the effects of his impression of a flailing armour-plated elephant. He didnt even realise what he had done to me. Im feeling better now.
So although I never feel the need for fins that allow me to walk in them safely, it seems that others do. The Omega Amphibian fins fold up against the shins, so that effectively youre walking around in rubber slippers.
When the time comes to deploy them as fins, you simply push them down with an opposing heel and they snap-lock into place with a loud click.
If you dont do it properly, they will snap back into place when you start finning with them.
The premise is that after the dive, when you climb onto the lower rung of the ladder of the boat, its a simple matter to stand on the release with the opposing heel and let the blade fold up, powered by its big in-built spring. There is a nice side-effect in that the blades protect your shins from the ladder rungs.
They make shore diving that much easier, too. No more stumbling about trying to get your fins off, especially on those slippery boulders at Stoney Cove.
Then again, you might find yourself crowded into a RIB. I always put my fins on before everyone else clambers in, but the disadvantage is that everyone else stands on top of them, pinning me down. These Amphibian fins promise to solve that problem, too.
Youll be the centre of attention wearing them. Some people might think you look a prat, but no one will have reason to call you a fool. They are made in the USA, where they are referred to as flip-fins.

Foot pocket
In size L, I could just accommodate my huge feet and wetsuit boots. There was no chance with my drysuit boots - for those I would need XL.
As these fins are made in America, the land of men with big feet, these fins will be available in even larger sizes eventually.
Im pleased to say that the sole treads are made of a grippy non-slip rubber-type compound. It would make no sense if these fins were dodgy to walk in!
The foot-pockets have no drain holes, and they sucked onto my feet so well that I had trouble pulling them off after a dive. Lucky for me I could walk around easily in them, eh
They could have been a bit longer, too, so that my heels were fully encompassed. Those with smaller feet may not notice this, but it was a bit of strain on my calf muscles during hard finning.
I couldnt resist the temptation to replace the standard pinch-clip buckles and rubber straps with a pair of proprietary steel spring-straps. Thats easily done.

Blade
Each blade is 38cm long by 23cm wide. It is almost as if the designers have copied the dimensions of the Mares Plana Avanti Quattros to the millimetre.
They looked a bit basic at first glance but they do have a soft central section that allows the blade to scoop and channel the water, while shallow side-rails discourage that water from spilling over the edge.
This soft section has a double function in that it makes the blades position against the shin more comfortable when walking.
The hard plastic part is in the shape of a tuning fork and hinges where it connects to the foot-pocket. The big, tough 316-grade stainless-steel spring is almost concealed from view.

Efficacy
These fins were sent for me to try by my old friend, the Lt-Colonel. Hes one of those guys who has been out in the real world dealing with unexploded bombs, landmines and the like.
Theres no room for bull in that business, and I trust his judgment. He found the fins pretty efficient in what they did, and that included pushing him through the water.
I took them for a weeks intensive diving and didnt regret it, although I did notice some abrasion on my feet next to the part of the foot-pocket where the fins hinged.
The fins were not quite as effective as the Italian-made top-performers, but still worked a lot better than some I can think of.
On the deck of the dayboat there were no problems. But walking pool-side at Ocean Club in Sharm, the slippery Egyptian tiles beat any hard plastic sole, and I felt as insecure and likely to slip over as when wearing conventional fins.
At sea, the dream of folding the fins before climbing the boat ladder was never fulfilled.
The current caused by windage on the drifting vessel made it impossible to get the opposite heel to release the clip. The ladder spine was always in the way.
As for longevity, the plastic retaining clip does look as if it might eventually wear out, but
the fins come with a manufacturers lifetime warranty. If you think theyre too expensive, you can always wait for the inevitable cheap copies from China.


Divernet Divernet
SPECS
OMEGA AMPHIBIAN
SIZES S, M, L, XL
COLOURS Yellow, blue or Black
WEIGHT 1.8kg per pair in size L
PRICE Probably more than £100
CONTACT Triton Scuba, www.tritonscuba.co.uk
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