Open-Heeled vs Full-Footed Fins

What Are Full-Footed Fins?

Full-footed fins have soft, flexible foot pockets which completely surround the diver’s feet, including his heels. These fins are usually worn without socks or booties, but some divers like to use neoprene diving socks to prevent the fin from rubbing blisters on their feet. Full-footed fins are most commonly used in tropical or warm waters, where thermal protection is not a concern.

What Are Open-Heeled Fins?

Open-heeled fins have foot pockets that are open in the back. The foot pockets are normally made out of more rigid material than the foot pockets of full-footed fins. These fins are designed to be worn with dive booties. The sizes tend to run larger than the sizes of full-footed fins in order to accommodate the extra bulk of the booties. Because dive booties vary in thickness and shape, it is essential to try on open-heeled fins with the booties you intend to use before purchase. Open-heeled fins are used in water of all temperatures, and are essential in cold water environments for thermal protection.


The Pro and Cons of Full-Footed FinsClosed heel

  1. 1.      Fewer Pieces of Dive Gear:

Diving is an equipment intensive sport, and each piece of a dive gear is essential. Because full-footed fins do not require booties, a diver has two less pieces of dive gear to remember, which makes packing for a dive trip easier and misplacing a piece of gear on a dive boat less likely.

2. Less Expensive:

A diver who purchases full-footed fins does not need to purchase dive booties, which typically cost anywhere from $40 to $100 USD. Divers who have already spent a significant amount of money on gear may prefer full-footed fins for the savings.

3. Less Adjustable:

Most open-heeled fins come with an adjustable heel strap which allows a diver to tighten or loosen the fin. In contrast, full-footed fins are not adjustable. The foot pocket either fits or it doesn’t. Divers with very large or very small feet may have a difficult time finding full-footed fins that fit properly.

4. Less Protection:

Divers who dive primarily from boats do not have the need for foot protection. For these divers, full-footed fins may be the simplest choice. However, those who make shore entries over rough surfaces, or need to walk geared-up to the dive site may prefer open-heeled fins and dive booties for the protection. Otherwise, divers who use full-footed fins may need to wear shoes to the dive site and then leave them on the shore while diving.

5. More Difficult to Put on and Remove:

Properly-fitting full-footed fins are quite snug; any movement of the fins may cause blisters. Squeezing your foot into the tight pocket of a full-footed fin may be more difficult than simply loosening the strap of an open-heeled fin and then tightening it once the foot is in place.

The Pros and Cons of Open-Heeled FinsOpenheel

  1. 1.      Thermal Protection:

Open-heeled fins are typically used with neoprene dive booties, which help to protect a diver’s feet from the cold. Full-footed fins leave a diver’s feet exposed to the water. Divers who plan to make dives in cold water or who chill easily will be more comfortable in open-heeled fins with dive booties. Open-heeled fins are also essential when using a dry suit, as dry suits enclose a diver’s feet. Dry suit feet can not be shoved into full-footed fins comfortably.

2. Protection From Rough Surfaces & Slipping:

Dive booties protect a diver’s feet from rough, hot, or cold surfaces, making them essential when performing shore entries over rocky ground. On a dive boat, the grip on the soles of dive booties may help a diver to keep from slipping on slick or wet surfaces.

3. Ease of Adjustment:

Open-heeled fins typically have adjustable straps, which make tightening or loosening the fins to fit unusual foot sizes possible. The straps can also be loosened to make donning and removing the fins easier.

4. More Expensive:

Purchasing open-heeled fins and dive booties usually costs more than purchasing full-footed fins. Open-heeled fins are generally more expensive than full-footed fins, and divers must account for the additional cost of the booties.

5. Booties May Cause Blisters:

When diving with open-heeled fins, selecting the correct dive booties is essential. Some dive booties have internal seams, which may rub uncomfortably on a diver’s feet and even cause blisters. Shoes must be fit properly to avoid pinching, but dive booties must fit both the diver’s feet and the fins properly. This adds an extra step to the purchasing process.

Consider Spring Straps for Open-Heeled FinsSpring Strap

Spring straps are flexible spring or bungee straps that are used in place of standard fin straps with clasps of buckles. Spring straps make donning a removing open-heeled fins incredibly easy, and often hold fins more tightly in place that standard fin straps. Spring straps may are available for most fin models.




Hands and Buoyancy Control! Advice on Establishing Proper Neutral Buoyancy While Scuba Diving – By Natalie Gibb, Guide

Every movement a diver makes underwater effects his position.  When a canine dog-

Paddling Dog

paddles, he propels water downwards to keep his head above the water. A diver who dog-paddles also moves himself upward in the water. Some divers use their hands to adjust their buoyancy instead of adding air to their buoyancy compensator (BCD). Every time the diver moves downwards in the water (causing him to become more negatively buoyant) he would compensate for his decrease in buoyancy by pushing water downwards.

When a diver swims with his hands, his breathing rate increases from the extra exertion and he empties his tank more quickly. If the diver dog-paddles, he may also stir up bottom sediment (decreasing the visibility) and he runs the risk of accidentally slamming his hands against coral or other objects.

One of the most important techniques a diver can learn is to properly control his buoyancy using his BCD and his lungs. New divers tend to struggle with buoyancy until they learn to notice small buoyancy changes as they ascend and descend. These small changes alert a diver to the fact that he has changed depth. By responding quickly and effectively to small buoyancy changes, a diver maintains his desired level in the water and avoids an uncontrolled ascent or descent.

A diver unconsciously uses his hands to counteract the small buoyancy changes. As a result, he does not notice that he is descending, and continued to become more negatively buoyant until his dog-paddling is no longer sufficient to keep him off of the ocean floor. At this point, he completely loses buoyancy control and suddenly plummet downwards, unable to inflate his BCD quickly enough to counteract his descent. Furthermore, every time he stopped swimming, he sank downwards once he stopped moving his hands. “Cheating” by using his hands prevents him from noticing small buoyancy changes and fine tuning his buoyancy using his BCD and lungs.

Many divers unconsciously use their hands to make small adjustments to their buoyancy. This seems to be a natural response, similar to kicking on the surface. A good way to break the habit is to have the diver consciously hold his hands still by placing them in a pre-determined position. I recommend hand positions such as clasping the hands in front of the diver, crossing them on the diver’s chest, holding onto the BCD shoulder straps, or “superman-ing” in front.

Good buoyancy control not only requires the ability to properly use both the lungs and the BCD, but it also requires that a diver is able to recognize small buoyancy changes. The best divers make tiny adjustments to their BCDs and lung volume to maintain perfect neutral buoyancy at all points during a dive. If a diver uses his hands to keep himself up or down, he is depriving himself of the opportunity to fine tune his buoyancy techniques and experience the thrill of swimming effortlessly and weightlessly through the water