FINS MAY BE A FASHION STATEMENT, colour co-ordinated to match your full dive kit. They may be a declaration of affiliation to your preferred style of diving, with models designed specifically for technical or leisure diving.
Or they could be seen as a badge of office – a host of instructors around the globe wear fins that seem to have become standards in their field.
What all fins have in common is that they are a means of propulsion and manoeuvrability. How they perform is down to your personal finning technique, leg length, muscle power and, of course, stamina.
Fin design has changed substantially over the years, with new materials and manufacturing processes enabling complicated moulding procedures to be employed in producing state-of-the-art examples.
The fins you choose should depend on a number of criteria, including fit, stiffness, power, weight, design and, lastly, style and colour. There are a lot of different fins out there, and making the right choice can be difficult, especially without the chance to try before you buy.
For most divers the overriding feature required of their fins is the ability to propel them against a strong current. There is nothing worse than a flaccid pair that work well in the pool but leave you fighting to stay in position, even in a mild current out at sea.
Fin-designers and manufacturers have created fins that are stiff and powerful and added them to their line-ups. There has to be a compromise, however – it’s foolhardy to dive in fins that your body can’t control.
You’ll need the leg muscles of a superhero to push some models through the water. Others, through technology and clever design, will do almost the same job with far less effort.

The Fins
When we put this group of 14 pairs of fins together for a comparison test, we had one thing in mind – power. We asked the various manufacturers to provide fins that had the ability to provide powerful propulsion through either stiff blade construction or technological innovation.
The fins needed to be open-heel models, as we would be conducting the tests in an outside unheated swimming pool in the middle of March, and would be wearing drysuits with external socks-ends and lightweight Rock-boots.

The Tests
Each pair of fins was subjected to a gentle warm-up with a relaxed swim around the pool followed by a sustained and solid burst of power – that was me finning at my own personal limit for as long as my little legs would sustain the effort.
I was attached by line and snap-hook from a technical stainless backplate and harness to a set of digital scales hooked onto a metal spike at the edge of the pool. The highest reading was recorded.
A warm-down on shaky legs was carried out after the line had been released. Gentle finning around the pool was followed by a substantial recovery period and rest as we discussed the performance and made notes. The process was then repeated for each set of fins.
It has to be stated that the test results are purely the personal opinion and findings of
the tester. The pulling power attained was comparative only.
We used a single diver for consistency, because the muscle power, stamina and leg strength would otherwise vary.
We conducted the tests in a swimming pool to create an even test-bed without varying currents or conditions, and emphasised the recovery of the tester before repeating the swims to gain an accurate and even result.
As is usual with DIVER group tests, the results below are ranged in ascending price order to make it easier for you to draw conclusions about value for money.

THE RESULTS


Tusa SF-22 Solla £70
Sollas are powered by what TUSA calls ForcElast technology, with a three-channelled, crescent-shaped, medium-length blade which is raked at 20°, a rubber strap with the maker’s own EZ buckle system, and striking metallic-coloured inserts. These fins were among the shorter models on test – and the cheapest.
They felt superb as I lazily finned around the pool. At full pelt they were very easy to push through the water with a medium amount of resistance. They put little strain on my leg muscles, and I was pleasantly surprised by the resulting reading.
The Sollas seemed like good all-rounders, with a very comfy foot pocket. If they were mine I’d fit a bungee or spring-strap, which I’m sure would make them even better.

SIZES XS, S, M, L
COLOURS Black, cobalt blue, yellow, metallic red, green, blue-white, pink-white, green-white
PULLING POWER 19.5kg
CONTACT www.cpspartnership.co.uk

Seac GP100 4x4 £79
These, the longest fins on test, were made from a tri-material involving thermoplastics and Elastomer with a rubberised foot-pocket, and stainless-steel spring-straps with heel-retainer and pull-loop.
With relaxed finning they felt superb and rigid, needing little effort to proceed. At full power the extremely stiff blades were difficult to push through the water, placing a huge amount of strain on my leg muscles. A stronger person would get the best from these fins, but I am not that person and wasn’t surprised at the lower pulling-power readings I produced.
The fins felt stable, without any sign of twist under pressure, and the foot-pocket was one of the most comfortable on test.

SIZES XS/S, S/M, M/L, L/XL, XL/XXL
COLOURS Blue, yellow, red, white, black
PULLING POWER 16.5kg
CONTACT www.liquidsports.co.uk

Beuchat Powerjet Firm Flex £80
From French gear producer Beuchat, this stiffened version of its popular Powerjet model incorporates twin vents to help channel the water over the fin. Stiff side-rails and lateral ribs constructed from various materials create a fin that is flexible and robust.
Lazily finning around, I found the fins very easy to use. The foot-pocket was deep, with an extended heel section that engulfed my entire foot. At ”fin for your life” speed, the Powerjet applied moderate pressure on my leg muscles, but these fins felt more like an extension to my body than any others on test, and also produced a creditable result on the scales.
The rubber straps were easy to deploy, if a bit old-fashioned nowadays. Springs or bungees would improve an already excellent fin.

SIZES S, M, L, XL
COLOURS Black with red accents only
PULLING POWER 19kg
CONTACT www.midlanddiving.com


width=100% Aqua Lung Shot FX £82
These fins are from the ”women’s” range offered by Aqua Lung. I’ve been told before now that I fin like a little girl, so I thought it was appropriate that I put them through their paces with some of the big hitters in the male-dominated fin world.
The Shot FX has a foot-pocket designed for the female foot, but it fitted me like a glove. The spring-strap is fitted with a soft heel-pad, and this combo proved to be very comfortable, making the fin feel like an extension of my legs.
The shorter blade made finning around the pool an easy affair, with the fin feeling rigid but pliable. Kicking like a man possessed, the fins were easy to push through the water, and put only a slight amount of strain on my legs. The reading on the scales was a revelation when compared to the effort required.
These may be gender-specific fins, but they were so good I’m thinking of cross-dressing.

SIZES S, Reg, L
COLOURS Twilight, White Arctic
PULLING POWER 21.5kg
CONTACT www.aqualung.com/uk


Mares Avanti Quattro+ £96
The original Quattros were, and still are, the fin of choice for dive professionals. The latest ”+” version is a revamp of the traditional model using slightly different materials and design. A bungee strap is now standard fare.
The performance from these fins was outstanding, without any feeling of instability or twist when pushing them to the limit. The foot-pocket was a perfect fit, and the bungee rubber strap held the fins tightly in place.
The Quattros’ weight made them feel slightly negative in the water with a drysuit. At full speed kicking against the scales, it was noticeable how easy these fins were to use, with only moderate strain on my leg muscles.
They felt rigid and powerful, and the scales revealed that this was indeed the case.

SIZES S, Reg, XL
COLOURS Yellow, blue, black, white, lime, flamingo
PULLING POWER 23kg
CONTACT www.mares.com


Oceanic V16 Split-fins £100
Using the Nature’s Wing design concept, the VI6 is the latest model in Oceanic’s Vortex split-fin series. It combines semi-rigid, natural rubber panels with oversized rails to add stiffness and control the water flow.
The extended heel-pad and wide foot-pocket with stainless-steel spring-strap felt stable and comfortable, even wearing my Rock-boots.
The slightly softer flex made the fin feel more manoeuvrable while I plodded around the pool, but it was flat-out that I really noticed a difference. The V16s slid easily through the water, giving very little resistance and subsequent strain on my leg muscles.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked at the power these fins had produced, compared to the effort needed.

SIZES XS, S, Reg, XL
COLOURS Translucent blue, blue, neon yellow, red, black
PULLING POWER 21kg
CONTACT www.oceanicuk.com


Poseidon Trident £119
The Trident has a short and broad rigid blade constructed from 100% solid rubber in the traditional technical diver’s design. Stainless-steel spring-straps come as standard and are permanently attached.
The fin-blade features a large edge section for heightened manoeuvrability, and cutaway channels to provide stability.
These fins were a surprise, and came near the top of the pulling charts. They felt stable, and it was very easy for me to power through the water without undue muscle strain. The foot-pocket is quite short, with a fair bit of heel left exposed, but this didn’t hinder the fins’ comfort or performance.
The weight kept my feet where I wanted them in my drysuit. Old-fashioned they may be, but these retro-styled fins outperformed a lot of the young techno contenders by a distance.

SIZES M, L, XL, XXL
COLOURS Black, blue, red, grey
PULLING POWER 22kg
CONTACT www.poseidon-uk.co.uk


Mares X-Stream £130
The X-Stream has a riddled foot-pocket to relieve the parachute effect often encountered in traditional models. The futuristic design incorporates a mixture of materials, creating a lightweight fin that’s an eye-catcher.
When I put the hammers down these fins didn’t feel as stable as their brethren, showing signs of twist. They also felt slightly floppy when pushed hard, though the full-sized foot pocket felt amazingly comfortable.
These fins were easy to use under full power and put little strain on my muscles as I worked to my limit against the scales.

SIZES S, Reg, XL
COLOURS Yellow, blue, red, pink, black, all-black
PULLING POWER 17kg
CONTACT www.mares.com


% Mares Power Plana £130
Claimed to be the ideal footwear for tech-divers, Power Planas are solid rubber fins with a fully shaped foot-pocket and bungee straps. They are heavy, making them a good choice for drysuit divers with buoyant feet.
The solid construction and scooped blade required a lot of muscle power at full chat, leaving me with a familiar burn in my quads as I power-finned against the scales.
I was surprised by the resulting reading, because I felt that I’d put a lot more pressure on the line than I actually had.
I think a stronger swimmer would get quite a bit more from these fins. The shorter blades could prove to be ideal on wrecks and in confined environments.

SIZES Reg, XL, XXL
COLOURS Black only
PULLING POWER 15kg
CONTACT www.mares.com


Aquabionic Warp 1 £149
Cetatek’s original design of these futuristic fins incorporates its Water-adapting responsive propulsion (Warp) system. This latest model has been enhanced with new spring-straps.
The foot-pocket is spacious and comfortably took my Rock-booted foot. I expected the fins
to flex substantially when put under pressure but this wasn’t the case – instead they felt rigid but pliable.
Relaxed finning was a doddle, with very little effort needed. At full throttle they were a joy to use, stable and easy to push through the water.
I was amazed by the results, because these fins certainly didn’t require as much muscle power to achieve a good reading on the scales as some of the others on test.

SIZES S, Reg, XL
COLOURS Black, blue, orange, yellow, pink, red, white
PULLING POWER 22kg
CONTACT www.liquidsports.co.uk


Hollis F1-Bat Fins £149
This is another solid rubber fin, with vented blades and stainless-steel straps with a decent-sized pull-loop. The straps can be mounted in different positions to provide the optimum fit.
The fins felt heavy and cumbersome out of the water, but under water were the perfect partnership for my drysuit and Rock-boot combo, keeping my feet lower down than lighter-weight fins.
The foot-pocket is long and generous, making F1-Bat fins a good option for comfortable extended-duration diving.
Under full steam they felt stiff and difficult to push through the water, placing a fair amount of strain on my leg-muscles, though they still registered a creditable result on the scales.

SIZES Reg, XL, XXL
COLOURS Black, black/yellow
PULLING POWER 19.5kg
CONTACT www.hollis.com


Atomic Split Fins £157 (£207 with spring-strap)
Another fin utilising the Natures’ Wing design, these split-fins from Atomic Aquatics are constructed from multi-composite plastics with resilient power-rails and flex battens.
The foot-pocket has a rigid plate set at the sole, and is finished with Atomic’s unique spring-strap.
In the water these fins felt light and flexible, and cut easily through the water whether I
was finning gently or going at it like a man possessed.
This was another fin that shocked me when I saw the results, because there seemed to be little strain on my legs and yet the scales showed a very creditable score.
The foot-pocket was quite tight with my Rock-boots but didn’t affect the comfort or the outcome. There were no signs of twist or loss of stability in either relaxed or flat-out mode.

SIZES S, M, L, XL
COLOURS Yellow, blue, silver, royal blue, smoke, red, pink, purple
PULLING POWER 20kg
CONTACT www.atomicaquatics.co.uk


Apollo Bio-fin Pro £160
Utilising the Natures’ Wing split propulsion system, the Bio-fin Pro is an all-natural rubber split-fin with heavy side-rails and a no-nonsense generous foot-pocket.
The version we tested was owned by DIVER’S Alex Khachadourian and had rubber straps – so yesterday, but the latest versions are available with spring-straps.
They were quite a loose fit for my Rock-booted feet, but felt stable when I was finning around the pool. The heavy rubber construction helped put my feet where I wanted them.
The fins felt stiffer than the other split-fins on test and subsequently required more muscle power to move me along the pool.
Finning at my limit, they felt moderately easy to push through the water without any signs of instability, and again the end result was a surprise when we read the scales.

SIZES XS, S, M, L, XL
COLOURS Black, orange, yellow, blue, white, pink, and metallic blue, yellow, pink, silver
PULLING POWER 20kg
CONTACT www.apollo-sports.com


w Scubapro Seawing Nova Gorilla £165
The Gorilla version of the award-winning Seawing Nova has been upgraded to provide an increase in stiffness. An articulated joint allows the blade to pivot just in front of the wearer’s toes, creating a fin that appears to have a separate winged blade.
The wingtips arc upwards to increase stability, with a single vent at the tip. The foot-pocket is deep, with an extended heel-plate that took my whole foot and felt very comfortable.
An adjustable bungee-strap with a large heel-pad and pull-loop made getting the fin on and off an easy operation.
Mooching around the pool was a nice experience with what felt like a very stable and reasonably stiff fin, but at full chat the fins created a moderate amount of strain on my legs, and felt quite rigid. There was no sign of twist or wobble from these technically advanced fins.

SIZES S, M, L, XL
COLOURS Grey only
PULLING POWER 17.5kg
CONTACT www.scubapro.com


Conclusion
The fins on test were all high-end power fins. The final results need to be taken in context, as they were the results of one tester with average leg strength finning at his limit of power and endurance against an unmoveable set of scales.
Looking at the final results and compared side by side, I was surprised to see that the three split-fin models performed so well. In the past other testers have maligned this design and stated that they are no good in a current, but our findings definitely contradict this theory. After all, pulling against a set of scales doesn’t leave any wiggle-room in the outcome.
Split-fins feel as if they’re not pulling their weight, because they’re very easy on the legs, and I think that this may have hoodwinked those who tested them in an open-water environment.
I was also pleasantly surprised to see the older designs like the much-loved and widely used Mares Quattros and the traditional Jet-fin style of the Poseidon Tridents top the charts in the power department. It’s apparent that the old and original models just can’t be beaten, even with state-of-the-art materials and innovation in design – although the futuristic-looking Aquabionic Warp 1s came very close.
There are obviously ”horses for courses” among these fins. The solid rubber versions weigh as much as a lead ingot and are going to eat into your frugal baggage allowance when you take them abroad, although for UK wreck-divers in a drysuit they would be perfect.
Others like the Quattros, Powerjets and Sollas would be great all-rounders, home or abroad.
The Seac 4x4s were the stiffest and longest fins in the line-up, and I know I didn’t have the muscle-power to get the best from them – a younger, fitter and stronger diver would love them.
The techno-looking X-Streams, Warp 1s and Gorillas were eye-catchers but produced mixed results.
If I had to choose a favourite, and you took the Quattros out of the running, you’d be shocked (or maybe not if you knew me) that it would be the Aqua Lung Ladies Shot FX.
These short, stout fins were a delight to use and produced a great score on the scales without burning my muscles. Yeah, you’re right, I clearly fin like a girlie.