There is always the right application for the right piece of equipment. Here are some tips that can help you decide if you would be happier with strapped fins vs full foot fins.
First a clear definition.
Full foot fins come in a range of sizes. You will find one fin size fits a shoe size ranging up to 3 sizes. For example, size 5-7 shoe size. This ALWAYS mean men's shoe size. Never ever ladies. You wear your bare foot in these. Boots will never fit in them even if you buy them too big.
Strapped fins come in 2 variations. There are the kind that are intended to be wore with bare foot. These are typically a cheaper, smaller, lighter fin. These are never intended to be worn with boots. The foot pocket is designed for only your foot so not long or wide enough for a boot.
The scuba diving strapped fin is intended to be worn with a boot. It is never meant to be worn with a bare foot. The foot pocket is wider and longer to accommodate a boot. These fins provide power and stiffness at so many different levels. I think this discussion should be a blog of its own. There is so much to know about choosing a fin.
Next... what adventure are you going on with these fins ?
If you were to ask me, if you are diving, then boots and strapped fins !! Here are pro's and con's of each type of fin.
Full foot Fins are great if you are scuba diving and limited to space and weight. No need for a boot so one less piece of equipment. Full foot fins take up less space and are much lighter than strapped fins. They can also come in difference stiffness's from a snorkeling only level to a serious multi-dive a day diver. The con of full foot fins would start with blisters. We are not made to be in water for hours at a time. Our feet get soft and delicate. You might find that the perfect fitting full foot , after an hour, starts creating blisters making the following days of being in the water extremely painful. If you are using full foot fins, I would suggest complimenting them with short or tall neoprene socks to reduce the chances of blisters ! Another con is that full foot fins do not cover as much of your ankles as a tall boot and strapped fins. This leaves your ankles exposed to the marine environment and can result in abrasion, stings and no sun protection. One last con is that full foot fins use a different part of your body to kick. They need the use of your feet more than your legs. The power comes from the soles of your feet and not your hole foot which translates to your whole leg. So your kick is not as efficient or powerful compared to a scuba strapped fin.
Strapped fins without boots. These are perfect for the person that plans to snorkel 3-4 times on a trip for an hour at a time. They are super short, light and cheap. This includes cheap in quality. The buckle systems will not last long and finding parts for these fins are near impossible. So if you break a strap, lose or break a buckle, throw them out. Wearing the strapped fin style WILL cause blisters. These are perfect for someone who is going on a trip and plans on using them on this trip and possibly never again. They are a disposable style of gear.
Strapped fins worn with boots, you can probably guess, this is what I recommend the most for divers !! The con's are that they are heavier and you need boots. If you want to snorkel with these, they are not great especially with a thicker boot. The reason is that boots are made of neoprene. Neoprene likes to float. This results in you working harder on the downward thrust and using more energy than needed. If you plan on snorkeling then I would suggest a very light 2mm reef boot. Now the pro's ! A strapped fin of any kind will give you way more propulsion threw the water. You have a much larger profile with scuba gear on that just swimmer, even more in cold water. This means you need more power to go any where. Strapped fins give you this. A strapped fin is also secured around the back of your foot where your achilles tendon is. The strap is securely tightened down providing an extension of your foot. This allows you to use your ENTIRE leg for power. This results in more power with far less effort. Power to fight currents and less effort so you can dive longer with less fatigue. Next is comfort. Wearing a neoprene boot will greatly reduce the chances of getting blisters. Boots come in one size so they tend to be a better fit than full foot fins that come in 3 size increments. If you are like me and do 2-3 hour dives, adding a neoprene sock inside your boot will bring the blister factor down to zero !! A one hour dive , 3 times a day should not cause blisters from your boots. Selection !! Have you ever noticed that most dive stores have 2-3 style, at best, of full fins to choose from. Possibly a few more in random sizes. A poor collection of choices and functions. Strapped fins tend to have a much better variety of selections !! Here you can choose stiff, soft, long, shorter, split, rubber, colors, strap styles, wider, narrower and so on. Then you add the selection of boots to go into these fins ! These can come in 2mm, 3mm, 5mm, 7mm, short, tall, thick sole, thin sole, zippers or no zippers. You have now just given yourself many options and many different ways to grow with your equipment choices !! Are you interested in backwards kicking ? Really hard in full foot fins !! Do you have bigger than size 13 feet or smaller than ladies size 7 ? You want strapped fins because boots go down to men's size 2 and up to men's size 16 !!
A few tips with your strapped fins. Don't tighten them as tight as you can physically pull that strap. Sounds silly but I have seen this over and over. If you are a tough guy, you can actually break the buckle by doing this. It takes talent but I have seen it done. Flip side, the straps will loosen a bit when you enter the water. A quick little snug down by one of 2 notches can give you a better fit. The best answer here is spring straps. These can be bought on the fins already or they can be added to ANY strapped fin after. Don't buy your fins based on the fact they have spring straps. Now spring straps need to be snug but not as tight as rubber straps. You should not "feel" them when you have your boots on. They should also only be a slight pull to get them on. If you have to pull hard to get the straps over the back of your foot, they are too small. If you bought them from us, send us an email and we will fix it !! Keep your strapped fin inserts !! They are meant to live in your fins to maintain the foot pocket shape. you don't need them on vacation but they are needed when you store them. A collapsed foot pocket is a supreme pain in the butt to get on !! Do not use the inserts to make the fins one size smaller ever !! These will give you huge foot cramps and be horrible in the water !!
Watch every week for a new blog !! Coming up is more on flippers ;) styles, learn how to kick backwards, why to practice in a pool and masks !! So much to share on masks !! Feed back or suggestions would be wonderful. I am constantly learning too !!!
Thanks for reading !!!