As soon as the Italian manufacturer’s chosen fins did arrive I put them through the same power tests in the pool as the others and then took them for a fortnight’s diving on the reefs and wrecks in the Florida Keys...
The Reactions certainly aren’t a new model from Cressi – in fact they’ve been around for nearly a decade, so have seemingly survived the test of time.

The Design

Reaction fins are made using a single rigid-blade design. This flexes along its length but not across its breadth, as most of the current fin designs on the market do.

The blade is constructed from a single piece of rigid hard polypropylene of variable thickness, with clever thermoplastics stiffeners along its length.
I say “clever” because the shape of the stiffeners determines the point at which the blade flexes, and this is where the fin generates its power. The stiffeners, in a contrasting colour, also give the fin its distinct styling.
The blade has softer rubberised sidebars that aid in the channelling of water, preventing some spilling off the edges as you kick.
This same material is used for the top part of the foot-pocket, which is moulded to a hard polypropylene undersole with rubberised, non-slip grips at the base.
Straps are of the traditional rubber design, with Cressi’s own swivel and trident-clip attachment.

In the Pool
I put the Reactions through the exact procedure to which the other fins were subjected in the comparison tests. Gently finning around the pool to warm up my muscles they felt quite rigid and stable, showing no signs of twist.
The foot-pockets are quite narrow but they are deep and encompassed my whole feet lengthwise. It took a little effort to get the fins on, as I was wearing a drysuit with sock-ends and rock-boots, but once on they felt comfortable, if a little snug.
Finning flat-out while attached via a line and clips to a set of digital scales the fins seemed to fold very easily. They gave the impression of being slightly floppy and easy to kick, but without showing any signs of instability.
The ease of finning at speed made me think they wouldn’t cut the mustard on the scale readings, so when the shout of “20.75 kilos” came from my assistant, I was pleasantly surprised.
These fins had produced a really credible score considering the amount of physical effort required from my ageing leg muscles.
For reference, the highest score on the comparison tests was 23kg and the lowest recorded 15kg, with exactly half of the 14 pairs tested finishing on 20kg or above.

In the Sea

The pair of Reaction fins in size M-L weighed in at 2.1kg, similar in weight to my own much-loved fins, so they caused no surprises when my dive-bag was weighed at the airport by the normally over-zealous check- in staff.
Under water, in the warm Florida seas, the foot-pocket felt capacious with my feet clad in 5mm neoprene booties. On the first dive I noticed that the straps had a tendency to slide down from my preferred Achilles position to the base of my heel, and despite changing my boots for a pair with retaining lugs on the following dives, the same thing happened.
Pulling them up as tightly as I could solved the problem, but created another in the comfort department.
The Cressi design of the strap connection allows the use of third-party spring-straps, but only those with three-prong trident-clips for attachment.
I managed to coerce one of the dive-guides who, luckily, had a pair to lend to me in return for some portraits of him under water.
This was well worth the effort, because the springs transformed my experience with these fins. My feet were held firmly but comfortably in the foot-pocket, and instantly made the fin feel more like an extension to my legs.
On reef-dives with little or no current, the fins performed very well, with me employing both flutter- and frog-kicks to gain slow or ponderous propulsion.
On the area’s deeper wrecks we experienced water movement ranging from slight to howling, and this was a proper test for any fin.
The Cressi Reactions coped well with the moderate flows, allowing me to make headway albeit at the cost of strain to my calves and quadriceps.
In the howling current, trying to kick back to the shotline resulted in that awful burn followed by cramp. I gave up, surfacing on a different line downcurrent from my intended target.
I’m sure a younger, stronger and possibly fitter user would have had little or no problem.

Conclusion
They may have been around for eons but these well-designed and built fins still cut the mustard in difficult conditions. For my style of diving and my footwear choice the addition of the loaned third-party spring-straps transformed them from average all-rounders to stellar performers.
To my eye these fins also look good, with the metallic fleck in the plastics and typical Italian styling that is synonymous with Cressi products.

PRICE £80
BLADE Variable thickness with stiffeners
BLADE Length 8530mm (size M/L)
STRAP Rubber with trident-clip and swivel
WEIGHT 1.05kg per fin (size M/L)
COLOURS Yellow/silver, blue/light blue, clear/pink, white/lavender, black/silver
SIZES XS/S, S/M, M/L, L/XL
CONTACT www.cressi.com
DIVER GUIDE width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100%